Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Wordle: like winning a tiny lottery

     Maybe carjacking. The mayor said something judgy and tone-deaf, again. A reader phoned, Monday, offering a photo of his friend, killed for his Mercedes in the South Loop. That never happened before. “I’m sorry for your loss,” I said, flustered at how blase he was. I passed the photo on to the city desk.
     Maybe expressway shootings. My kid drives the Dan Ryan to work every day, and at each bulletin of the latest shooting, I check the age of the victim, if unnamed, to reassure myself that it isn’t him. Is that too personal to put in the paper? Probably.
     Or maybe Wordle. Yes, definitely Wordle. In a world gone completely bonkers, between our endless pandemic and World War III about to break out in the Ukraine, Wordle is a balm. With the news an endless grating atonal symphony performed by an orchestra of car alarms, train horns and fingernails raked across chalkboards, Wordle provides five minutes of calm, quiet, focus, and the expectation of success.
     Wordle is a word game, if you’re one of the few who haven’t played yet.
     Created last year by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle,CQ Wordle exploded in December when he fiddled with the algorithm so players could share their scores. Like any good virus, Wordle is highly contagious.
     “Guess the WORDLE in 6 tries,” the instructions explain. “Each guess must be a valid 5 letter word. Hit the enter button to submit. After each guess, the color of the tiles will change...”
     The game is simplicity itself. A grid with 30 square boxes, five across, six down. Underneath, a QWERTY keyboard. Nothing else. No advertisements, yet. My wife always starts with “ADIEU” as her first guess, because of the four vowels. If the word you guess contains a letter in today’s mystery word, that letter comes up green if in the right place, yellow if right but in a different position. And letters that aren’t in today’s word at all are gray.

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  1. This was the first thing I read today after my email…and Wordle! TBF, I usually come here first. 4 tries today, which is my most frequent result. One of my friends got in in 1 on her first attempt (MOIST) and decided to go out on top.

  2. The perfect time waster that I didn't know I needed!
    "HUMOR" in 3, thank you.

  3. I can't quite remember when I started playing Wordle but it's been at least a month and I haven't failed yet, which definitely isn't a testament to my verbal ability. It's just a bit too easy.

    I'm the opposite of Edie. I purposely don't try to use an optimal first word. I just use the first 5-letter word with no repeated letters that comes to mind that day (like "angst", a fine choice), then play hard mode the rest of the way, which I just figured was the natural way to play, before I even realized there was such a thing as hard mode.

    I would be surprised if NYT paywalls it. It's far too trivial to knock off.

    Speaking of NYT puzzles, I do the crossword every goddamn day. For me, a nice 10 to 20 minute bite-sized chunk, Monday through Wednesday, is great. Thursday through Sunday takes a bit longer but I usually slog through first thing in the morning, before Thip wakes up.

    On that subject, if I were the NYT, I'd be looking at Wordle's sharing model, and I'd apply it to their crossword, i.e., share the blocks of the crossword without the letters, just the right/wrong indicators. I don't know that I'd go so far as to patent the idea (now that they've taken care of the prior art obstacle), but having a patent in the war chest isn't a new idea. NYT already makes it simple to gift a puzzles subscription, and they have the idea of leaderboard, but Wordle's sharing is the killer feature. OTOH, sharing is, well, frequently viewed as spamming.

    And unlike NYT's frustratingly executed Spelling Bee, Wordle has the virtue of absolute victory, unlike the quest for reaching Genius level, then finding that your idea of a common word (e.g., "tarn", "luff") isn't in the Spelling Bee lexicon, then finding some word in their lexicon that seems completely ridiculous.

    My favorite aspect of the Wordle phenomenon though, is the fact that the "Wordle!" phone app, no relation to Josh Wardle's Wordle, blew up briefly in popularity, and Steven Cravotta, that game's author donated all the proceeds.

  4. Basic. Light. Swell.

    Wordle is certainly a fun diversion, and the once-a-day feature seems crucial to me. While one can hardly fault Mr. Wardle for accepting the NYT's money for his efforts, it would have been nice for it to have remained just the way it is.

    Obviously, I hesitate to boast, but not for long! ; ) Evidently, I bested Neil yesterday and you today, Coey, with back-to-back 3s. "Impressive!" in the eyes of the algorithm... Full disclosure: my most common score is 4, also, and while I've had 5s and 6s, I've never been lucky enough to do better than 3.

  5. My best was THOSE in 2. I didn’t share it on Facebook, but I took a screenshot! My opening gambit, which I vary, was RAISE.


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