Times 28660 – the knowledge of generals

Time taken: 11:33.  I suspect this will appeal to those who have the general knowledge as there are a number of answers that seemed vaguely familiar when I pieced them together from wordplay, but are certainly not in the common vocabulary.  Fortunately the wordplay is consistently strong and allows answers to be found.

How did you get along?

1 Henry to appear with holdall — one to fix locks needed (8)
HAIRGRIP –  H(Henry, the unit), next to AIR(appear) and GRIP(holdall).  A few years ago there was a similar clue and I incorrectly put in HAIRTRAP
6 Strut surely has broken inside for example (6)
SASHAY – anagram of HAS inside SAY(for example)
9 Competitor for place on river an enterprising sort (13)
INDUSTRIALIST – TRIALIST(competitor for a place in a team)  next to the river INDUS
10 Customer exactly right and not coming back? (6)
PATRON – PAT(exactly right) then NOR(and not) reversed
11 Trader needs minute with English having tirade about check (8)
MERCHANT – M(minute) then E(English) and RANT(tirade) surrounding CH(check)
13 Persian perhaps shuffled cards, meeting the French in game (4,6)
CAT’S CRADLE –  CAT(persian, perhaps) and an anagram of CARDS with LE(the in French)
15 Racketeer in old film from Massachusetts originally to be buried outside (4)
LIME – first letter of Massachusetts inside LIE(to be buried). Reference to Harry LIME of The Third Man
16 Culminating point: that’s getting married in a church (4)
ACME – M(married) inside A, CE(church)
18 Culturally deficient person taking book aboard Central Line? (10)
MIDDLEBROW – B(book) inside MIDDLE(central), ROW(line)
21 For questions, do exams (8)
CONTESTS – CON(do, swindle), TESTS(exams)
22 Cheap and nasty short containing rum (6)
SHODDY – SHY(short, as in “Travis Head was out yesterday just shy of a half-century”) containing ODD(rum)
23 Criminal let in here to steal order from political official (5-4,4)
THREE-LINE WHIP – anagram of LET,IN,HERE then WHIP(steal)
25 Second-rate skill all right for barman? (6)
BARTOK – B(second-rate), ART(skill), OK(all right) for the composer Bela BARTOK
26 After fish, do some shopping for marine plant (8)
EELGRASS – EEL(fish) and GRASS(do some shopping, give someone away)
2 Fabled woodcutter joins a party with a scholar (3,4)
ALI BABA – A LIB(party) with A, BA(scholar). Did not remember he was a woodcutter
3 Evidently embarrassed to be associated with growing relief organisation? (3,8)
RED CRESCENT – RED(evidently embarrassed) and CRESCENT(growing, as in the moon). My last in and a fingers crossed submission. Only appeared once in a Bank Holiday Jumbo 10 years ago.
4 Amber for instance about to stray from path (5)
RESIN – RE(about), SIN(stray from path)
5 Depression grips woman climbing wondrous monument (7)
PYRAMID – DIP(depression) containing MARY(woman) all reversed
6 Space flight takes one coming into sun source (9)
STAIRWELL – I(one) inside STAR(sun), WELL(source)
7 Runner on snow finally approaches Karakoram mountain (3)
SKI – last letter in approacheS, and the mountain is K1
8 Hero’s one for villain — friend to Caesar, J? (7)
ANTONYM – Caesar, J’s friend would be ANTONY, M
12 Male relative one in semi-religious order? (4-7)
HALF-BROTHER – double definition, the second a bit cryptic
14 Meat and drink kept as fresh (4,5)
RUMP STEAK – RUM(drink) then an anagram of KEPT,AS
17 Pelt across river, ripping up land? (7)
CROATIA – COAT(pelt) containing R(river) then A1(ripping, great) reversed
19 Look down on river holding drinks up (7)
DESPISE – the river DEE containing SIPS(drinks) reversed
20 Incestuous son Opus Dei corrected (7)
OEDIPUS – anagram of OPUS, DEI
22 True Grit appropriate for audience? (5)
STEEL – sounds like STEAL(appropriate)
24 Boring routine — pity that’s not finished! (3)
RUT – RUTH(pity) minus the last letter

76 comments on “Times 28660 – the knowledge of generals”

  1. 13:02
    Another easy one; I expect tomorrow’s to be a killer. LIME was my LOI; Harry was a long time coming. Like George, I’d forgotten ALI BABA’s profession. THREE-LINE WHIP, which I only learned here recently, was biffed, parsed post-submission; DNK whip=steal. CROATIA was demi-biffed; I couldn’t account for IA until after I submitted. George, you’ve got a typo at INDUSTRIALIST; and I’d say (PATRON) that RON is ‘and not’ reversed.

  2. 28 minutes but DNF because I simply couldn’t think what to put after EEL at 26ac. I should have put the puzzle aside to return to this morning. I had been on the right lines, correctly identifying that ‘shopper’ meant ‘informer’ rather than a purchaser. I was convinced the answer would be a word I didn’t know, but EELGRASS came up last October when I commented that the wordplay was helpful, though it was very little different from today: Revolutionary shelter informer provided for marine plant (8).

    Prior to all that before checkers were in place I had been trying to make the wordplay fit BULLRUSH but had to abandon that idea.

    We haven’t had ‘barman’ for a composer for a while so it was good to see it back.

  3. FOI ACME, second RED CRESCENT, and things went swimmingly… for a while. Had a few scattered patches to toil on at the end. Knew Harry LIME was a gangster, but forgot from where; still seems a pretty convoluted clue. Maybe it’s because I don’t associate Arabia with trees, but I didn’t recall that Ali Baba was a woodcutter, so that came very late.

    Definition of the Day: “Space flight takes.”

  4. Got there in the end with a couple of aids. Never heard of RUTH=pity, or the LIME guy. RED CRESCENT went in quickly but stayed in pencil til right at the end, just didn’t think that CRESCENT = growing. Surely a crescent moon is just as likely to be waning as waxing?

    A1 = Ripping? That’s a 1940s military word clueing 1950s public school slang. Both are a bit niche and dated. NHO K1, but of course K2 is well known.

    “Space flight takes” for STAIRWELL was great. But COD to ANTONY,M.

    1. “Crescent” as an adjective means (Merriam-Webster) or at least poetically and archaically (Collins) meant “marked by an increase : INCREASING”; M-W cites Shakespeare, “My powers are crescent…” (That’s Antony and Cleopatra—I had to look it up.)

      As for lady Luna, here’s M-W again: « These days, “crescent” is generally used of either a waxing or waning moon, but that wasn’t always the case. Originally, it referred only to the increasing illumination phase that immediately follows the new moon. That original meaning nicely reflects the meaning of the word’s Latin ancestor crescere, which means “to grow.” »

      1. Good research there. Some decades ago ‘le croissant’ (crescent) meant the rising cost of living in France.

      2. I suspect many folks misled on meaning of ‘crescent’ by the infuriating ‘rising to a crescendo’ misapprehension. Nice to see it clued properly here.

        1. The Oxford Dictionary of English gives several meanings for crescendo including “a gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music” but also “the loudest point reached in a gradually increasing sound” and it includes an explicit example containing “rose to a crescendo”.

    2. Strictly speaking I think it’s not ‘growing’ but ‘growing?’. A question mark to indicate a definition by example is not always next to the relevant word.

    3. I think the musical term crescendo helps with seeing the sense of growing or increasing in crescent.

  5. Good time for me at around 30. A few unparsed such as CRESCENT, ALI BABA (woodcutter?), BARTOK (didn’t see bar-man as composer, I’m relatively to this!). NHO CATS CRADLE but easy enough to tease out. Enjoyed “spaceflight” as clue and LIME although it was my LOI. Thanks glh and setter.

    1. Cat’s Cradle is a novel by Kurt Vonnegut, where a character comments on the name: no cat, no cradle.

  6. 13:55. I didn’t know that Harry LIME was a racketeer or that ALI BABA was a woodcutter so was thankful for the cryptic being unambiguous on these. My initial thought on seeing woodcutter was Esau but now I realise that is due to the tongue twister “Esau wood saw a wood saw, etc, etc”. I’m not sure presence in a tongue twister would be sufficient to clue someone as a woodcutter!
    One of my last ones in was CATS CRADLE where a second word of _R_D_E and a clue mentioning cards and a game had me thinking for some time that this was going to be BRIDGE.

  7. 39 minutes. No unknowns this time, though I had to give a bit of thought to RED CRESCENT and THREE-LINE WHIP. ALI BABA was known from previous crosswords. I found the partial anagram for RUMP STEAK and the parsing for CROATIA the most difficult bits.

    I may be a ‘Culturally deficient person’ but I’m quite happy to be described as MIDDLEBROW.

    1. As a MIDDLEBROW, middle-class(lower), mesomorph I look at these conditions as the glass being half-full not half-empty.

  8. 30:36
    Solidarity with jack: it took me ages to see eelgrass. Finally got it when I reevaluated what ‘shopping’ might mean, but I came close to giving up.
    Thanks, g.

  9. I’m not so sure about MIDDLEBROW – presumably the deficiency is relative to ‘highbrow’ (often pretentious). Relative to ‘lowbrow’ it’d be quite an elevated state.

    LIME set the zither earworm going.

    15’33”, thanks george and setter.

    1. As with ‘growing’ in 3dn I think this ambiguity (or definition by example, if you like) is explicitly acknowledged by the question mark.

  10. The wind in the reeds and the rushes,
    The bees on the bells of thyme,
    The birds on the MYRTLe bUShes,
    The cicale above in the Lime …
    (Hymn of Pan, Shelley)

    30 mins pre-brekker, with a bit spent on trying to fathom the Crescent and the “for questions” wording.
    I liked Three-line Whip and Stairwell.
    Ta setter and G.

  11. 41 minutes with LOI the straightforward CONTESTS. COD to ANTONY M. I liked the INDUS TRIALIST too. His brother A Trialist does get a lot of goals in pre-season friendlies. I’m not pleased to read that I’m culturally deficient though. Good puzzle otherwise. Thank you George and setter.

    1. I happily admit to a fair degree of cultural deficiency. But I know what I like, and also what I NEED to know, plus a little more besides. I admitted to Peter Biddlecombe while test driving some puzzles for a book he’s working on that I had never read a word of Milton, but I doubt I’ve really missed out.

      As Paul Simon said :

      “He’s so unhip, if you say Dylan, he thinks you’re talking about Dylan Thomas – whoever he was. The guy ain’t got no culture.”

      1. As Shelley Berman said, “I thought that James Joyce wrote ‘Trees’.”

  12. 35mins so about average. I didn’t help myself by having HAIRCLIP (I was sure I had heard of a « clip » being a kind of holdall-wrong!) which held me up til the end on RESIN. Last two in before that, ANTONYM and LIME once the penny(s) finally dropped.


    Thanks g and setter.

  13. I thought this was a terrific puzzle, good vocab, innovative clueing and bestowing rewards on those of us who made unparsed, Hail Mary leaps of faith several times. Was very pleased to get round in 28.52, especially after spending much time puzzling over EELGRASS, RESIN and ALI BABA (neither John Bunyan nor George Washington would fit). Speaking of George, thank you glh for several explanations, notably INDUSTRIALIST, MIDDLEBROW and RUT. Thumbs up from me to STAIRWELL, ANTONYM and THREE-LINE WHIP. Do we think Opus Dei knows about that anagram? My mind is boggling. I too didn’t know Ali Baba was a woodcutter, and I didn’t know I was a scholar.

    1. Today’s annoying pedantry: I think that’s Paul Bunyan, John managed both tinker and soldier, but not notably woodcutter.

      1. I can never remember if Babe the Blue Ox shows up in Vanity Fair or the Slough of Despond.

          1. Would you believe that Tasmania’s John ‘The Blade’ Bunyan was national woodchopping champion for 3 years running, from 1984 to 1987, his period of dominance ending only when he accidentally cut off his left foot? No I wouldn’t either, I goofed, and as far as I’m concerned too much pedantry is barely enough!

  14. 12:13. Held up at the end by EELGRASS. COD to ANTONYM. Thanks George and setter.

  15. 10:55
    Excellent definition for STAIRWELL; slightly distracted by it being the anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing today.
    The Beatles did a fine version of Anton Karas’s ‘Harry Lime Theme’, slightly spoilt by George nearly getting electrocuted.

  16. 8:26. I thought this was a good one. ‘Do some shopping’, ‘space flight takes’, ANTONY, M.
    I considered but initially dismissed THREE-LINE WHIP because I was sure I needed a word for ‘steal’ inside an anagram of LET IN HERE for a word meaning ‘official’.

  17. Been out of the game recently due to project-from-hell work stress, but I’m on leave for a few days, heading off to the Bluedot festival.

    Feeling rusty, I made poor progress, went away, came back and got much more into the groove – but the last three in the NW took a while. LOI ANTONYM – typed it in whilst trying to figure it out, then got Congrats banner anyway…
    …a somewhat chaotic 35:11 – thanks G and setter

  18. DNF, with ‘eelcross’ rather than EELGRASS. Having stared at it for a while, I was just pleased to have realised which meaning of shopping was needed, and I didn’t bother to think beyond cross (as in double-crossing). Gah.

    Had a very similar experience to Rosédeprovence above with HAIRGRIP – only after an alphabet trawl with L_S_N for 4d yielded nothing did I go back and correct clip to grip.

    Didn’t know pat=exactly right for PATRON, had to trust that LIME was an old racketeer, didn’t know whip=steal in THREE-LINE WHIP, was unsure how shy=short as needed for SHODDY (so thanks for the pleasingly topical explanation!) and couldn’t have told you what ALI BABA’s profession was.

    A good challenge – thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Three-line whip

  19. Boing a-boing a-boing-g-g a-boing
    Liked this one, even if it was 24 seconds quicker than yesterday. I nominate the Lime clue as a frontrunner in the longest clue for a four letter word cup: worked, though, and of course initiated today’s ear-worm.
    On its own, woodcutter for ALI BABA would have drawn a blank: I’m not sure whether it would have been classed as highbrow or lowbrow in House of Games, so perhaps we do need today’s third option. I’ll tell Richard.
    Grinned at ANTONY, M, and marveled at the smoothly deceptive space flight takes… definition. And congratulations George on working in a perfectly timed reference to illustrate SHY.

  20. 20’47” Some lovely stuff in there especially ANTONYM and STAIRWELL. Bottom half went in first and I slowed way down in the top-left, with the last three RESIN, PATRON and ALI BABA. None of them particularly hard in retrospect. I had no idea of ALI BABA’s profession . For some reason I thought Harry Lime was the anti-hero from Brightion Rock, but that was Pinkie Brown. Made no difference. Many thanks.

  21. Thanks for explaining ANTONYM, couldn‘t see how J became M. Of course!!! How stupid I am!!!
    Apart from that no problems, finishing in 21 minutes.
    Thanks setter and blogger 🙂

  22. Straightforward enough skulduggery. I felt trialist needed an extra l (as in duellist no doubt) but that’s the way of the world, civilisation’s shot to the core. The Third Man film with Orson Welles as Harry Lime is in The Great Gatsby class as a haunting glimpse of the underworld of the racketeer. Liked the Caesar J. clue. 17 min.

  23. Found this much harder than yesterday’s, contrary to SNITCH.


    Almost an hour to complete, held up absurdly by HALF-BROTHER and ANTONYM, neither of which are difficult. Never seen The Third Man, so parsing of LIME eluded me. Also DNK the Ali Baba bio, so that went in with fingers crossed, and because nothing else I could think of would fit. Thought MIDDLEBROW was a bit crap. Liked STAIRWELL and BARTOK.

  24. 24 mins. LOI CROATIA, had to biff, didn’t get ‘ripping up’. Not sure about CONTESTS = questions. I suppose so…..

  25. DNF. I stupidly put in first ANTHONY, then ANTONIO when MERCHANT hove into view, which made LIME impossible. Why I would imagine that a crossword with all the clever misdirection of this one would be content with a simple ANTONIO, I have no idea. If I’d remembered Harry Lime beforehand, I guess I’d have twigged the Caesar, J ploy. Also failed to get do=CON, so didn’t understand that either. A bit disappointed after all the effort with the rest. One up to the setter, and thanks, George.

  26. I was held up at the end by CROATIA, but then, on seeing through the fog, realised that 21A wasn’t “protests”, hence my LOI.

    A lot to like here, definitely my sort of puzzle.

    COD ANTONYM (honourable mentions for STAIRWELL, EELGRASS and BARTOK)
    TIME 9:55

  27. Stormed through the NW after popping FOI, PATRON, into place and kept on at a steady pace until I hit a wall with LIME and ANTONYM outstanding. A biffed ANTONIO held up LIME until I thought of LIE for buried, then the M dropped into place as I remembered the Third Man. ANTONYM then dropped out of the woodwork. 22:36. Thanks setter and George.

  28. Very clever stuff. I didn’t know some definitions as commented on above but was able to work them out with a decent level of confidence. Stairwell and Antonym stand out. Thanks for the blog.

  29. 26:19. Lots of good stuff today – ANTONYM and STAIRWELL particularly – and most needed mulling over before the penny dropped.

  30. Another puzzle that was not too difficult but lots of fun.

    Never knew Ali Baba was a woodcutter, I thought the carpet trade would be more his line. Misread “old film” as “old firm” and wasted time trying to think of a Glaswegian who might have lived in Massachusetts. ANTONYM, STAIRWELL, EELGRASS and INDUSTRIALIST are all excellent clues but I was surprised by MIDDLEBROW. Georgette Heyer, often mentioned here, and Joanna Trollope would both, I think, be regarded as middlebrow but calling them culturally deficient seems unduly harsh.

    Thanks to George and the setter.

  31. After 40 minutes I gave up with crossing entries 2, 6, 9 and 17, 23 unfilled. I also had PROTESTS for 21, making CROATIA impossible to solve..
    Still, I appreciated the good clues.

  32. Really enjoyable solve with some delightful clues- SPACE FLIGHT TAKES, a wonderful definition, “CAESAR, J” provoked a smile.

  33. 7m 57s, a bit chewy today. HAIRCLIP held me up for a bit, before realising the error, and I finished on RED CRESCENT in the same fingers-crossed manner as our blogger.

  34. 27.34

    Greetings from 17d. Interruptions aplenty around the pool but managed to maintain focus for long enough. Nothing ungettable though MIDDLEBROW was new to me. Enjoyable and looking forward to funday Friday.

    Thanks setter and G

  35. Pulled up, lame (-BRAINED !)
    All parsed bar one in 27′; at 54′ despairingly put in eelcress.
    The pram, indeed the entire nursery, is devoid of teddies and all other toys.
    However, it seems I’m in excellent company – Jack and Harmonic Row.
    Back to the cricket, golf and, not least, the Cambridge Town Bumps.
    Thank you George and setter.

  36. Nice level of difficulty for a Thursday. Slightly raised eyebrow at Sashay, which is exactly the opposite of Strut or Strut Surely where I come from. I knew the Green Crescent, not the Red cousin, but that was enough.

    1. Good point about SASHAY. Surely it’s graceful and gliding whereas a strut is jerky and awkward. Not that I know the first thing about technical terms used in dancing, I’m just going by what I have observed.

      1. The OED defines SASHAY as ‘to move or walk ostentatiously, conspicuously, or provocatively; to strut or parade’. It also defines it as ‘to glide, walk, or travel, usually in a casual manner’.
        Like almost every word in the language it just has more than one meaning.

        1. Interesting. Before I posted, I checked the OED – the full unabridged, online – which has a definition consistent with the usage I’d always known:

          Sashay v intransitive. Frequently with adv.
          To glide, walk, or travel, usually in a casual manner.

          1. I actually edited my comment to add that! (Guessing you didn’t see it)
            There’s nothing inconsistent about this of course: just two different meanings.

  37. A very enjoyable puzzle with plenty of clever clues, as others have said. Not over-difficult but it was competing with the Prom, which distracted me from time to time. All done and dusted in 40 minutes.
    FOI – LIME
    COD – Also STAIRWELL, by a short head.
    Thanks to George and other contributors.

  38. No problems here apart from having to guess that Ali Baba was a woodcutter and that there existed a K1 to partner K2 (I wonder if there’s a K3?). Enjoyed this one. Thanks for the blog.

  39. 1h 40m DNF. Suspected HAIRCLIP was wrong as alphabet trawl at 4d got nowhere with L_S_N. Put in LOMM at 15a thinking Herbert LOM + M and sounded like loam. COD ANTONYM.

  40. A hard slog over several sessions totalling 39:25. LOI was STAIRWELL.

  41. 30.10. Another in a stuttering week when I’ve had two single pink square experiences to really wind me up. Started last night after a curry, two pints and half a bottle of wine- oh and some cheese last thing. Got less than half done in 21 minutes so decided to hit the zzzzs. Finished it off this morning with contests without really parsing it.

    But now feeling able to take on the Friday version with renewed hope!

  42. Excellent puzzle (on reflection!) where I was cleverly misdirected by our setter more than once. But unfortunately had never heard of RED CRESCENT (of course I got the RED half), nor THREE-LINE WHIP, nor EELGRASS (didn’t spot the other meaning of ‘shopping’.). So a lot of cheating ensued…but I was happy to get some that others found harder, like CROATIA – fully parsed – and ditto with ANTONYM (brilliant!). My other CODs were STAIRWELL of course ( I continue to marvel at the ingenuity of setters!) and CATS CRADLE, which is surely a game of the past. Like others, did not know ALI BABA’s profession, or that Harry Lime was a racketeer.

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