As long as Wordle — Knotwords is my new daily obsession with puns

A pun that is as addictive as one "MEDICINE."
Enlarge / A pun that is as addictive as a “DRUG”.

The viral success of Wordle has reminded the world of how compelling a good pun can be (even if that game is not exactly new). But if you’re something like me, it’s everyday Wordle grind is probably starting to feel a bit monotonous over time.

After months of daily riddles, there just is 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 (e.g. Lewdle) or interfere with more simultaneous games (e.g. Sedecordle) bring back some of the novelty, but can only go so far.

For players who are ready for a little more depth in their daily word puzzles, I can not recommend Knowwords enough. The game, which comes in free and paid versions, combines the puzzle-like intersecting letter arrangements in a crossword puzzle with the positional logic of a math puzzle like kenken, creating a completely unique and addictive puzzle. After spending a week tearing through dozens of Knowwords puzzle, I’m glad to say I’m still eager for more.

Get loose with me

The basic rules of a Knowwords puzzles can be summarized in a single sentence: Arrange the available letters in each zig-zag “knot” (noted with dotted lines) so that each row and column (with two or more letters) forms a valid English word. The simple structure hides an intricate solution strategy that rewards logic and general knowledge of how English words are constructed.

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

Immediately, “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 column on the far right using two of the letters from “TDS” at the bottom right. Either “EAST” or “ETS” could work well there. But “EAST” would force the knot to end 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 crossword puzzle.

With “DS” in place, “ENDS” is the only word that really works with the “YNE” node at the bottom left, also leaving a promising “NEW” in the little divot. This leaves “PAGE” and “GAPE” as strong options for the leftmost column. But “GAPE” puts an awkward G in the upper left corner; neither “GILE” nor “GLIE” would work with the adjacent node across. “PAGE” on the other hand leaves both “PILE” and “PLIE” as options – let’s try “PILE” first.

The only thing left is the central node. Immediately, “RO” jumps out as a way to bridge between “I” and “NEW” to “IRONY”. From there, the last letters fall beautifully into place, creating “AREA”, “GOAT” and “LEAD” in the process. The puzzle is complete – Good job! “