Wordle Postgame Report, epic CATCH up, October 6-20


Wordle Postgame Report, epic CATCH up, October 6-20
Extinct mammal - Megatherium Americanum. Giant ground SLOTH lived in the cool, dry scrub and grasslands of South America until about 10,000 years ago. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images)

A note to readers of the Wordle Postgame Report: Your publishers here at Indignity took a break from our approximately daily schedule of posting the Wordle Postgame Reports, because we were busy preparing for our new jobs putting out Popula. The author of the Wordle Postgame Report did not stop playing Wordle or analyzing the results, however, and we now present the compiled entries from that span of time in a single post. Future editions of the Wordle Postgame Report may be found here and also on Popula, along with our other work.

The Wordle Postgame Report is a brief analysis of a game of Wordle, the five-letter-word guessing game now owned by the New York Times. If yo not play Wordle, Indignity encourages you to please skip this item. The existence of the Wordle Postgame Report does not constitute an endorsement of playing Wordle, not playing Wordle, or of the New York Times.

October 6, SLOTH, 3/6

THE CAT’S ONGOING assault against all the papers on my desk had displaced the slip where I wrote the word I'd wanted to remember to play. The best thing I could come up with instead was CHEAP. The H was yellow. Was it part of an SH somewhere? Or a TH? Probably, but it seemed boring and laborious to have to start sorting through those. What if I put off that work by assuming it was something else entirely? Such as HOIST? It wasn't, but the H, O, S, and T were all yellow. It couldn't be SHOOT, because that would keep the T at the end. What if started with the S, though, and ended in -TH? SLOTH. The lazy approach had done the trick.

October 7, DANDY, 4/6

IT ALL SEEMED to start off well with DRINK: green D, yellow N. But then all I could think of was DONUT. Surely it had to be something else, but it couldn't be DROWN or DOUBT or... Why not DONUT, though? It's the superior variant to DOUGHNUT. It must qualify as an answer. What else could it be? The N joined the D in green, and nothing else. The vowel selection was limited, what had I missed? Oh! Aha! How could I have been so DENSE? But that too brought up nothing but the D and N. Now there were only two different vowels on the board, and the N in the middle meant there had to be two vowel slots in the word. I couldn't see it. DAN—? DYN—? I started writing down the unused letters with them both. I finished writing down the unused letters with them both. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. What if it wasn't an unused letter, but a repeat? D...DANDY. There it was. Fine. Swell. Just great. Really sharp performance by me.

October 8, VIGOR, 3/6

THREE YELLOW LETTERS came to hand from an opener of GROPE: the G, R, and O. Immediately, this was more of a word-engineering problem than a letter-hunting one. The O couldn't be the pivot in the middle; the G and R might or might not stick together through a relocation. Splitting them up pointed immediately to ROUGH, a good Wordle answer and a satisfying rearrangement. But all three stayed yellow. There weren't many places left to shuffle them into at the front of the word. Focus on the back end, then. Could it be -ROG? Not readily. What about -GOR? RIGOR wouldn't work because of the initial R, but VIGOR could. And did. Stong, healthy gameplay on this one.

October 9, HOWDY, 4/6

WITH SOME DOUBTS about playing a U in the first round, I tried REBUT and got nothing from any of the other letters either. For five new ones, I went with GLAND. Only a yellow D, and a dwindling set of vowels. The L ruled out DOILY, and the N ruled out DOWNY. But DOWDY would fit. With nine letters gone, why not start doubling up? The opening D turned up gray, but that disappointment gave way to surprise as the other four turned green. There was only one thing it could be. Hello, cornball answer.

October 10, ENJOY, 5/6

THE DISCOMFORT STARTED with CRAMP, which came up all gray. So much for testing consonants. LOUSE turned up two yellow vowels, the O and the E. They stayed yellow in GEODE. They stayed yellow in OFTEN, too, though the N joined them. Four turns, no green letters placed, only one consonant to go with the infuriatingly floating vowels. EBONY was out. What could be in? The O could only go in one of the last two slots. The E couldn't really go near it. The N— I put the E before the N on scratch paper. ENJOY. Green all across. Miserable game.

October 11, VALID, 4/6

I WAS MAD at Wordle before I even started, thanks to the new interrupting preface screen the New York Times has started putting up between the player and the Wordle. "Go ahead, add another day to your 69 day streak," mine said this morning. I wasn't even counting my streak; I don't care how many times I win, I just get mad when I lose. To get through it, I had to either click the 'Play" button or, even more annoyingly, the "How to play" button—an inescapable reminder that whoever designed this new User Experience was categorically uninterested in the experience of the users. Why is the Times running a counter of how much I play Wordle if it can't even recognize that I already play Wordle? I went to my open Wordle tab and refreshed it, because I wanted to play today's Wordle game, and instead the Times sent me to check in at the reception desk at the Wordle Intake Center. Stop wasting my time on the way to my time-wasting game!

Meanwhile, my teen can't play Wordle anymore, because he's logged into the family Times account to read the Times on his computer. So now it assumes that he is me, and since I've already played, there's no Wordle for him. The Times is costing itself Wordle users by trying to maximize its surveillance of Wordle use.

So I started with DUSTY, because why not play a U right away? Why should I be careful and systematic if the owners of Wordle aren't? I got a yellow D and then played RODEO, pointless double letter, who cares. The D stayed yellow and nothing else joined it. Fine. PLAID. Yellow L, yellow A, green I, green D. Shuffle up the beginning a little: VALID. Green end to end. As good a strategy as any other.

October 12, IONIC, 5/6

NOW ALL THE starter words I could think of had U's in them, so I tried UNTIE. Green I, yellow N. Nothing with an -IN ending occurred to me right away, so what about -NI-? CYNIC wasn't an earnestly strategic guess, but it would feel great if it clicked into place. Only the -NIC ending did. Find-and-guess time. TONIC was out. Would a sensitivity editor have blocked MANIC out of respect for the Kanye news cycle? I tried it anyway. Nope. SONIC? Green O, gray initial letter. TONIC was still out. That left...BONIC? FONIC? None of the untouched letters made sense. What about the touched ones? CYNIC had ruled out CONIC. NONIC? No: IONIC. A green I weakly bonded itself to the rest of the word.

October 13, EQUAL, 4/6

STRATEGY OR AESTHETICS? Starting with MANGE would make for a more rigorous test word, but MANGY was a better word as a word. MANGY it was, with a yellow A. FRAIL moved the A to a new yellow slot and planted a green L at the end. STEAL, with a surge of belatedly but sensibly common letters, sent the A to its proper place in line and added a yellow E. What could go between the E and the -AL? A reach to the dusty far-left corner of the rack brought out the Q. EQUAL. All green. The obscure letters turned out to be just as necessary as the everyday ones.

October 14, FLOOR, 5/6

FOGGILY OVERLOOKING THE repeated letter, I saw the word ERASE on a slip of paper and tried it out. A misplay from the beginning, yielding nothing but a yellow R. I moved the R and tried ROBIN, getting a yellow R and O. Moving it again, with CHORD, kept it yellow, but the O turned green, leaving nowhere but the end of the word for the R to go. From the sloppy start, things were getting somewhere. Two letters before the O, then something to go between it and the R. FLOUR? Not good enough. Three green, one gray, and another green. Now, down here in the desolation of the fifth row, came the real time for playing a doubled letter. FLOOR. The minimum acceptable performance.

October 15, CATCH, 6/6

IT SEEMED AS if GLARE would be a safe, balanced opener, but all it delivered was a yellow A. Which side of the word should the A go to? DAISY placed it in the green, but the other four were still gray. Definitely a slow start now. I wasn't sure if WACKO was acceptable by New York Times standards, but I felt like playing it, so I did, getting only a yellow C to go with the green A. Three turns gone and almost nothing to show for it. At the pace I was working through the vowels, though, it seemed likely everything to the right of the A would be a consonant. MATCH? Four of the five went green, everything but the initial M. At last! But—not at last. It could be BATCH. It could also be PATCH. It could also, goddammit, be CATCH. That one gray square was the opening of a chute. Two turns remaining and...aw, hell, it might be HATCH. And they wouldn't dare do NATCH, or would they? At least five possible answers, two rows to sort through them. Time to issue myself an emergency waiver from my usual policy of following Hard Mode rules. How many of the possible letters could I clear in a single test word, though? It would have to start with C or with H. NATCH was the weakest prospective answer; if I lost the game because Wordle had made NATCH the solution, I would simply blame Wordle. But I couldn't think of any five-letter words beginning with C or with H that would have both B and P in them. CUBIP? HAPUB? If I played the stupid N, I could use CABIN or CAPON. If either one missed, I'd be stuck choosing between HATCH and another word on the final row. I went with CABIN, because it was the more normal word, even though I wasn't playing it to be the answer. The C turned green. The plunge off the board was arrested.

October 16, SPADE, 3/6

THE FIRST WORD that came to hand was GRASP, which came away with a green A, yellow S, and yellow P. The obvious move was to move the SP to the front. SPARE was out, SPADE was possible, SPATE would be terrible, SPACE was clearly the best word. The best, but not the winner. The C stayed gray, while the rest turned green around it. SPADE, then. Had to dig a little deeper.

October 17, STEIN, 3/6

THERE WAS NO time to get on the laptop before heading out the door, so I played on the phone for the first time, in the back of the airport-bound Uber, typing in IDEAL in the not-quite-familiar layout. The animation had a little stutter to it as it turned over the results: Yellow I, green E. Was this an IE word, or an EI word with an opening consonant combination? I tried SIEGE and got a green S but a yellow I. It was EI, then, after an S- consonant pair. STEIN. Bottoms up. Even though I was logged into my New York Times account, the phone browser credited me with a win in my first-ever Wordle game. I had to replay the game on the airplane Wi-Fi in the browser to get the statistics right.

October 18, EXIST, 3/6

AFTER THE SMOKE detector at the far end of the Airbnb—which seemed to be the only smoke detector in the Airbnb—went off at 1 a.m. local time, or 4 a.m. on my body clock, I passed the rest of the night in a fitful sleep that revolved around needing to reduce each thing I dreamed into a single word. All the words were gone when I finally woke up, and the only thing I could come up with, facing the Wordle grid, was SCOUR. A lone yellow S turned up, and the sense of depletion continued. Surely there must be nearly unlimited answers left, but I couldn't quite see what they all were. The best I could do was get some common vowels and move the S toward the end: BASTE? Still yellow, with a yellow S and E to go with it. Logically it seemed as if I knew almost nothing, but again, I couldn't picture many alternatives. The S was really running out of places to go. No words ending in -EST presented themselves. Break off the E, move it to the front. I didn't even think about how rare a letter I was playing as I typed in EXIST. There it was; it was there.

October 19, QUIRK, 4/6

IT WAS HARD to decide whether to start with DEPOT or DECAY. DECAY had more appeal, but I'd thought of DEPOT first, and it had that nice sensible T in it. I settled on saving DECAY for later and playing DEPOT now. The result of all that thinking was five gray letters. Maybe I should have played the C and the A. SCARF? Nope on the C and the A, to say nothing of the S and the F—only a green R came up, with 10 letters played. Sensible play was not a very effective way of finding this target word. Time to try a double letter, maybe? HURRY got a green U but the extra R was a bust. No three-consonant endings looked likely, but the vowel selection was getting very thin. Eleven common letters were gone. But an extremely uncommon letter was extremely playable. QUIRK? The oddity had been found.

October 20, DENIM, 3/6

I REMEMBERED HAVING wanted to play DECAY yesterday, and so I picked it up today. The DE- turned green. The possibility that the answer could have been yesterday's starter, DEPOT, didn't even occur to me as I eliminated that chance by playing DEPTH. No new letters joined the DE- in the greens for any visible progress. But the excluded letters were coming together into a dense fabric, the possibilities shrinking closer and closer to the shape of an answer: DENIM.

The Wordle Postgame Report will be posted semi-regularly on the website of the Indignity newsletter, and on Popula. If you enjoy reading the Wordle Postgame Report, please subscribe to Indignity to support the writer in doing this and other things that would be hard to justify at a salaried day job. Thank you for reading!