This is a little puzzle from the October, 1982, issue of Top Puzzles. As noted before, in relation to Games and Puzzles magazine, I’ve been unable to track down any likely copyright holder. My gratitude to the then publisher for putting it before the public, anyway. One clue has been changed to reflect historical events since 1982.
This puzzle includes a Playfair cipher, a regular crossword theme that strikes terror into the hearts of some solvers. Other ciphers do crop up from time to time but Playfair seems to have become the commonest. There are even sites where you can get help decoding them. They do lend themselves to brute force permutation, if you have the time – otherwise you have to be extraordinarily lucky in guessing content (as in the Peter Wimsey story mentioned on the Wikipedia page linked to above). In a crossword, I think the solver should not be left with a daunting final step, so I would always want to see something about the puzzle that gives you a jolly good shove in the direction of the codeword. It could be argued that this puzzle more or less forces it down your throat, so you shouldn’t need solving aids. (But don’t let that put you off visiting Quinapalus’ site.)
21 clues are ‘Letters Latent’ – from the answer to each clue, one letter is omitted (wherever it occurs) to form the grid entry. Definitions and word lengths refer to the full word; wordplay to what is entered in the grid. The phrase given by the omitted letters in clue order defines the Playfair codeword.
This codeword governs the entry of two answers with normal clues (*). For an explanation of Playfair coding see here.
The remaining word (§) is entered in a manner indicated by the Playfair codeword.
1* Chewing meat skewer, perhaps, in extremes of craving (8)
7 Changes amuse unconventionally (7)
9 Rocky cliffs? Painful things (6)
11 King is backing address to nobleman? (4)
12 Attracts old confectionery (5)
14 Drinks? Drunkards! (5)
15 Means of controlling one in German society (5)
17 Case prowler returned contains strings of pearls (5)
18 Monarch holding Oriental jug (4)
19 Friends attending Henry, rather ill? (6)
21 Wager love will snare leader of Italians, e.g. Mussolini (6)
22* A reprobate embraced by favourite bird (8)
1 Those who set about bees rise with a jerk (9)
2 Smell dead old city (5)
3 Mistakes fuel to contain energy (6)
4 Jackets – the top sections of very expensive smart suits (5)
5 Aromatic plant – send up second in bouquet (6)
6 I use lucky items – sh! horrors dispersed without right (10)
8 Avoids old-fashioned group that is turning up (6)
10§ Speak of almost empty church (5)
13 Beer spilled round top of natty dress (6)
16 Noticed SDP wrangling about end of alliance (5)
17 Name one in student festivities? (5)
20 A Balt, perhaps, left the races (4)
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