Norman Knight: Getting a Wordle in edgewise

Some days we get busy with this or that, and it is not until later in the evening that Becky and I remember we haven’t yet played the daily Wordle. A new game starts at midnight each 24 hours, so if we don’t play within that time frame, we lose a day. This shows up on our daily score summary. We always check our score summary because we are somewhat competitive and our stats matter to us.

Becky and I play as a team. We sit next to each other and use my phone to show the playing grid. We like to start with a five-letter word that somehow connects with what is going on in our lives. For example, if we have just finished a run we might choose “MILES.” Playing Wordle as a team is a pleasant way for us to do something together. Working crossword puzzles is another.

For our daughter Rachel, on the other hand, Wordle is a personal competition. She plays as an individual. This pits her daily game against her husband Kevin as well as our granddaughter Lorelei. In a household whose members’ lives revolve around ballgames, running and cross country, gymnastics, dance and other athletic endeavors, competitiveness clearly is part of the DNA in the family.

Team B&N got hooked on the game at the beginning of summer. This was not too long after the January 2022 purchase of Wordle by the New York Times. Their intention was to include it in their site and app along with the New York Times Crossword Puzzle (In B&N’s opinion the most challenging crossword) as well as other word games. Some feared the newspaper would eventually put Wordle behind a paywall, but, so far, the game is free for all players. That seems generous.

The game itself is pretty straightforward. You are given six attempts to guess a five-letter word. for each guess you get feedback by color code showing if any letter is in the answer and if the letter is in the correct position.

As I was starting today’s column, we thought it might be a good idea to play today’s Wordle. Becky and I sat on the couch, and I called up the site. According to NY Times data, the most common starting words are ADIEU, AUDIO, STARE, RAISE, AND ARISE. Obviously, this strategy is to use different vowels right off. A logical plan, but, as I said above, this is not the B&N method.

Since I was writing a column, we started with WRITE and learned that R and E are in the word, but not in the correct positions. Becky suggested EMBER and we learned the word ends with ER. I suggested PAPER since my column will be in the newspaper, but then decided to use the word PALER, which doesn’t repeat a letter. That guess produced PA__ER.

We then tried PAPER. Nope. Still PA__ER. Okay, now we are getting to the end game. We have two more plays, and quickly scanning the unused letters, it seems like we have four options: PACER, PAGER, PAVER, AND PAYER. I lean toward PACER because of the basketball team, but it still reads PA__ER. Becky choses PAYER but, alas, no, today’s word is PARER which we didn’t even consider.

Our stats reveal this is the 125th time we have played and we got the answer 121 times, so, that is still a 97% success rate. The numbers breakdown to show we usually get an answer on the 3rd (35 times), 4th (39 times) or 5th (32 times) attempt. Today miss was an outlier we tell ourselves. This though is some small consolation for Team B&N.

Oh, well. What’s past is past. As the app reminds us: “Next Wordle in 13 hours.”

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]