FROM crosswords to jigsaws, puzzles have rocketed in popularity during the pandemic. Now a new puzzle is on the scene, seeing its player numbers surge from 90 to two million in mere months.


What’s the puzzle?

Wordle, created by New York-based software developer, Josh Wardle. Originally from Wales, but now living in Brooklyn, his initial aim was simply to keep his crossword-puzzle loving wife entertained during the pandemic. 


So how does it work?

Each day, players have to guess a new five-letter word, but they only have six attempts to do so. After each guess, they are told if letters are right (they turn green); or wrong (they turn grey) or right, but in the wrong place (they turn yellow), guiding them toward the solution.


The goal?

To identify the word, but ideally to do so in as few guesses as possible. 


And it’s a smash hit?

It launched online in October last year, with just the Wardles playing, before numbers grew to 90 daily players in November, to 300,000 at the start of this year and then two million at the weekend.



The game is sweeping the internet now, with fans including including Jess Phillips MP, who tweeted last week that she "got the Wordle in 3 attempts", while game show host and author, Rochard Osman, has also posted his results online.


What’s behind the rise?

Its simplicity is partly to do with it. Word then spread on social media, with puzzle fans enjoying the brainteaser so much, it became a viral phenomenon in December as Wardle added a 'share' element, where users could post their result in grid form. 



Less is seemingly more as there is only one Wordle per day, it leaves fans wanting more. Already, they are clamouring for Wardle to create an archive to allow for additional play when the day’s puzzle is done.


What does the creator say?

He told the New York Times, “I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun. It’s not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs. It’s just a game that’s fun,” adding that he believes the scarcity of the game created a buzz around it.


Puzzles are more popular than ever?

Sales of jigsaws hit £100m in 2020, up 38 per cent on the previous year, with lockdown life leaving people searching for new ways to keep occupied at home, while brainteasers and crossword puzzles also surged in popularity, with some online publications - including The New Yorker - introducing a “co-op” mode in its online crosswords, allowing users to solve a puzzle with a partner. Once logged in, a click on “partner mode” sends a link to a friend. When they click on it, both can fill in the puzzle together.


So where do you play Wordle?

Copycats are popping up - including an app that is available for free but offers an option to upgrade at a cost, but the original version is available for free online at



Despite the creator being a Brit, one of this week’s brainteasers sparked consternation online by using US spelling, with one fan saying “I’m blaming Wordle for this loss, not myself!”