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Oh, No! Not Another Playfair by Mordred

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 April 2013

Playfair first grid 001Ooooh No! Not a playfair! That was this Numpty’s reaction but the other one said “There’s nothing to them – let’s just solve and see what is going on.” And solve we did, at a terrific speed. Mordred gave us some very straight-forward clues and we really like that. No extra letters, misprints or quaint messages to extract from frantic Listener hoop-jumping – just clues! Wow!

We enjoyed some of them: ‘Buffalo Bill tours America drawing (6)’ FUSAIN fitted the letters we already had in place so we had to work out what FIN had to do with ‘Buffalo Bill’. Of course the BRB told us that a FIN is a five-dollar bill – great clue! We learned a few new words too: LASSU, SPOD, SPAWL and SNOOLED, but we couldn’t find any hint of membership of the Listener setters’ topers club. Mordred seemed to be setting an example of sobriety.

We once met an ex Brain of Britain who obliged himself to solve crossword clues in the given order and to do the entire Grauniad or Times crossword in his head (while we were still puzzling over 1 across). Our progress, for once, was rather like that and we worked from top to bottom, completing the grid, gleefully, in record time, but with a fearful sense of foreboding.

Playfair final grid 001We had, however, along the way noticed WORD PLAY appearing in the grid. (Clearly Mordred is resolving that issue – for him it is two words!) From the preamble, it was clear that we had to have nine letters left over after we spotted our ‘playfair code phrase’, so it had to have sixteen letters (to make the 25 of the 5 X 5 square). WORD PLAY GIVES FUN seemed promising and no letter appeared more than once in the sentence.

We worked out that that would leave us the letters B C H K M Q T X and Z (assuming, of course, that J and I cancelled each other out). It remained to check that each of those letters appeared only once in the remainder of the grid and Eureka!

We began to exchange the letters of the playfair square with those of the grid and things looked very promising. OASIS became BASIS and HOURS became LOURS but then it began to look rather like the results of those monkeys who, after years of random striking of keys, seemed, at last, to have struck Shakespeare (You know the story “Look Hank! I believe they’ve finally cracked it! ‘To be or not to be, that is thskuh zbtryfyfwhj&mmeho”)

We seemed to be doing what was required but are still profoundly worried that we have missed the final point and that the grid should have yielded real words. However, it was clearly no mean feat to compile a grid with each of those letters appearing once and once only, so perhaps it was too much to expect real words.

Thank you, Mordred. You have given us confidence in our grid-filling ability and we’ll learn in three weeks’ time if we have missed a subtle final move.

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One Response to “Oh, No! Not Another Playfair by Mordred”

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