A Word on Wordle!

You may have heard of and hopefully have played a new internet game called Wordle. It is a simple but beguiling endeavor.

It was invented by Josh Wardle as a fun word game for his partner and he posted it to be played for free on the Internet. It took off when he added a feature to allow the player to post results without giving away the answer to other players online. It can be used to boast or bemoan the results in email, Twitter, Facebook or other means. The New York Times recently bought it and has not yet monetized or altered it. There is a good article about it here.

I have been addicted to it since I stumbled upon it a couple of months ago. I post my results every day to my Twitter (@walterthinnes) account, some good, some not. Essentially one five letter word is issued daily, so while addictive it is not all consuming. The Player has six chances to guess the word. The Game will provide clues for each word guessed (must be a five letter word in the database). If grey (or black or in below example white) a particular letter is not in that day’s word. If yellow (or gold) the letter is correct but in the wrong place). If green the letter is in the correct spot. The app keyboard reflects the status to help your decisions. Taking that information you take another guess until you correctly choose the word or run out of guesses. My record is pretty good because as a writer I focus on words everyday. I will admit to failing at one puzzle which merely sharpened my focus. I would never reveal today’s puzzle to spoil it. But I will show how I solved yesterday’s puzzle to give you an idea of how it works.

Here is a the product you would have seen on my Twitter from yesterday’s game:

Wordle 262 3/6*




This indicates it was the 262nd game (I have done 61 so far) and that I solved it in 3 of six possible guesses. The asterisk indicated that I played it in “hard” mode. Hard mode means that once you discover a letter present you must use it somehow in your next guess, which is just a little harder but makes more sense as you narrow down your options. To get started, just play the normal version.

Choosing the first word guess is subject to personal preference and fierce debate among players. You can find articles about Wordle strategy all over the web. After some experimentation my first is always ADIEU. It gets most vowels out there and as you can see above it showed me that the E was in the right slot but no others are involved. By basic rules I can play any other word next but playing the “hard” rules I had to keep that E right where it is, which narrows my choices considerably.

My next step is to either see if there is an O and/or include as many of the letters R, S, or T as I can as they are very commonly used letters and I can often (though not alway) catch one or two in the word. In yesterday’s puzzle I chose the consonant route and typed in STREP. Aha. I see that the R or P are not present but the S is in the right place and the T is in the wrong place.

Here I start with S _ _ E _ and find a place for the T. Often I would check to see if I can fit an O but with the E so late in the word it gives me a thought. While the clue tells me a E in that spot it does NOT tell me if there is a second E in the word. Believe me I’ve been badly tripped up by not considering that before. So thinking about a second E I momentarily considered SPREE but I just saw that there was no P or R and I needed to find a place for the T. So I took a guess at SWEET and tada! That is the answer.

So you can see how other grids for the day don’t give it away for other players and yet one can still boast about it online. One of the biggest traps is homophones in which you know after a few guesses that you have something like _OAST. Easy right? Go down the list COAST, ROAST, BOAST, TOAST and oops, you run out of guesses before you find the word. The hardest word I have seen so far is CYNIC, not particularly common letters and a Y in the midst of the word – tough but doable. So it is a mix of strategy and chance. Give it a try, it is absorbing, free, and a daily dose of improving your word skills. There have been many copycat apps but I strongly prefer the original. Enjoy. Below is the URL to play the original. And follow my Twitter to see how I do.


As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

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