Number of players left in Squid Game after the fourth game?

The contest in Squid Game consists of six games, and initially there are 456 contestants.

• We know that, after the first two games and the nocturnal brawl, there are exactly 80 players remaining. They form eight teams of ten players each for the third game.
• The third game, by design, eliminates exactly half of the players. Again we see on the big display board that there are exactly 40 players remaining.
• After the third game, the doctor (player 111) gets killed. That should leave 39 players.
• The remaining players form pairs for the fourth game. The manipulative woman (player 212) correctly notes that there are an odd number of players remaining after the doctor was killed, and she ends up being the odd one out, unable to participate in the fourth game.
• Presumably, then, there are 19 pairs for the fourth game, which again is designed to eliminate exactly half of the players. Since player 212 survived by default, there should be 20 players left after the fourth game.

But when everyone comes back into the sleeping room at the start of episode 7, the big display board says there are 17 players remaining. (This is reduced to 16 before the fifth game by player 069 committing suicide.) What am I missing? Did some matches in the fourth game result in both players getting eliminated? Did someone else get killed that I've forgotten about?

• Maybe some people didn't finish game and both got killed Oct 11, 2021 at 6:46

I was surprised by the same point while watching, and I do not think that that discrepancy is explained or elaborated on. (In particular, there is no scene that takes place in the fourth game area between player 456 leaving the play area at the end of the timer at the end of episode 6, and the scene of the cleanup at the start of episode 7.)

Given the situation, I find it plausible (and guessable enough) that 3 pairs out of 19 did not complete in time, and that all participants in these duels were eliminated.

• Makes one wonder why the married-couple pair didn't do that, not completing their game in time. Oct 10, 2021 at 15:16
• @Randal'Thor: In the case of a couple that has debt and likely has dependents, an implied scenario of "I will sacrifice myself so you can go on and help our loved ones" makes enough sense to me that I did not question the married couple's decision. Oct 10, 2021 at 16:10
• It would make sense, if not for the fact that the survivor almost immediately killed himself and gave up any hope of helping their loved ones. Of course it's understandable that he was psychologically destroyed by having to "kill" his wife, but if she'd sacrificed herself specifically so that he could win, one would've thought that would give him more strength to continue, give her death a purpose and achieve what she died for. Oct 10, 2021 at 16:20
• I also do not find strange that, under the timed pressure of "do that or it is all for nothing" during the game, he would accept the rationale for his wife's sacrifice, and only realize afterwards, when he is alone at night, that he cannot actually go on an emotional level? In other words, yes, his wife's sacrifice would give him more strength to continue, but that additional strength might not be enough. Oct 10, 2021 at 16:32
• It could also have happened because some participants tried to attack the guards instead. Oct 26, 2021 at 21:37

The last bullet point is not necessarily correct. If there was no winner at the end of the marble game, both players could have been shot.

It is realistic for players, who probably somewhat like each other to pair up, and then also struggle with having someone win on time.

We just never really get an overview of all the pairs due to the walls and focus on specific characters.

• Also, it could be possible for sociopathic players like #101 (the gangster) when they are losing and are at their last marble, to stop playing with an attitude of "if I die anyway, you should die as well, instead of proceeding thanks to my death". The gangster and his "henchman" even changed the game from an odd-even guessing game (where if someone has only one marble remaining will almost surely lose) to one where they throw them into a hole, because there you have a chance even with your very last marble.
– vsz
Oct 13, 2021 at 6:05
• Seems even more likely if they don't like or care for the other player. If one player had say 6 marbles left (and at least in theory capable of turning the game around if they had some last minute luck) would they agree to just hand the remaining ones over to ensure the other player survived? Seems this is only likely in limited cases like 069 and 070. Otherwise if you were trailing but hadn't lost, your incentive would be to convince the other player who is leading to switch to a game that gives you a better chance to still win before time ran out.
– Dave
Oct 27, 2021 at 1:43