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?
Correct solution submitted below.