When it comes to Wordle strategies, it’s personal

From ADIEU to SUAVE, Wordle aficionados weigh in with their preferred opening gambits. (Photo: NYTimes)
I’m usually an ADIEU person, but to mix it up, I sometimes start with CHAOS.

If that objectively strange (and definitely confusing) sentence makes sense, then you are probably one of the millions who begin or end their day with Wordle. For the uninitiated, Wordle is a deceptively straightforward word game that debuted just last October, in which players get six chances to guess a predetermined five-letter word. A green brick indicates whether the letter is correct and in the right place, a yellow brick means that the letter appears in the word but in a different location, and a gray or black brick indicates the letter is not present at all. Each guess is precious, and that first word is all-important.اضافة اعلان

The addictive challenge has sparked much debate about strategy as friends and family engage in some friendly competition (or trash-talking) by showing off their results on social media. A cottage industry of sites has even popped up offering tips; you can learn to optimize your game using information theory or head to FirstWord, a site that will grade the efficacy of your opener.

One popular strategy is to start with a vowel-heavy word, like ARISE, SUAVE, or my trusty ADIEU. By getting three or four vowels out there from the jump, one can quickly narrow down the list of possible solutions.

But not everyone is convinced that vowels are the way to go. “My hot take is that vowels are overrated, because your brain naturally fills in vowels more easily than consonants,” said Erin Parker, a beauty educator in Los Angeles. She points to vanity plates as proof of her theory; the vowels are always missing, but the meaning is still clear.

Parker doesn’t have a go-to opener; on the day we spoke, she said her first word was ITCHY, because her dog happened to be scratching herself at the time.

Actress J. Smith-Cameron, who plays the shrewd attorney Gerri Kellman on “Succession,” focuses on the process of elimination rather than vowels or consonants. “You know it’s a five-letter word, so it’s very likely a one-syllable word,” she said. “So then as you go along, you think, OK, if this vowel is in this place, does it start with a consonant blend, like a TH, or ST, or SH? Or if you’ve ruled out E and S and D, what does it end with? Does it end with NG, like STING? You do naturally start strategizing.”

She said she likes to switch up her opening word; SUAVE, ATONE, and SLATE are her recent favorites.

But for some players, too much strategizing defeats the purpose of the game.

The game’s touching origin story also helps explains its popularity. Josh Wardle, a software engineer, created it as a gift for his puzzle-loving partner and never planned on taking it public.

Perhaps as a result of its humble beginnings, many players feel protective of the game.

After the acquisition by The Times, some users began to complain that the words were getting harder and the game had become less accessible to the average person. Jonathan Knight, general manager of Games for The Times, said those concerns were unwarranted. “Since acquiring Wordle, we have not made the puzzle harder,” he said in a statement. “We have not added any words to the solutions list, which was already predetermined by the game’s original creator.”

As viral sensations go, the game is charmingly analog. It’s not encouraging you to keep playing, watch ads or pay for bonus features; there’s just one puzzle each day, and that’s it. It’s an antidote to all-you-can-eat digital bingeing, so low-fi that it lives in a browser, not an app.

Wordle has also created a new kind of social language, by enabling people to share their efforts without revealing the actual words. Those colorful squares posted on social media are an undemanding and novel kind of virtual connection with others. Two years into the pandemic, that novelty is welcome.

In a small way, Lewinsky said, it’s reminiscent of the early pandemic ritual where neighbors applauded and clanged pans out on their balconies or stoops to celebrate essential workers. “It’s a little touch point we can have with other people.”

And as our online lives have become increasingly individualized both by our own choices and by algorithms mining our data, Wordle is appealingly non-customizable. Everybody gets the same puzzle, on the same interface, for the same amount of time, making for a rare water-cooler conversation starter.

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