Everyone wants to do something different sometimes – even Pat and Vanna. Sometimes they like to throw in a curveball and give the contestants something for free, beyond just the category of the puzzle. They don’t happen often, but when they do, they’re a great asset to a seasoned puzzle solver.
Of course, I’m talking about special characters. You probably remember them well – punctuation marks, apostrophes, dashes, and when the puzzle programmer gets lazy and decides to use an ampersand instead of typing “and”. As you know, these are freebies that are revealed prior the game begins, right when the puzzle is revealed.
Here are the most commonly used symbols and their frequency of use (don’t get too excited, it’s not often):
No real surprises here, but definitely worth knowing about. Some very basic strategy that can be applied – most of which you probably already know, but is worth repeating. As you know, ever little advantage helps you be your best on the show. So, here’s the scoop, strictly speaking for their usage within WoF puzzles:
- Dash “-“ – most commonly used to join an adjective/noun paring directly, think “THREE-DAY WEEKEND” or “FAST-PACED ACTION”. Occasionally, may complete a slightly more common phrase or established word that uses a dash, like “MOTHER-OF-PEARL” or “HAPPY-GO-LUCKY”.
- Think about the puzzle when you see these, acknowledge that you may see an uncommon adjective/noun paring or phrase.
- Apostrophe “’” – Most commonly used to create the possessive of a noun or pronoun, something like “A HERO’S WELCOME” or “BEGINNER’S LUCK” (~65% of the time). May be used to form a contraction, like with “I’M FROM MISSOURI” or “DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS” (~25% of the time). And even less commonly, it may be used to shorten a word ending in –ING or shortening another word, like “BEIN’ GREEN BY KERMIT THE FROG” or “CARVING A JACK-O’-LANTERN” (~10% of the time).
- As if you needed another reason to either guess a S or T, apostrophes scream for these letters!
- Ampersand “&” – Used to join nouns (very seldom with other types of words), most commonly used in Before & After or Same Name puzzles. Recently focused on people instead of things. Some examples include, “SHAGGY & SCOOBY-DOO”, “TIM MCGRAW & FAITH HILL” and “ALGEBRA GEOMETRY & TRIGONOMETRY”.
- Use these for additional context for solving puzzles and reminding yourself of the puzzle category.
- Period “.” – Usually reflects one of the following words: “JR.”, “MR.”, “ST.” (Saint, as in a place), “D.C.”, “DR.”, “M.V.P.” or “U.S.A.”. Examples include, “CAPTAIN KIRK AND MR. SPOCK” or “U.S. OLYMPIC TRAINING CENTER”. If used with one letter, generally a middle initial of a name (“WILLIAM H. MACY & FELICITY HUFFMAN”).
- If you have two or three letters involved with a period, start guessing the above abbreviations – they reflect over 90% of combinations.
- Exclamation Point “!” – Used to show extra emphasis. Wheel uses these mostly on Quotations, Phrases or Song Lyrics. Think, “TRULY SPECTACULAR!” or “CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES COME ON!”.
- Very little method to the madness here – just think… what phrase would I scream at the top of my lungs?
- Colon “:” – Almost exclusively used in Title categories (books, TV or movies). Something like, “CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION” or “THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON”.
- Use these for reference points in the puzzle solve.
Quite simply, you can and should use any and all reference points to be able to guess letters and more easily solve puzzles. Use these tricks for a slight advantage over your opponents and dominate the opposition. Every little bit helps!