How to win Wordle every time … If you’re smart enough

Nailing the Wordle every day could be easier than you think.

WORDLE / Stuff

Nailing the Wordle every day could be easier than you think.

Gus Hubbard is a mathematics educator and games aficionado.

OPINION: Since the game Wordle was introduced, and soon acquired a considerable following, there have been arguments about the best word to begin with.

The fact is that there is no best word and it is a matter of chance how many letters in your guess are in the target word.

What really matters is your strategy.

To find the target word you need to find (a) what the letters are and (b) what position in the word they occupy.

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Conventional wisdom is to adopt a strategy whereby for each guess you enter a new word which uses all the letters you already know, endeavoring to find their correct position in the target word.

But this strategy has a drawback. Suppose you know three letters, then any word which contains these will only introduce two new letters. Thus, you only make slow progress through the alphabet to find the missing letters.

The strategy which I have found most successful is to focus first on finding what the letters are and only then consider where they go.

Here is how I do it.

I took an alphabet set of Scrabble tiles, removed the six least used letters Q, Z, X, J, W, V, put them on the reserve bench, and made a set of four five-letter words from the remaining twenty letters.

Here is such a set, the one I have found most useful: STOIC, BUDGE, FRANK, LYMPH.

Now, the basic strategy is to enter this set as the first four guesses at the target word. Suppose, having done so, you now know the five letters of the target word, then there are two remaining guesses to find it.

Most of the time, by a considerable margin, it can be found in one further guess, but if there is ambiguity then two guesses will sort it.

If after entering the four words you have only four, or even three, of the target word letters then you have to consider which of them might be repeated, or which of the reserve bench might be given a run.

This is where the set of words I have given above has proved better than other sets I tried.

Consider, for example, the combinations O, L, P, S and O, L, S, T. Each of these leads to seven possible target words when repetitions and letters from the reserve group are considered for the fifth letter.

Using information from the position of the letters, yellow or green in the first four guesses, allows the distinction between these choices to be made correctly in the two remaining guesses.

Flexibility of approach is possible, and if you find that early guesses yield much information then you can abandon the rest of the set of four words and go on a hunt for the target.

You can also vary the order in which you enter the four first guesses to introduce a letter you think might be wanted.

Does it work? I have field tested it several hundred times using Hello Wordl, which is the same game without the one-a-day restriction, without a single miss.

A downside is that it may slightly increase the average number of guesses per game, if you are into those statistics – though by being flexible I still had four, three and even two guess successes.

But if your first priority is not to miss getting the target word then this is the strategy that does it.

Of course, the proviso that your vocabulary has to be up to the job still applies.