Wordle Postgame Report, Vacation ROUND-Up DIARY: August 19-28


Wordle Postgame Report, Vacation ROUND-Up DIARY: August 19-28
Top row, left: Photo by Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images. Top row, center: Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images. Top row, right: Photo by Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images. Middle row, left: Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images. Middle row, center: Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images. Middle row, right: Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images. Bottom row, left: Photo by Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images. Bottom row, center: Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images. Bottom row, right: Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images.

August 19, SHRUG, 3/6

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 you do 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, of not playing Wordle, or of the New York Times.

THE OPENER, BRINE, wasn't a huge success, but it was helpful enough, eliminating two vowels and supplying a yellow R. CHARD planted a green H and kept the R yellow. Now the vowels were running low, and there weren't that many places the R could go. What was left that could work at this point, really, but a big clump of consonants? SHRUG fit the bill; SHRUG was the answer. It was fine, nothing special.

August 20, TREAT, 3/6

ONE QUESTION THAT’S always been on my mind about Wordle is how much information you could extract, if you tried, from looking at other people's color-block answer grids. The first thing I saw this morning in the group chat was that the most disciplined and incisive player in the group had solved this one in two. I clicked away so as not to pick up on the pattern, but the knowledge was already in place. I'd been carrying around the idea of opening with GRIND someday; the good Wordle player would have opened with something more sensibly common than that. If I did use GRIND now, it wouldn't be an informationally neutral move. I would be intentionally steering away from the sorts of letters where I knew the answer must lie. Maybe I should just have played ETHIC. I went with LAPSE instead. Yellow A, yellow E, and not much to show for any unearned advantage I might have had. Now I was just inside the logic of the game I'd built for myself. What to do with the E and A? TEACH left them yellow again, with a green T. I didn't want to split the vowels up yet, so I moved them over and looked for a new consonant combination. TR-? TREAD never even entered my thoughts. I played TREAT, and there it was, a nice little reward. More than I deserved, probably.

August 21, WASTE, 3/6

CAN SCREWING UP make the game go more efficiently? I opened with TRIBE, for a yellow T and green E. The sight of that E at the end made me nervous—this was not going to narrow down to some unusual word structure. I needed to clear more common letters, and I needed to rule out some consonant groups. Better get an S and a C in there, to get rid of their combinations with H, for starters... I was thinking of so many things to do, I forgot the part where I was supposed to also be figuring out where the T belonged. It wasn't until after I'd typed SCONE and hit enter that I remembered the T should have been in my guess. The S came up yellow, right where the T had been, and the rest stayed gray. Now I had two letters that needed placement, and I'd blown the chance to figure out more about one of them. Technically I'd violated my self-imposed hard mode rules, but it didn't seem to be in a canny or useful way. I'd used up a turn without learning all I could. Except: the vowels were running low, and the S and T probably belonged together. What about WASTE? It popped up green all across, like Oscar the Grouch coming out of his trash can.

August 22, MERIT, 3/6

IT SEEMED LIKE OLIVE might be a recklessly nonstandard opener, but it had enough vowels in it to be worth a try. The I and the E justified it by coming up yellow. Relocate them, mix in some common consonants, and keep the words thematic with RIPEN. That got a yellow R, while the I and E stayed yellow. Now things were getting distinctive, to the verge of getting stuck. With the I ruled out of the second and third slots, there was no way to make a word with -IE- anywhere in the middle of it. The E almost certainly had to come before the I, and that meant there almost certainly had to be something between them. Blank E blank I blank, and one of those last two blanks was the R. MERIT? MERIT. It felt like I deserved it.

August 23, WOVEN, 2/6

A METHODICAL START, with TONER, laid down a symmetrical arrangement of green O, yellow N, green E. Which consonants would fill in the spaces? N was at one end, probably the right. Working right to left, how about a V in the middle? Should it be WOVEN or COVEN? COVEN didn't seem like an appropriate Wordle answer. Keep it simple: W, V, N. Three green consonants meshed with the two green vowels into a smooth, unbroken surface.

August 24, NEEDY, 4/6

ALMOST NONE OF the letters seemed to satisfy the word. GRAPE got only a yellow E, and then SHELF made the E green. But everything else was still gray. What could meet the demands of those double gray spaces? An EA combination was no longer suitable; neither were a host of consonant pairs, with R and G and H and L and S all gone. DR, CL, WR...unacceptable now. What about something weird, or a combination of something weird and something fairly common—a Q and a second E, with QUEEN? The second E and the N came up yellow. There weren't many places left to put the E. I reluctantly typed in EMEND, looked at it—absolutely not a Wordle answer—and deleted it unentered. Put the E in the other space: NEEDY. There it was. A Wordle that demanded way too much attention.

August 25, CLOWN, 6/6

A RIDICULOUS CHOICE of starter word, CRUET, brought out the taunting result of a lone green C. CHAOS got a yellow O to go with it. Surely this was a decent start? Trying to shove the O somewhere useful, I recklessly played a double letter with COLIC, and a yellow L joined the yellow O. Three turns gone and I was just shoving things around. It had to be CLO-, but the other vowels were gone, even the double O. What about Y? CLONY? Where were the words? I tried CLOMP, of all things, stumbling around the rest of the alphabet as if my shoes were too big. The green CLO was right, as it had to be, and the MP was as dumb and wrong as it also had to be. Oh: CLOCK! I had already thought of CLOCK, and forgotten it—a waste of time. Better late than never. I played CLOCK and it was wrong; I hadn't forgotten about CLOCK, I'd forgotten I'd already ruled out the second C. Five turns gone, one left, and the only reason I wasn't panicking was that I seemed to have already run out of possibilities two rounds before. CLO-, CLO-, CLO-...wait. How—? I had missed—? See Ell Owe DOUBLE-U EN, CLOWN, a better word from Wordle than anything I had haphazardly flung at the grid. CLOWN! I'd played it like a stumbling buffoon.

August 26, IRONY, 3/6

I WAS PRETTY SURE sure CARNY couldn't be a Wordle answer, but it seemed like a good starter. Step right up! A yellow R, and a green -NY. Suddenly the game felt winnable in two. There were only two places the R could go, but still a lot of vowels to choose from. Too many vowels. A consonant combination felt easier to handle: BRINY? No: green R, yellow I. The I belonged in the first spot. I R _ N Y. Of all the words to have overlooked. Got it in three and felt like a loser. Should have known it all along.

August 27, RUDER, 3/6

THE FIRST WORD that came rattling into my head was GOURD—not the most responsible opener, but what the heck. The U, R, and D all came up yellow: a bountiful harvest of partial information. The U, in particular, couldn't be paired with an O, and it wouldn't fit after an opening pair of consonants. Send it to the front, gamble on a double letter: UDDER. In the frame of mind where GOURD was the opener, I didn't even think of UNDER. But now the -DER was correct, and the U was...yellow? Really? That made it _ U D E R. And every available answer looked stupid. DUDER was the best of them, but Wordle would never take it. RUDER? That would be terrible. I went over the keyboard layout letter by letter, trying to find anything else. MUDER? SUDER? NUDER? Nothing. Why, again, does Wordle ban plurals but treat comparatives as acceptable? Under the dumb rules, it had to be RUDER. One of the more insulting answers, even for Wordle.

August 28, GAUZE, 4/6

AS I LOOKED in the bathroom mirror, the little voice that comes up with starter words said "GLAZE." Start with something with a Z in it? Absurd. It's just one wasted letter, the voice said, and you waste letters all the time. By the time I sat down at the computer, with REM sleep a few minutes further behind me, the voice of prudence had drowned it out. I started with SPARK, and it gave me nothing but a yellow A. Well, that's how one plays Wordle, one step at a time. TANGO made the A green and got me a yellow G. It wasn't looking like a fast game, but there was more progress. Now it was worth wasting a letter, on a double: GAFFE. Green G, green A, green E, and nothing on the F's. G A _ _ E. It was...GAUZE. Through a filmy haze of disbelief, I realized that my original, unacceptable play would have nailed the answer in two steps.

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