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I got Wordle in one guess and I wish I hadn’t

A woman looks at her phone in despair
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I used to look at the people sharing the Wordle wins on Twitter and think I wanted to be like them. I wanted to get that day’s Wordle solution in a single guess and join the lofty elite of the Wordle In One club. How they must live, knowing they’d won Wordle.

Now I am one, and it’s the most trivial hell.

For the last 60 days, I’ve been waking up at 6.30am and writing the Today’s Wordle Answer article. (Well, in truth, sometimes I’ve written it at midnight after the pub. They’ll have been the ones with more typos). It’s become ingrained in me; I can’t sleep past 6.30am, and my first thought when I open my eyes is usually about Wordle. It’s a rubbish pavlovian response – at least the dogs got food out of the deal; I just watch tiles turn green.

A man playing Wordle on his mobile

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Wachiwit)

However, another part of the routine I hadn’t recognized until last week was that I started every Wordle puzzle with the same guess – and, no, for my crimes, it’s not the one we recommend in the best starting words for Wordle guide. I’d start every day’s puzzle with TRAIN. It got a lot of good letters in play, for one thing, so it felt tactical, and playing ADIEU just felt too bougey.

Now, if you play Wordle on the regular, you’ll see what’s happened. On May 4, while the world was celebrating Star Wars day, I was riding on the high of joining the Wordle In One club. My daily starter just so happened to be the word of the day, so after months of playing the same open, I was able to send this message to my flatmate – and let’s not dwell on the fact that I was Wordling at midnight on a Monday…

I celebrate my amazing Wordle win

(Image credit: Future)

I thought I’d won Wordle; I thought I was a (low-stakes) king. I was wrong.

Firstly, I couldn’t say in my Today’s Wordle Answer article that I got the solution in a single guess – by the post’s very nature, people are only going to be reading it if they’re struggling with that day’s puzzle. No one will want to read the gloating of someone who, by sheer luck, picked the correct word. So I kept it hidden, adding a little guilt to my high.

But the actual issue emerged the next day. 6.30am rolls around, my alarm goes off, I reach for my phone, and… what word do I enter? Unless the New York Times starts repeating five-letter words, TRAIN isn’t going to come up again. The whole ethos of Wordle, at least, as I’ve played it, is that you make no wasted guesses. You don’t use letters you’ve ruled out, and you don’t put a yellow letter in the same slot, so does that mean you don’t use words you know can’t be the correct answer? I went with ADIEU, and a little bit of myself cringed. 

On Thursday morning, again, the same issue. I sat staring at my screen, stuck as to what to make for my first guess. It’s a ridiculous state to be in, frozen before making the first guess: the field is open, and literally no five-letter word can be wrong. Except now I think I can’t pick a word at random; what if I choose a five-letter word that, like TRAIN, has already appeared and so has no hope of being correct? Do I need to go down the list of all 324 Wordle solutions to find a word that’s not been a Wordle answer just so that my first guess isn’t a wasted one?

A man looks at his phone in anguish

(Image credit: Shuttersock)

It’s been a week since I got Wordle in one, and every morning has been the same. I’ve used ADIEU a couple of times and it feels off. So I need a new word – one that’s not been a solution before – and I just have to hope it never comes up as a solution so I never go through this again.

Of course, if I want a five-letter word I like that has no hope of coming up again, I should just go with TRAIN.

You know, there are times I might have gone too deep down the Wordle rabbit hole.

Julian's been writing about video games for more than a decade. In that time, he's always been drawn to the strange intersections between gaming and the real world, like when he interviewed a NASA scientist who had become a Space Pope in EVE Online,  or when he traveled to Ukraine to interview game developers involved in the 2014 revolution, or that time he tore his trousers while playing Just Dance with a developer.