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Yod Jsyv Dox by Ottorino

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 July 2013

Yod Jsyv Dox by Ottorino 001“What language is that crossword in?” That came from a numpty great niece, looking over my shoulder at an almost complete grid. I had to smile! The clues are obviously in English but what an astonishing set of words Ottorino has used: VERQUERE, REGREDE, UREDO, GROGON, ARIMASP, SEEDLAC, RESKEW, UPHROES, AGUIZED. We were at the same table at the last Listener setters’ dinner and I am sure we communicated in modern English (and he seemed to enjoy the wine but I didn’t find much of the traditional Listener tipply stuff in his clues – somebody ‘has drunk plant juice with cake’ [SAP + PAN with a 4-letter shift became WETTER] and further down horse meat seemed to come into it – ‘Thoroughly guts horse blocks for lines on board (7)’ [GUTS became MAZY with a 6-letter shift so we had UP + HORSE* giving UPHROES for maritime blocks that hold lines).

To say that we were nonplussed on first seeing this crossword is MEIOSIS (Yes, I know now that that is understatement) –  ‘One in some novel is, for example, “fairly bright, like Holmes” (7) [SOME around I* + IS and I imagine Holmes is more than ‘fairly bright’ – Nice one Ottorino] I didn’t find an encoded word there but then, I am missing two overall and have a complete and coherent set of solutions. No doubt the official solution will solve my final doubts.

Yes, the numpties were nonplussed. Not one code but three distinct codes used ‘six times each’ with an additional ten clues with misprints and their answers had to be ‘encoded before entry in the grid’. That’s 28 clues with some kind of code involved out of a total of 46. Phew! If these words to be encoded were going to produce jumbles, we were stymied for sure (Oh how I loathe jumbles!) but let’s attempt to solve the eighteen clues with no codes.

1 Across was puzzling. ‘Power nap after noon for old European leader (5)’ M + P + REST suggested MPRET but there was that strange extra S. (Of course, this was added Ottorino subtlety! Much later we realized that NAP with a 4-letter shift gave RET – M + P + RET).

Yes, it was a double G and T this week!

Yes, it was a double G and T this week!

We struggled long and hard and produced the skeleton of a grid from a few generous clues. PAPERCASE across the middle ‘Bill, an odd character’s box for scribes (9)’ (PAPER + CASE) and SEMI-RURAL crossing it ‘Bulls rail user meets initially between countryside and town’ (9) RAIL USER M(eets)* gave us somewhere to start, though, at this stage, I was thinking that BULLS was a rather odd anagram indicator (and surprising that the editors allowed it!) Of course, with a 6-letter shift, it produced a far more satisfactory HARRY  later on.

A few more clues were slotted in: VERQUERE, UREDO, ESTRO, INDIES, PSORA and EGOLESS and we began to have some convincing probabilities. 40 Across gave us our first foothold. ‘For scalds, more tho than all others, some adviSE RESTing (6) A hidden solution and scalds were poets weren’t they? A Chambers check produces ‘dryest’ for serest and that word THO in the clue is highly suspect. Could this be a straightforward Caesar shift? EUREKA – it’s a 10-letter shift and so is that DOX of the title. A little work on YOD and JSYV tells us that these are 6-letter and 4-letter shifts.

So do those misprints tell us that we are using SIX, FOUR, TEN? We have MOSH/MOTH group producing BOMBYX and FIX/FIT, then MARIA/MANIA – that lovely Gollum clue – ‘Hiding unlimited gold, mirthless wretch poisoned by mania for ring (6)’ and we HAVE highlighted that italicised message in the preamble that it is the misprints and not the correct letters that will give us a message but it isn’t quite working. We finally suss that it is SIX AND FOUR. Hmmm! Ah but they add up to TEN don’t they?

It all begins to make sense and we work our way back through the clues, teasing out words and hunting for Caeasar shifts. With pure delight, we realize that Ottorino is giving us only real words (even if lots of them are very obscure). So we have ‘Burma’s cooking a TIGER meal (6)’. We had spotted the SAMBUR but wondered what it had to do with PECAN – just a 4-letter shift of course. ‘NEWLY presented Wesker’s poetic Release by Force (6)’ [RESKEW] I particularly liked that one. DUMBO is a sort of numpty isn’t he?

This became extremely satisfying and I was astounded at all that Ottorino had managed to fit into his grid and at those convincing surface readings for absurdly shifted words. Yes, it took us forever, but it was great. Many thanks, Ottorino.


2 Responses to “Yod Jsyv Dox by Ottorino”

  1. Jaguar said

    This took a long time to get started but once I thought to try Caesar shifts on the title it became clear what was going on and made everything much easier. Despite that it took a while to fill the grid. Well put-together and an interesting challenge. Thanks Ottorino!

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