Wordle is closing in on its 700th day this week, and the game’s still got around two million daily users. I’m among them — I play every morning, sending my results to both my girlfriend and a group chat. I lost a 91-day streak the other day in heartbreaking fashion: SCARF, not SCARY.
Puzzle-solving is an excellent addition to any morning routine, offering the sort of mindful, low-stakes challenge that’ll fertilize the brain in the short term and protect it against cognitive crabgrass in the long run.
In case Wordle (or one of its dozens of bizarrely specific iterations) lost its luster for you over the year-plus, we recommend trying a word-finding game that’s only been around since last fall. It’s called Contexto.
We Still Play the Board Game “Catan” to Stay Sharp and Social“Catan,” created by Klaus Teuber, who died this month at the age of 70, is much more than a diversion
What is Contexto?
The goal of Contexto is to figure out the “secret word.” You have unlimited guesses to do so, unlike in Wordle, where you have just six. The secret word can be any number of letters and any possible thing: cow, football, waffle, etc.
Each time that you type in a word, Contexto spits back a number for that word, ranking its similarity to the secret word. According to Contexto: “The words were sorted by an artificial intelligence algorithm…which analyzed thousands of texts.” A fitting premise for the dawn of the AI age.
For some context
If the secret word of the day was “sneaker,” and your first guess was “banana,” you might get a ranking somewhere in the tens of thousands. You’re way off. But guessing words like “clothing” or “basketball” will get you closer to the endgame. Bad guesses light up red, okay guesses yellow, and good green.
What’s a good score?
That’s a good question. It varies considerably. I got Contexto in four guesses once, which is bound to happen eventually, because the words are pretty down the fairway. But I’ve also typed in 85 words over 10 minutes, wondering how guesses ranked #17, #32 and #50 could possibly be related. For your own pride, sanity and time, you’ll ideally want to figure it out in 30 guesses or less.
Most puzzles have a boiling point where they leap from edifying to maddening. That definitely applies to Contexto. But it’s a fantastic drill for the brain, nonetheless, forcing you to essentially turn yourself into a random word generator.
Once you do get the word, the game is abruptly over, and the full rankings list is revealed. If you’re looking for a great time, make like our editorial newsroom and stage a “race” in a circle of friends. Drowning in the throes of Contexto, people tend to reveal who they truly are.