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Posts Tagged ‘Opsimath’

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.


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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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Listener No 4641: Continental Drift by Opsimath

Posted by Dave Hennings on 29 Jan 2021

The third Listener from Opsimath this week, his previous being a mixture of Greek and Latin letters in last year’s Polygram. Quite a big grid presented itself here, being 16×11. Misprints in the definition of all clues would give us a hint to the theme plus an instruction to follow to reveal the “scope of the endeavour”.

The title reminded me of Phi’s Listener from ten years ago with its tectonic plate theme, not to mention Shark’s from 2012 titled, erm… Continental Drift!

Clues were fairly straightforward, and it was nice to see a few H and G misprint corrections bunched up in the middle of the across clues. That almost certainly hinted at their being some shading required at the end. However, the other corrections were a bit sporadic and I needed most of the grid to be completed before everything was fully revealed.

My favourite clues were probably 10dn Vaulted vertices of church round every window (4) (Vaulted/Vaunted) for CREW and 19ac Groat may buy this drink under the table, viz sit low (9) giving SLIVOWITZ — if only alcohol were really that cheap (Groat/Croat)!

So the corrections spelt out Lewis and Clerk and Highlight one mountain range and three rivers. It didn’t take long to google the pair, highlight the ROCKIES and the OHIO, MISSOURI and COLUMBIA and finally change the bottom row to give CORPS OF DISCOVERY.

Thanks, Opsimath.

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Polygram by Opsimath

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 Apr 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 Apr 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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