The Wordle Postgame Report is a brief analysis of a game of Wordle, the five-letter-word guessing game now owned by the New York Times. If you do not play Wordle, we encourage you to please skip this item. The existence of the Wordle Postgame Report does not constitute an endorsement of playing Wordle, not playing Wordle, or of the New York Times.
November 28, TEPID, 3/6
FIRST I THOUGHT of SLOTH, but that had already been an answer, so I tried CLOTH. Yellow T. TRAIN turned it green, with a green I as well. Now the word was on track. Was it one syllable, maybe with the T in a consonant pair and the I in a vowel pair? Or was it two syllables? The T couldn’t go with an H or an R anymore, and the I would have to be part of an EI, rather than an IE. So THIEF was out. What would the two-syllable version look like? T-vowel-consonant-I-consonant. Regular old common E was still in play. T-E-consonant-I-consonant. TEPID. The game had barely heated up and it was over.
November 29, UNDUE, 4/6
THE CAT SPRINTED across the bedroom, took a jump at the air conditioner, seemed to mistime it, and did a parkour move to bounce off the front. I played LEAPT to open the Wordle. It got a yellow E. Not much to work with, or plenty of opportunity to try new letters? SHORE got the E to turn green, but was gray everywhere else. Still no sign of an emergent answer, but even more letters were off the board, and there was lots of space to fill. Might as well use up the rest of the common vowels: GUIDE. Yellow U, yellow D. It didn’t look like much, but the possibilities were all but exhausted. UNDUE could fit, and it did. No excessive trouble getting there.
November 30, STUDY, 5/6
STARTING THE GAME off with SNACK brought only the brief and fleeting satisfaction of a lone green S. STOVE added a green T, and knocked two more vowels off the board. STING and STUNG were already gone, thanks to the N—what if it opened with a triple set of consonants, as in STRIP? Nope: three gray spaces, no positive progress. The vowel possibilities were down to U. And Y, sure, OK, yes. The consonants available for the ending were pretty well depleted, too. STUFF got the U in place, but the last two squares were gray. A little panic began to stir. Was it time to burn round five guessing a whole new assortment of letters, for fear of falling off the board? Were there even enough usable letters remaining to make that worth doing? What if—what if my whole line of attack had been pointed the wrong way, locked in on one-syllable words? There was that nearly overlooked Y, patiently waiting for a syllable of its own. STUDY. I’d just needed to look at the problem more carefully.
December 1, EJECT, 4/6
NOVEMBER LASTED FOREVER but also ended much too abruptly; what was that “THU 1” doing on the calendar app logo? Time to be officialy behind on the holiday shopping, and to open the Wordle grid with CEDAR, getting a yellow C and E. Why break something apart before you have to? I moved the CE intact to the end, with TWICE. Yellow T, green C, yellow E. Not a -CE, but a -CT, then. Probably an -ECT, and why not use the E in the other slot too. ELECT. All green but the L. It looked like a chute, but little-used J seemed to be the only way to fill it, for a quick exit from the endgame.
December 2, CHAFE, 3/6
I DON’T KNOW if I was consciously thinking of how the kitchen garbage had ripened overnight but the starter word that came up was ACRID. Yellow A, yellow C. One of the children took the bag down. I considered beginning the next guess with CA- but every word I could conjure without much effort (CAPER…CATER…) needed the already-eliminated R. So CHA-, instead. Nice common letters: CHASE. All green except the S. It should have been an F. Of couse it should have been the F. Wordle had picked a much better word than I had, and it was irritating to know that.
December 3, TORSO, 3/6
AN OPENING POKE with SPEAR drew two yellow letters, on the S and the R. ROSIN seemed too specialized to guess, but FROST crystallized the results: yellow R, yellow O, green S, yellow T. It resolved itself into TORSO before my eyes. Solid green in the midsection of the grid.
December 4, ADORE, 4/6
WHAT MAKES SOMETHING a Wordle spoiler? As soon as I looked at my Twitter feed, I saw Bomani Jones had tweeted out a 1/6 victory. Possibly—it was Twitter—this was a goof on something. If it was information, though, it was already in my Wordle-solving circuits, before I could do anything about it. Usually, on the unfortunate occasions where someone says something that refers to the Wordle result, I am able to tune it out, to blank my mind into what feels like the state I would have been in without the knowledge. This fact, though, was so basic it had crashed through my defensive ignorance. What was the fact, even? Formally, all those five green squares said was that today’s Wordle answer was a five-letter word. But (if it wasn’t a goof) it couldn’t help saying more than that. It was a first guess. A first guess, from most people, is generally not going to have any rareties in it. Certainly no repeats. The answer would have five different common letters in it. Unless it was a goof! Or unless Bomani Jones is a weird Wordle player. But there I was. Without seeing the tweet, was today a day I would have tried something unusual in the opening word, or not? If I chose to play an uncommon letter, I’d still be reacting to the knowledge. I thought of the word TAPER and just played it. Yellow A, yellow E, yellow R. Hitting on common letters. No, OK, whatever, rearrange them: RELAY. All three still yellow. Whatever the uncertain advance information was doing, it wasn’t speeding me through the game. Shuffle the three letters again: AROSE. Green A, yellow R, green E, and now a green O. ADORE. Not the most admirable or lovable way for the game to go.
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