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'Wordle' Creator Shares Ingenious Tip For Players—Even If He's Not Very Good At The Game

Newsweek logo Newsweek 1/15/2022 Harrison Abbott

Wordle puzzles are designed to be achievable and not overly challenging, but even the game's creator struggles with some of them, as he admitted in an exclusive interview with Newsweek.

Josh Wardle originally came up with the daily brainteaser as a way to entertain his partner during coronavirus lockdowns. The pair share a love of crossword puzzles and so he developed Wordle as a way for them to spend quality time together, while also expanding their vocabulary.

When he realized that it had the potential to reach a wider audience, he decided to host the game on a public website, where it is now available for anybody to access for free. Since then, Wordle has gone from having just 90 active players to over 2 million and it is still growing at an exponential rate.

Aside from the fact that people generally like to crack codes and show off how clever they are online, Wardle believes that the core appeal of his project is that it doesn't try to get you to spend any money or invest a crazy amount of time.

Instead, you can just log in once a day to solve a quick 5-minute puzzle and then discuss the results with your friends and family. In his own words, it's designed to be "fun" and "playful."

'Wordle's' Creator Admits to Not Being the Best Player

Yet that doesn't always mean that it's easy. According to data from Onlineslots.com, you are four times more likely to get into Mensa than you are to correctly guess a Wordle on your first try. Based on a sample of over a quarter of million social media posts, they also contend that 25 per cent of players need a four attempts each day before they arrive at the right answer, with most people requiring even more than that.

This is corroborated by Wardle himself, who claims that the average player (himself included) uses about 4 or 5 of their allotted tries for each puzzle.

When asked if he would be an expert Wordle pro had he not developed the game himself, he laughed at the very suggestion. "Well, I did create Wordle and I'm not very good at it, so there's your answer! I'm afraid I'm not really the best.

"[My partner] and I play it on the couch together each morning. She will consistently get it in three goes, which is way, way better than I can ever hope to achieve. I normally need at least 4 or 5 attempts."

If you were thinking that the developer might have a bit of an unfair advantage with the puzzles (given that he curated the list of over 2,500 words that are in the database), that's not the case either.


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Wardle continued: "When I designed the game, it was for me and my partner to enjoy, so I made sure that all of the entries were randomized. In other words, I don't actually know what tomorrow's word is going to be, which means that I can take part like everybody else."

With that in mind, there's no point in trying to get Wardle to give you the inside scoop on the line-up for the next week (you can't blame us for trying!) as he simply doesn't have that information to hand.

Why 'Wordle' Puzzles Are Just 5 Letters

Image shows a game of "Wordle" in progress on a mobile phone. You are limited to 6 attempts for each daily puzzle. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images © Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images Image shows a game of "Wordle" in progress on a mobile phone. You are limited to 6 attempts for each daily puzzle. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Contrary to what you might think (after reading those intimidating statistics earlier), Wordle's difficulty level has been carefully calibrated so that players end up winning most of the time.

Speaking about this, Wardle said: "There is a reason that every word is 5 letters long and that you are allowed six attempts to guess it. That might seem arbitrary but, with the prototype version, I tested different word lengths and experimented with the number of tries that players were allowed.

"Through that process of refinement, I figured out that five letters and six tries was the ideal sweet spot. It's just limited enough to feel challenging and to make you think, but most of the time people still manage to solve it. So, you feel a real sense of real accomplishment."

'Wordle' Tips From the Creator of the Game Itself

Although he confesses to not being a masterful player, Wardle was still hesitant to give away any strategies or tips for solving his daily puzzles. Speaking about this, he said; "I think with this sort of game, part of the joy is discovering those things for yourself, right?

"So I'm reluctant to tell anybody how they should play. I would encourage people to experiment with different ideas and to find their own [starting] words, rather than just sticking to the same proven tactics over and over again."

He did offer one piece of advice though, and it might not be what you expect. Counterintuitively, he suggests that it can be more useful to get the incorrect grey letters than the ones that are actually feature the word of the day, because that helps you eliminate a lot of possibilities and whittle things down.

Elaborating upon this, Wardle said: "One thing I will say is that a lot of people tend to think that the game is just about finding those green and gold letters. If you get those, then you theoretically have the information you need, but you don't want to get too hung up on that.

"Even when you have most of the letters, it's still worth using a couple of tires to just narrow down the options further. It's often just as important to learn what letters aren't in a word. That information can actually be more powerful in a lot of ways, and you don't necessarily realize it at first."

If you want to test this theory yourself, Wordle is free to play now on its own dedicated webpage. You don't need to download an app or any software, as it's accessible via any browser.

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