Canzano: Wordle ends up with a Pac-12 Conference flair
A few Saturday musings...
I was talking with Pac-12 Conference Commissioner George Kliavkoff last week when the subject turned to puzzles. It turns out Kliavkoff likes to do tricky ones in his free time.
“I print out the most difficult Sudoku and other puzzles,” he told me. “At night I kind of put those in front of me and that kind of clears my mind. It’s the one time that I don’t have anything in my head that relates to my job.”
Kliavkoff is part of a 10-person text chat group with his best friends. The group has been focused lately on Wordle — the New York Times five-letter word game. I told Kliavkoff that the first word I play each day is “QUEST.”
He stopped me cold.
“I don’t think ‘QUEST’ is a good word. ‘Q’ isn’t that common,” he said. “What you want is a bunch of really, really common letters. I do two: ‘AROSE’ and ‘ADIEU’ because that way you cover a bunch of vowels.”
I tweeted about the exchange. Kliavkoff chimed in. So did a variety of others from around the country who revealed their first-word strategy. Some have a regular go-to word. Others advised that players should mix that first word up daily.
John Canzano @johncanzanobftPac-12 commissioner George @Kliavkoff tells me he plays Wordle. His usual go-to first word? "AROSE" or "ADIEU" My go-to word is "QUEST" You?
The inventor of Wordle is a British software engineer who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon. Josh Wardle lives in Brooklyn now and invented the game while killing time during the pandemic. He sold the game to the New York Times for more than $1 million.
Kliavkoff is pragmatic. His strategy casts a wide net and uses a wide variety of letters on that first-word attempt. It’s a wise play. One geared at solving the puzzle in fewer than six tries and keeping his daily streak alive.
I used “QUEST” the very first time I played the game and continue to use it now against my better judgement. My aim isn’t just to keep a streak alive, I want to solve the puzzle on the first attempt someday. I now have a healthy fear of missing out. It’s why I ignore those who implore me to switch it up.
“The day after you switch it up, QUEST is going to be the word,” Kliavkoff joked. “It’s like playing the lottery with the same numbers.
“The time you don’t play it will come up.'“
The whole conversation got me thinking about who else might be playing the game and what first-word strategy they utilize. I reached out to Oregon football coach Dan Lanning on Saturday and asked him how he attacks Wordle.
Said Lanning: “I don’t play.”
Don’t start now, coach.
• Memphis will get a shot at No. 1 seed Gonzaga today in Portland (6:40 p.m. PT). On Friday after practice Tigers’ guard Landers Nolley was asked about the talent and coaching at Gonzaga.
He said, “They have good guards, good organization, good coaches but it’s another player stepping in front of me lacing up his shoes just like I do.”
• UCLA went from the play-in game to the Final Four last year. It was a remarkable run. The Bruins started a tradition of slapping the “UCLA” sticker on the large tournament bracket, noting each victory. It’s a tradition that the team is continuing in the Portland pod. After beating Akron in the opening-round game Russell Strong took a big wind-up and smacked the “UCLA” sticker on the board in the hallway.
The No. 4-seed Bruins play No. 5 Saint Mary’s today (4:10 p.m PT). It won’t be an easy game. Saint Mary’s is tough.
•Oregon Ducks’ star Sedona Prince caused a stir at the NCAA Tournament last year when she posted a video showing the weight room and inequity between the men’s and women’s tournaments. It went viral and the NCAA took action.
Prince was asked about the video this week. The No. 5-seed Ducks are in Tennessee, where they play No. 12-seed Belmont at 2:30 p.m. PT today.
Said Prince: “I think we wanted to stray away as much as possible from last year because our sport has done a lot to make improvements. Now that we have them, I don't really see a point in talking about the inequalities that we had… We're very thankful for the NCAA. They've made changes. That's all we wanted. Now it's just time to ball. That's all I've got to say.”
• Oregon State is the “host” university for the Portland first-and-second round games. The Beavers had a dozen athletic department staff members at Moda Center working in and around the games on Thursday and handling the news conferences on Friday. The OSU contingent set up an office in the arena hallway and the NCAA provided a three-ring binder manual that looks as heavy as an old-style telephone book to provide all the structure necessary for the event.
• Arizona beat Wright State in its opening-round men’s NCAA Tournament game on Friday. The No. 1-seed Wildcats play No. 9 TCU on Sunday (6:40 p.m. PT).
Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said: “We don't have to do anything different than we've done this year. Whether it was in the tournament in Las Vegas, around Thanksgiving, or the Pac-12 Tournament. You go in, you treat it exactly the same… I don't anticipate anything different. I don't think we have to do anything different. And maybe that's the key, just to go out -- and I tell them every day -- go out, most aggressive team wins.
“Let it rip.”
Good advice for us all.