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Posts Tagged ‘Knight’s move’

Listener 4303: QVWKE VBCFA by Nutmeg

Posted by Jaguar on 8 Aug 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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Knight’s Move by Merlin

Posted by shirleycurran on 30 Mar 2012

“Oh no! Not knights’ moves again!” was our first reaction. Do we really have three days to spare? Sabre gave us our longest solve ever last year and we are still smarting.

We set to anyway and peace was quickly restored as one lovely clue after another yielded its secret. AHAB went in first; ‘Captain of whaler a hardy seaman (4)’ producing A H(ard) + AB and an extra Y. FL (Liechtenstein) is just over at the other side of Switzerland (I even worked there once, in Malbun, a delightful little ski resort) and that fitted with ATTEST to give FLATTEST ‘Must even Liechtenstein give evidence (8)’, so we had an O and a U when MUST changed to MOST.

The three different ways of producing extra letters gave Merlin lots of diverting ways to write clues and we thoroughly enjoyed solving this crossword. We must have been lucky, as the words YOU MAY KNOW quickly appeared and one numpty began to sing some song about ‘You may know by the clothes I wear that I’m a cowboy’. It was difficult to persuade him, even when ‘ALACRITY’ appeared in the down clue extra letters, that we were more likely to be in Shakespeare territory with a very famous huge knight.

Having ‘You may know by my size that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking’ as the phrase was a great help, and, in usual numpty style, we worked backwards, easily spotting the source of the remaining extra letters and had a full grid with a distraught (anagrammed) FALSTAFF in the BUCKBASKET where the Merry Wives bestowed him before we took a break for dinner.

No problems? Well not many. We liked the way the extra N could be produced by BAG around SKIN or BANG around SKI for BASKING in ‘Report about skin getting exposed to sun (7)’. As usual I learnt a sprinkling of new words, TAGLIONIS (coats indeed! They sound more like some exotic pasta), TEKTITE and the unusual LABILE, meaning ‘apt to change’. Of course I was reassured that Merlin shared the usual Listener setter oenophilia with ‘SmAll beer? Stop stocking fine cask (8)’ giving PIN in HALT – HALFPINT, and a ‘college drunk mentioned’ (to give Tech + tight = TEKTITE).

Our only problem came when, after dinner, we decided to throw Falstaff into the River Thames and I became mildly troubled by the words of the preamble.  We had to ‘replace him, yet more distraught … overwriting existing letters to make more new words’. It wasn’t difficult to see that LFAF/AFTS would convert ANGER to ANGEL, OTTERS to AFTERS, ENGRAINS to ENGRAFTS, SUMMON to SUMMAT and HAJI to HAFF, but what does OVERWRITING mean?

Chambers offers alternatives. One can ‘superscribe’, ‘cover over with writing or other writing’, or ‘type over and replace (existing characters)’. It seems to be that there are two possibilities there. Do we leave the original characters visible underneath? Hmmm! It is so often the preambles rather than the actual solving that give cause for doubt. It seems to me that either way of resolving the problem would be justifiable so I shelved my doubts and we left Falstaff at the bottom of the river after about two hours of very enjoyable solving. Many thanks to Merlin.

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