Saturday, 15 June 2013

cracking the code

Between 1988 and 1992, I spent a lot of time devising word puzzles, partly because most of the puzzles I encountered in newspapers were far too easy to be worth bothering with and partly because I thought I could make some money by selling completed puzzles to some of those newspapers. I came up with several repeatable formats, some examples of which I posted when I started this blog (Scramble Six and Chainwords), but my attempt to become a full-time puzzle setter was spectacularly unsuccessful. However, while rummaging through old papers yesterday, I came across an example of the Crossword Cipher, which isn’t as difficult as it looks.

As all good spies know, the simplest code is what is known as a substitution cipher. It is also the easiest code to crack. In its simplest form, this kind of code merely substitutes numbers from 1 to 26 for the letters of the alphabet (A=1…Z=26), but it becomes a little more useful if a keyword is used. For example, if the keyword is ‘keyword’, the numbers 1 to 7 then correspond, in order, to the seven letters in ‘keyword’ (K=1…D=7). The remaining letters, in alphabetical order, are then allocated numbers from 8 to 26 (A=8, B=9, C=10, F=11, etc.). Obviously, all the letters in the keyword must be different.

The following puzzle combines a substitution cipher and a crossword. In the grid below, each letter of the alphabet is represented by a number, and every letter appears once to form six words, three reading across and three down. And one of these six words is the keyword in the cipher. Can you crack the code?


spoiler alert
Correct solution submitted below.

7 comments:

  1. Dennis, I've just been arguing with my nearest and dearest about this puzzle for at least 40 mins and it's driving me/us nuts. I did a whole plan on this thinking I had it all sewn up, only to find out in the end that it didn't work. Stress is in the camp now. In other words, it's too hard.

    I'm know I'm gonna kick myself when you give the answers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too hard Rum? Here’s a clue: locate Q and Z first. Even though I originally devised the puzzle, when I discovered it among my papers there was no solution, so I had to work it out. I started with Q and Z.

      Delete
  2. I am soterrible at this type of thing that I didn't even give it a try!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It’s hard for me to judge how difficult this puzzle is Pat, but this is the kind of puzzle I’d love to have come across in a newspaper.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. You don’t need me to confirm that you’re correct Keith.

      Delete
    2. Keith, I’ve only just noticed a slight error in your solution. The first word should have been SIGHT.

      Delete

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