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Polygram by Opsimath

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 April 2020


What a pleasure to see the name of our good friend Opsimath at the head of this crossword. He has been creating puzzles for several advanced thematic cryptic outlets for some time now. ‘Ambidexter ‘appeared as his first Listener last year, where we stood, with Byron, on the Bridge of Sighs, in Venice with a PALACE and a PRISON on each hand, and we have solved several Magpie crosswords as well as those in the Enigmatic Variations and Inquisitor series and a first in 1 Across this month.

We have sat with Opsimath in his hometown of Seljuk on a regular midday date, enjoying his favourite ‘Efes’ and solving the Times cryptic together so I really do not need to confirm that he maintains his right of admission to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite, but I run quickly through his clues to be sure and find the alcohol absolutely swamping them. There’s a ‘Fabulous drink when priest gets last of tax to the revenue men (5)’ – but we realize at once that ELI + (ta)X + IR has seven letters so we have our first prompt that ‘Numbers in brackets show grid entry lengths’ is an indication that our entry has to compress some of those letters.

‘Italian port loses first bit of citrus fruit (5)’ suggests AN(c)ONA, then ‘Hero has a Rioja and first taste of Xeres but no port (4)’ (what a clever clue!) tells us to remove Rio from that ‘a Rioja’ and add an X(eres) giving us AJAX. The tippling continues: ‘Partook of drink, deluding drunk (3)’ produces an anagram of deluding – INDULGED and the Ephesus appears again (spelled out this time) ‘One on one at either end of arena somewhere around Ephesus (5)’ giving us I ON I A = IONIA.

‘Obstruct one room [letters] in public house’ (3}’ leads us to BAR and we clearly have one of the words that we have to remove in ‘letters’. Sadly, Covid19 is obliging us to cancel this year’s Seljuk visit but we can say a remote very well earned ‘Cheers, Opsimath!’

It gives us immense pleasure to have a perfectly succinct and brief preamble with no jumbles, misprints or references to obscure themes we have never dreamed of and we have the particular advantage of knowing that we are dealing with a most erudite setter, a polymath rather than an opsimath, who is fluent in Greek and Turkish so we very quickly spot the message ‘Insert lower case Greek letters in Chambers appendix’. Of course, that explains the extra xi in ELIXIR. I can muddle by in modern Greek, having a Greek sister-in-law but I am hopeless at reading it, however, the other Numpty can do the reading but not the talking so, a bit like Jack Spratt and his wife, we almost manage a clean platter. Let me admit that we were originlly test-solving this crossword in Izmir airport as we waited for an Istanbul plane and we had no Chambers available and had to get home before we could confirm all those twiddly little lower case letters – but we know what we are looking for.

We enjoy teasing out COM[mu]NAL, ELI[xi]R, T[eta]NOID, SERA[phi]C, E[chi]DNA, AUD[iota]PES, CUS[psi]DOR, RES[tau]RANT CAR, CA[psi]D, LAY[the ta]BLE, ON TENTE[rho]OKS and finally S[omega]TE – yes, that last word was new to us and I imagine that it was Quinapalus wonderful crossword compiling system that found it for Opsimath. What a polished and elegant compilation with those letters symmetrically placed. Many thanks, Opsimath.

 

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