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.
January 16, 2023, FROCK, X/6
I OPENED THE game by playing WRONG and kept on playing wrong. How hard could the answer be, with a green -RO- on the board already? Maybe it was FROZE but why play a verb tense and a rare letter, with so much board to go? How about PROSE? Nope, same green -RO-. OK, nothing ending with E, how about TROUT? Not TROUT. The double green stripe was growing long enough to worry about a little. Maybe the O had a second O with it, as in DROOL? Not DROOL. Four rows gone. Now would be the time a smart player hit the brakes and tried playing as many unused letters as possible. But what if the answer were AROMA? It was not AROMA. One row left—what could go with the R? BR-? CR-? I thought of BROOK and CROOK, forgot I’d already eliminated the second O, and played BROOK, doomed before I hit “return.” The answer was FROCK. Dumb word. I was sort of glad I hadn’t focused enough to find it, but the whole thing was pure incompetence. My mind was elsewhere. I felt like I’d lost my office as a Wordle player.
January 17, 2023, ADOPT, 5/6
YESTERDAY’S SENSE OF mis-engagement and futility still hung over the grid, and I played the terrible word CALVE, thinking of icebergs breaking off a doomed glacier. The A was yellow and I decided to move it to the front of the row, with AGONY, which was my first correct decision in eight rows’ worth of Wordle. The A was green and so was the O. I celebrated by immediately losing focus, unable to think systematically about what might fill the spaces, and I played AROMA, just like I did in yesterday’s cascade of doom. The gray columns stayed gray. ABOUT? A green T showed up at the end. I wasn’t solving it so much as I was running out of ways not to solve it. What could fill in the A-blank-O? ADOPT. I could claim the victory as my own.
January 18, 2023, CHARD, 3/6
I SAW THE Ben Smith book galley on my desk and remembered that SMITH is also a non-proper noun. I played it and got four gray squares and a yellow H. HORDE kept the H yellow, adding a yellow R and D. That put the H somewhere on the interior, presumably in a combination. TH- and SH- were already out. Unless there was a DH- or RH- involved, the H and the RD were going to stay separate. So: CH- and -RD, and O was already out. CHARD. Last night’s vegetable, as it happened. The grid served up a row of greens.
January 19, 2023, MUCKY, 3/6
THERE WERE HAWKS flying around everywhere in yesterday’s mild, clear air, I remembered, after I played ALOFT. Like this morning, it came up all gray. Time to PERCH, with a yellow C to show for it. There was, I began to realize, a lot of useful information in that one yellow box amid nine gray ones. If the C moved to the front of the word, it couldn’t be part of a CH-; if it picked up a K, it couldn’t go to the front but it also couldn’t stay quite where it was. Something would have to come after it, like a Y. Meanwhile, the vowel supply was running helpfully low. DICKY would fit, and it was a funny word, but not even at its worst would Wordle go with a false shirt front for an answer. FROCK had been bad enough. Suppose it wasn’t -ICKY but -UCKY—MUCKY? Green all across. Clean and tidy.
January 20, 2023, ALTER, 4/6
TODAY’S LOOK AT the bookshelves for a word landed on Stephen Rodrick’s The Magical Stranger. Starting the game off with MAGIC yielded nothing too dazzling, just a yellow A. I didn’t want to put the A in the middle and start a guessing game. Maybe that counted as a strategy? If so, it was a pretty good one; ALONE got me a green AL- and a yellow E. Time for more strategy, with common letters, and ALERT. All the gray disappeared, but the last three letters were disappointingly yellow. Not ALERT, but ALTER. Just had to change it around a little.
January 21, 2023, BLURB, 4/6
AN OPENING GAMBLE on CRAPS got nothing but a yellow R. I thought about moving the R to the front, couldn’t come up with a word, and played TOWER instead, for four more grays and another yellow R. This was turning into one of those games where placing the one letter felt more important than finding any of the others, so I played FURRY. The green spot for the R was in the fourth square, and at last there was a second letter to work with, a yellow U. It couldn’t be part of a QU- opening, and not many things ended with U, so front or middle? If it was in the middle, what consonant combinations were left to fill the spaces before and after it? SH- and CH- were gone, and there was only the one R. BL- would work up front, though, so what did that leave for the end? Another B: BLURB. A praiseworthy Wordle answer, if you kept the praise short.
January 22, 2023, MATEY, 5/6
I WENT TO mythology for HARPY and got scourged for it: a pleasant looking green A and green Y made monstrous by the gray spaces attached to them—an obvious double chute. I didn’t even know if I was looking for consonants or vowels to fill the spaces, but I played along with DAILY. DAILY was wrong. FANCY? Also wrong. I could feel the slide down the gray accelerating under the weight of all the unguessed letters, the last row speeding into view. Add in the chance of doubled or tripled letters—TABBY? TATTY?—and the endgame was already a disaster. To heck with voluntary Hard Mode. I abandoned the unhelpful A and crammed the most new letters I could come up with into Row Four: MUSTY. The M was green, the T was yellow; the skid was broken. It was MAT-blank-Y. Ahoy, there! I had been looking for a vowel after all.
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