Listen With Others

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Continental Drift by Opsimath

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 Jan 2021

Just three and a half lines of preamble. We like that. Of course, we also like finding that yet another setter has needed alcohol to complete his grid. We have sat with Opsimath in his hometown raising glasses of his local Efes so have high expectations, and, sure enough, we soon find that ‘[G]roat may buy this drink under the table (viz sit low) (9)’ Surely it’s a Croat buying this stuff – so we have our first corrected misprint.

That’s a fairly generous anagram for the strong stuff (SLIVOWITZ) and we need a further clue to water it down, ‘Aerated wa[f]er provided by US prosecutor (4)’. We change the wafer to water and add SO to DA to give us our SODA. Time to raise our glasses again. “Cheers, Opsimath!”

We know that Opsimath likes his crosswords to be pan-alphabetic – to have every letter of the alphabet in them and together with that SLIVOWITZ, we find ZORIL, EXERT, JOKE and QANAT- he’s doing it again!

We solve steadily with no theme immediately apparent but a useful message slowly appearing in the corrected misprints. LEWIS AND CLARK …

Penny-drop moment. That is why we had this rather unusual 16 X 11 grid and the title Continental Drift. We need Wikipedia to confirm that ‘The United States purchased Louisiana from France in 1803. The huge part of the land west of the Mississippi River was completely unknown to Americans and needed to be examined first before it could be settled. President Jefferson decided to send an exploratory expedition west so he appointed his own private secretary, Meriwether Lewis as a Commander in charge of the expedition and finding appropriate guides for it. Lewis invited his former superior officer from the Army, William Clark, to be his Co-commander.’ Now that was a president behaving in a civilised, presidential manner!

We know what we are looking for now and find those three rivers, OHIO, MISSOURI and COLUMBIA and the ROCKIES exactly where they should be. The remainder of the corrected misprints tell us to HIGHLIGHT ONE MOUNTAIN RANGE AND THREE RIVERS so out comes the blue highlighter.

Those explorers  were the crew of the PATHFINDER, and we spend some time hunting for a letter we need to change in the grid to produce that, but then realize that we simply had to change that last letter of the vaulting POLE at 34d to a different sport, POLO, to find our CORPS OF DISCOVERY. Very nice, thanks, Opsimath – another puzzle that sends us to fascinating sources to brush up our knowledge.


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