Most days I receive a text from my wife and my daughter. The text from my wife is usually first thing in the morning and my daughter’s arrives a little later in the day. Each text simply contains one number, ranging from 1 to 6 and is typically 3, 4 or occasionally 5 or 6. If 5 or 6 the number may be accompanied by a growling face emoji. Now for those reading this blog, I suspect the vast majority will have cottoned on to what I am referring to and I dare say it may be a daily phenomenon that occurs in many households. For those who are wondering what I am whittering on about, I can reveal that the number refers to the number of tries to get a word on Wordle. For the uninitiated, Wordle requires a 5 letter word; get a letter right in the wrong position, it shows orange or green for a correct letter in the correct position and you get six attempts to get it right.
There are a couple of themes that I’ve pondered arising from this fairly simple game. The first relates to my strategy to get the word in fewest attempts. Is it better to randomise the first word or are you better off sticking with the same word each time? Well, I was provided an answer to this as I was on the train heading to a London meeting. Opposite me were where what I assumed to be an aunt and nephew on a day out in half term. They decided to have a go at Wordle and see who could get the right answer first. The aunt won and then explained that she always uses the same word. She went onto say that the word contains the most high frequency letters.
Regrettably my eavesdropping didn’t extend to actually learning what the word was, but trusty Google provides a little help on that front. Apparently a mathematician has worked out the ideal word; one which on average will get you the solution in 3.4212 guesses in Wordle ‘normal’ mode (I didn’t realise there were different modes – note to self to investigate!)[i] Following the tradition of the sports news forewarning the announcement of a game result and suggesting you leave the room if you don’t want to know, I’ve put the word within the endnote to this blog.
The second theme emerging from Wordle is the sense of community around it. Glance through Facebook and you will invariably see a post with a box containing rows of orange and green blocks. I don’t believe this is demonstrative of showing off or bragging, but rather a reflection of shared frustration at not getting it, followed by the elation of cracking the code.
The final theme for me is the simplicity of the game. In an ever more complex world, there is something reassuring about a simple challenge of words. This is amplified by the fact that there is only one Wordle a day. It is as if you are It is as if Wordle is saying, listen guys this is just a five minute challenge to get the ol’ grey matter going but not something you should stress about and spend too long doing. Thanks for that Wordle!
When I write these blogs I often reflect back on my ex boss’s mantra of ‘does it pass the “so what” test’? In this instance, I am 100% convinced I’ve failed but I’ve enjoyed thinking about Wordle and if anything I’ve written has made you smile or connected in any shape or form, maybe we can put the ‘so what’ to one side.
[i] Mathematician Alex Selby found ‘Salet’ to be the most effective start word.