The Dorset Nerdle

The word game Wordle went viral within weeks. Now two Dorset families have a maths equivalent that’s destined for stardom, says Steve Keenan.

Richard Mann, from Iwerne Minster, who created Nerdle with his childhood friend Marcus Tettmar

A maths version of the hugely successful word game Wordle has been developed in the Blackmore Vale and is taking the education world by storm. Teachers, from primary schools to universities, are praising Nerdle, which gives users six tries to solve a mathematical equation.
The daily numbers game only launched on January 20 but within five days was being played by 400 users per minute in 53 countries.
And, as with Wordle, the game’s popularity has spread like wildfire, so much so that by Day 13 (Tuesday, Feb 1), it had 360,000 users worldwide. The response has been overwhelming for childhood friends and developers Marcus Tettmar and Richard Mann, who created Nerdle.
Said Richard: “I was driving home with my daughter Imogen, 14, chatting about the Wordle craze and agreed there must be an equivalent for us maths fans. A few minutes later, we’d decided on the rules of the game and the name ‘Nerdle.’”
Richard’s son Alex, an A-level maths student, got involved and the whole thing was put together “in a few hours” by Marcus, using open-source coding from a Wordle clone.


Note from Ed: this is my first ever attampt at a Nerdle. Wordle users will instantly grasp how to play, and also how much I whooped when I managed this. Definite fluke – but I’ll take it.

…and for younger maths fans

Marcus’s son helped check the coding and his primary school teacher sister advised. As a result, the team have also launched a mini Nerdle (six squares across, instead of eight) for younger children.
Said Marcus, 50, who lives in Shroton (Iwerne Minster): “I guess we thought it was going to be educational. It came from a conversation with the kids, who were very much at the forefront of helping develop it.”
The response from the educational world on Twitter has been huge:
“Using Nerdle to reinforce our Algebra standards! We love math puzzles!” posted a primary school teacher in Maryland, USA.
A lecturer at the University of South Australia added:

“It encourages you to use many different aspects of working and thinking mathematically.”
And teacher Emma McCrea, author of Making every Maths Lesson count said: “Move over Worldle. It’s Nerdle time.”

As with Wordle, Nerdle was set up as free to use: Marcus also runs games and tax return software companies with an office base in Blandford. Wordle was sold recently to The New York Times but Marcus says he is not surprised.

“Not everyone wants to make things commercial but when things get popular, they become expensive to run. The bandwidth needed is huge. “We want to keep Nerdle non-commercial but when there comes a point when it’s getting too expensive, maybe we introduce a donation button. Something else we have talked about is donating money to a charity.

“We’ll see what happens. People are saying the game is addictive but right now, so is watching the site stats!”

Try Nerdle for yourself by clicking here

by Steve Keenan

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