In its short existence, Wordle has cemented its place as a global phenomenon, and players are still avidly documenting their daily scores in family group chats and beyond.
The word game, which was developed by US-based software engineer Josh Wardle in October 2021 and later bought by The New York Times for an undisclosed seven-figure sum, sees players try to guess a five-letter word in just six attempts.
It was only a matter of time before somebody sat down to work out which country is the world champion Wordler.
The assumption that English-speaking nations would lead the scoreboard couldn’t be further from the truth. Just three countries in Wordle-solving top 10 are native English speakers, and embarrassingly, New Zealand is nowhere close to cracking it.
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In an analysis of Twitter users’ scores, WordTips pulled nearly 200,000 tweets with the #Wordle hashtag, extracting game scores from over 140,000.
And the winner is? Sweden, which perhaps did not need this accolade, in addition to its rankings as the seventh highest-performing nation on the Human Development Index, as well as the world’s seventh-happiest country. Swedish Wordle players completed the puzzles in an average of 3.72 guesses.
This is a strong lead above Switzerland, which placed second with an average of 3.78 attempts, and Poland, who placed third with 3.79.
In addition to the bitter pill that is our own failure to make the top 10 list, Kiwis must also accept that in Wordle, Australia has us beat. Our closest neighbours tied with Belgium for joint fourth, with 3.80.
Finland came in sixth with 3.81 and Denmark, Brazil and South Africa tied for seventh with 3.83 to round out the top 10.
Of the 49 countries studied, New Zealand placed 23rd – which we were also roasted for in the commentary by WordTips.
“Interestingly, New Zealand, which is home to the five-time Scrabble champion Nigel Richards, places 23rd overall,” they said.
So if you A) live in New Zealand and B) are good at Wordle, please start tweeting your scores. We need a boost.
And it gets worse: WordTips also measured which global cities had the best scores. The best Wordlers in the world live in Australia’s capital city of Canberra, and guess the word in an average of 3.58 tries.
In fact, three other Australian cities feature in the top 10, including Perth (3.70), Melbourne (3.70) and Adelaide (3.71), which placed sixth, seventh and eighth.
“I wouldn’t say New Zealanders are particularly bad at word puzzles,” defends Simon Shuker, from the modest two-storey home in a Karori cul-de-sac where he devises 13x13 word puzzles called Code Crackers.
Shuker has written about 8000 Code-Crackers for New Zealand newspapers, including The Dominion Post, and more than a dozen other daily papers around the globe. He’s sold more than 150,000 Code-Cracker books over the last 18 years. Which is to say, he knows what he's on about.
"Wordle might be seen as an academic or posh pastime in some countries,” he said, especially where players already speak at least two languages.
A Wordle player who speaks English as a second language is likely to be more highly educated than your average English speaker. That explains the top three.
Whereas it was a Kiwi who helped popularise Wordle. Here, it’s an egalitarian game for the masses.
“With the enthusiasm that New Zealanders have for word puzzles, I suspect that a greater cross-section of the population are doing Wordle here.”
The other thing you've got to take into account is: “People are more likely to post particularly bad or good scores, rather than middling ones.” So a dash of tall poppy syndrome, or self-deprecating humour, might be affecting our rankings, too.
“If you’re Polish and get a bad score, you might also not want to post it because it’ll make you look like your English isn’t good.”
He wasn’t sure why Australia did so well, because “you’d think we’d be similar”.
“Good on them.”
1. Sweden, 3.72
2. Switzerland, 3.78
3. Poland, 3.79
4. Belgium, 3.80
4. Australia, 3.80
6. Finland, 3.81
7. Denmark, 3.83
7. Brazil, 3.83
7. South Africa, 3.83
10. Israel, 3.84
11. UAE, 3.87
13. Singapore, 3.88
14. Uruguay, 3.89
14. UK, 3.89
14. China, 3.89
17. Canada, 3.91
18. United States, 3.92
19. Indonesia, 3.93
20. Philippines, 3.94
21. India, 3.95
21. Pakistan, 3.95
23. Spain, 3.96
23. New Zealand, 3.96
23. Thailand, 3.96
23. Taiwan, 3.96
27. Argentina, 3.98
28. Peru, 4.00
28. Italy, 4.00
28. Czech Republic, 4.00
28. Austria, 4.00
32. Colombia, 4.01
32. Netherlands, 4.01
32. Germany, 4.01
35. Norway, 4.03
36. Malaysia, 4.04
37. Mexico, 4.05
38. Greece, 4.06
38. Sri Lanka, 4.06
38. Japan, 4.06
41. Turkey, 4.07
41. Portugal, 4.07
41. France, 4.07
44. Russia, 4.10
45. Chile, 4.15
46. Ecuador, 4.21
47. Bangladesh, 4.24
48. Kenya, 4.38
49. Egypt, 4.42
1. Canberra, Australia - 3.58
2. Jerusalem, Israel - 3.63
3. Malmo, Sweden - 3.66
4. Durban, South Africa - 3.66
5. Paris, France - 3.69
6. Perth, Australia - 3.70
7. Melbourne, Australia - 3.70
8. Adelaide, Australia - 3.71
9. Manila, Philippines - 3.72
10. Geneva, Switzerland - 3.72This story didn't write itself.Make a contribution
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