Wordle: The Two-Step Strategy That Keeps Me Winning

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The Two All-time Means to Win at Wordle

Take it from a crossword pro.

Photo illustration by Slate. Wordle by Josh Wardle.

Realistically, at this bespeak, you lot don’t need us to tell yous about the viral puzzle game Wordle—five letters, half-dozen guesses, no shenanigans. Its virtues equally a collective shared experience, a moment of escape amid diverse current miseries, accept been eloquently lauded. Our Twitter timelines are now coated with dark-green, gray and yellow squares, and that feels fine.

Wordle may have likewise coated your timeline with heated opinions nearly how everyone else is playing it wrong. As people who spent our days thinking nearly how best to put letters in boxes long before last week—Nate is a professional crossword setter and official examination solver for the New York Times daily puzzle—nosotros have some humble suggestions for how to choose your Wordle guesses.

At that place are two optimal strategic approaches to Wordle, depending on what’s more than important to y’all: trying to get the answer inside the allotted six guesses but non really trying to win any quicker than that, or trying to win with as few guesses as possible, which about necessarily means a college take a chance of sometimes losing completely. (If y’all take the third strategic approach—“just take a good fourth dimension for 3 minutes, and maybe question your impulse to optimize everything in life”—you have our sincere congratulations.)

The “Get It in Six” Strategy

The pull a fast one on to this arroyo is to maximize the information y’all acquire from early guesses. If your first guess lands yous with a satisfyingly light-green square—a correct letter of the alphabet in a correct location—information technology’s tempting to reuse that light-green letter in your subsequent guesses. But doing and then gives you lot no new information: You already knew that letter was correct.

It can exist strangely hard, emotionally, to make a approximate that you
know
couldn’t exist correct, because it doesn’t include a letter of the alphabet that you already know is needed to win, and meditating on that experience may or may not requite you insight into either yourself or society. But if you can fight that impulse, the data-maximizing strategy is to make your beginning few guesses bridge as many common letters as possible with a fix of guesses similar YOURS, LIMED, CHANT or SIREN, OCTAL, DUMPY. (Confession fourth dimension: Nate’s favored opening is secretly IDEAL/Due south; some things in life are more virtually taste than optimality.) Simply after clearing the ground would you switch to rearranging the letters you’ve already discovered and actually trying to guess the correct solution.

Wordle has a Hard Mode where yous are actively
forced
to reuse whatever successful letter guesses, thereby complicating this information-maximizing strategy. If y’all’re playing on Hard Mode, and if your priority is still avoiding a blowout, you might want to switch your starting guesses to include
less
mutual letters of the alphabet, instead, to cover as much ground as possible before you hit the letters you most expect to go along. In general, figuring out which messages aren’t in the word can be info simply as valuable (and sometimes more so) as figuring out what is—potentially another life lesson from Wordle, if you were looking for i.

The “Win in Every bit Few Moves Equally Possible” Strategy

Here, discretion and judgment become more than important. All you can practice is pick a smart first give-and-take and so immediately optimize around any of the right letters y’all’ve found; in this situation, some of the insights of professional crossword solvers come into play.

First, from experience, if you’re trying to unscramble a word, then having the first and last messages in place seems to help most of all. (You may take seen the ctue ltitle dmonestariton of our brains’ ability to decipher sentences with the internal letters of each word scrambled, although you’ll be shocked to hear that it’south a little more complicated than the RE: FW: FW: version that circulated in the early on days of the internet.) Every bit such, it might brand sense to focus your mental free energy on the first and terminal letters of the discussion.

In crosswords, a plurality of words finish in RSTLNE—this can often help a lot when solving a crossword, by the way, because you know that words forth the bottom and correct edges of a filigree volition ofttimes exist made up of mostly those letters.

However, with Wordle, we can really become one meliorate: Yous can see the unabridged solutions list just by viewing the source code of this delightfully minimal website, so it’s possible to fully determine the most common starting and finishing letters. (Y’all will be delighted to hear that there are 2,315 solutions, plenty for six years of Wordling.) Engineer Bertrand Fan extracted and analyzed the solution set and declared the all-time starting word to be “SOARE”, an archaic word for a young hawk that is suddenly in a lot more people’south vocabularies. We can go a little farther; using Fan’due south export of the source list, nosotros tin analyze the frequency of each letter as both the starting and the ending letter of words:

A chart of which letters occur the most at the beginning and end of Wordle solutions.

Memorize it.
Uri Bram

A few perhaps-surprising outcomes:
Due south
is not only the most mutual letter at the start of Wordle solutions but likewise a very infrequent letter at the end of them, so when yous’re mentally rotating letters you might try S at the offset more than at the end. (While Southward is super common in everyday linguistic communication, equally used to pluralize nouns, none of the solutions in Wordle are plurals ending in S.) Meanwhile, although
Due east
is the most mutual final letter,
Y
is surprisingly close on its heels, which makes it a stronger candidate for inclusion in your first guess than information technology otherwise would exist.

A last wrinkle in Wordle—a source of consternation among glory players—is the chance of duplicated letter(s). Guessing a discussion with one S, say, and having that Southward turn greenish or yellow just tells yous information about one S; you won’t get info nearly other Southward’s in the word unless you guess a word with two S’s or piece together that it might exist there. Just how mutual is that? According to our analysis, nigh exactly ane-third of Wordle solutions comprise at least one duplicated letter—this is worth keeping in heed, regardless of your strategy. (Interestingly, one of the solutions in fact contains only
ii
unique letters, full—it’s going to be a fun solar day on Twitter when that one drops.)

At the end of the day, it’s hard non to sound sappy while saying that the real magic of Wordle is discovering that we
tin
in fact have one entirely prissy affair. The clever design of the “share your results” organisation lets usa be part of a cultural zeitgeist moment in real time without whatsoever worry of creating spoilers; the not-too-complex puzzle gives the states a sense of challenge and accomplishment without existence frustrating or overwhelming; and creator Josh Wardle’s thoughtful determination to limit the puzzles to one per day prevents u.s. all from avid beyond the point of pleasure (although we exercise have to admit to sneaking in some occasional bonus rounds of Queerdle). In the end, still y’all want to play your Wordle, you’re playing it just right.

Due to a production error, this article originally included the wrong chart.

Source: https://slate.com/technology/2022/01/wordle-how-to-win-strategy-crossword-experts.html