Why You Lost Wordle Today

Why You Lost Wordle Today

I solved today’s Wordle in three guesses, which I thought was no biggie. It seemed like an easy word. But according to social media, today’s Wordle is devilishly hard.

Friends, if you lost Wordle today, you’re wordling wrong and it’s time for an intervention. (Warning: this post contains outright spoilers for Wordle #668.)

Why today’s Wordle was so hard

You’re not alone if you found this one tough. Wordlebot reports that the average solution comes in 4.7 guesses; the bot itself seemed to be unable to solve the puzzle according to some screenshots I saw online. (By the time I ran today’s puzzle through the bot, it had figured out how to solve in five guesses.) Here’s a tweet that is pretty representative of the trouble people were having: You figure out most of the word, and then run out of guesses trying to find the missing letter.

I think we’re far enough down the page that I can now spell out what the problem is: the last four letters of today’s word were -OUND. There are more than six words that end that way, meaning you can’t just guess them one at a time and expect to land on the answer. It could be BOUND, FOUND, HOUND, MOUND, POUND ROUND, SOUND, or WOUND.

Use your guesses to eliminate possibilities

When you’re on your second or third guess of the day, and you know there are seven more possibilities, don’t just start guessing solutions. That’s like being 20 minutes into a family road trip and asking “Are we there yet?” Of course not!

Instead, figure out how many possibilities you might be dealing with, and come up with a guess that rules out as many of them as possible. (This strategy doesn’t work in Hard Mode, but that’s why it’s Hard Mode. Hard Mode takes the most effective strategies away and forces you to rely more on luck.)

So let’s say you just guessed POUND, so now you know the word ends in -OUND but that it doesn’t start with P. What else could it start with? It could be BOUND, FOUND, and so on. Once you realise there are a bunch of possibilities, grab a scrap of paper and jot them down: B, F, H, M, R, S, W. The smart move is to put as many of those letters as you can into your next guess. For a few examples, any of the following words will force Wordle to give us a verdict on four of the seven possibilities in our list:

  • MARSH (H, M, R, S)
  • SWARM (M, R, S, W)
  • BRUSH (B, H, R, S)
  • WHARF (H, F, R, W)

In today’s puzzle, three of those will give you a yellow on “H,” and the puzzle is as good as solved. But if you chose SWARM and got all blanks, you’ve still made a lot of progress: You know that the only possibilities left are B, F, and H.

(By the way, this is one of Wordlebot’s flaws, and it might be one of yours too: Assuming that you learned nothing about the secret word if you didn’t get any greens or yellows. That’s not true! It means you’ve ruled out a bunch of common letters as possibilities, and reduced the pool of possible solutions to a much smaller number. The all-blank lines are actually jackpots.)

So you guessed POUND and SWARM, and you’re still stumped. Well, your only options now are BOUND, HOUND, and FOUND. Can we think of a word that uses all three of B, F, and H? Maybe not. But two will do. Guess FABLE (for the B and F) and you’ll get zero hits. Bingo — you now know the answer has an H and ends in OUND. It’s HOUND.

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