My Wordle Ritual


I have never been able to fully solve an NYT crossword. Neither have I ever managed to solve the ones that appear in Bombay Times. Those in Mumbai Mirror were easier but I don’t remember feeling excited at having successfully solved them. So, I stopped doing crosswords a long time ago, even before Mirror became a weekly.

I re-entered word puzzles earlier this year with Wordle, an inventive word game where you have to guess a five-letter word in six attempts. While it’s better to guess the word with as fewer attempts as possible, I believe the goal is to keep going and guess all the words till the puzzle eventually runs out of words. (Five-letter English words are limited and Wordle originally used a whittled-down, 2,500-word list, so the game in its current form might cease to exist by 2028.[1]The New York Times might not let it happen though as it spent good money acquiring the puzzle. Plus, the English lexicon is continuously expanding.[2]Look at all these Wordle variants: https://gist.github.com/maxspero/0a2f536b9561d829caf6bd994a34193d) Its beauty lies in its anti-addictive nature. Wordle releases only one puzzle a day and its clock resets every midnight. So, if you were to solve one right now (go on!), you’d have to wait till midnight for a new one. I spend about 5 minutes on it every day.

I solve my Wordles while sipping my morning tea, just before I read the news. Solving it makes me happy, though I sometimes feel bad for not knowing what certain words mean.

I enjoy solving Wordle because it has less to do with vocabulary and more with strategy. Unlike crosswords, there is no clue here. You have absolutely no idea what the word is going to be until the first or second attempt. It’s like using the English language against itself.

I say that because I have a strategy for Wordle. Maybe it’s a product of all the experiences I gathered attempting to solve crosswords over the years. Maybe it’s something else. Since the game’s goal is to guess the word correctly, I don’t really bother about doing it in fewer tries, though getting an ace is a dream.

Wordle stats with 99% wins
My Wordle stats till 23 July 2022

Anyway, the strategy is to start with words filled with vowels, and continue with words that do not repeat letters. Usually, my first three words are BEACH, POINT, and DRUGS or DRUMS. I am often able to guess the winning word after these three tries, hence my guess distribution is the highest for four and five attempts (see above). This is because only consonants remain, which massively bring down word possibilities. I sometimes use MILKY as the fourth attempt despite the duplicate vowel in it. This Wordle strategy works for me because I don’t have to obsess over the outcome, nor do I have to wait it out.

Wordle doesn’t have a timer except for the midnight reset. If you forget to play, you lose the streak but it doesn’t affect the win percentage. If you make two attempts in the morning, you can very well make the remaining four anytime during the rest of the day, even with intervals. The above strategy prevents me from having to delay it. Rarely have I delayed it just so I could experiment with some other words.

There are quite a few Wordle strategies that you could try. For example, if you followed that Reddit link above, you’ll know that ORATE is arguably the best word to start your Wordle with. And then follow it up with SULCI, NYMPH, DUNGY. See what I mean about not knowing what the definitions?

Solving Wordles is a sweet five-minute ritual that I do to feel good about myself. Maybe it helps because I’m a writer professionally, but I’m sure I would have been upset if I were terrible at it. I can’t say I have a full score because I have failed to guess three times so far. I don’t remember the first two words but the last one was CINCH. It’s truly ironic because I now know what it means.

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