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My Wordle Adventure

I wrote the first part of this post this morning, before I attempted the Wordle, and then the second part, after I returned home, and tried it. (If anyone has not done it, and does not want the answer yet, do not read part 2 until you do).

I. I have not attempted the Wordle today, I will do it when I have more time later. If I solve it, it will be 100 in a row, of which I will be proud. But the game has lost some appeal for me, which I do not say in the disparaging way in which many people like to pass off things. I like when people have things like this to look forward to; whether the Kentucky Derby, or a favorite show, or a new book by someone you like, rare enough now.

A few days ago, I was at my fourth guess, and I was sure the answer was badge or cadge. And so I guessed badge, because I knew that the New York Times gamerunners would not allow cadge, because it would anger many people who do not know the word. Just like there was all this complaining about “tacit.” Like the removing of agora and harry, mid-game, because they decided that the words were too “archaic.”

Sometimes I think of other words which I am virtually certain will never be wordle answers, though they are good words, familiar to anyone who reads books. Cairn, I thought of as an early possibility the other day, and then thought, “very unlikely.” Deign. Feign. Swale, sward. Trope, slake, whist, idler, gnarl, feint, quora. These words will be considered too hard for the average readers of the NYT, even though that newspaper used to pride itself on its intellectual status.

So Wordle is not actually a vocabulary game. Having a really good vocabulary, knowing a lot of words and their meanings, is not essential to the game. It is a kind of spelling game, like Jumble. Many people look up algorithms which tell them which are the most likely letters by percentage. You don’t need to know a lot of words, just the usual ones.

I realized that when I almost missed one the other day. The reason was that my first word does not have an h, though I know that many like to start with “house.” I never change my words based on such things, because then it would not be me playing it. My first two words, which I came up with after consideration, when I missed the only wordle, after just sort of playing it by whim in the early stages (it came down to “perky” or “jerky,” and I missed it), are good ones, but the lack of an h was a limitation.

Actually, I would use lynch as my third guess, with the y, and helpful consonants including h, but, the NYT removed lynch from their list of words, because it might upset Black people, even though Whites were lynched as well. So that did not help in my playing; I could use synch, but I already use “s,” so it causes me to waste a letter.

Anyway, the word was “homer.” Had I used house first, I would have had h, o, e, r, after my first two guesses, and probably would have gotten homer on the third try. But because I did not, I had o, then r, and e, in the wrong spots, after two guesses. So I tried cover for the third guess, which helped, giving me the o, e, and r, in the right place. But there were then a variety of choices for the other two letters. Boxer. poker. joker?

I tried “broke,” to test the b and k, but neither was in the word. It could have been foyer again, but they couldn’t do that after it was the answer two or three weeks ago! So I tried mower, which fortunately showed the m, not first, so I then got homer, which is not an ideal word, being a slang term for home run, but it is a commonly used word, though British people complained.

But I realized that had the guess showed the w, for – o w e r, I would have had one guess left, between lower, and rower. Miss that, and I miss the word.

Well, that is the game, that is fine, but it was all because I did not use h in my first word. I still will not, because I did not come up with it on my own. My point is that this is what Wordle essentially is, since they removed all the “hard” words. As I have noted, if they ever get to – a – e d, there are so many possibilities, that it would be pure luck if you got the right two letters. For example, even if you got c as the first letter, you still would have to choose among caged, caked, caned, caped, caved, cawed. Knowing those words does not help you.

2. That is all I wrote, I was going to write more later. But I decided to do the wordle first. My first try got me no letters. My second try got me one letter, an a, not where I had put it, third. So not a good start. I had tried all of the regular vowels, and five consonants..

Well, that was where lynch would come in handy, but why bother? I have never found a good substitute for it at that stage. I wanted a word with a c, h, n, l, and to move the a around ,but no such word. unless the circa 1940’s slang “natch” is a word! Latch helps, but no n, and I repeat the t. So after thinking for a few minutes, I thought that I would guess lynch again, just to get upset when it said “this word is not on our list.”

So I typed it in, and to my amazement, it accepted the word! And not only that, but it showed the y, not the second letter; the n, the third letter, and the c, not the fourth letter. So suddenly I had four letters.

I had – – n – -, with an a, y, and c. It was likely that the a was second, though not for certain, and that the y was last. So – a n – y. Candy, for Mother’s Day? I had already found that there was no d in the word. Canty, is that a word? How about canny? Is that a word which NYT would not think is too arcane? Probably, so I tried it, and it was the word, and I had 100 in a row, and 116 out of 117 total wordles!

I think that it was almost, well, at least somewhat, as gratifying, that the NYT let “lynch” back in as a word. It should be in, along with virtually every word that is not blatantly obscene or racially or religiously or gender degrading. I would probably have gotten “perky,’ too, if I could have had lynch as my third guess, and gotten the y earlier!

Will I keep playing Wordle? I am not sure. I will likely miss another one at some point. It is not that, one is never going to get every game right, but it is that I don’t get to show off my vocabulary, even if to myself, because they have made the game “average user friendly.”

I would rather miss a few in a series of very challenging but fair games. But I am not the kind of person who searches for games, I mostly just take what is easily accessible. I used to sometimes buy the Dell crossword puzzle books which had various types of word puzzles, when I was a teenager, and then sometimes I would do the daily crossword in the Los Angeles Times. My father would grab the larger and more prestigious Sunday puzzle, and not let me get it until he had mostly or fully finished it, then he would leave it in a conspicuous place, so everyone would be impressed!

Well, I am glad to have gotten the hundredth wordle in a row, and that my essay about the NYT ruining Wordle by expurgating words, is now less appropriate, unless of course they do it again, or they still have proscribed words. If anyone here wrote to the NYT because of that post, my congratulations, you may have gotten them to think better of it. Or maybe it was one of their billionaire backers who complained, more likely to have influenced them. Now, can they possibly put some less common, literature based words as answers, the kind that people will complain about, and say, “Huh? Is that a word? I have never heard of it!” Come to think of it, “soogy” is a word! I wrote all about it in my essay on the game of “Ghost.”