Eightface

by Dave Kellam

Caitlin Burke solved a puzzle on Wheel of Fortune with just one letter on the board. Pat Sajak and the contestant beside her seemed stunned, thinking it was a miracle, but it wasn’t — she used logic.

Part of the art of designing a game show is making the basic and routine seem chaotic and unpredictable. The trick is, most people watch a show like Wheel of Fortune, and their heads begin swimming with the nearly endless possibilities: twenty-six letters and those hundreds of thousands of words. Burke’s strategy, her puzzles-within-puzzles way of thinking, is designed to narrow the range. That’s why she started with the smallest words first.

Very impressive. There’s a clip of her solving the puzzle in the Esquire article.

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