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Posts Tagged ‘Opsimath’

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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Listener No 4600: Polygram by Opsimath

Posted by Dave Hennings on 17 April 2020

Listener number two from Opsimath this week, following on from his first last year with its Byron, Bridge of Sighs and Rio di Palazzo theme. This week, extra words in eight down clues would tell us how to treat twelve symmetrically-placed cells. It was nice to be told so much about where things were in the grid and the clues. Numbers in brackets were entry lengths, so either some squeezing, or perhaps omission, of letters was likely to be required.

6ac Award local man in California shared (7) for COMMUNAL made it likely we had to squeeze some letters into a cell so I tackled the crossing downs to see what was likely. 6dn One Mama is a cordial type (6) revealed that Opsimath was probably of my generation, with Mama CASS plus IS going in. MOLA, NAPOO and AITS for 7/8/9dn enabled the MU in 6ac being the affected letters and that could only be one thing — Greek.

Going back to the acrosses, a fair few more got slotted in on first reading. It soon became likely that all the Greek letters (well, twelve of them at least) were going to appear in unchecked cells. Perhaps it would have added a bit of trickiness if the wordplay had omitted those letters, but heigh-ho.

The ambiguity of how to enter the Greek letters didn’t occur to me until the eight extra words were extracted from the down clues: Insert lower case Greek letters from Chambers’ appendix. I particularly liked the long entries RES[TAU]RANT CAR and ON TENTE[RHO]OKS, as well as S[OMEGA]TE.

Very satisfying, thanks Opsimath.
PS Sadly, Sir Stirling Moss died this week, aged 90.

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L4556: ‘Ambidexter’ by Opsimath

Posted by Encota on 14 June 2019

I may well have mentioned it before but am I the only one, when faced with the word opsimath, who thinks immediately of the introduction to Vivian Stanshall’s surreal piece of comedy, Sir Henry at Rawlinson End:

English as tuppence, changing yet changeless as canal-water, nestling in green nowhere, armoured and effete, bold flag-bearer, lotus fed Miss Havishambling, opsimath and eremite, feudal-still reactionary Rawlinson End. The story so far …

Ok, it is only me.  Moving swiftly on …

This puzzle was gentle by most Listener standards, with clever symmetry.

1 across gave a hint that it might have an Italian flavour to it:

One of 12 popes clapped more musically (3)

This was one of the clues with a misprint, and should have read

One of 12 popes clipped more musically (3)

… then simply being PIU(s), and so PIÙ, for the Italian musical term for ‘more’.

I liked 17d’s dialect indicator ‘out of society’, which could have been (mis)read as an ‘s’ deletion – that one was new to me.

32d’s ‘on’ as an anagram indicator seemed a little doubtful at first, but its meaning in Chambers of ‘on the way to being drunk’ seemed pretty conclusive!

I hadn’t quite realised that it was the Doge’s palace’s interrogation rooms (on the left) that were connected to the prison (on the right) via the Bridge of Sighs – the prisoner sighing as they most likely saw their very last sight of beautiful Venice through the Bridge’s windows before crossing into the state prison.  Quite an image 🙂2019-05-24 22.56.16

A gentle puzzle, well constructed – thanks Opsimath!


Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4556: Ambidexter by Opsimath

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 June 2019

A Listener debut for Opsimath, although he has a few Magpies under his belt. They were all A-grade on the Magpie difficulty index, so I suspected an easy week. Misprints in every across clue here and, not limited to the definition, they can lead to entertaining deceptions.

1ac One of 12 popes clapped more musically (3) was a straightforward PIU (PIUS clipped). Unfortunately, the first letter belonged to an unclued entry and the third was unchecked. I thought I might as well see if the I was any help for 2dn Flag and home rule variable for some people (7), and was relieved to get IRISHRY (IRIS + HR + Y). In the swing of things, 14ac Will African native no longer sip on old river foolishly? (13, two words) was a bit more elusive. Although an anagram of SIP ON OLD RIVER seemed likely, it would be some time before LIONS PROVIDER came through.

And so, as suspected, the grid was completed fairly quickly, with the other two 13-letter entries also being anagrams: BY ALL ACCOUNTS, locals can’t buy novel, and MONOCHROMISTS change smooth crimson.

Thus, the corrected misprints gave us I stood in Venice: GG Byron. I thought Opsimath was being a bit chummy calling Byron GG (George Gordon), but let it pass! This is from a verse in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison at each hand:
…Look’d to the winged lion’s marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

This enabled the unclued entries to be confirmed, which I’m sure we’d already guessed: PALACE and PRISON. So now we had to highlight two other features of the scene, each in a symmetrical arrangement. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find either MARBLE PILES or HUNDRED ISLES in the grid, but it didn’t take me long to see BRIDGE OF SIGHS and then RIO DI PALAZZO (OK, I had to google the river).

Thanks, Opsimath, very enjoyable, and reminiscent of Calmac’s puzzle Bank Transfer with Longfellow’s Old Bridge at Florence as its theme.

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Ambidexter by Opsimath

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 June 2019

We have seen Opsimath in the pages of the Magpie, in a first EV and a first IQ and now welcome his first Listener. I know that he enjoys his local ales and fine wines so don’t really need to worry about his entry to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite but he leaves little doubt with a lovely clue, ‘Tangled balm tree lacking the first bit of leaf is what’s kept under glass (7)’ BA(l)MTREE* produces a smile and a beermat.  We haven’t solved for very long before we have spotted that this crossword has an Italian theme so are not surprised to find ‘After six, not one Italian drink (4)’ (obviously not just one but several) giving us VI + NO = VINO. “Cheers Opsimath”, or in your local idiom, “Şerefe !”

These were generous clues and soon the corrected misprints (unusually in either definition or wordplay) had given us ‘I STOOD IN … BYRON’ and ‘Perhaps indulges in rice and deergrass alternately (4)’ produced that V that we needed to have Childe Harold in his Pilgrimage standing in Venice – what sort of vegan chooses between rice and deergrass? Far more likely to entertain some Vice (he ERRS – alternate letters of ‘deergrass’), so we knew that we were hunting for the BRIDGE OF SIGHS in the grid, and there it was, helping us to complete our solve.

We had to go the Internet to find that he had ‘a PALACE and a PRISON on each hand’,

  I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
  A palace and a prison on each hand

and we were able to complete the unclued lights and almost complete our grid, and, of course, understand the title of the crossword, Ambidexter. Just 12 more cells to find to allow us to highlight two further features of the scene – and they had to be in a symmetrical arrangement – and there, beautifully placed between the Palace and the Prison and flowing below the bridge, was the RIO DI PALAZZO.

How I enjoy a puzzle that produces a visual depiction of its theme and has a device that contributes to the solving process so that the whole process is enjoyable. (Yes, I have been muttering  lately about puzzles where the entire grid has to be filled before the help in the clues can be arranged in grid order, or in alphabetical order of the answers, to produce the message – that’s just giving the solver work for the sake of it and, to me, irritating) so many thanks and congratulations, Opsimath.

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