WORDLE, the online word game devised by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle and launched back in October, has become a viral phenomenon since its creator added a function that allows people to copy their results as emoji squares and share them with friends and family.
There were just 90 daily players in November. By the start of January that figure had rocketed to two million. The New York Times bought the rights for a seven figure sum at the end of last month. The number of participants is only going to rise further.
Anyone who owns a smartphone is now likely to be greeted by a WhatsApp message from a loved one, work colleague or casual acquaintance crowing about how few attempts it took them to figure out that day’s five letter teaser when they check their device. Truly, it is a curse of the modern age.
But Wordle has quite some way to go before it can match the addictiveness and popularity of the new numeracy brain training game which has been sweeping Scotland in recent weeks – Ramseyball.
Everyone in the country, children in school playgrounds, pensioners having a pint at their local boozer, bampots calling radio phone-ins and wee wifies nattering to their neighbours in tenement closes, has been doing it. Their obsession is all-consuming.
The beauty of Ramseyball is its simplicity. You get the sum of money Rangers reportedly paid Juventus to take Aaron Ramsey on loan last month, look at how many games the Welsh internationalist has played for the Ibrox club to date, add the Premiership matches which are remaining this season and then tell the person next to you.
“Ho, see that Aaron Ramsey, Rangers paid Juve £2m for him and he’s only played four games for them . . . and there’s just another 11 league games left!”
There are different versions of this bizarre sensation. In Ramseyball Advanced you divide the alleged loan fee for the former Arsenal midfielder with the number of matches he has been involved in since arriving in Glasgow and then force your findings on someone.
“Ho, see that Aaron Ramsey, Rangers paid Juve £2m for him and he’s only played four games for them . . . that’s £500,000 a game so far!”
Anyone really looking to test the old grey matter can have a stab at Ramseyball Genius. In its most exacting format, you take the number of minutes the 31-year-old has spent on the park this year and divide the colossal sum the Scottish champions purportedly gave their Italian counterparts to secure his services with it. If you have any friends, you let them know the result.
“Ho, see that Aaron Ramsey, Rangers paid Juve £2m for him and he’s only played 94 minutes for them . . . that’s over £21,000 a minute so far!”
Yes, Aaron Ramsey has made quite an impression since he was paraded on the front steps of Ibrox amid scenes of mass rejoicing on the final day of the January transfer window. Not on the field of play, not yet anyway. His presence at Rangers has improved the arithmetical aptitude of the population no end.
The underwhelming impact the high-profile acquisition has made has certainly been a source of great disappointment to followers of the Glasgow giants and much mirth to fans of Celtic and other top flight clubs.
But quite why any of them thought that a footballer who had played in four games in the previous four months would instantly become a regular in Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side is unclear. It was always going to take him time to get up to speed.
His absence from the Dundee United and Borussia Dortmund matches was concerning for Blue Noses. At the moment, it is hard to dispute that bringing him in could turn out to be an expensive gamble that fails to pay off. But the time to judge that is in May. He has plenty of games left to prove his worth.
If, and it remains a big if, Ramsey can get himself fit and contribute in the Europa League last 16 double header against Red Star Belgrade next month then he will go a long way towards justifying Rangers’ substantial outlay.
If the world-class talent can provide a cutting edge up front in the final two Premiership encounters against Celtic then he will be money very well spent indeed. The gap between the city rivals is so small the outcome of the Premiership could very well boil down to those derby showdowns.
Retaining the Scottish title and securing a lucrative place in the Champions League group stages will be worth in excess of £30m to a club that posted a loss of £23.5m in the last financial year. So £2m, if indeed that is how much it cost to land Ramsey, will be a trifling amount if he comes good.
Seeing if he can will add some intrigue to the run-in. In the meantime, I’m away to have my sixth go at guessing today’s Wordle. The hint is “chief football writer’s Saturday column”. I have S_ITE so far and I’m stumped. Maybe I should just stick to Ramseyball.