Times Cryptic 28592


Solving time: 36 minutes

This is my 600th blog of a daily 15×15 puzzle, my first having been posted on Friday, 23rd November 2007. I didn’t record my solving time on that occasion although we were encouraged to log such details in those days, but only noted that it was ‘longer than it should have been’.

What with Quick Cryptics (276), a few specials and recently some Jumbos, my total number of blogs currently stands at 887.

Today’s puzzle was on the easy side but with a few hold-ups in the NE quarter taking me over my half-hour target.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Opening of song memorable, capturing hint of recordings such as old 78s? (8)
S{ong} [opening], CATCHY (memorable) containing [capturing] R{ecordings} [hint of…]. I think we have to take it that ‘such’ refers back to ‘recordings’ in order to avoid any suggestion of double-duty.
5 Notice breakdown in communication, perhaps, at sea (6)
AD (notice), RIFT (breakdown in communication, perhaps)
9 Unusual slice taken from cut of beef? (3)
RUM{p} (cut of beef) [slice taken]
10 I’m brought in to sound loud: hope things will improve? (4,3,4)
I’M contained by [brought in to] PLAY (sound) + FORTE (loud)
12 Lady once thrilled to host working author (5,5)
Anagram [thrilled] of LADY ONCE containing [to host] ON (working)
13 Weary diatribe getting a Democrat removed (4)
TIR{ad}E (diatribe) [a Democrat removed]
15 Soft chap, solemn at heart (6)
GENT (chap), {so}LE{mn} [at heart]
16 Way of speaking recalled in time in letter (7)
LISP (way of speaking) reversed [recalled] contained by [in] EON (time)
18 An outpouring enshrining one’s suffering (7)
AN, GUSH (outpouring) containing [enshrining] I (one)
20 Movement of air beginning to bring chill? Not the first (6)
B{ring} [beginning], {f}REEZE (chill) [not the first]
23 Not all bits of blossom everywhere (4)
Hidden in [bits of] {blos}SOM E{verywhere}
24 Store opening recalled by the writer in city (10)
ME (writer), then SILO (grain store) + PORT (opening – aperture) reversed [recalled]
26 Cautious Mike, enthralled by top entertainment, favoured going round clubs (11)
M (mike – NATO alphabet) contained [enthralled] by CIRCUS (big top entertainment), then PET (favoured) containing [going round] C (clubs – cards)
27 Gamble to avoid heading for rocks (3)
{d}ICE (gamble) [avoid heading]
28 Dimwit mostly with nothing to say about Oxbridge degree (6)
MUT{e} (with nothing to say) [mostly] containing [about] PPE (Oxbridge degree – philosophy, politics, and economics)
29 Individual crime not initiated with sound of bell around (8)
PEAL (sound of bell) containing [around]{a}RSON (crime) [not initiated]
1 Smart player finally participating in European trophies after reflection (6)
{playe}R (finally) contained by [participating in]  E (European) + CUPS (trophies) reversed [after reflection]
2 Catholic married to Anglican? It’s a wonderful story (7)
ROMAN (Catholic), CE (Anglican – C of E)
3 Prepare for cooking a plant — do it with mincing? (3,3,4)
Anagram [mincing] of A PLANT DO IT. This often refers to cutting the tops and bottoms off vegetables.
4 Completely taken by alphabetical statement of the obvious? (4,4,5)
 A person may be said to fall HEAD OVER HEELS in love if they are ‘completely taken by’ the other party.  I drafted some ideas on the rest of the clue but the more I tried to explain the less sense it seemed to make, so on reflection I’ve decided to say I really don’t understand  it and throw it open to the forum.
6 Choice of Roman numerals to indicate sleeping quarters (4)
D OR M  (choice of Roman numerals)
7 Opening popular with one chess champion going round India (7)
IN (popular), I (one), then TAL (World chess champion – Mikhail) containing [going round] I (India – NATO alphabet)
8 Historic city ultimately ignored by an old pictorial publication (3,5)
THEBE{s} (historic city) [ultimately ignored], AN, O (old). The Beano comic was not the first publication to come to mind, but was none the less very welcome when found to be what was required.
11 Risqué theatre possibly giving ogler freebies (6,7)
Anagram [possibly giving] OGLER FREEBIES. Definitely my Clue of the Day, and it’s very rarely I feel the need to select one of those!
14 They treat bones and muscles — doctoring to the psoas? (10)
Anagram [doctoring] TO THE PSOAS. Not that it’s necessary to know, but the psoas are muscles that aid in flexing and rotating the thigh.
17 Top music broadcast — one of the Chili Peppers? (8)
CAP (top), anagram [broadcast] of MUSIC
19 Hesitation over doctor in Republican party providing candy? (7)
UM (hesitation) + DR (doctor) contained by [in] GOP (Republican party – Grand Old Party)
21 Elizabeth, upcoming celebrity, an unknown quantity (7)
LIZ (Elizabeth) reversed [upcoming], LION (celebrity)
22 A distended shape to boot (2,4)
A, SWELL (distended shape)
25 Zero employment current in York (4)
O (zero), USE (employment). The City of York stands on the Rivers Ouse and Foss.

75 comments on “Times Cryptic 28592”

  1. I think the clue at 4d simply means that HEAD comes before HEELS alphabetically. Not much use without checkers.

  2. HEAD is obviously before or ahead of HEELS in the alphabet but can it be said to be OVER it also? Possibly in an alphabetical list it would be above HEELS, or even on a page of a dictionary it would be again higher up. Congratulations on 887! I always enjoy your blogs and am grateful for all your elucidations.

  3. 26:27
    A slow start, and slow progress, with the NE being most recalcitrant: POI 10ac PLAY FOR TIME, LOI DORM. It also took me ages to recall 3d TOP AND TAIL, which I’ve only come across here. MER at 10ac: To play for time is not to hope something but to do something, no doubt in the hope that things will improve, but still.

    1. Yes I had a MER there too, often a team is ahead and PLAYS FOR TIME rather than trying to score another goal.

  4. This was a gas—FOLIES BERGÈRE, what fun! HEAD OVER HEELS, TOP AND TAIL… is this a theme?!—and mostly a BREEZE.
    Was happy to see my LOI MUPPET was correct; I wonder if Jim Henson was aware of that definition.
    I’m eating CAPSICUM right now (peperoncini) in a Greek salad!

  5. A 22 minute DNF with a carelessly bunged in “pray for time” at 10a. A pity, as I found this otherwise not too difficult though I didn’t know what was going on with HEAD OVER HEELS and semi-biffed CIRCUMSPECT.

    Congrats and thanks to Jack on his 600th 15×15 blog

  6. Nice puzzle. Must have been on the wavelength, only slowed a bit at the end by ZILLION, METROPOLIS and finally CIRCUMSPECT when the penny dropped on “top”. Folies Bergere a great clue even if it is a freebie. Didn’t know Beano had the definite article, but with T_E for the first word the city had to be Thebes – another appreciated clue.
    If you were Australian you’d be worried by puzzle 887, Jack. While English batsmen fear 111 (Nelson?) Aussies fear 87. Or 187 – Stan McCabe made 187 against Bodyline back in the day, hailed as one of the great innings ever.

  7. 10:40. I was in the groove for this one and looked on course to break the Ten Minute Barrier. But entering Hand Over Heels at 4 down, (getting myself confused by hands and heels), meant that I was temporarily snookered by 1o across, PLAY FOR TIME.


    Congrats jackkt on your 600th blog.

  8. I raced through all of this in about 20 minutes and then could not see THE BEANO. The only old pictorial publications that came to mind were the Illustrated London New and Life Magazine. In the end I had to go away and come back later and then I finally saw it after an alphabet trawl.

  9. 19:36
    NHO TAL.
    Thanks, jack, and congrats on a fantastic score!

    1. Having originally biffed 7d as “introit” (the chess champion usual being a Russian and therefore a trot) the NE held me up badly until I figured out 10a.

  10. 35 mins and very enjoyable. Never parsed the rather clunky CIRCUMSPECT and bunged in METROPOLIS without worrying where the letters came from?

    GUMDROP and MUPPET last two in as, for some odd reason I had GUMBALL for a while but changed it when I finally saw CIRCUMSPECT)

    I loved THE BEANO clue, I used to read it all the time and, as vinyl says, apparently, so did Clapton, my hero. My mother was called Elizabeth and always known as Liz so ZIL jumped out at me.

    Congrats on 600 Jack, and many more please. Ta to setter too.

    1. He’s referring to the picture on the front of an old John Mayall album where Clapton is reading it.

  11. No real problems, although I biffed FOLIES BERGERE once most of the checkers were in place.

    TIME 8:25

  12. Fun puzzle today, completed in 20’03”, with PLAY FOR TIME POI.

    Enjoyed FOLIES BERGERE and especially THE BEANO (although my weekly comic was the Dandy).

    Congratulations on the milestone jack, thanks as always, and to the setter also.

    1. My sister and I brought up on both the Beano and the Dandy, and many squabbles arose over our pet characters! Would love to find an original somewhere, sometime. ( will never forget Desperate Dan and his cow pies!)

  13. 31 minutes with LOI THE BEANO. We are who we are. I preferred The Wizard, with words not pictures, telling the tale of Wilson the wonder athlete who could run the mile in three minutes at age 200 because he lived off a diet of herbs. I deduced there might be a chess player called TAL as Bolton had someone of that name who played for us. COD PLAY FOR TIME, aka run to the corner flag. A decent puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.

  14. 12:39. Fun Puzzle. I liked FOLIES BERGERE best. Thanks and congratulations on the 600 up Jackkt and thanks setter.

  15. 14:24. Like others I hadn’t heard of Tal, and spent time trying to fit in Hal, having confused the computer from A Space Odyssey with a chess computer. My biggest hold up was with my LOI, CIRCUMSPECT where with all the checkers in place I couldn’t think of anything which fitted. Eventually I got it just through grid staring, having been nowhere near the parsing.
    In a pleasing coincidence, yesterday’s “slap bass” put me in mind of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and there they were today in the form of a CAPSICUM!

  16. 8:14. Steady solve today. A slight doubt over 7dn but the notion that there might be a chess champion I’d never heard of (a category that includes about 95% of chess champions) called TAL wasn’t too much of a stretch.
    Thanks and congratulations on the milestone, jackkt.

  17. Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
    (Wordsworth’s daffs)

    25 mins mid-brekker. Very nice. I liked, eventually, Store opening = Silo port.
    I’ve never been keen on Lion=hero, let alone celebrity, but it has certainly become a crossword favourite.
    Ta setter and J.

  18. 23:45. On the wavelength today. Held up most by SCRATCHY and PLAY FOR TIME. I liked 8dn – from THEBES to THE BEANO in one clue. Thank you jackkt for this blog and all the others; a great achievement

  19. Under the half hour so a fast one for me, but lots of fun, especially the brilliant FOLIES BERGERE – anagram of the year so far. Thanks for the redoubtable guidance Jack; here’s to another 600!

    Thanks setter for a fine puzzle. Just one minor quibble: PPE is not Oxbridge as there is not such degree at Cambridge – at least there wasn’t when I was there.

  20. Completed with just a couple of bits of unknown PPE for the Oxbridge degree and TAL chess champion so thanks to the duly blogger for enlightening me and congrats on the 600th blog. Enjoyed the PDM of DORM.

  21. 15 minutes. Didn’t know the chess champion Tal but INITIAL couldn’t have been much else, hadn’t realised that PPE is a degree only offered at Oxbridge in MUPPET, and hesitated over lion=celebrity before getting enough checkers to put in ZILLION. Considered ‘pray for time’ for 10a before deciding it had to be PLAY FOR TIME.

    A nice puzzle – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Rum
    LOI Tire
    COD Folies Bergere

    1. PPE is offered by a number of universities—Oxford, York, Exeter, etc—but not Cambridge.

      1. Tal known from playing chess when younger, though for fun, not with skill. Me, not Tal. Also knew Alekhine, Botvinnik, Petrosian, Morphy – brilliant – and of course Fischer/Karpov which was front page news, not just chess. Like Kasparov nowadays, has Putin incarcerated him or poisoned him? Then in the lockdowns a few years back I found a chess channel on youtube which was interesting enough – Agadmator, a ??? (Balkan) bloke. Learnt that nowadays ‘engines’ or chess-playing software are streets ahead of human players, and more than a few human players have been caught using the engines illegally.

  22. 50m 34s
    Well done, Jack on your milestone! Always enjoy your blogs.

  23. Going back to the puzzlement around 4d HEAD OVER HEELS , has anyone pointed out that while HEAD precedes HEELS in any alphabetically arranged listing, as in a dictionary, it’s also the case that one’s head is above (or OVER) one’s heels in any normal posture? I’d no problem with the clue.

    1. FWIW I have retrieved a previous version of the comment I wrote for 4dn before deciding it was all becoming too involved.

      A person may be said to fall HEAD OVER HEELS in love if they are ‘completely taken by’ the other party. The statement is ‘obvious’ perhaps because in the human body the head is usually ‘over’ i.e. higher than, the heels, and the same applies when writing the answer to this Down clue in the grid. I’ve no idea what ‘alphabetical’ is doing unless it’s referring to ‘head’ coming before ‘heels’ alphabetically, but I don’t see the relevance of that to the answer.

    2. [Sorry, didn’t see jackkt’s similar reply]
      Yes, I think the setter may be alluding to the puzzling nature of the expression “head over heels”, since that is the usual arrangement of the respective body parts. “Alphabetical” still seems weak though. What about “Completely taken by anatomical statement of the obvious?”

      1. I prefer your alternative clue, Paul.

        I’ve just realised nobody has mentioned HEAD OVER HEELS as a particular type of somersault defined by Collins as: a forward roll in which the head is placed on the ground and the trunk and legs are turned over it.

        I had a brief foray with the Cub Scouts in my childhood and performing ‘Head over Heels’ was one of the tests involved in being awarded a badge. It may have been the only badge I won.

  24. 25.31. Not a lot to add about the puzzle, but it would be remiss not to say a sincere thank you to Jack for all his endeavours over such a long period. Long may you continue.

  25. A pleasant 21 minutes, ending with the author, having taken too long to see the anagram aspect. I liked CIRCUMSPECT and MUPPET and the BEANO appearing.
    Well done, jackkt, I’m only 71 behind you.

  26. For SCRATCHY, I think the definition is “of recordings such as old 78s” (thereby overlapping the wordplay) since we are looking for an adjectival definition. To me, simply “such as old 78s” implies a noun. This may account for the “?”

  27. Bang on the wavelength with this one, finishing in 15 mins – very fast for me. Untroubled by anything, really, which was also novel. Understood HEAD OVER HEELS as meaning simply that ‘head’ comes before ‘heels’ if you’re listing them in alphabetical order. Liked THE BEANO.

  28. 11:22, held up by THE BEANO at the end, which is unsurprising given how long it must be since I checked in on Dennis the Menace et al. I knew learning all those chess champions would come in handy, which reminds me I now need to add Ding Liren to it, along with Luca Brecel for my list of famous Belgians.

  29. An enjoyable puzzle, completed in 25 minutes. No quibbles, apart from those already mentioned regarding Oxbridge degrees. For me Oxbridge is the hospital in the ancient soap, Emergency Ward Ten. Whatever happened to Camford?
    COD -FOLIES BERGERE, as it is not at first clear whether the first two or the last two words are the anagrist.
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors, and congrats and long service award to jackkt.

  30. Congratulations on your longevity Jack. I’m just a little behind you, having started on The Independent around that time but perhaps in 2008 and having blogged as John on fifteensquared since then, initially mainly the Indy but also Azed and recently Everyman. And our times tend to be fairly close: today I was 35 minutes for a nice puzzle where I had two criticisms: the PPE clue is doubly unsatisfactory because at Cambridge they don’t call it PPE, and PPE is on offer at a number of other universities. And since I play chess the reference to Tal was well-known to me (one of the greats), but it struck me as a bit unfair to those who don’t play. After all he was only World Champion for a year in the 1960s and through ill-health (which may have caused him to drink and smoke too much) never had the fame he could have had.

    1. But it is good that chess is getting some recognition in the crossword. It is certainly easier to work Tal into a clue than, say, Bogoljubow!

    2. I didn’t know him and I don’t think it’s unfair: the rest of the wordplay and crossers gave me INI_I_L and ‘opening’ as the likely definition. I thought this was more than generous enough from the setter.

    3. Many thanks, Wil. I wasn’t aware of your involvement in fifteensquared which I visit daily since taking up The Guardian puzzle a couple of years ago . I shall look out for you there!

  31. I’m another Beano reader – we used to get it delivered every week – always looked forward to its arrival.
    Nice puzzle today – 35 minutes for me – my only unknown was “Tal” but not too difficult to guess that one.
    Many thanks to Jack for blog no.600!!

  32. 12:27 with a confident guess at the chess champion. I also found the HEAD OVER HEELS clue a bit odd largely because, however you read it, the word alphabetical is attached to the wrong bit. “A statement of the alphabetically obvious” might be marginally less tortuous, but on the whole I rather liked PaulH’s suggestion of “anatomical”.

  33. Used to read others’ beano as Mum wouldn’t buy it – too declasse I think.
    Took an age over this. Just thick today perhaps.
    DNF, 10a PrAY FOR TIME as failed to parse it and missed the presence of “sound” in the clue. Bah!
    Also failed to parse (FTP anyone?) the clever 24a METROPOLIS, thank you Jack.
    COD CIRCUMSPECT I think, or maybe The Beano.
    Looked in Wiki for people called Tal and found:
    Tal Shaked (born 1978), American chess grandmaster
    Mikhail Tal (1936–1992), Soviet world chess champion

  34. Another who had to assume TAL was a chess champion, but it wasn’t much of a stretch. No problems with the rest of the puzzle. Started with SCRATCHY and finished with CIRCUMSPECT. 18:46. Thanks setter and Jack, and congratulations and thanks on the milestone!

  35. Pretty straightforward, apart from a slightly tricky clue to EPSILON, and 4d, which was almost my LOI. I had misgivings about the clue, David-ch above has pinpointed the weakness. The only unknown was the chess player.
    22 minutes.

  36. 24 minutes but I also put PRAY FOR TIME damn!!!
    Did anyone point out yet that PPE is an Oxford degree not Oxbridge?
    Thanks setter and Jack, another congratulations from me 🙂

    1. I see you are right. I didn’t know that. When I was at Cambridge there was a course called History and Philosophy of Science (known as Hiss and P**s) which generally regarded as a soft option.

  37. 25:04 but…

    …sausage-fingered OVEE in 4d due to completing on my phone rather than laptop which was sitting next to me. That’s two 15×15 running….

    Didn’t know the chess guy nor the Oxbridge degree.

    Thanks and congrats Jack

  38. 37 mins for me today. A steady solve until the NE corner. Didn’t know Tal and must remember GOP which I think has come up before. Never parsed METROPOLIS so thank you for this blog and all the other 599!

  39. Congratulations on the milestone Jack, I always enjoy your blogs.

    You haven’t indicated the definition in 21d but as your explanation implies, it’s “an unknown quantity” – something I hadn’t appreciated until I checked the dictionary. I always thought it was 1 with 15 zeroes but apparently it’s not.

  40. I knew Tal from my chess playing days. I once beat an international chess master – not at chess but at table tennis, however.

    1. And I once beat the British Chess Champion. But it was many years before his success: he was aged 8 at the time.

  41. I enjoyed this offering finishing just over five minutes inside target at 39.45. I had all but six done in under 30 minutes but then came to a grinding halt in the south east corner. After six or seven minutes of looking blankly at it I had to go out, almost inevitably on my return an hour or so later it all quickly fell into place. This peculiar phenomenon of being able to see things differently after a break, is one that I know is seemingly experienced by almost everyone that does crosswords.
    Nice to see the reference to my favourite childhood comic THE BEANO. Always in my opinion at the time better than it’s sister publication The Dandy. My favourite storyline was The Bashstreet Kids, with Danny, Plug and Wilfred etc. I read an article the other day that said in the later editions the names of certain characters had been changed so as not to offend current readers. So Fatty is no more! Are the current generation that easily offended?

  42. Congratulations on the landmark!

    6m 6s, a little worried about the parsing of INITIAL. I started getting into chess a little bit during lockdown, but TAL was unknown to me.

  43. What a wonderful achievement! Thank you for all the blogs and help and support.
    Finishing more and more 15x15s (on paper) these days – todays was fine – had to guess TAL and PPE but they didn’t cause much trouble. Liked The Beano.

  44. 24 mins. I think we had GOP last week, it was unknown to me then, since then I’ve seen it every day….
    Last 2 were CAPSICUM, where I tried to include the TOP in the anagram until the A showed up, and TIRE, which I first rejected, not realising that WEARY was a verb.

  45. 21.23

    Agadmator will be astonished to find out he was name checked on this blog. Tal and PPE write ins. ZILLION however was wholly unparsed but had to be

    Lovely puzzle

    Many congratulations Jackkt. Might I say you are the heart of this blog (no disrespect meant to the other incredible contributors). Here’s to the next 600

  46. A nice gentle puzzle – no unknowns apart from Tal. However, LOI, MUPPET was held up as I was looking for a degree specific to Oxbridge and never considered PPE until it couldn’t be anything else. Congratulations, Jackkt, and thanks to today’s setter.

  47. Another straightforward puzzle though I didn’t stop to parse CIRCUMSPECT or METROPOLIS.
    As for THE BEANO, it may not have been White’s or the Garrick, but I was once a proud member of the Dennis the Menace fan club.

    Thanks to the setter and congratulations and thanks to Jack.

  48. I am a bit late to the party! A rather busy day, but I wish to add my sincere thanks
    to jackkt and congratulate him on his milestone. He is invariably incredibly supportive of newcomers to this arcane world and exceptionally good at encouraging newbies to have a go at the 15 x 15. Long may you thrive, Jack. Thanks to all the other bloggers, too, of course! A fun puzzle today!

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