Wordle #265 X was trending heavily on Twitter, and many of the legions of people playing the world’s most popular viral word game had a horrible start to the day. Streaks were broken, angry messages were sent around, and phones were probably certainly tossed across rooms.
That’s not surprising, given that, unlike today’s Wordle solution, it was a particularly difficult one. The issue isn’t that the word was difficult (it wasn’t), but that there were so many different responses that used some of the same letters in different places.
For others of us, Wordle has become an obsession, and our streaks are a badge of honor, a way of justifying all those hours spent pondering five-letter phrases that begin with B and end in K or have two Ls in the center.
But I’m here to tell you — yes, you, the guy who just lost his 56-game streak — that it’s your own fault because you haven’t been using Wordle correctly.
I’ll have to provide spoilers for yesterday’s game, #265, in order to explain this — I’m assuming you’ve all played it by now, but only continue reading if you’re okay with that.
For a horrible Wordle day, here’s a nice Wordle strategy.
First and foremost, a disclaimer. Yesterday’s Wordle — WATCH — was just in 5/6 for me. It’s not like I’m a genius who completed the task in 3/6. (Anyone who scored a 2/6 certainly cheated, and anyone who got a 1/6 was lucky because the solution had to be your usual Wordle start word.)
I didn’t lose my streak, which is officially at 66 but technically at 187, because I’ve gone through the Wordle Archive and played every previous puzzle in order and haven’t made a mistake since game 78.
I cherish my streak with the same zeal as my Labrador guards his meal, and I’m terrified, heartbroken, and angry at the prospect of losing it. I’m not as concerned in getting a high score, though it’s a wonderful bonus. My major goal, though, is to avoid failure.
So, when confronted with a difficult Wordle problem like yesterday’s, I play it safe. Take a look at my game from yesterday to see what I’m talking about – it’s all about row three.
The issue with WATCH as a Wordle response is that there are so many options that differ simply by one letter. PATCH, LATCH, HATCH, CATCH, MATCH, and BATCH, for example, all share the same four last letters.
Early on, I recognized the potential for calamity and immediately went into damage-limitation mode. After STARE, my normal start word, I chose CHANT, which was a horrible choice because I already knew the A couldn’t be there.
But it didn’t matter because it proved the presence of the C and the H in the word, indicating that the word would finish in _ATCH.
I did something at that point that you can’t do if you’re playing on Wordle’s hard mode: I threw away a guess only to narrow down the options. Look at my third guess of PLUMB again — I knew it wasn’t right, but it would tell me which of PATCH, LATCH, MATCH, or BATCH may be the correct answer straight away.
Or, as it turned out, it told me it was none of the above — leaving only HATCH and WATCH as options. That’s a 50/50 probability, and I guessed incorrectly, but with two more guesses left, I was able to extend my streak for another day.
I play with four pals in a group of four, and we’re all quite evenly matched. I don’t always receive the best grade; in fact, I don’t always get the best grade. However, one of the quartet’s streaks ended yesterday, and the difference between our games was that I was more conservative.
So, the next time Wordle throws one of its curveballs, be cautious — or risk becoming one of the many disgruntled Twitter users.