Beating Wordle

What are the best words to start Wordle?

Wikipedia gives two orders for the most used letters in English: one from all the words in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, which is EARIOTNSLC UDPMHGBFYWKVXZJQ, and one which Robert Lewand reports shows the most common letters in text: etaoinshrdlcumwfgypbvkjxqz. I feel the one giving the most common letters in the dictionary is probably best, even if five-letter words might produce a different score.

I liked to start with EARTH, and see that four out of five letters are in the six most common letters in the dictionary. That is also true of TROPE. STARE, STONE, RIOTS and STORE each have five letters from the eight most common letters. Later, I find RATIO has five of the six most common letters.

If none of the letters in EARTH are in the answer, POUND has five more letters, all in the top thirteen most common letters. If E is in the answer but not in the first place, the “hard mode” requires you to use E in the next word. CLOSE does that, and gives four new letters all in the top ten.

With a little effort you can work out a number of first line words to choose, from the most common letters in English. For each of these, you can work out other words for the second line, including one of the letters in your initial word. You could even work out words to use if two of the initial letters are correct. The more preparation work you do, the more voluminous your crib sheet, and the more likely you are to get shareable grids: like the one below, only showing how clever you are. My four guesses were EARTH, PONDS, GUILE and MOIST. You see I did not play in hard mode, but if I did a good second word would have been MOIST, with the correct T and three other letters in the eight most common letters.

I played ten times, getting six in four guesses, two in five, and one in six guesses (my first, KNOLL). I got my eighth wordle wrong: after getting IGHT from four guesses, SIGHT, NIGHT, MIGHT and TIGHT were all possible, and I made two wrong guesses. There is luck in the game. Had I played MINDS in simple mode, I would have seen which of S, N and M were used. If none of them were in, I might have guessed WIGHT and missed LIGHT.

I can get addicted to anything. Within ten plays, I found myself wondering at 11pm whether it was worth staying up until midnight to get the next day’s puzzle. I wake in the night a lot, and doing the wordle puzzle was not helping me get to sleep, but it was still tempting. After getting my eighth puzzle wrong I felt the craving reduced, but I still played the next day- just, not at my earliest opportunity. I suppose I will have the subtle temptation- not, “I MUST DO WORDLE” but- “Oh, there’s a wordle published. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

So my title, beating wordle, refers to ending an incipient addiction. But, if you win it in three minutes, not playing earlier than your normal breakfast time, your win rate makes you feel good about yourself and you even might “enter flow state”, it seems mostly harmless.

Wordle 228 4/6


10 February: Wordle 236 3/6


So, I saw wordle grids on facebook, and thought, it would make me feel better. There is that sense of struggle, and getting the result, which gives a sense of achievement. Changing my life is difficult, uncertain, meandering. Wordle is specific. I need that sense of achievement from anything else but puzzles.

It called getting it in 3 “Impressive”, and said my current streak was 1- so if I miss one, my streak ends just as if I lose. It works to keep me entangled. Ooh, “impressive”, a pat on the head.

11 February:

Wordle 237 6/6


“Phew” was the comment. It took me twelve minutes. Part of my irritation is that I care so much about this. I will overcome it. Yet the temptation is, that would be fun. The pleasure from getting it right really is not worth the effort I put in.

15 February: here is my first Quordle.

Daily Quordle #22
🟨🟩⬜⬜⬜ 🟨🟨🟨⬜⬜
⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
⬜⬜🟨⬜⬜ 🟩⬜⬜🟩⬜
⬜⬜🟨⬜🟨 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩
⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛
🟨⬜🟩⬜⬜ ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛

⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜🟨🟨⬜
⬜⬜⬜⬜🟩 ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
⬜🟩🟨⬜⬜ ⬜🟨⬜⬜⬜
⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜🟩⬜⬜⬜
⬜⬜🟨⬜⬜ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛

You have nine guesses to solve four wordles simultaneously. I got the top right grid in four, then the others in my next three guesses with two guesses to spare. My three words EARTH, POUND, FILMS use fifteen letters, nine of the top ten and six of the next eight most commonly used in the dictionary. Starting with those, I think I could probably solve most Quordles. But that does not solve the problem of addiction. New Quordles also come out at midnight.

So I went and did the wordle with earth pound films, and got it in four. That seems a bit like going round the course in bogey: four is good enough, but I want it in three. NEARS TULIP has eight of the top ten letters, and two of the next three. My wordle skills apotheosis nears: can I get it in three with those two first tries? I have played fourteen, but got it in three only once.

Keep going: PETAL SCION has nine of the top ten letters, and the thirteenth. My three guess wordles will start coming, unless I go on hard mode. R is the third most common letter, and depending on the response to petal scion I have a fair chance of guessing whether R, Y and U are in the word.

What about getting it in two? RATIO has five of the top six letters. Depending on how many were successful, I might get it in two from that. Or RATIO CLUES: ten of the top eleven letters, to get it in three.

16 February:

Wordle 242 3/6


I got it in three minutes. Those first two words work. I did it at midnight, but was up until 11.37 anyway. And I got the Quordle, and it’s only 00.17:

Daily Quordle #23
🟨🟨🟨⬜⬜ 🟨⬜⬜⬜⬜
⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜🟨⬜⬜⬜
⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜🟨⬜🟨
⬜🟩⬜⬜🟩 ⬜⬜⬜⬜🟩
⬜⬜🟩⬜⬜ ⬜🟩⬜⬜⬜
🟩🟩🟩⬜🟩 ⬜⬜⬜⬜🟩
🟩🟩🟩⬜🟩 ⬜⬜⬜🟨🟩
⬜⬜⬜⬜🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛

⬜🟨⬜⬜⬜ 🟨⬜🟨⬜⬜
⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ 🟩⬜🟩⬜🟨
🟩🟨🟨⬜⬜ ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛

So: I have four good pairs of first words:
1. Ratio clues. The next commonest letters are ndpmh. Th, ch, and sh are common pairs.
2. Petal scion. The next commonest letters are rudmh. Depending on how many vowels there are, U or Y are more or less likely.
3. Nears tulip. The next commonest letters are ocdmh.
4. Crisp noted. The advantage is only having three vowels, with A and U likely if the others do not appear. The next commonest letters are alumh.
Until I start using hard mode, that should help me get wordles quickly, in 3 or 4. Right at this moment, I am not thinking of self-control at all.

17 February: Today’s wordle seemed designed to end the streaks of people playing in hard mode. If you got four letters in the right places (which I did on my third go) there were seven words which would fit. With the pair I chose, I had eliminated three of them. But I could not have used that pair on hard mode. I got the answer in five.

I stared at the quordle for twenty minutes, then kicked myself when I got the last word. That is the last thing I want from such puzzles- a time waster, when I am unwilling to let the challenge go, and proof of my stupidity when the word is revealed as so obvious. This is a good reason not to do such puzzles at all.

How should I start not-hard mode? I have two more sets of three words as well as Earth pound films: clear bison thump, and resin clump today. The single word which uses the most common letters is Ratio, five of the top six. Ratio clues gives ten of the top eleven.

Resin is the best first word of the three groups, with five of the top eight letters. Resin clump today has the thirteen commonest letters, so is the best if I use all three. But clear bison has nine of the top ten, so if I only use two words then guess to solve the puzzle in three, clear, bison, thump is the best of the threes.

Then it is a choice between ratio clues, or clear bison. In case I need three words to get enough correct letters to guess the answer, I should use clear bison, with thump as a possible third go. If I find I usually need fifteen letters to solve the puzzle in four, resin clump today has the fourteen commonest letters. On Quordle or (God help us) Sedecordle, which has 16 words in 21 guesses, after clear bison thump “fudge” adds the next three commonest letters, and also checks a different position for e and u.

16 March one in four chance of getting it in two: Wordle 270 3/6


Better luck next time.

18 March: got the bottom left in two, by pure luck:
Daily Quordle #53
⬜⬜⬜🟨🟩 ⬜⬜🟨⬜🟨
🟨⬜⬜🟩⬜ ⬜🟨⬜⬜⬜
⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜⬜⬜🟨
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬜🟩⬜⬜⬜
⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟩⬜⬜⬜🟨
⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟩🟩🟩🟨🟨
⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ 🟨🟩🟨🟨⬜
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ ⬜⬜⬜⬜🟨
⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟨⬜⬜⬜⬜
⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

20 March. I found three words with seventeen letters for wordle2, which has six letter words. They are Shamed, Trying, Public. I got my first wordle2 today in 3.

1 April: Not having played today, my scores are 11 3s, 22 4s, 19 5s and 4 6s. On the six letter wordhurdle, I have 4 3s, 4 4s, 2 5s and 1 6. So despite my efforts being called “impressive” or “splendid” by the puzzle- ooh, a pat on the head!- I don’t think it worthwhile. I have spent a lot of time staring at wordles, irritated with myself or them, not knowing what to put, so that getting it right has not been sufficient compensation.

3 May:

Wordle 318 2/6

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 After getting it in two, the word “Magnificent” briefly appears. My results are now 2:1, 3:17, 4:32, 5:26, 6:8, 99% win. I don’t do it every day, sometimes I do quordle octordle and sedecordle as well, I have not set it to hard mode but often play as if that rule applies. I do a lot of wordhurdles (6 letters, twice a day)-

WordHurdle 210 3/6


3:12, 4:24, 5:17, 6:6.

12 September: I have started using Wordlebot.

Wordle 450 4/6
Skill 97/99- average 77
Luck 35/99- average 43
Solved in 4- average 4.7
It is tempting to share ones better results. Tempted, I fell. Yesterday, I did really badly. But Wordlebot is flawed. It decides skill on “Did you minimize the expected number of turns it would take to solve the puzzle?” But, I have other goals- to have fun, and to do the puzzle quickly. Six turns in two minutes is better than racking my brains, bored, for twenty minutes to get it in three.

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