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New York Times Buys Wordle… many fans are ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛…

By Gareth Jones
01 February 2022

By Gareth Jones

Puzzle fans learned late last night that their favourite new online game Wordle has been acquired by the New York Times for an ‘undisclosed seven-figure sum’ and will move to their website at some point in the future.

The game itself is barely three months old – created by software engineer Josh Wardle in October. It began getting noticed as people started posting strange block-shaped symbols on social media. What may have first seemed like a new alien language or signs from an emerging religious cult was, in fact, a deceptively simple word puzzle, which has quickly become a worldwide phenomenon.

Its charm perhaps lies in its straightforward, unpretentious and regular nature. Guess a five-letter word in six attempts, with different colours on your letters to guide you where you went right or wrong. With a new word to guess every day, it can easily suit the routine of our lifestyles (as more of us are coming back to the office, the game is ideally suited to the morning commute). But perhaps its biggest draw is its appeal to our social/competitive/narcissistic nature - the ability to show off our results on WhatsApp or Twitter and compare our guess attempts with friends, colleagues, celebrities or anyone else we choose to.

There is some concern that New York Times will eventually put the game behind its paywall (the NYT said it will ‘initially’ remain free to new and existing players). So, while you can still enjoy the game for free - here is SEC Newgate’s definitive guide to the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of Wordle, helping our readers make the most of their word-guessing.

Do start with a vowel-intensive word

It’s generally easier to guess a word when you narrow down the vowels. A good word to start with is ‘Adieu’. Others will suggest starting with words that narrow down other common letters (eg S, R, T, N), such as ‘Arose’. Once you’ve narrowed these down, subsequent guesses should be easier.

Don’t dismiss potential words because they are obscure

Sometimes the words are very obvious, but sometimes they are not. Last week we had the challenge of ‘Crimp’ and then ‘Knoll’ (a word not generally used in everyday conversation unless you are a JFK conspiracy theorist). You may have hesitated before typing these words in, thinking that more common words would be more appropriate guesses – but no, Wordle is not afraid to stump you with quaint and whimsical words, so keep that in mind.

Do share your results

Why go through the hard work of solving that five-letter word, unless you can tell everyone about it. Sharing your coloured cube grid with the world lets them know your journey to the right answer – how you grappled the intellectual challenge. Three guesses is optimal in my view, displaying the right level of intuition and guesswork. Four guesses is standard. Five or six guesses may feel disappointing, but also shows perseverance. You should be proud.

Don’t think you’ll get any praise for getting the word in one or two guesses

Let’s face it, getting the answer on your first attempt is pure luck (or worse, blatant cheating) and there is next to no skill involved. Proudly boasting about it will not win you any praise. Similarly, getting it in two guesses is mostly luck – you probably lucked-out on your first go, giving you an easy shot on your second go (authors note: I have yet to guess the answer in one or two guesses, if this changes, my views on this may change).