Wordle: My new obsession | Opinion

By Ellyn Laub

Special to the Sun Sentinel

Mar 03, 2022 11:46 AM

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Ellyn Laub

Ellyn Laub (Ellyn Laub/Courtesy)

Yes, I am really trying very diligently not to address this but not matter how hard I struggle to ignore it, this issue keeps rising to the surface — even this morning, before tackling my laptop to write this column. For years, my warm-up exercise before writing had been playing a few hands of solitaire.

Unfortunately those few hands usually turned into way too many hands, illustrating a possible — dare I say — addiction, or at least a worrisome, time-consuming habit. But recently, I’ve been sucked into a new compulsion that has developed a stranglehold, threatening to severely curtail any available minutes of my day. And I don’t mean Facebook. I’ve managed to limit the amounts of times a week I actually go onto that site. And you know what? I have discovered that my life is quite fulfilling even if I can’t see what Mary had for dinner, whether Susan’s toes are sticking up in the foreground of a beach scene, or if Cheryl’s cat is in the laundry basket.

What has stolen my attention lately is my daily participation in a new game called Wordle. If you haven’t yet heard of this, I might suggest that perhaps you’ve been living under a rock — or in the vain of Wordle, under a stone, which is a five-letter synonym for rock. I’ll explain the five-letter thing in a moment. The popularity of Wordle has been exploding all over town, all over the country, all over the world, by word-of-mouth between friends and coworkers, via the internet and within families.

For those of you not familiar with it, the object of the game is to determine a secret five-letter word in six guesses. The puzzle is solved by first entering a random five-letter word into a set of boxes. If a particular letter appears in the correct word, it will turn yellow. If a letter appears in exactly the right spot of the secret word, it also turns green. And letters not in the word at all will turn gray in the boxes as well as on the keyboard below. So those are easy to eliminate.

An avid crossword enthusiast and Scrabble player myself, I took to this new amusement immediately and fully expected to be a star player, solving every clue each and every day in a matter of moments. In fact, I am used to playing many of the other online word games like Pressed for Words, Wordstock and Scramble. I’m not quite sure why I never did get into Words with Friends.

I’ve tried Sudoku, but numbers are very much not my thing. Just ask my sister Denise who gets great delight out of my abysmal math skills. But words, that’s another thing altogether. So when I heard and read about Wordle, as I said, I figured I’d master it in a flash. Not so much. Sometimes it’s really difficult. Although I do get most of the answers finally in four and sometimes even three tries, once in a while it takes me five, rarely six and I’m embarrassed to say that last week I didn’t get it at all. I’m convinced that it’s sometimes about as much luck as skill. Like what random word you first decide to plug into the first level.

Our whole family is into Wordle, including our 11-year-old grandchildren, Brody and Cooper, who have been doing quite well, actually. It challenges their vocabulary skills and they love to play it every day. My granddaughter Cooper, feeling a bit cheated because the official game allows play only once a day, developed her own manual version. She cleverly drew out the word board then cut out two sets of alphabet squares like Scrabble tiles. One she left with a white background, to be placed on the empty spaces. The other set she wrote on both sides of the squares, coloring one side over in yellow the other in green to be placed over appropriate letters. So I’ve managed to share my solitaire compulsion with her, and now Wordle. Now that’s what I call grandmothering.

Columnist Ellyn Laub lives in Coconut Creek.

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