Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Wordle and Dordle

Our fantasy football league text thread seems to have become a Wordle-sharing thread instead. I was not interested in playing at first but in discussing strategy: is it better to gather data with two opening words of common letters or just one? Is it better to get the vowels first, with ADIEU*, or get common consonants with LATER/SONAR or best to go in-between with ORATE? We went through the steps of listing the most common letters, then adjusting it for most common letters in 5-letter words, then adjusting again for the letters in the list of what has come out so far? We learned, for example, that while the words that are plural nouns ending in S or verb-forms ending in S (COMES) are usable as guesses, he doesn't use them as answers, pushing S down the most-common list. It is easier to get the vowels, because it is a limited list, but those are usually less helpful in getting the answer.  If you've got three consonants you are pretty much home. It's a tradeoff.

As I used to be a puzzle maker, I had a theory that he would mix it up, taking care not to repeat letters immediately. This turned out to be untrue.  In fact, he will go 3-4 days in a row using somewhat similar letters, then break entirely and go with complete turnovers for a few days. Recently, one of the best first guesses would have been the previous day's word, PLEAT, which would have given you three letters, two in exact spots, on your way to ALOFT. Heckuva start.

Then someone brought in Dordle which requires similar strategies but with important differences.  A few articles out there on strategy are just crap. I have different strategies for each, and sometimes go off script from my favorite starter words to another one, just for the difference. My overall strategy is to focus on one word until I get it, then finish with the second word, rather than trying to juggle both at once.

I don't know how long this will fascinate. It does get fun when odd things happen, as yesterday when one son got three in perfect spot to open, then had guesses 2-4 show no improvement, getting it on the 5th guess. I went one worse with the same opening (we have similar first guesses most days), and it took me 6 to get to the correct word, zipping in two wrong letters repeatedly. Others had similar frustration, but not as dramatically as we did.

*Notice that ADIEU also tests indirectly for O.  If you sense there must be another vowel needed, it is better than 50-50 likely O.  It could be Y or a repeat of a vowel you already have, so you keep that in the back of your mind.  But you can zip in an O in your mental comparisons with some success.

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