Wordle: A Final Word

This will be my final post about Wordle for a while. In fact, I thought last week’s post would end things. Then came yesterday’s hidden word—SNOUT—which took me all six guesses and used every strategy I’ve written about so far. It also highlighted my tendency to ignore my own advice! Since that example—SNOUT—serves as such an excellent illustration of my methodology, I thought it worthy of a few final remarks.

I opened with my usual guess of BEAUT. Right off the bat, the last two letters, U and T, lit up with that wonderful green color, indicating they were not only the correct letters but were also placed in the correct position. Already I was suspecting that the hidden word would end in OUT. But there was also the possibility of a word like STRUT. I also worried that the hidden word was something like TROUT, using the T twice.

Fortunately, I stifled the urge to start guessing words that ended in OUT. Had I done so, I might have tried STOUT, SCOUT, SHOUT, SPOUT, FLOUT, and TROUT, quickly using up all my available guesses before landing on SNOUT (and altogether missing a possible word like STRUT.) Instead, I followed my strategy of playing DOILY as my second guess, just to eliminate any vowel problems; i. e., to confirm that O was the only missing vowel. It could eliminate a word like STRUT while also having the advantage of eliminating FLOUT (if the L didn’t light up).

I was not surprised when the O in DOILY turned yellow, supporting my suspicion that the hidden word ended in OUT. But I had already used two guesses. Now I needed a way of eliminating as many of those _ _OUT words as possible— using the fewest number of guesses. I decided on SHARP, but there were probably better guesses that might have provided even more information. (I leave it to Spirited Reasoners to come up with those on their own.)

When only the S lit up green, I knew I could safely eliminate TROUT, SHOUT, and SPOUT. But I still had to worry about SCOUT, STOUT, and SNOUT. Knowing that I had (or at least I thought I had) three possible answers and exactly three guesses remaining, I decided (stupidly, as it turned out) to make my three remaining guesses in exactly that order. I therefore managed to hit on SNOUT on the sixth and final guess. “Whew!” said the Wordle board when I finished. Whew indeed.

Looking back, I can see that there were better guesses on my second and fourth moves, words like PHOTO on my second guess (nailing the OUT ending while also eliminating SHOUT and SPOUT when the H and P didn’t light up) or a guess like PATCH (eliminating SPOUT, SCOUT, and SHOUT with a single guess.) The essence, though, of Spirited Reasoning is that we continue to learn and grow. It’s fun, right?