Update: Wordle Archive, one of the most popular ways to play old Wordle games, just got shut down. This could be bad news for other unofficial Wordle-related apps
Wordle #265 X was trending hard on Twitter yesterday, and the day started very badly for many of the legions of people playing the world's most popular viral word game. Streaks were lost, angry posts were shared and phones were almost certainly thrown across rooms.
That's hardly a surprise, because unlike today's Wordle answer, it was a really tough one. The problem isn't that the word itself was obscure (it really wasn't) but rather that there were so many possible answers that use some of the same letters in the same places.
Wordle has become an obsession for some of us, and our streaks are a badge of honor, our way of justifying all those hours spent thinking of five-letter words that start with B and end in K, or that have two Ls in the middle.
But I'm here to tell you — yes, you over there who lost your 56-game streak yesterday — that it's your own fault because you've not been doing Wordle right.
In order to explain this, I'll need to reveal spoilers for yesterday's game, #265 — I'm assuming you've all played it by now, but only read on if you're happy with that.
A good Wordle strategy for a bad Wordle day
First, a disclaimer. I only got yesterday's Wordle — WATCH — in 5/6 myself. It's not like I'm a genius and did it in 3/6. (Anyone who did it in 2/6 clearly cheated, and if you got a 1/6 then you got lucky, because the answer must be your regular Wordle start word).
However, I didn't lose my streak, which is officially at 66 but technically at 187, because I've played every previous puzzle, in order, via the Wordle Archive and haven't got one wrong since game 78.
I guard my streak as jealously as my Labrador guards his breakfast, so with a mixture of fear, sadness and anger at the thought that I might lose it. I'm less bothered about getting a high score, although obviously that's a nice bonus. But not failing is my main ambition.
So with that in mind, when faced with a tricky Wordle puzzle such as yesterday's I play it safe. A look at my game yesterday makes that clear — and it's all about row three.
The problem with WATCH as a Wordle answer is that there are so many damn possibilities that only differ by one letter. For instance, PATCH, LATCH, HATCH, CATCH, MATCH and BATCH all have the same four last letters.
I realized the potential for disaster early on and went straight into damage-limitation mode. After playing my usual start word, STARE, I played CHANT — which was actually a poor choice as I already knew the A couldn't be there.
But no matter, it confirmed the C and the H as being in the word, making it pretty obvious that the word would end _ATCH.
At that stage I did something that you can't do if you play on Wordle's hard mode, and that's throw away a guess simply to narrow down the possibilities. Look again at my third guess of PLUMB — I knew it wasn't right, but it would immediately tell me which of PATCH, LATCH, MATCH or BATCH could be the right answer.
Or, as actually happened, it told me that it was none of those — which just left two more choices in HATCH and WATCH. That's a 50/50 chance and I got it wrong, but with two guesses still remaining I was able to secure my streak for another day.
I play in a group of four friends and we're all pretty evenly matched. Sometimes I get the best score, plenty of times I don't. But one of the quartet lost his streak yesterday and the difference between our games was that I played it safe.
So, next time Wordle throws out one of its curveballs, just be careful out there — or risk ending up like one of those many unhappy Twitter users.
Wordle 265 X/6*⬛⬛🟨🟨⬛⬛⬛⬛🟨🟨🟨🟩⬛⬛⬛⬛🟩🟩🟩🟩⬛🟩🟩🟩🟩⬛🟩🟩🟩🟩this is the worst day of my life. i am quitting wordle. pic.twitter.com/7xN8CE5BoqMarch 10, 2022