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Posts Tagged ‘Opsimath’

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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L4556: ‘Ambidexter’ by Opsimath

Posted by Encota on 14 Jun 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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