A few years ago, the quiz on a local news site offered a curiously worded question. Which of the following, it asked, was a significant figure in his field in the 20th century? Multiple choice options: Herbert Einstein, Albert Einstein, Alfred Einstein, Wilfred Einstein.
I couldn’t decide whether the question was artful or artless. The omission of the specific field of excellence points to the former, but as our general expectation is that there’s only room for one famous person with a given name (outside immediate family, I suppose, like Bach or Grimm), I imagine it was the latter.
Because Alfred Einstein – possibly a distant cousin of Albert, and someone who also fled to America to evade the Nazis – was an important 20th century musicologist, most famously producing a new version of Köchel’s catalogue of Mozart’s works. For what it’s worth, Albert E’s second wife, Elsa Lowenthal after her own first marriage, was nee Einstein (and a definite and much closer cousin). Clearly more of them than you might expect.
So, who knew there was another Dvo?ák with a claim to fame? While there is presumably some link to a sort of proto-Dvo?ák, there doesn’t appear to be a particular closeness in the relationship. (The keyboard guy was born in Minnesota and seems to have dropped his diacritical marks from birth.) But it’s a gift of a subject, offering both thematic material and a way of transposing it.
The grid was nothing especially unusual in the way of setting up thematic entries and then working round them. Here the material is simply ‘anti-coded’, and the grid is filled around the strange entries that are produced. Just like Playfair codes, it seemed to throw up far more infrequent and awkward letters than you wanted.
A clue had to be given for the code, of course, and it helped that QWERTY and DVORAK both had six letters. I asked solvers to further decide between choosing first and last letters rather than QWERTY all coming from initial letters and DVORAK from the other end of redundant words. Q….D might be OK, but W….V? Or vice versa: V…W works, but D…Q looks less friendly. And, of course, solvers would be faced with finding linked words that started (Q or D)(W or V)- and (D or Q)(V or W)- – nicely perplexing.