Times 28615 – The Monday after Pentecost!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

I found this a bit on the tricky side, with the kind of literals one might find in Mephisto.   Fortunately, the vocabulary was not  particularly esoteric, so if you trust the cryptics you will get the answers.      I did indulge in some biffing once I got a few crossers, especially on the longer answers.

There is a little knowledge required here, but most of it is likely to familiar to our regular solvers.     The only thing I definitely do not know is how the literal for castle is supposed to work.


1 Tramps on front of porch, one attracted by our neighbour (6)
PHOBOS – P + HOBOS, with a tricky literal for this satellite of Mars.
5 One’s not expected America to back British pronunciation to increase (8)
SURPRISE –  US backwards + RP (Received Pronunciation) + RISE.
9 In election meeting Conservative on look out for Liberal to interrupt (8)
10 Times covers revolutionary Iran in a sort of code (6)
BINARY – B(anagram of IRAN)Y.
11 In team playing left half, powerful winger (6)
CASTLE – CAST + LE[ft].     I’m not sure about the literal.   There are definitely no birds or football players named winger – so maybe the chess piece?
12 A tactic I deployed to find lake (8)
14 Mysterious object Alice might have seen in the Duchess’s kitchen? (6,6)
FLYING SAUCER – Double definition, one jocular.
17 As a result of hard work cracked a new profession (3,4,5)
20 Spare new driver always having to cover paper round (4,4)
LEFT OVER – L + E(FT,O)VER, one that most solvers will just biff.
22 The story, in short: depressed, being fat (6)
23 In the front beautiful arrangement in flowerbed (6)
BORDER –  B[eautiful] + ORDER.
25 Steal in? (4-4)
HALF-INCH –  IN is half of INCH, and the literal is Cockney rhyming slang.
26 Useless people on this stage? (4,4)
DEAD WOOD –  An allusion to the Deadwood Stagecoach in the Doris Day movie of Calamity Jane.
27 Omen to take railway not street in holiday month (6)
AUGURY – AUGU(-st,+RY).   I was trying to substitute RY for ST in a word meaning omen, but then I saw it.
2 Catch a husband, a smoker (6)
3 WW1 soldier at end of leave gets this order wrong (4,2,5)
BACK TO FRONT – Double definition, one allusive.
4 Don’t sack old city: keep it under your boot perhaps (5,4)
SPARE TYRE – SPARE (the city of) TYRE.
5 Old poet all bones, lacking later energy (7)
SKELTON – SKEL[e]TON, a chestnut.
6 It’s inhuman to black men needing a lift (5)
ROBOT – TO B OR, upside-down
7 Function in series (3)
RUN – Double definition.
8 Wounded with gun, strain to get inside (8)
STRICKEN – ST(RICK)EN.   In the US, we more commonly have a crick in our necks, but rick is also valid.
13 Almost consider retail a kind of therapy (11)
15 Crime against ploughman reported in a flash (9)
SCINTILLA – Sounds like SIN + TILLER, if you are non-rhotic; otherwise, not.
16 Left individual with a few in solitary (8)
18 Dry chapter trimmed all round (7)
PARCHED – PAR(CH)ED.  I was thinking this was an anagram of chapter, but couldn’t make it work, so I put it in anyway.
19 Agree scam must get old police turning up (6)
CONCUR – CON + RUC upside-down….our old friends, the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
21 Successor to Leo VI right to abdicate (5)
VIRGO – VI + R + GO.
24 Dandy dropping Ecstasy is a failure (3)
DUD – DUD[e].

109 comments on “Times 28615 – The Monday after Pentecost!”

  1. 18:14
    There are wingers in soccer, but I assumed that the allusion is to the rook; although I did spend some time thinking of birds. My LOI was DEAD WOOD; I thought of it early on, but could make nothing of the stage. I liked PHOBOS & VIRGO (nice surface; would have been nicer if Leo VI’s successor had actually abdicated, but).

    1. You are right, of course. When I played football many moons ago I was a left winger. Fast but definitely not powerful! Didn’t help with the clue though.

  2. POI PHOBOS, LOI CASTLE (and I assumed it must mean the chess piece on the side). This seemed very clever, and I didn’t think “obscure?” until I got to PHOBOS.

  3. I needed aids to find CASTLE, also not being convinced by “left half” for LE. Thanks for many explanations I did not know.

  4. 49 minutes but most of the time over my half-hour target was taken up by five clues on which I had a mental blank for ages.

    All on the LH side, these were to CONCLAVE, CASTLE, BORDER, DUD and DEAD WOOD. DUD came to me as soon as its first checker was in, but prior to that I had fop (dandy) and flop (failure) in my head and although I knew immediately that line of thought wouldn’t work, I couldn’t think past it.

  5. Found that tricky, especially the top left. Mostly the few exceedingly cryptic definitions like stage, keep it under your boot, attracted by our neighbour, powerful winger – which I took to be the chess rook and wondered if the bird rook had anything to do with it.

  6. Same here regarding castle and all that. In the end I just assumed ‘winger’ referred to the castle’s place at each end of the row, and ‘powerful’ described its status on the board as a rather formidable piece. Got home in the good time, for me, of 26.41 and liked most but not all clues. These days ‘dude’ means anything but ‘dandy’ and being asked to get an answer by way of a 70-year-old Doris Day movie is quite a stretch for anybody except a committed crossword nerd. Oh all right, I got it…

  7. Found that fairly straightforward, finished in just under 24 mins. FOI PHOBOS, LOI CASTLE. Didn’t understand the DEAD WOOD clue till I came here, don’t know the movie referred to.
    Thanks setter and blogger

    1. I don’t think the movie is specifically alluded to, though the stagecoach is.

          1. Oh! It was a real thing! With a name like that I assumed it was straight outta Hollywood, thank you KG

  8. 47 minutes. Most of the time in the top left corner, where I had trouble with the defs mentioned in the blog and with CONCLAVE. Not in good form, as I was slow to get HOOKAH and SPARE TYRE as well. Yes, thank goodness for our old best friend John SKELTON who provided a few helpful crossing letters.

    I didn’t know the “Calamity Jane” reference for DEAD WOOD, but have just had a look at a YouTube clip of Doris strutting her stuff; very good it was too.

  9. Another bloody chess clue ! I biffed it and crossed my fingers.

    I quite liked PHOBOS (though the solar system is another of my weaknesses), and will probably be singing “whip crack away” for the rest of the morning.

    TIME 10:40

  10. No particular difficulties this morning, though not terribly keen on the castle. Team = cast, le/ft and castle = powerful winger all seem a teensy bit iffy to me.
    That Doris Day film is surprisingly good. She could act. And sing. She was starring in films before I was born, and died only four years ago, so had a good innings.
    I see I have yet another jumbo to blog. All these ruddy bank holidays!

    1. And I’ve Saturday’s to do blog too. At least I’ve solved that but I think I’ll keep today’s for my train tomorrow.

  11. 16’02”, with four minutes on LOI CASTLE – not really convincing at all, and I have played a lot of chess.

    Nho SKELTON, though it’s clear. Liked PHOBOS and SCINTILLA (and am off to look up ‘rhotic’).

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  12. 51 somewhat frustrating minutes on this one, with a fair bit of knowledge a bit out of my reach. My classical education did come in handy for 1a as I played the text adventure game Leather Goddesses of Phobos in my youth…

    1. “Leather Goddesses of Phobos” looks like it’s another of those things you should be nervous about searching for on the Interweb.

      1. It was only slightly racy for a teenage boy in the 1980s, which is when I played it, I think, and has an entirely clean Wikipedia entry 🙂 Welcome back, Z!

  13. 38 minutes with LOI FOR ONES PAINS. I knew of Red SKELTON, but not his brother John, which probably accounts for me making DEAD WOOD COD. Whip-crack-away, etc. HALF-INCH was good and I liked PHOBOS too. Enjoyable. Thank you V and setter.

  14. Thought I was having an attack of residual weekend doziness, until I finally dredged up the closing sequence of PHOBOS (NHO) – HOOKAH – CASTLE, and realised this was quite a stretch for my modest solving chops. And I always feel mildly narked by those clues such as 1a, where the order indicated by “ON” is reversed (i.e. it should be “Front of porch on tramps”).

    Anyway, glad I disciplined myself enough to not hit the Reveal button – 38:55, thanks V and setter

    1. In an across clue, “A on B” means B, A. In 1ac, the setter got it right.

      1. Which mean in 9 ac the parsing must be C + ON + CAVE around L. C for conservative, ON spelt out in the clue. Otherwise the ON would make it the wrong order.

        1. I was ready to write an angry letter to the editor when I realized that it was C not CON.

        2. One meaning of ‘on’ is ‘by’, ‘next to’. Consider expressions like eg, “The <item> on the left is…”. It is also used in place names such as ‘Henley-on-Thames’, ‘Clacton-on-Sea’, etc. To me, that makes any order fair game.

            1. Is that compulsory, I wonder? In purely physical terms it could go either way, surely, and I always worry about unwritten “rules”

              1. I imagine any ‘rule’ here, at least, is unwritten; who would write them? I’m just following Jackkt, but I’ve never seen an exception.

                1. I can’t say I recall seeing an exception in the Times either, but I’ve definitely seen it elsewhere, along with ensuing debate on the parsing sites about whether it should have been allowed or not. I, of course, firmly believe it should be. One of Chambers’ definitions is “close to, beside;” which reinforces my earlier justification.

                  If, as Guy du Sable states, the Times does indeed make it a rule, I think it’s yet another silly, pointless, and unnecessary constraint on setters. Right up there with the absurd “no living person but the reigning monarch” rule… ugh!

  15. I agree with our blogger that this was a toughie. I had PARCHED, DEAD WOOD, BORDER, DUD and LOI CASTLE (not having a clue as to what was going on) all holding out in the end, and taking me to 58 mins. My bugbear about unches at the beginning words came to the fore with nine of them. Eek!

    PHOBOS unknown but worked out from the cryptic and checkers.

    I liked HALF-INCH.

    Thanks v and setter.

  16. It’s good to be back after an absence from crosswording complicated by, among other things, a stroke. I started back online and in earnest of Friday, which I almost regretted, but today’s was a good one to get a bit of confidence back: 24.35 for a not particularly Mondayish workout. CASTLE my last in as for others: wingers are always birds, no?
    I did like HALF INCH for the “in” bit of the clue, today’s particular amusement.
    Thanks everybody for still being here, and to Vinyl for a clear narrative.

    1. Hi Zabadak, I’m new here but have long admired your avatar. I’m guessing ‘wingers are always birds’ may no longer be a thing. Wishing you good health, I saw Lucinda Williams in Sydney in March (she had a stroke a year or so back) and she was doing pretty well…

    2. Very good to see you back and I hope full confidence returns very soon.
      As for wingers always being birds, perhaps this is a contrived exception to prove the rule.
      Kind regards, Bob

    3. Great to see you back! Hope all is working as it should – strokes are scarily debilitating, as two of my friends can testify!

  17. 15:55 but 1 wrong. Misled by reading the blog extract before solving into thinking 11A might be obscure vocabulary and invented the MAETLE bird. Of course CAST = team on stage and a CASTLE is a powerful chess piece on the wings of the board, but it is always called a rook except to children being introduced to the game. Hmmph. But I liked HALF-INCH.

  18. DNF. I had no idea about CASTLE, and now I know what the answer is I’m glad I gave up. A remarkably poor clue: every aspect of it is suspect.

    1. I hesitated to say anything but as my DNF was for exactly the same reason as you (four times slower of course) I’m happy to concur!

  19. 20 minutes or so. Didn’t know what PHOBOS was and had no idea about the DEAD WOOD stage. ‘Dude’ isn’t really the word I would use to describe a dandy, but DUD couldn’t be anything else. The penny has only just dropped as to how LEFT OVER works – I couldn’t see where the L came from, but now I get that it’s a new (as in learner) driver.

    Fun stuff. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Binary
    LOI Run
    COD Spare tyre

  20. DNF beaten by CASTLE and CONCLAVE.

    Like Johninterred I was playing with a massive biff of ‘maetle’ for the former and on top of that I was looking only for a synonym for ‘interrupt’.

    There were many I got right (some biffed NHOs) that I think were very obscure or clued at a stretch (DUDE = dandy?!?!?) but I always assume that just the way of the 15×15, so reassured to sense some other grumbles here.

    Still, thanks setter and Vinyl.

  21. 25.23. Really good to see Zabadak back in the fold. I sincerely hope that you have made a full recovery from your stroke. I’ve missed your comments.Your solving time suggests that you are doing rather better than Spurs.

  22. DEAD WOOD a mystery, but I trusted the wordplay and hoped for the best (I watched Calamity Jane not so long ago but don’t remember the deadwood stagecoach). Likewise PHOBOS, suspecting that it was probably something astronomical that I didn’t know. I would have expected more people to moan about rooks in chess being called castles, despite what the dictionaries say. It seemed to me also that it was a rather weak clue calling a rook a winger because of its position on the board and the fact that it is a fairly powerful piece. I liked HALF-INCH: it’s not often you see a clue of two words that is regular def+ wp. 27 minutes.

    1. The song about the Deadwood Stage is the biggest production number in the whole film!

    2. I can’t believe you could possibly do that! Ohh, the Deadwood stage is a comin’ on over the hilllll…

        1. Well in view of all this it must have been more than ‘not so long ago’. Or perhaps I fell asleep at the important part.

  23. Found this tough and a DNF as I just couldn’t come up with an answer for 11ac, CASTLE did cross my radar but it didn’t make sense to me. I did initially have HAMLET thinking it was an anagram of TEAM and LH until BACK TO FRONT and SPARE TYRE fell in.
    I did make things hard by having AUGUST until CONCUR sorted out that and I needed the blog to see where the ‘L’ came from in LEFT OVER and I still don’t quite understand L for ‘new driver’

    1. Are you not UK resident? Here, a new driver has to have red L plates attached to the car he/she is driving until the driving test has been passed. It is then permissible, though not mandatory, to have a green P plate to indicate to other drivers that you are still probationary, and they are meant to give you some leeway as you improve your skills. This is rarely used on the road and never, as far as I’m aware, in crossword clues, but L for learner is very common.

      1. That’s an unqualified and unlicensed driver. A new driver has ‘P’- for probationary.

      2. UK resident? Good grief! I must be on another planet. How did I not think of that?

  24. Castle is not only used by many people in reference to chess, it is also in all the dictionaries.

    Mind you, that’s not to say it isn’t fun to have our own Groundhog Day every time it appears.

    1. Yes, and why would there be a move called ‘castling’ if castle wasn’t valid?

      1. We remember the retired colonel, or major, or whatever he was … castling is what you do, with your king and your ROOK!

        1. and a ROOK is a bird, maybe that’s where winger came from? Still suspect, but as castles occupy the wings, then I guess it’s fair enough?

  25. A DNF 32:11 but with a blank for CASTLE. As pointed out, the winger chess piece seems a bit of a stretch; perhaps you could fairly describe a queen as powerful, but a castle? An element of sour grapes probably, as everything else slotted into place without any trouble.

  26. 22:46

    SKELTON my LOI and only unknown in an enjoyable puzzle. No problems with PHOBOS nor DEAD WOOD – even HALF-INCH went in smoothly (the shortest lad in my class at high school was called Halfacre – forever known as HALF-INCH).

    Liked VIRGO and SPARE TYRE.

    Welcome back to Zabadak – always admired your amusing blogging style.

  27. After 26 minutes I was left with 11 ac. I bunged in MANTLE for want of anything better. I agree with keriothe that it’s a very poor clue.

    got through most of the rest quickly, but the ones others found tricky stumped for a while: VIRGO DEAD WOOD, SPARE TYRE and CONCLAVE.

    I think we had SKELTON relatively recently, so I wasn’t slowed by that once I had the first letter.

  28. Well within target today at 35.13 and pleased with that bearing in mind that quite a few consider it on the tricky side. Like others I was held up by my LOI CASTLE; in spite of the fact that I thought of it as a possibility quite quickly, but it took a while to convince myself it was right. COD for me goes to HALF INCH which I thought was a very smart clue.

  29. Failed to get castle but disagree with those who decry the clue: every part of it works fine. The rest gave only a little resistance here and there with some pleasing twists, for one’s pains. joekobi

    1. It really is a day for returnees! Welcome back.

      Where’s the sketch of the bearded clown though?

  30. CASTLE was my LOI too, as I spent far too long looking for a bird. Took me a while to see PHOBOS, but really liked it when I got it. In fact I liked a lot about this puzzle. FOR ONES PAINS and BACK TO FRONT were late entries. HOOKAH was FOI. 22:34. Thanks setter and V.

  31. Very quick 20 or so mins (for me anyway) until I got to the much commented on CASTLE, which I just couldn’t get, so my bubble burst with a DNF. Didn’t fully parse DEADWOOD, had assumed stage referred to wooden boards and raced to the next clue… Enjoyed half inch! Thanks to all

  32. Reading all the comments, what comes to mind is Alice Through the Looking-Glass.
    Castle – chess pieces
    Hookah – or was that in Wonderland?
    Or am I trying too hard? Who’s the resident Alice aficionado?
    BTW: welcome back, Zabadak.

    1. I too was caught with one foot in either of Alice’s worlds. As soon as I had the S for saucer I was lured into Soup, Spoons, Tureens, Pigs, Pepper, Sneezes and Baby-Battering before I got back on track.

    LOI CASTLE (with a shrug)
    But undone by putting STRACKEN for some strange reason, which is disappointing. Too many guesses to make this an enjoyable solve for me, though there were some clever clues.

  34. Easy Monday! Particularly liked HALF-INCH. Didn’t know SKELTON, except for Red Skelton the comedian and Skelton also a place here in Cumbria, but easy enough to solve. No probs with DEAD WOOD. PHOBOS was nice, too – can’t believe some commenters haven’t heard of it (just sayin’).

    1. Hmm… that’s what I could say when commenters claim they haven’t heard of a common plant or slightly unusual bird! One person’s GK is another’s specialist knowledge – I may be great on flora and avians, but not so hot on science or the cosmos. Still got the PHOBOS answer, though…

      1. Pfft, saturns of Jupiter or Saturn I can understand, but our nearest planetary neighbour only has two, and they should not be specialist knowledge for any adult..

      2. Phobos was news to me too. Not too keen on being told what I should know.

        1. Hear hear: it too often means ‘stuff I happen to know because of the way I was educated’.
          I am on the other hand always interested by what people here do know, which I think is as good a test as any of what constitutes ‘obscurity’.

  35. An enjoyable challenge. I lost my crossword solving gizmo some time ago so I have to keep going to the end.

  36. I got through this in a reasonably quick time, though I did not record it. A pleasant enough Monday exercise with no terrors. No problems with CASTLE, DUD, or DEADWOOD, but a MER over SCINTILLA. My dictionary suggests a tiny trace or spark (as in the Latin original) rather than a flash, which looks more impressive.
    Thanks to vinyl and other contributors.

    1. In a previous life we had scintillation detectors for radioactivity – gamma ray came in, hit the (forgotten compound? something iodide?) and produced a flash of light which the electronics detected. So the scintilla was a flash of light.

  37. Never did parse Flying Saucer tho’ it could not have been anything else. Clearly remember Doris Day singing the Deadwood Stage. Gentle start to the week for a newbie like me.

  38. A not-so-easy Monday, but all present and correct. I ended up with CASTLE as LOI which was the only thing that it could be, but hated the clue. It seems, though, that chess players also hated it because it’s actually called a rook, not a castle (I just thought they were alternative names), so I thought ‘winger’ referred to an alternative name for ‘rook’, which seemed reasonable. I missed the ‘team playing’ bit, so didn’t like CAST either, but it’s better than I realised. Liked BACK TO FRONT and HALF-INCH.

  39. I got through this steadily, enjoying some of the clever definitions. But I could not get CASTLE, even though I was pretty sure it ended LE. In the end, I gave up and just bunged in MANTLE and submitted it. So DNF for me.

  40. I take my hat off to the setter for targeting my weaknesses for, if areas of knowledge were parts of the body, Achilles’ could be applied to MOONS, POPES and BIRDS amongst many others in my case.
    So, on the defensive from the start, I was held up by PHOBOS, distracted by the non-pope, got the tricky bird (the Hal-Finch) and then spent seven minutes on the flightless winger before seeing we were not airborne but in Alice-Land, as Isla pointed out.
    48′ 51”
    Thanks to all.

  41. 35 mins. Is Monday becoming the new Friday?LOI for ones pains but struggled with the SE corner for quite a while before half inch and tallow opened the door to enlightenment.
    One down, five to go.

  42. About ten minutes for everything but CASTLE, had to put it aside and do yesterday’s puzzles before the answer swam unconvincingly into mind. As others have said, I think it was a very poor clue. Enjoyed the rest of it though, especially HALF INCH and the definition for PHOBOS.

  43. A slow DNF in 45 here held up by CASTLE and eventually throwing in the towel. Would you ever describe a cast as a team such that “team playing” makes sense? Mebbes.

    Liked the rest of it

    I’m an intermittent poster but might speak for lots of the occasional posters who see our regulars here so often it really is noticeable when suddenly you’ve missed their wit and wisdom. So welcome back Zabadak from me too

    1. I thought describing the cast of a play as a ‘team’ was a stretch, but I can live with it. ‘Left half’, on the other hand does not in any way indicate LE, and the chess piece (which I have no objection to calling a CASTLE) is in no way a ‘winger’. It starts in the corner and then goes all over the board!

  44. As I am number 96 to post, I will just say it took me 35 minutes and I liked it very much, lots of subtle (but obviously doable) clues.

  45. DNF — didn’t think to look beyond birds for the CASTLE clue. Apart from that I thought this was fun.

  46. The many responses and welcomes have quite overwhelmed me: I’ve missed this most erudite and civilised company and am very glad to be back. I had forgotten that since our migration from Live Journal I could replace the 8s in my sobriquet with the more natural As, and almost didn’t recognise myself, but I look forward to happy times ahead.
    I am, thankfully, intact in mind if a little bit more limited on my right side, and very grateful as ever to the care and attention of the NHS who got me walking and writing again, not to mention the delicious moment when I could once again wipe my own bottom. Small things can be very important!

    1. I don’t post a comment very often but have read the blogg for many years including your contributions. You’ve had a rough time of it. Welcome back.

  47. 41 minutes, slowed down by hastily putting in AUGUST not AUGURY.

    COD – PHOBOS. Very nice definition raised a smile here.

  48. Slow from the start by not knowing Phobos, although I knew I was looking for a moon of Mars. So stared by a very tentative SURPRISE, with BINARY and ROBOT a lot more confidently. Happily remembered Lake TITICATA, but was bewildered by the “Duchess” allusion for FLYING SAUCER. My inability to see the anagrist for FOR ONES PAINS lead me to cheat on that one, and not having a leading letter for BACK TO FRONT meant a similar fate for that. However (and with the resultant help from checkers) was able to figure out the rest, with the exception of CASTLE, where I too was looking for a bird. Liked the clues for SPARE TYRE and HALF INCH (which I didn’t bother to parse, as it sprung immediately to mind, having a Cockerny dad!)

Comments are closed.