Introduction to WordleBot, Upshots daily Wordle companion

WordleBot is a tool that will take your finished Wordle and analyze it for you. It will give you an overall score for luck and skill on a scale from 0 to 99 and tell you at each turn what you could possibly have done differently – if it is your goal to solve Wordles in as few steps as possible.

It is very easy. Play Wordle first. Then visit Wordle Companion, ideally using the same device and web browser.

Each Wordle game starts with one of 2,309 possible solutions as the hidden word. At each turn, WordleBot selects the word that allows it to solve the game in as few steps as possible, provided that any of the remaining solutions are equally likely. It keeps doing this until there is only one solution left – the right answer.

Months ago, before The New York Times bought Wordle, we, like many others, began to wonder about the best starting word. It seemed like a straightforward mathematical question – yet every person who approached the problem seemed to come up with a different answer.

WordleBot started as an attempt to resolve this issue once and for all. But along the way, we realized that (a) the answer was more complicated than it seemed; and that (b) we were more interested in how closely our guesses matched those that would be selected by a machine designed to solve Wordles.

Thus WordleBot was born.

We hope the bot’s advice will help you think Wordle more analytically, which will help you become better at solving puzzles in the long run.

In addition, it can serve as a kind of tiebreaker for those of you who are involved in competitive text chains with friends and family. If a Wordle took you five turns, but you responded more effectively than your friends, WordleBot can give you some bragging rights. If you did everything right and were simply unlucky, it will also tell you that.

We leave it to you to decide what is most important.

WordleBot solves the 2,309 possible words using the fewest number of guesses when it starts with CRANE in normal condition and ACT in “hard mode”.

This may surprise some readers who have seen, various places on the internet, people claim that words like IRATE, SALE or RAISE are the best openers. The truth is that it depends on exactly how you play and whether you are a human or a computer.

The different Wordle algorithms all have slightly different approaches to how they solve the riddle. Some start with knowledge of the solution list; others do not. Some allow any of the nearly 13,000 five-letter English words as valid guesses; others (like WordleBot) use a smaller set. We limited WordleBot to about 4,500 words, which are more common among English speakers – it did not seem very useful for a piece of software to recommend words such as. VOEMA, CUSSO, TREASURE or ZEBUB.

Apart from all that, it is worth noting that the perfect opening word for a computer is not necessarily the perfect opening word for you. WordleBot has perfect knowledge of the 2,309 solutions stored in its memory. It’s likely you do not. So while the bot may know the exact optimal path to take from a given guess, it is possible that you might not and that another guess would be more likely to lead you to the answer.

More importantly, unless you play in hard mode, every wordle game is solvable, no matter which word you choose first. So go ahead, start with FUZZY, we will not stop you. (And note: WordleBot ignores your first guess when calculating your overall skill score. Be free.)

No. WordleBot will never analyze an incomplete game; it will only advise you for completed Wordles.

By default, it will analyze the Wordle you most recently implemented on your device if you have cookies enabled in your web browser. But you can also upload a screenshot of any completed Wordle – even if it is from months ago, provided you have saved the screenshot – and it will analyze it for you instead.

No. It knows the full list of solutions, but no more. It also does not know if a Wordle solution has already been used.

No. The bottom solves all words in six rounds or less.

Yes. The bottom will give advice on your Wordle, no matter how you play. But tough mode presents a challenge.

It complicates things from a computational perspective: While it is a tempting approach to eliminate the largest number of solutions with each guess, it is not always the best idea. WordleBot needs to think several steps in advance to ensure that it eliminates solutions now and does not get stuck in a losing position later.

For modern computers, this extra complexity is not something to worry about, but we are somewhat limited by the computing power of some smartphones and the time we can reasonably expect you to wait for the bot analysis to load.

As a result, we had to make some small shortcuts for the bottom to analyze games in hard mode. In particular, it is not always best to know when it may stumble into a situation where there are more possible solutions than there are valid guesses left to distinguish between them. In some cases, other guesses may have avoided these harsh pitfalls.

All of this means that the version of WordleBot that is powered by a supercomputer would probably differ slightly from the version running in your phone, but the differences are mostly minor and we do not suggest that you worry about them.

No. It performs all its calculations as needed, on your smartphone or computer.

Absolutely. It’s hard to solve more efficiently than the bottom, but pretty easy to be luckier.

None.

No. It may change how you play Wordle, but it is completely independent of Wordle itself.

A skill score of 99 is what WordleBot assigns to the selected word at a given step. In its view, this is the most effective choice to make to solve the riddle with as few guesses as possible, on average over all possible remaining solutions.

A skill score of zero is what you get if you have just skipped a trip completely. (While it’s impossible to actually skip a turn in Wordle, you can get the same effect by guessing a word you’ve already guessed: You lose a turn, and you learn nothing new about the possible solution.)

Your skill score measures how close you were to the bot’s chosen word compared to the worst word you could have chosen for that trip.

Suppose, for example, you guess CRANE on your first trip. The best that could happen would be if the hidden word actually was CRANE – you would solve Wordle in a guess. It’s obviously very lucky.

The worst result would be five gray squares; you would be left with 263 possible solutions to figure out. Considering that 89 percent of the solutions share at least one letter CRANEthat result would be very unfortunate, despite a strategically good choice.

Our luck measurements represent how unexpected the results of your guesses are, conditioned by what we would on average expect, given what we know about the solution at the time.

Maybe you know the game Guess Who, a popular two-person board game where players use yes-or-no questions to try to guess the identity of their opponent’s hidden character. A guess like “is your person wearing glasses?” divides the remaining options into two groups: people who wear glasses and people who do not. You only get one piece of information at each guess.

It’s similar to Wordle, but guesses can reveal a lot more information: Each letter in each guess can turn green, yellow, or gray. This means that a guess could theoretically divide solutions into up to 243 different groups (three to fifth power, or 3 ^ 5, for mathematically inclined). Realistically, because not every combination of letters is a valid word in English, a guess can divide solutions into a maximum of 150 different groups, found by guessing TRACK on the opening guess.

In general, as a solver, you want your guesses to divide the possible solutions into as many groups as possible.

Here is an example. Assume that with your previous guesses you have narrowed down the possible solutions to five: PARTY, CATCH, LOCK, MATCH or PATCH. What to guess next time?

If you guess PARTYdo you divide the remaining solutions into two groups:

If the hidden word is PARTY, great! But if it is not – which is the most likely outcome – you are stuck with four possible solutions.

A smarter guess would split these groups more efficiently and enable you to solve the puzzle regardless of luck. Here WordleBot would guess BLIMP. See how it changes the image:

With this approach, you divide the solutions into five groups of one word each. You are guaranteed to get the answer on your next trip!

When Josh Wardle created Wordle, he and his partner, Palak Shah, chose a subset of the approximately 13,000 valid five-letter English words to be potential solutions, meaning many guesses, even though they are perfectly appropriate words in English, are not Wordle solutions. (For example, many plural nouns are excluded from the solution list.) WordleBot knows the entire solution list, and if you guess a word that is not on it, it will tell you.

This may be because you use a different web browser to play Wordle than you use with the Wordle companion. (When you complete a day’s Wordle, your guesses and preferences are stored in a small file on your device called a “cookie”, and the information in this cookie is not currently stored across different devices or browsers.) So you can either make sure to use WordleBot on the same device that you play Wordle on, or upload a screenshot of your Wordle to WordleBot instead.

Many mathematicians and programmers have tackled this problem, but we would recommend watching Grant Sanderson’s 30-minute video on solving Wordle with information theory.

His (shorter) follow-up video where he lands on SALE as the optimal opener is also worth seeing.

We are at your service. Email your questions here, or leave them in the comments.

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