Toughie 219

Toughie No 219 by Osmosis

The Robots of Dawn

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment ***

I found this puzzle to be a bit too mechanical.  The clues are all technically correct (although you might question some of the indicators) but somehow lacking in that Wow! factor.

I will be interested to know what you think, so leave a comment to say whether you agree or disagree.

1a Some US cabs are painted so, notes vagrant, park there (11)
{YELLOWSTONE} – some US cabs are painted YELLOW, just add an anagram (vagrant) of NOTES to get a famous park

7a Copper receives shout of approval, and thanks, retrieving furry animal (7)
{POLECAT} – put PC (copper) around OLE and add TA (thanks) reversed (retrieving) and you get a furry animal

8a Make red wine, leaving one week and drinking … extremely frail in morning (7)
{INFLAME} – a synonym for to make red comes from (W)INE (wine without a W) around (drinking) F(rai)L and AM

10a Car manufacturer functions noisily (5)
{ROLLS} – sounds like ROLES (functions)

11a Modelling shoot involves a purpose for brewery building (4,5)
{OAST HOUSE} – an anagram (modelling) of SHOOT is placed around A and followed by USE (purpose)

12a Vigilant, rung a crook getting into overdraft (2,5)
{ON GUARD} – put an anagram (crook) of RUNG A inside OD

14a Ceremonial area around Leytonstone where things once erupted (7)
{POMPEII} – quite why anyone outside of East London needs to know that the area around Leytonstone has a post code starting E11 I don’t know – maybe to book a room for the 2012 Olympic Games! – but you do now, so put it after POMP (ceremonial) and you have the site of a famous volcanic eruption

15a Weather feature they broadcast about mouth of Humber (7)
{SHOWERS} – this weather feature is simply SOWERS (they broadcast) around H (mouth of the Humber)

18a Henry VIII perhaps gobbles one platter, repulsing poet (7)
{KIPLING} – put KING (Henry VIII perhaps) around (gobbles) I LP (one Long Playing record / platter) reversed (repulsing) to get this famous poet

20a Reprinted bold top line where sentence begins? (3,6)
{OLD BAILEY} – an anagram (reprinted) of BOLD is followed by AI (top) and LEY (line) to get the court where a sentence could begin

21a Slovak, out of position, misses final volley (5)
{SALVO} – an anagram (out of position) of SLOVA(K) without the final letter (misses final) gives a volley

22a Staff surrounded by journalist, then another, corrected errors (7)
{EMENDED} – MEN (staff) is inside (surrounded by) ED(itor) (journalist) then ED (another)

23a Spiritual side to yoga is back in style (7)
{ELYSIAN} – put Y (side to yoga) and IS reversed (back) inside ELAN (style)

24a They’re regularly applying research to test earth-dweller (11)
{TERRESTRIAL} – a charade of TER (ThEy’Re regularly) RES(earch) and TRIAL (test) gives an earth-dweller

1d Around 4th of January, see promoted diary, an item in Xmas sales (4,3)
{YULE LOG} – around U (4th letter of January) put the diocese (see) of ELY reversed (promoted, as it’s a down clue) and follow it with LOG (diary) for an item that is only on sale at Xmas

2d Feature of cut hair (5)
{LOCKS} – very nearly a cryptic definition it turns out that this is a part-cryptic double definition – a cut is a canal, of which LOCKS are a feature – thanks to Phil McNeill and Paul for sorting this out (see comments below); it certainly went over this solver’s head!

3d Stunned to expose Liberal in something fishy (3,4)
(OUT COLD} – a synonym for stunned is built up from OUT (to expose, as in to out someone) and then L(iberal) inside COD (something fishy)

4d Equestrian gear, with son taking over reins, initially agitates (5,2)
{STIRS UP} – take STIRRUP (equestrian gear) and put S (son) instead of (taking over) the second R (Reins, initially) and you get a phrasal verb meaning agitates

5d Pensioner eats very loudly with those people in a faraway location (3,3,3)
{OFF THE MAP} – put OAP (old age pensioner) around (eats) FF (very loudly) and THEM (those people) to get a faraway location

6d War victim perhaps advanced signal during the night before (7)
{EVACUEE} – I was one of these in 1944 when my mother decided to move from South London to, of all places, Sheffield (a major bombing target because of the steel industry there) after a bomb in a nearby street blew our front door down (I slept through the whole episode!) – to construct the word put A(dvanced) and CUE (signal) inside EVE (the night before)

7d Some of chicken put forward to circumvent burning tin (7,4)
{PARSON’S NOSE} – this well-known piece of chicken comes from POSE (put forward) around (to circumvent) ARSON (burning) and SN (the chemical symbol for StaNnum / tin)

9d Making uniform go with new dress (7,4)
{EVENING GOWN} – a charade of EVENING (making uniform) GO W(ith) and N(ew)

13d Late joiner entering mainly on the lookout for old ruler (9)
{ALEXANDER} – put EX (late) with AND (joiner) inside most of (mainly) ALER(T) (on the lookout) for this ruthless old ruler – I’d never thought about it before but ruth_less means without pity

16d Captain literally raised boxing dukes before onset of the scrap (7)
{ODDMENT} – Captain NEMO is reversed (raised) around (boxing) D D (Dukes) before T (onset / start of The) to get a scrap

17d Odds on house number 15 causing this? (7)
{SPLODGE) – SP (Starting Price / odds) on LODGE (house) giving something that showers (clue number 15 across) might cause – if you say so

18d Important women fly back, half missing US resort (3,4)
{KEY WEST} – a charade of KEY (important) W(omen) and half of (half missing) the TSE(TSE) fly reversed (back) gives this US resort

19d Aversion one shows with lines written by Shakespeare? (3-4)
{ILL WILL} – this aversion is a charade of I (one) LL (lines) and WILL(IAM) Shakespeare

21d A bit of honesty liberated old writers (5)
{STYLI} – hidden inside (a bit of) honeSTY LIberated are these old writers

Thanks for you supportive comments.  I know it is difficult for setters to find new anagram indicators, but while crook would have worked if it had been used as a verb and vagrant would have worked if it had been used adjectivally, reprinted is distinctly borderline.


  1. Prolixic
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Agreed. What marked this out for me was a lack of elegance in the clues. Some of them were downright awful, making little sense in their own right. 7d was a particularly good example of this, but there were several others that felt really strained to me.

    I haven’t checked in a dictionary, but there were two clues with indicators for a one word answer (in the printed version – I have not checked on Clued-Up) that I would have expected as two word answers (3d and 12a).

    With a little more style in the clues this would have been a 4 or 5. As it stands, it barely merits a 3 for enjoyment.

    • gnomethang
      Posted September 18, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Ditto that on the one word indicators!

  2. Sylvia Horley ( Clematis )
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Writing on behalf of my wife ( Clematis ). We do cryptic everyday and usually get it finished but do not use dictionairies so sometimes it takes quite a long time.
    For unanswered questions I go away and pretend to surf for help but am using your blog. Very impressive when I come back with answers. She doesn’t know it exists and I shall keep it secret a little longer.
    Only competition we send in is Sunday Telegraph cryptic.
    Lovely blog, very civilized.

    • gazza
      Posted September 18, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Hi and welcome to the blog.
      Your secret is safe with us!

  3. Bellringer
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Finished it, but lots of 4 O’clock rules applied.

    ( I usually do it in the pub, when it gets to 4 O’clock and time to go home if it fits remotely it goes in and I work out why later)

    • Posted September 18, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      I struggled with a few of these, but they all seemed to make sense in the end.

      I don’t like constructs like ALER(T), unless the word to be curtailed is actually in the clue. It always seems to me to be a close relative of the dreaded indirect anagram.

  4. bigboab
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Agree with Prolixic and gnomethang re 3d and 12a both two word answers and not one as indicated in the paper, not very enjoyable and not up to the standard Osmosis usually gives us.

  5. Phil McN
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks very much to the correspondents who pointed out the incorrect word counts on 3d and 12a. I edit the Telegraph crosswords and I must hold my hand up and say it was my mistake, not the setter’s. We will print an apology in tomorrow’s newspaper.

    To give you the technical detail, these two answers were changed when the puzzle was at proof stage. Unfortunately the previous answers were both one-word, and I stupidly forgot to change it on the newspaper page. It would be impossible to make the same mistake on CluedUp, because I don’t upload to CluedUp until the puzzle is completely finished for the newspaper, and the software automatically inserts the correct letter counts. Many apologies if this spoilt a great puzzle.

    Incidentally, you seem to have cut corners in solving 2d. As I pointed out to Osmosis before publication: “This is one where the setter sees some subtlety that will go right over the solver’s head. I’d be amazed if any solver hung around to figure it out, so it appears to be non-cryptic.” It’s a point I often raise with setters, but they fondly believe that solvers will carefully ponder every nuance of their clues!

    Best wishes

    • gazza
      Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      On 2d are we in the area of a truncated (feature) film title such as “LOCK Stock and two smoking barrels”? If so, I’m not surprised nobody got it!

      • Paul
        Posted September 21, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        No, Gazza,

        We are in a ‘feature of a cut’ – where a cut is a canal.

        Which on reflection is rather nice.

        • Libellule
          Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:07 am | Permalink

          I like it… wish I had spotted it earlier.

        • gazza
          Posted September 22, 2009 at 11:21 am | Permalink

          … me too!

  6. Paul
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    (but Phil McN is quite right – I would not have noticed this but for his comment)