Listener Crossword 3993: Solution Notes

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Argentum by Radix

Puzzle explanation

The message read “In four pairs, both words must be permuted similarly, and one then encoded”. Four answers (35ac ulnare, 39ac overslip, 21dn long-head, 27dn Riyadh) had to be permuted before entry to the form indicated by the wordplay. The diametrically opposite answers had to be permuted similarly and then Playfair-encoded, leading back to the original answers.

ULNARE → NEURAL (order 361542), forcing SPRENT → RTSNEP, whose encoded form had to be SPRENT. Hence, under the encoding, RT → SP, SN → RE, EP → NT.

OVERSLIP → SLIPOVER (order 56781234), forcing WINSOMER → OMERWINS, whose encoded form had to be WINSOMER. Hence, under the encoding, OM → WI, ER → NS, WI → OM, NS → ER.

LONGHEAD → HEADLONG (order 56781234), forcing CONSIDER → IDERCONS, whose encoded form had to be CONSIDER. Hence, under the encoding, ID → CO, ER → NS, CO → ID, NS → ER.

RIYADH → HYDRIA (order 635124), forcing WHARFS → SAFWHR, whose encoded form had to be WHARFS. Hence, under the encoding, SA → WH, FW → AR, HR → FS.

The code phrase, MINCE WORDS (see below), could be found in the normal way, and the unclued words were then deducible as hint, talk, news, sign (all defined by “word” in Chambers Dictionary). To get the title, solvers had to “permute argument”, ie, “mince words”.

The Playfair square is as follows:

MINCE
WORDS
ABFGH
KLPQT
UVXYZ

Clue explanations

Conventions: * = anagram, < = reversal

No Extra word Answer Explanation
ACROSS
1 indoors COWL L after COW
4 fielders WINSOMER WIN + SOME + R
10 overtaking OPHIOLATER P in OHIO + LATER
12 urchin SPRENT R in SPENT
14 paste SAR Two definitions
16 inscribed OCTET O + C(oin) + TÊT(e)
18 rival FOIN IN/FO → FO/IN
20 swish MWAH WHAM *
22 bombers DIS Two definitions (Detective Inspectors)
24 thirsty DISGORGE DIE about GROGS <
25 whatever ENFETTER TRENCH-FEET * – CH
27 ordered HOA HOA(gie)
28 down ROOF (FLOOR – L) <
29 schmaltzy POSY Two definitions
31 musician ERECT CRETE *
34 strawberry DAL Two definitions (decalitre)
35 beagle’s ULNARE (NEURAL) NE + URAL ← ULNARE
38 persistent VEGETATION V + NEGOTIATE *; will = astray (Scot)
39 revolutionaries OVERSLIP (SLIP-OVER) OP < in SLIVER ← OVERSLIP
40 Maoist HANG HAN + G
DOWN
1 upsets CONSIDER CON + SIDER
2 text WHARFS W(illiam) + HAS about RF
3 deserves LIMBO LIMB + O
4 sexy WOKE W + OKE
5 igneous ILMENITE MELINITE *
6 minesweeper NAS N + AS
7 Latin OER O(vid) + (V)E(rgil) + (Ho)R(ace); alternative spelling of Virgil
8 reflex ENNEAGONAL (ONE ANGLE + A + N) *
9 leisurely RITT RIT. + T
11 yachting CAMINO REAL A MINOR EA in CL
13 negligible PONG PONGO – O
19 dodged PSEPHITE P(lay the fool) + (PISTE HE) *
21 needs LONG-HEAD (HEADLONG) HE + A + OLD < + N + G ← LONG-HEAD
26 thanks TATA TA + TA
27 eats RIYADH (HYDRIA) HYDE – E + RIA(l) ← RIYADH
30 New SLOTH SLOT + H(ampshire)
31 needs ENDS Centre of (childr)EN D(isplay) + S
33 comedians PEAR Homophone (PAIR)
36 delivers REP PER <
37 degraded LEV LEV(y)
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