I’ve never been one for puzzles of any sort. Crosswords, Sudoku, Rubik’s Cube, even jigsaws. They all leave me cold. Not for me either (in the main) the many online challenges and quizzes that can absorb so much of one’s time.
Until recently, that is.
Many months ago, I noticed that a group of my Twitter friends (all ex-University of Birmingham in one capacity or another) were attempting the daily word puzzle Wordle. Despite their encouragement for me to join in, I replied—rather smugly—that I didn’t waste my time on such pastimes.
Little did I realize that once I had tried to solve the daily word riddle, I would be hooked. Not quite obsessive I hasten to add, but I’m definitely now a devotee of this daily brain teaser.
And not only that, but I found the country quiz Worldle, and that’s become almost as compulsive.
Devised by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle as far back as 2013, Wordle went online publicly in October 2021 becoming an instant craze (perhaps cooled somewhat since then). In January 2022, Wordle was purchased (for a reported seven figure sum) by The New York Times, and is published free online daily. There was a concern that once the NYT acquired the app it would be placed behind a paywall. That hasn’t happened yet.
Anyway, the aim of the game is to guess a five letter word, over six attempts. Correct letters (in the correct position) appear green. Correct letters, but in the wrong position are yellow.
Everyone has their own approach, some having a few ‘starter’ words with which to attack the problem. I take a more haphazard approach, taking the first five letter word that comes into my head, and working from there. The most frustrating challenges are those where there could be several solutions. Just like today’s puzzle (below). Or words that are common in American English but not British English, as has been the case from time to time recently.
So, how have I done? This is my score today (24 July 2022). I’ve never hit on the correct word at the first attempt, and there are few successful second or third guesses. Mostly fourth and fifth guesses. As well as sixteen complete failures.
However, when it comes to Worldle, I’m in much safer territory. Must be all those hours spent, as a child, pouring over maps and wondering which countries I might visit when I grew up. Just like Wordle, you have six attempts to recognize the outline of a country.
Some outlines are a complete mystery since they are never to scale. So a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for instance can appear as large as large country.
Anyway, my success rate on Worldle is quite good, with almost half on the first correct on the first attempt.
My morning routine is a cup of tea at 06:00 listening to Today on BBC Radio 4 for 15 minutes, then attempting both Wordle and Worldle over the next fifteen. Suits me, and gets my brain working ready for the day ahead.