Wordle Has Turned Fans of Word Games Into Argumentative Strategy Nerds

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The hugely popular online game requires players to guess a new five-letter word each day; ‘Her plot frustrates me!’

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Sam Sheridan, a London psychologist said, plays wordle when he is in bed at midnight, “which probably sounds crazy.”

The game is simple. You have six chances to guess the secret word of the day, which consists of five letters. Type a word as a guess, and the game tells you which letters are or aren’t in the word. The game is free and has no ads. The objective is to find out the secret word with the least amount of guesswork.

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Fans usually have a favorite first word that they think gets the fastest answer. Two groups have emerged: those that type in vowel-heavy words first and those that go after common consonants.

Mr. Sheridan first types “getting up” to eliminate three vowels at once. “I haven’t failed yet,” said the 30-year-old, who started playing a week ago. He loves to tease his girlfriend, Anna Taylor, who has no strategy. “I only have fun when I can move smoothly and quickly,” said Ms. Taylor, 31, who works in clinical research. “Her plot frustrates me!”

Rebecca Powers, 46, prefers more dishes on her first try and usually types “steer.” He rejected those who think that there should be more a, e, i, o or u in the first guess.

“Words are not made of vowels alone,” said the communications director for Melbourne, Australia.

Bertrand Fann, a software engineer in San Francisco, took a look behind Wordle’s website to get a leg up.

He looked at the code used to build the site and found a list of words used in the game. But he didn’t use it to cheat. “It would ruin the game if I really looked at the answer for each day,” he said. Instead, Mr. Fan used the list to find the most frequent letters in the words.

Their analysis found that E, A, R, O, T, L, I and S were the most commonly used letters in the answers. He replaced his previous favorite opening word “adieu” for “sore”, meaning young falcon.

Mr. Fan, 41, said, “I’ve never seen that word before. He thinks it helps him win an attempt faster than “Adieu.”

The game encourages people to share their results online, which helped it go viral. “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon tweeted his results to his 51.4 million followers last Tuesday. “Who else is playing #Wordle? Addicted,” he wrote. Three days later he posted an update. “Still hooked,” he said.

Players paste the wordplay game onto social media, which has filled the timelines of Facebook and Twitter with a sea of ​​green and yellow squares. In the game, when a guess is made, the color of the tiles changes to show you how close you are to the secret word. If you guess “tired,” as the instructions say, and “W” turns green, the secret word begins with W. If E turns yellow, the letter is in the word, but in the wrong place. The letters that are grayed out are not in the word.

Stephen Gaines, 52, started playing last week after seeing green and yellow tweets. They discussed the best first word with friends and settled on a few: “ratio,” “toner,” “tears” and “irritable,” as they contained the most commonly used letters in the English language.

Then he realized he could do better. He spent Friday nights and Saturday mornings building a Google spreadsheet to figure out the best first word. Using an online list of 2,499 five-letter words, it showed that the most common letters were E, S, A, R and O. He has now uttered his first word “get up”.

“It’s clearly a best guess,” said Mr Gaines, a product designer in Stockholm.

London-based Starling Bank Ltd turned the game into an advertisement. “Best Bank in Britain?” Tweeted this. The names of the rivals were wrong answers, while the word “Starling” was in green. The bank’s social media chief Oliver Mott said activists are fans of the game. “We couldn’t resist doing a fake one,” he said.

JJ Edmondson started a Facebook group last week where people can post their results. About 170 people share their Wordal scores as well as hints, clues and tricks. There is an important rule: “Don’t reveal the answer!” wrote Ms Edmondson, 53, a teacher in the Australian city of Korumbura.

One trick she shares is how to get past Wordley’s once a day game limit. She suggests using the Wayback Machine, an online Internet archive where people can visit Wordle’s website and play old games from days past.

Ira Lillian, retired from New York, wishes there was a timer with the game to see if anyone had spent hours figuring out the word. When he plays, he types in words that contain s, t, e or r, letters he often uses in another word game, Scrabble.

Josh Wardle, who invented Wordley, is a software engineer from New York. He built a prototype in 2013 and during the pandemic he dusted it off for his partner, who loved playing word games.

It began in mid-November, Wardle said, when technologist Andy Bao put a link to the game in his blog. Then Mr Wardle noticed that fans in New Zealand were posting results with a colored box made by him. So Mr Wardle made it easy to share the results and things went viral. He said 1.8 million people played last Friday, compared to 90 people on November 1, 2021.

His email inbox is filling up with people explaining their strategies. He doesn’t know which one is the best.

“You’re asking the wrong person,” he said. “I’m so bad at it.”

improvement and amplification

Ninety-nine people played Wordle on November 1, 2021, the game’s inventor said. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the year was 2020. (Corrected Jan. 10.)


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