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Posts Tagged ‘Ottorino’

‘Lost in Translation’ by Ottorino

Posted by Encota on 17 Aug 2018

The big hint this week was the pair of initials NT in Column 2: New Testament, perhaps?  And so it proved.  [Really??? Ed.]

The biblical theme was hinted at in 18a and 22a – ESAU and REBECCA – characters from the Old Testament – presumably to throw us off the scent.

Those with a strong knowledge of the New Testament will already know that it contains ~37 ‘books’.  Of these 37, there are 21 LETTERS, many written by Paul, to various parties.  These include two letters to the Romans (Rom.), two to Timothy (Tim.), one to Titus (Ti.), Colossians (Col.), Ephesians (Eph.), James (Jam.) and more.  These abbreviations all appear in the grid – I presume – I’ve highlighted a few here to show the principle, along with the answer to Clue 21: LETTERS. Simple, eh?  The hidden message had instructed us to INSERT ONE CLUE NUMBER – so I picked 21 to fit with this NT theme.

2018-08-01 14.46.56

[surreal mode off]

OK, the Italian language has only 21 letters, as it has no requirement, except in foreign words, for W, J, X, K & Y.  These were neatly stacked in Column 6.  Changing them to ITALY (a translation of ITALIA at 9d) allowed real across words to be maintained.  My finished puzzle actually looked like this.

2018-08-01 14.41.06

Great fun – thanks Ottorino 🙂

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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Lost in Translation by Ottorino

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 Aug 2018

It’s been a while since we heard from Ottorino. I had just printed my weekly fix in an Internet cafe opposite the station at Clapham Junction and was walking up to Lavender Hill in 35 degrees of heat, and had just time to read that very clear preamble before six weeks of drought finally broke and heavy raindrops began blur my copy. In the past Ottorino’s clues have been tough but fair so I expected quite a struggle tonight and raced indoors to begin solving.

Problem number one. Does he still earn his entry ticket to the bar at Listener dinners? Hmm – I have no doubt really as we have usually been at the same Rasputin, Ottorino, Shark table at the dinners and the wine flows respectably but “Oh dear!” I scan those clues and find jam, potatoes, sausages – but no alcohol – until, when we were searching our grid for the endgame, we spotted that GIN in ‘Start or middle of pains before massage of a t(W)Inge (9). We had already realised that the letters J,K,W,X and Y were being omitted from clues and that was speeding up our grid fill. Here we used OR (pa)I(ns)  + TINGE* to produce that (original)GIN(ate). Then we spotted those ‘Rooms for ordering shots. A number fired from Sten guns, mounted? (5)’ We took ten from the STEN GUNS* to give SNUGS. Well, Cheers, Ottorino, gin in the snug!

Solving progressed steadily with a number of smiles. A fine Scots’ word, STREEKING appeared with a comical Shakespearian mish-mash of a clue, ‘(J)ester dressed Lear perchance preparing for Macbeth’s burial (8)’ ESTER* + KING. We had inserted numbers into our working grid and were keeping a careful record of the message spelled out by the down clues when we put them into conventional order. INSERT ONE CLUE NUMBER, we were instructed, when we removed those five redundant thematic letters from the LETTERS clue and counted that as the one thematic down clue. (‘Eg. (J)ess and (K)en, Rub(Y) (W)a(X) off tele… star cast (7)’ an anagram of TELESTAR less the A.)

A couple of hours and a full grid then ‘What do we do now?’ There were those five thematic letters at the foot of column 6 and we scratched our heads for a while. Italian is my favourite language and I am well aware that it has a shorter alphabet than those of, say, the French, German and English languages but, even though ITALIA and LETTERS (below that clue number 21) were glaring at me from the grid, it took the other Numpty to Google ‘What is special about WJXKY?’ for the pennies to clang to the ground. We made four more thematic removals to produce an English form of ITALIA. Most enjoyable, thanks to Ottorino.

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Listener No 4513: Lost in Translation by Ottorino

Posted by Dave Hennings on 17 Aug 2018

Two years ago, Ottorino’s last puzzle had Alexandre Dumas’s Three Musketeers battling it out with Verdi’s La Traviata. Before that he took us into the far from uplifting world of Dorothy Parker’s Resumé.

Here we had across clues in conventional order and downs in alphabetical order of answers — is there a word answerbetical?! [No. Ed.] There were thematic removals from all across clues and one down plus a message from the initial letters of the downs in conventional order.

TOMTOM, ORIGINATE, BRIGADE and SEELS soon went in across the top half of the grid with the clues losing X, W, J and K respectively. Lots of lesser used letters there. Finally, a Y was dropped from Features devoid of iron[y] at being re-edited right for legalists (4) (FEATURES* – FE – AT) and another lesser used letter bit the dust.

A little while later, the downs were gradually revealing an instruction which eventually came out as Insert one cl•ue number. The • represents the one clue that had thematic removals, and what a great clue it was: Eg, Jess and Ken, Ruby Wax off tele… star cast! (7). This had loads of lesser used letters which needed to be dropped to give Eg, ess and en, rub a off tele… star cast! (7) resulting in LETTERS.

A quick check of missing clue numbers would have made that 21dn, and we were dealing with 21 letters after J, K, W, X and Y were ignored. But what was the theme? Scrabble was the first think that came to mind, but since Q wasn’t in our list of exclusions, that seemed unlikely. Next I thought of the old rotary telephone dials and the letter groupings on them. Again, no luck.

I think it fair to say that without Google, I’d have been lost. Yes, I could have jumped ahead and discovered the four letter changes required, but that would have deprived me of a lot of angst. Google revealed a fact that I hadn’t known, namely that the Italian alphabet only has 21 letters. My first thought then was that just labelling LETTERS with a 21 failed to show that the theme had been fully identified. But what was that in the next column? ITALIAN. Perhaps we would have to label that as 21 so that we had ITALIAN LETTERS!

Anyway, on with changing four letters “to form a word whose thematic form is a grid entry.” And so, some grid-staring began. My first thought was that we needed to swap four letters somewhere in the grid for other, perhaps thematic, ones to give a word which then lost thematic letters to give another grid entry. [Well, I’m confused. Ed.] Well, that was obviously (in hindsight) a hopeless task.

Even having seen the five rogue letters in column 6, it took me far too long to replace them to give new words across and ITALY down. So that showed that we knew what the theme was with its thematic form (ie without any Y) as ITALIA at 9dn. Meanwhile, it was just LETTERS that got labelled 21dn. Thank goodness I got there in the end.

A nice puzzle, thanks Ottorino, and I can’t stress enough how much I loved the rogue down clue!

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Plants by Ottorino

Posted by shirleycurran on 9 Oct 2015

All for one and one for all 001

What a guddle we initially got into!

Ottorino must surely win the prize for the most daunting preamble of the year. Hands up anyone who spotted the theme at once. Well, actually, I am saying that with tongue in cheek as a solving friend tells me he had spotted the theme after he had solved just one clue! I can’t make a similar claim. We gazed at the preamble in disbelief and almost abandoned on the spot.

However, even though I have sat not far from Ottorino at a Listener dinner and seen him enjoy his glass of wine, I still had to check that he remains a member of the drinky gang. He left me in little doubt. ‘I provided centre for winos after seeing men cry (6)’ gave us ORISON (OR = men, SO = provided, N = centre for wiNos following I – Oh my, Ottorino, he placed himself at the centre of the winos, but I doubt a Listener beginner would get far with that sort of complexity – and it continued!).

What do I find next? ‘In power, nearly all men like a bevy (5)’ – well, I imagine some women like a bevy too, but this clue ultimately had to lose a V from be[V]y giving us VALIS (VIS round AL[l] -‘ nearly all’) ‘men like a bey’ being VALIS or Turkish governors. Ottorino followed this with a drop scone, fresh Dover soles, sandwiches and fruit but then he was back on the hard stuff with ‘Announcing “drinks”, then they’ll take one port (6)’ Of course we heard “Ciders” here and wrote SIDERS in our grid, beginning to realize that not only did a number of the ONEs and ALLs in the grid seem to be swapping places, but the As and Os did too, so that ‘port’ had become ‘part’.

The drinks weren’t over. ‘Commuting by deep sing[L]es joint avoids drunken cajoling (7)’ Our grid was becoming populated and removing J (joint) from CAJOLING* conveniently fitted COALING. That had to provide the L of VIOLETTA which we had to hunt for later but I am still mystified by the definition.

Piave and Verdi

Piave and Verdi

Our grid was three-quarters full before we were able to make sense of what we were doing. Before solving eight clues had to have ALL switched for ONE or ONE switched for ALL. “Ah, said the other Numpty – it’s DUMAS, the Three Musketeers ‘All for one and one for all’” – and sure enough, DUMAS had appeared on the third row of our grid. We changed DONEES to DALLES (meaning RAPIDS – a new word for us) PHONE-IN for PHALLIN, SCONE for SCALL (another new word) THRALLS for THRONES, STALL for STONE, ONE-EYED for ALLEYED, SHALL for SHONE and BALLS for BONES. Things were looking up!

We needed eight examples of simply an A changing to an O or the inverse. The Polish cap – CZAPKA – gave us our first, CAP/COP and the others followed quickly; SCALDS/SCOLDS, ROCKET/RACKET, SHACK/SHOCK, PORT/PART, PRAM/PROM, BOLD/BALD and the rather obvious BAX for BOX. Of course, commenting on the clumsiness of that last one makes me realize what a massive task of compilation Ottorino had taken on and how well he had generally concealed his subtle manipulations.

The other Numpty is a physicist so I am always astonished when he comes out with detailed literary and musical knowledge but he had no problem here. “It was Dumas’ fils –  his son – who wrote ‘La Dame Aux Camélias‘, and there’s SON in the grid, so C must be VERDI who put it to music as La Traviata” he declared. Of course, with my usual delight at finding real words after a manipulation, I replaced DUMAS with VERDI and it was immediately obvious that POPADUM had become POPAVER, which clearly had to change to PAPAVER, giving us AMARANT in the place of AMORANT. VIOLETTA was clearly the Italian name we were discovering in our extra letters (beVy, plIant, pOops, singLes, ripE, Tone, Tin and bAulk) so we had our plants (nice title!)

All that was left to do was to highlight VERDI’s collaborator in the grid. With my usual nod of thanks to Google, I found PIAVE, and, sure enough, there he was. This truly was impressive compilation. Many thanks, Ottorino!

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When All Else Fails by Ottorino

Posted by shirleycurran on 1 Aug 2014

Ottorino Dorothy Parker 001Oh my! The preamble. Did it really say “All clue answers are jumbled before entry”? Perhaps I should give up now! I hate jumbles and have commented rather critically in the past that they are sometimes an easy way out for setters. However, I have even test-solved some of Ottorino’s very subtle and clever compilations and know that that will not be the case here.  Read on!

“The positions of any letters that stay in their original places are given after the answer length.” That is a lovely gift (though I confess that I really must have been an arch numpty last night, as it took me well over an hour to take in the fact that the other letters were NOT going to be in their original places so that some solutions, like TGE for GET,  KER for ERK and DORO for DOOR could almost be slotted in at once!)

The usual quick scan of the surface readings provided a wide-ranging field of material with a bit of an obsession with ladies, “Court old girl (3)” (SUE), “Female privates here in uprising (4)” (YONI), “Nice female enters special motivation research centre for crossword “stinkers” (8) What a fabulous clue – possibly appropriate for some solvers too. (SMR + (cros)S(word) round ELLE), “Give voice to old boy finally grasping woman (5)” (HARP + (bo)Y). Of course Ottorino confirmed his membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Society (well, we have sat at the same table at a Listener Setters’ Dinner so I had no need to check really but, of course, the boozy clue was there!) “Very nearly drunk after Australia won (5)”  (A + W + FUL(l)) Well, you would be, I suppose if Australia won, but A isn’t an abbreviation for Argentine, is it and the clue wouldn’t admit a German victory. DWFUL? GWFUL? Shame!

And so we solved for a couple of hours with growing frustration as our grid grew grubbier and grubbier with entire words, almost, like ELABORATENESS and ARTESIAN WELLS squeezed into single cells awaiting confirmation or deletion by crossing cells. I didn’t add to ease of solving, either, by neglecting to read the instruction that “In fourteen clues a letter must be restored before solving”, so that, although the answer  to “Set fire to gain pure lithium clasps (5)” was obviously RELIT, there seemed to be an A missing from the clue (Set fire to Again). It wasn’t until after we had completed the grid that I struggled through the clues to piece together ALGONQUIN HOTEL (though I don’t think that would have helped much, anyway, had we seen it earlier).

DOROTHY ???KER was the break through and our struggle suddenly became an amusing activity. The ODQ gave us part of HER POEM RESUME and, of course, GOOGLE provided the full poem. Razors pain you/ Rivers are damp/ Acids stain you/ And drugs cause cramp/ Guns aren’t lawful/ Nooses give/ Gas smells awful/ You might as well live! What a depressing set of options (but I suppose she didn’t have the Listener crossword to brighten her Fridays, Ho ho).

Of course that was when our admiration for Ottorino’s compilation (and forgiveness for an entire crossword of jumbles) saw light of day. The remaining tidying up took an almost enjoyable hour this morning. Thanks, Ottorino, for a brilliant compilation.


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