There’s a word for that …

A single word I say.

It’s only words, and words are all I have…

The Bee Gees

I’m infected with something that seems to be spreading more quickly than Omicron. It’s Wordle and I’m hooked. But, of course, I’m not the only one. From what I see on social media many others have caught the bug. Some families even have competitions between members. I introduced my eldest son to it three days ago and now receive a daily report from him as to the outcome of his efforts.

However, there may still be some not familiar with Wordle. If you are one of those then it’s a game that gives those playing, six chances to guess a random five-letter word. If you have the correct letter in the right place, it shows green. A correct letter in the wrong place shows up yellow. A letter that isn’t in the word at all shows up grey. It’s a simple game, and that’s its attraction. You also only get only one opportunity to play each day.

As with many games, there is luck involved. However, the game also demands some skill and knowledge. In this case, the skill needed is basic logic to help in the positioning of letters. The knowledge needed is a decent vocabulary. Well, a decent vocabulary of five-letter words.

I read that the creator of the game did so as a gift to his partner. Then his wider family began to play before it became something of a cult game on the internet. The game grew from ninety players in November to 300,000 by the start of the new year.

As soon as I played Wordle, it reminded me of that popular game of the 1970s, Mastermind. A code-breaking game for two people that I again very much enjoyed playing.

Again, for those not familiar with Mastermind, it was a type of ‘code-breaking’ game that used a pegboard with a shield at one end covering a row of four holes with twelve more rows of four holes, next to a set of four smaller holes. The ‘code’ pegs were of six colours, and the ‘hint’ pegs were black and white.

The ‘code maker’ chose four coloured ‘code’ pegs and placed them in a pattern in the four holes covered by the shield. Thus, they were visible to the ‘code maker’ but not to the ‘code breaker.’

The ‘codebreaker’ then tried to work out the pattern of the ‘code’ pegs. Their guesses were made by placing a row of coloured ‘code’ pegs on the board. Once placed, the ‘code maker’ provided feedback by placing from zero to four ‘hint’ pegs in the adjoining small holes of the row with the ‘codebreakers’ guess. A white ‘hint’ peg meant a correct colour ‘code’ peg placed in the wrong position and a black ‘hint’ peg if the right colour ‘code’ peg was in the correct place.

In contrast to Wordle, Mastermind thus relied purely on logic. However, with twenty-six letters and many available five-letter words, there are far more variations possible in Wordle than in Mastermind.

My best result to date in `Wordle’ was to guess the word in two attempts. I’ve done that on two of the occasions in the week since I began to play the game. It’s clear that the choice of your opening word makes all the difference. An opening word that offers a lot of clues to that day’s answer offers the best opportunity for early success. I’ve found the trickiest words to figure out are those with duplicate letters given the way the colour coded ‘hint’ works.

I tend to play first thing in the morning to give the old grey cells a bit of a wake-up. If I complete it too quickly, there is a sense of disappointment that I now need to wait some 20plus hours for a new challenge. However, in its way, I suspect that also adds to the game’s attraction. It stops you from spending hours playing and becoming quickly sated by the game. The anticipation of tomorrow’s game adds to the enjoyment.

If you haven’t tried it, why not give it a go? And if you have — good luck for tomorrow!




In the Renaissance period of my post-career life …

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Harry Watson

Harry Watson

In the Renaissance period of my post-career life …

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