What we’re obsessed with right now: New York Times Spelling Bee
San Diego Union-Tribune editors and writers share what they’re currently obsessing over.
What I’m obsessed with: While everyone on the internet is going crazy for the online word game, Wordle, I want to acknowledge the original addictive word game, Spelling Bee. Created by The New York Times, the object is to make as many words as possible from a set of seven letters — the catch is you have to use the center letter at least once.
Tell me more: There’s at least one pangram in every Spelling Bee — a word that uses all of the letters. The game’s main objective (at least for me) is to find the pangram as quickly as possible because this is a game that tallies up points (longer words = more points) and you move up levels based on points versus words.
What’s the ultimate goal?: Most people work through the levels — Beginner, Good Start, Moving Up, Good, Solid, Nice, Great and Amazing — until they get to the coveted title of Genius. It takes a high number of points to get there, and once you do, the game stops. But we truly addicted, we continue playing until we reach the secret Queen Bee level that appears once all words have been found.
Why I’m obsessed: I’ve always loved word games — crossword puzzles, Boggle, Bananagrams (not Scrabble because that’s a math game. I said what I said.). Spelling Bee is a word game you can play by yourself, and now that it’s on The New York Times’ Crosswords app, I can play it anywhere, anytime. It has a clean, hexagonal design that resembles a bee hive — a nice, clutter-free escape when I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious or bored. I also love Beeatrice,the game’s bee mascot that greets you every morning and congratulates you when you reach Genius and/or Queen Bee. On some holidays, like Halloween, she even wears a costume.
The Hivemind: The Spelling Bee community — called The Hivemind — is a group of equally obsessed Bee fans. Many communicate on Twitter to share clues, post funny word combinations and vent about words that aren’t accepted (no proper nouns, contractions or slang words). The Hivemind includes celebrities like Steve Martin, Aidy Bryant, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, William Jackson-Harper and many more. A new Spelling Bee is released at midnight every day and it takes every ounce of willpower for me to go to bed before that happens so that I’m not up late solving (at least I’m not on the East Coast, where some people wake up at 3 a.m. just to solve the puzzle).
Hints: There are many resources where you can find hints to each day’s Bee — some break down how many words total, how many pangrams, how many words per letter, etc. The New York Times recently released its own hints page, but longtime solvers also like the thoroughness of novelist William Shunn (shunn.net/bee/) and the hints on Twitter provided by solver @kevinedavis.
Spelling Bee is available on The New York Times website and app — a subscription with games may be required for regular play.
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