How Do You Spell Fun?

I love a good challenge.  And when I learned this one involved words, I was intrigued. And when I found out you get multiple tries to win, I was ready to start!

As I brought up the app on my phone, I was feeling confident.  How could I not win at this game? Afterall, I taught kids to spell and read, so I am aware of how vowels and consonants go together. I recalled the digraphs students learned in first grade: ch, th, sh, wh, kn and ck.  Then, the trigraphs, like -tch, and -dge.   I remembered the controlled r-sound patterns including: oi, aw, oo, ou and ow and of course, long vowel sound patterns such as a-e, i-e and u-e. In addition, I knew that the most common letters at the beginning of words are: t, a o, d, and w, while the most frequent ending letters are: e, s, d and t.  Wow! Armed with all this amazing knowledge, I set out to win straight away!

Wordle, my latest addiction, is a web-based word game, created by John Wardle, a Welsh-born software engineer. In this puzzle, a player gets six attempts to guess a five-letter word. Each time a word is entered, feedback is given in the form of colored tiles. If a letter is not in the word, the tile turns gray. If it is in the word, but not in the right place, the tile turns yellow.  If you happen to put the correct letter in the right spot, it turns green.  Needless to say, you always hope to see green…a lot of it.

In preparation to play, I compiled a list of “starter” words. Among them, shock, write, other, nudge and tease. For my first game, I chose sauce. My feedback was: the “s” was in the word, and in the right place. Both “a” and “u” were in the word, but in the wrong positions.  After penciling out some possibilities, I next entered sugar and lo and behold, I guessed the correct word!!

From my journal: January 25, 2022 Newbury Park, California

“I love this game already…Got it on my second try today!”

I’d like to say after playing for over a month now, I’ve always guessed the word in the first few tries, but I didn’t know one of the rules, which is now serving me better. I hadn’t thought of repeating a vowel or a consonant, or both, which you can do.

So, when I typed in: lodge on my second try once, I thought I was golden. The odge was right!  All I had to do then was enter the correct first letter. I typed in an h for hodge, that was not it. Try number three, gone! Then I tried podge. Although a bit abstract, it is a word meaning “excess weight”. But, that was not right either.  So long, fourth attempt!  I then thought hard and came up with modge which means “make a mess of”. But sadly, it was not the correct word. Bye-bye, try five! Now I began to sweat. My hands got a little shaky and my heart raced a bit. I had one chance left…so I entered dodge…bells and whistles went off in my head– yes, I had won! Thank goodness, as I couldn’t bear to ruin my stats, which are shown after every game.  I’m now up to 44 games, and 44 wins – however, I’ve had three close calls.

This is when I began constantly thinking of five-letter words, and I began dreaming of them, too…bread, braid, heart, heard… trails of them… going on and on and on. One night, the word “shard” came to me. Ironically, I added to my list, but didn’t use it that day.

From my journal: February 3, 2022 Newbury Park, California

“I CAN NOT BELIEVE “shard” was today’s word!! I dreamt of it, but played share instead!!! UGH!!”

After this experience, I realized, I needed to get a grip. Afterall, It is only a game, and a one caveat is you can only play once a day. Whether you win or lose, you’re done. You have to wait a whole long agonizing 24 hours before entering a five-letter word again.  Around here, that’s a positive, because otherwise, I fear Robert would become a Wordle Widower.

If you like a good word puzzle and haven’t played Wordle yet, you might want to give it a try. It really gets you thinking and is just plain fun! (Hmmm….plain, possibly another good starter word…) I plan to continue playing every morning, as it’s feels great to take on a challenge and especially – win!  And, I’m looking forward to the day, hopefully in the near future, when I enter a word like “BRAVO” and then see, all the tiles turn, a glorious shade of gratifying green!! How fitting, that would be.

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