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.
December 5, WOKEN, 6/6
SOMEHOW THE SEARCH function told me I had never played CRANE before, so I did. The N and E were yellow, but I couldn’t make my brain drag them away from the end of the word. It was so hard to see other possibilities, I went ahead and doubled up on the E with NEEDY. There was no second E; also the N and E were still yellow. I still couldn’t see where this could go, and I bumbled into an even worse play: STEIN, which I knew had already been a Wordle answer, and for which I forgot all about the gray E I’d just gotten in the third position. So the E stayed yellow, on a wasted guess, but at least the N turned green. Maybe now I could come up with a reasonable and methodical word. WOMEN? All green except the M. Fine, not WOMEN, but WOVEN. All green except the V. The only letter left it could possibly be was K, which I’d rejected before for making too lousy of an answer. WOKEN. An ungainly verb tense of a politically skunked word. I’d played terribly but Wordle had played worse. Not worth getting out of bed for.
December 6, AMBER, 3/6
AFTER I’D SCRAPED away a handful of already-used words from my mind, it was time to do RINSE. Yellow E, yellow R, put them together: LAYER. The round-one letters turned green, the A turned yellow, adding more information on top of that. Moving the A rightward would make an awkward -AER ending. Leftward, at the start of the word, ANGER was already out. But AMBER would fit. Normal letters, a slightly unusual word-shape, some semantic appeal—preserve this one as a sample of what a Wordle answer should be.
December 7, JOUST, 4/6
I SAW THE date on my phone and I played PEARL. Wordle responded with five gray squares. So much for Wordle’s Thanksgiving foray into theme words on special occasions. I tried to stick with the theme with SHOCK and got only a yellow S and O. The possibility of ZEROS buzzed across my mind but the E and the R were gone, and it was a plural, so: enough. Wordle was clearly trying to FOIST something else on me. Green O, green S, green T. JOUST, then. My head-to-head battle with the Wordle was done.
December 8, NO WORDLE
THE WORDLE POSTGAME Report does not cross picket lines, and happily consigns its winning streak of 100-whatever games to the bonfire. Best of luck to the New York Times Guild in its negotiations with management. Next Wordle tomorrow, when they’re back on the job.
December 9, BRAID, 4/6
OUT OF RESPECT for the labor negotiations, I was about to play UNITE when I checked and saw it was the Wordle answer almost exactly a month ago, on November 10. Then I was going to play the name of prominent scab Peter BAKER, the spectacularly shallow lead White House reporter whose declared commitment to neutrality on matters of public controversy didn’t stop him from siding with management against his colleagues—but BAKER was the answer on November 16. What other prophecies and warnings about this labor impasse are hidden in the trail of Wordle solutions? Is management going to AVERT a full-on strike (November 19) and make everyone HAPPY (November 27)? Or are they going to stick with a TEPID offer (November 28) and see Guild members EJECT themselves from the newsroom (December 1)? Optimistically, I opened the game with RAISE and got yellow on R, A, and I. Back to the negotiating table, with CHAIR. Green A and I, yellow R—two terms locked in, and a map to the third. How much more time would this DRAIN? Yellow D, green R-A-I. BRAID. Individual strands organized into something stronger.
December 10, KNOCK, 5/6
NO FUN OR interest to be had here at all. WREAK planted a green K; FLOCK expanded that to a green -OCK. And there it stalled. STOCK didn’t work, but it did eliminate a lot of consonant combinations. With the selection of two-letter groups already so thin, was one of those green letters recycled at the beginning of the word? It couldn’t be CLOCK. CHOCK was a cruddy word, but what else was there? QUOCK? I played CHOCK. Nope. What was left? Oh, the K. KNOCK. I felt like disparaging the game and how I’d played it.
December 11, NAIVE, 5/6
THERE ARE WORSE ways to fail than by falling off the bottom of the board. I stared with CREAM, and got a yellow E and A. Time to move them over. TEACH wouldn’t work; the C was gone. I tried it with BEAST instead: still yellow. What now, keep them together and slide them again, with EAGLE? It felt too early to double up when all I had was two common vowels. ANGLE: yellow A, yellow N, green E. And then—stuck. Absolutely stuck. By elimination, the A had to go in the second spot. The word was _ A _ _ E. But there were three slots where the N could go, and two other letters to come up with, and no words came to mind. DANCE? Again, no C. CANOE? No C. KANYE? DANKE? I couldn’t find my scratch pad, so I got a stray scrap of paper instead and started trying write the possibilities, hoping a familiar word-shape would emerge. Nothing. What if I played DANCE anyway, knowing it was wrong, just for the sake of getting closer to placing the N? What if I played NINNY, to put the N down for sure? DANCE…DANKE…I tried DANKE and Wordle rejected it as ineligible. Apologies to Wayne Newton. To hell with it, DANCE. Green A, yellow N, worthless C. Green E, of course. I was out of time. I closed the computer, took a shower, went out to a recital, came home, ate lunch. Opened the computer again. It was either N A _ _ E or _ A _ N E. I dug deeper into to the piles of papers on my desk and came up with the real scratch pad—no, it was the remains of the used-up pad before that. I dug deeper still and found it, and set up two columns. Sixteen non-words later (-AFNE…-AXNE..NAY-E…) I wrote NAI and finally saw it. Pathetic. It was as if I’d never played the game before.
The Wordle Postgame Report will be posted semi-regularly. If you enjoy reading the Wordle Postgame Report, please contribute to Popula to support this and other things. Thank you for reading!
Thank you for reading POPULA! Add your email here to receive our newsletter!