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 > each <name_i> with a brace group (\csname doesn't mind category 1 and 2
 > characters), since even an ingenious fool has work very hard to get braces
 > mismatched in arguments, whereas with the current naming scheme

this is weird :-) and i thought my learning days on TeX the programs have been
over.

even

  \expandafter\show \csname ab{cd\endcsname

does work.

well, off hand i think you do not only have a good point but also a good
solution.

frank