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So long, Wordle—Knotwords is my new daily word-game obsession

A word game that's as addictive as a "DRUG."
Enlarge / A word game that’s as addictive as a “DRUG.”

The viral success of Wordle has reminded the world of how compelling a good word game can be (even if that game is not exactly new). But if you’re anything like me, the daily Wordle grind has probably started to feel a bit monotonous by now.

After months of daily puzzles, there’s just not enough depth to Wordle‘s simple five-letter guessing game to really keep pushing a regular player to interesting new places. Variations that limit the possible word space (i.e., Lewdle) or tack on more simultaneous games (i.e., Sedecordle) bring back some of the novelty but can only go so far.

For players ready for a bit more depth in their daily word puzzles, I can’t recommend Knotwords enough. The game, which comes in free and paid versions, combines the jigsaw-like intersecting letter arrangements of a crossword puzzle with the positional logic of a math puzzle like kenken, creating a truly unique and addictive brain teaser. After spending a week tearing through dozens of Knotwords puzzles, I’m pleased to say I’m still eager for more.

Come solve with me

The basic rules of a Knotwords puzzle can be summed up in a single sentence: Arrange the available letters in each zig-zagging “knot” (noted by dotted lines) so that every row and column (of two or more letters) forms a valid English word. That simple structure hides an intricate solving strategy that rewards logic and general knowledge of how English words are structured.

The best way to demonstrate how that strategy plays out in practice is to walk through a simple puzzle step by step. Take this one, which is early in the game’s April puzzle book.

Right away, the “AE” in the upper-right corner catches my eye. Not many English words start with “AE,” so let’s fill in “EA” there to start things off.

From there, we need to complete the rightmost column using two of the letters from the “TDS” in the lower right. Either “EAST” or “EATS” could work well there. But “EAST” would force the knot to finish with an awkward “DT” at the end of the bottom row. “EATS” is the more likely solution, leaving a common “DS” ending for the horizontal crossing word.

With the “DS” in place, “ENDS” is the only word that really works with the “YNE” knot in the lower left, also leaving a promising “NY” in the little divot. That leaves “PAGE” and “GAPE” as strong possibilities for the left-most column. But “GAPE” puts an awkward G in the upper-left corner; neither “GILE” nor “GLIE” would work with the adjacent knot going across. “PAGE,” on the other hand, leaves both “PILE” and “PLIE” as options—let’s try “PILE” first.

All that’s left is the central knot. Right away, the “RO” jumps out as a way to bridge “I” and “NY” into “IRONY.” From there, the final letters fall into place beautifully, creating “AREA,” “GOAT,” and “LEAD” in the process. Puzzle complete—Nice work!”

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