I like to think I am pretty good with words. I’ve been working in journalism and digital media for most of my career; I’ve written thousands of articles and blog posts; I’ve edited perhaps tens of thousands; I’ve committed various grammar guides and style books to unconscious memory. But my wife still kicks my arse at Boggle every time. And Scrabble. And — more recently — Wordle.
She’s obnoxiously good at any game that involves mixing around letters and manipulating the English language. I feel no shame in losing to her (which is good, because I do it all the time), but it can be dispiriting, especially when she plays at a disadvantage by, say, giving the rest of the family a 30-second head start at Boggle and still wipes the floor with me. At least I have the decency to try not to go so hard when I’m playing Guess Who? with my 5-year-old.
Gonna keep posting these until I manage to solve one in fewer tries than my wife— Joel Cunningham (@joelevard) January 22, 2022
Given that context, it will not surprise you to learn that she is much better at Wordle than I am, and I am not bad; I’ve been playing for 26 days and have yet to be stumped, and I’ve solved 16 of those puzzles in 4 guesses or less. Two-thirds of the times, she’s done it in three. (Though it feels nice, she points out, winning in less than three guesses is just luck.) And if I’m being honest, a large part of my own success is due to the fact that I’ve stolen adopted her strategy, so perhaps she is right. Perhaps the world does deserve a post entitled “How to Win at Wordle, According to My Wife.” Even if it was her idea.
The best way to choose starter words in Wordle
So here’s how to do it. It’s a modified version of the generally recommended strategy, which is to choose two or three “starter words” filled with common letters. But while most people go for words that will knock a bunch of vowels out right away (during a recent discussion among Lifehacker staff members, we settled on “BEAST” and “ROUND” as good choices), her words focus on common consonants. Because when you think about it, hw mch do vwls actlly mttr in englsh?
“You’re too worried about getting your vowels,” she told me yesterday, when she got “SHARD” in four guesses to my six (phew!). “There are only five of them, and it’s almost never going to be a U.” And that’s very true. There are only five of them. (And sometimes Y.) Prioritising consonants will help you avoid a common pitfall, when you’ve figured out three or four letters of the word but face a choice of six or seven possible starting or ending letters (SHARD, SHARP, SHARK, CHARD, CHARM). Perhaps this is a simple strategy, but Wordle is an exceedingly simple game, though not so simple that the New York Times wasn’t willing to pay seven figures for it.
So as you enjoy these last, joyous days before the game slips behind a paywall or out of pop culture altogether, consider using my wife’s winning strategy. She’s been having a lot of luck with “RENTS” and “CLAMP.”
(“It’s not luck,” she would no doubt note. “It’s skill.” And she would be right.)