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Basic Fact by Opsimath

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 Oct 2021

We were ready for a gentler Listener crossword and this proved to be it. Just two lines and one word of preamble with the hint that ‘Numbers in brackets are the lengths of grid entries’ and that three ‘different’ symbols were to be highlighted as part of 22 cells. Clearly those symbols were somehow going to adjust the word count. Opsimath believes very firmly that a crossword should not introduce difficulty for the pure sake of difficulty, so we expected fair and generous clues – and we got them.

We have spent some happy hours sharing Opsimath’s favourite Efes beer in his hometown of Seljuk so I don’t really need to check his right to membership of the Listener Oenophile elite, but I did so just for form and didn’t get far into his clues: ‘Famous vineyard’s best wine cup with merrier revels? (10, two words)‘ We anagrammed CUP with MERRIER to give PREMIER CRU. A fine start. We’re due to sample those at the vineyard of a former student of mine any day now. It has been a very tough year for vineyards with early frost destroying the young plants, so the premier crus will be interesting.

‘Work steadily to consume alcohol in lavish style (4)’ gave us PLY around LUSH = PLUSHLY and we had the first of our symbols a +. Not surprisingly that was followed by ‘Ladder in docks so get tankers up? (6)’ We put RUN into DKS, giving DRUNKS. Oh dear! And ultimately there was ’60 percent of rice wine used by Russian commune (3)’. We used 60 per cent of MIRIN to give us a setter’s favourite word MIR. Plenty of wine there! Cheers, Opsimath.

ACID FREAKS appeared in the left-hand column and that fine clue in the opposite column, ‘One in the provinces went missing from Keswick lake, submerged (10)’ Gave us UN and DERWENT WATER with WENT removed, so the missing local fellow was UNDERWATER. ACID and WATER!

We liked the clue for DOWN-AND-OUT. ‘Dreadful odd aunt now destitute (8)’ (an anagram of ODD AUNT NOW) which we had to enter as DOWN&OUT with the second of the symbols, &. Opsimath clearly has some strange relatives; ‘Small anteater distressed a mad aunt (6)’ produced TAMANDUA as TAM&UA. We had enough information and enough letters in place to see the Basic Fact that ACID + ALKALI = SALT & WATER, nicely spaced across the grid. Nice one – many thanks, Opsimath.

One Response to “Basic Fact by Opsimath”

  1. Alan B said

    I’d just like to say that I enjoyed everything about this puzzle, from the clues to the simple but very well executed theme, which for me took some finding. For no good reason, ALKALI was not visible to me, and I even tried to find a basic arithmetical fact like ONE + TWELVE = TWO & ELEVEN (which is a remarkable fact in its own right, but it has only 21 characters, and that is not a correct use of the & symbol). When I was about ready to give up, I took the word ‘basic’, made it into ‘of a base’ and recalled from my schooldays ‘base + acid = salt & water’ (writing it now, of course, with precisely those symbols), and, remembering where ACID and WATER were, I found it easy from there.

    (I usually take little interest in what goes on in the oenophile club, but it was nice today to be reminded of a nice family meal in Ewell village in Surrey recently, where I had the pleasure of consuming a half-litre of Efes beer and (after the meal) a fine Turkish coffee.)

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