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Listener 4303: QVWKE VBCFA by Nutmeg

Posted by Jaguar on 8 August 2014

Nutmeg’s last Listener featured the delights of mobile phone use, with that fun refrain “I’m on the train!” appearing on the diagonal. I’m not sure what to make of mobiles myself. My latest one allows round-the-clock internet access, which is both a blessing and a curse. Anyway, I won that one, which was nice.

 

This one featured the Playfair cipher, which is another thing I don’t know what to make of. I like the idea, but it’s surprisingly vulnerable to online breakers. Sometimes only two pairs is enough. Other times, not — if I’m in the mood I do try to break it by hand. Anyway…

4303The clues weren’t too bad in this one, so I was able to make reasonably quick progress through the grid fill, but it did after all take a while to figure out how the Playfair code worked. MODRED was the first starred clue I solved, putting this firmly in the realm of King Arthur’s knights, but I didn’t really get enough to work with for a while so it took until later on Friday night to get enough material together to plug into Quinapalus’ Playfair breaker. OK, so I didn’t solve it by hand. So it was KNIGHT’S MOVE and not ROUND TABLE, or KING ARTHU(r), or EXCALIBUR or HOLY GRAIL or something. Oh well. But at least I was able to finish off the grid, find all the knights (cool name, Gareth), and decode those final two names hidden in the extra letters.

After that … well, BEDIVERE and PERCIVAL are somewhere in that grid… where, though? For Percival, one option was P from the first column, an E from the second, R from the third, C from the fourth and so on. Didn’t work for Bedivere, though…

And so it was only on Saturday morning that the significance of the Playfair code occurred to me, and that the letters of the names would be scattered a Knight’s move away from the last one. A few minutes later and I’d fixed my dodgy spelling of BEDEVERE and was all done. Nice puzzle, Nutmeg!

 

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