Times Cryptic 28722 – Sat, 30 Sept 2023. A? I? A? I? Ohhh!!

The unknowns at 25ac defeated me. I could see that I had to add “END U” to one plant to produce another, but both of the plants were Rumsfeldian – that is, known unknowns.With the helpers I could narrow it down to one unknown letter, but as the headline says, ohhhh! Still, some of the other clues were very clever. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on?

Note for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is for last week’s puzzle, posted after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on this week’s Saturday Cryptic.

Definitions are underlined. (ABC)* means anagram of ABC. Italics mark anagram indicators in the clues, and other ‘assembly instructions’ in the explanations. {Curly brackets} mark omitted letters.

Answers, and their components in the explanations, are in BOLD CAPITALS.

1 Crazy bear that royal is after, in extremely exciting way (14)
9 Supporter racially abused about name (9)
(RACIALLY)*, about N. View the answer as a noun.
10 Forbidden fruit ultimately meeting with a negative reaction (5)
{frui}T, A, BOO.
11 In no-win situation, pulled out (5)
two meanings.
12 With one change of character, central to singer (9)
change E to O in C{e}NTRAL TO.
13 Legal clerks, as is Leo, for one (8)
Of the 12 houses of the zodiac, 11 are NOT ARIES! This form of clue appears only to have come up once before.
15 Second musical’s material (6)
17 Body position doubly misrepresented in teen’s CAT scan (6)
(TEENS CAT SCAN)* amazingly contains all the anagram letters for STANCE twice! Something new under the sun!!
19 Soup from city, initially, like Amiens (8)
C from C{ity}. For the rest, another unknown unknown. I didn’t know Amiens is ON the SOMME. Indeed, I didn’t know the Somme is a river, although I did know it as the site of a WWI battle.
22 Expert sorting basil and others endlessly? (9)
(BASIL -THER-)*. Drop the first and last letters of OTHER. This is a semi &Lit clue, as explained in the glossary.
23 Southern Scots long for common form of communication (5)
S, LANG. Think of Old Lang Syne.
24 Outstanding victory secured by defensive blunder (5)
WIN secured by  O.G. Own goals seem to be very frequent here in crosswordland!
25 Terminate leader of union in one plant or another (9)
If you read the intro to this blog, you’ll know what’s coming! It turns out CALLA plants grow in bogs and ponds. Insert END (terminate) and U (leader of U{nion}). Since I didn’t know either plant it came down to a guess between Calla and Cilla. Both seemed plausible, although CALEND*** did look like a plausible “stem” (ha!).
26 Men rate student badly? That’s putting it mildly (14)
1 It has terms for residents getting on with like-minded people (8,6)
BOARDING (getting on), SCHOOL ([a group of] like-minded people)
2 Delight in taste when top’s taken off (7)
3 Gripping part of hobby enthusiast alone has assimilated (5)
Hidden. A hobby is a type of falcon.
4 Worked on house, provided with shading under high temperature (8)
T (temperature), HATCHED (shaded).
5 Letter for Mozart scholar regarding entry of text (6)
K, EYING.As some of you will know, there is a catalogue of Mozart’s works where each work is given a number preceded by the letter K. I’d like to say I’d NHO it, but I actually blogged a reference to the K number in April 2021!And, I’m mildly surprised EYEING can also be spelled EYING. But I checked in Chambers – there it is!
6 In good sense, stick to port — that’s well-known (9)
TO (literally in the clue) + RIO (port), in NOUS (good sense).
7 Plant daggers symbolically in US city (7)
8 Paint with artist, we hear, who upholds standard? (6,8)
COLOUR (paint), SERGEANT (sounds – “we hear” – like Sargent). Originally, the officer in charge of the regimental colours. This is the artist.
14 Plan for tennis court in sports facility followed by quarrel (9)
16 Cultivate area below hill for food in Mexico (8)
TOR, TILL, A{rea}.
18 Bring to trial using a rule in hearing (7)
sound (“in hearing“) like “A REIGN” (of a monarch).
20 Act first or third part in Shakespeare play (7)
the relevant play is of course Measure for Measure. Use the first or third word of the title. Another original clue.
21 Performances in ring mostly about mighty power (6)
CIRC{a}, U.S.
23 As Tory party at prayer, supposedly, after immoral act (5)
SIN, C.E. Apparently Disraeli said the Church of England is the Tory Party at prayer.

26 comments on “Times Cryptic 28722 – Sat, 30 Sept 2023. A? I? A? I? Ohhh!!”

  1. 25:03
    CALENDULA was my LOI, a known unknown, or is it an unknown known? I didn’t know that I knew it. DNK the support meaning of ANCILLARY. COD to the very impressive STANCE.

    1. I think Bruce found those plants to not fit in the most Rumsfeldian category, “unknown unknowns”! I always thought Rumsfeld was unfairly ridiculed for breaking things down that way—made total sense to me. And “unknown unknowns” are really something to watch out for—if that’s ever at all possible!

      1. “Known unknowns”. Exactly. I knew they had to be plants, but plants that I didn’t know.

        I agree, what Rumsfeld was saying made sense, but his audience chose not to understand!

  2. Lots of Cape weed ( arctotheca calendula) on the farm at this time of year. So this was a well-known well-known.
    I particularly liked MEASURE , my LOI, when the penny dropped.
    Lots to like in this crossword. My thanks to setter and blogger.
    34:31, so I found it difficult. Starstruck, is there any chance of the Saturday puzzles being added to the snitch? More coffee could be provided.

    1. I agree, a Saturday Snitch would be great! Depends whether the data needed is buried under all those neutrinos.

    2. Is arctotheca calendula, Cape weed -um- smokeable? Asking foe a friend interested in a business proposition…

  3. Didn’t know about the Disraeli quote, so, although it seemed a plausible enough assumption that adherents to the church would be predominantly conservative, the blanket statement was a bit surprising.

    I think I liked the Shakespeare reference and the K number the best here. High culture!

  4. 39 minutes with one error re the unknown CALENDULA where the wordplay led me to CILENDULA as I thought I remembered CILLA as a plant.

    I noted the clue at 17ac for special mention as I have not seen that device before although I have since remembered that quite recently we had an answer that was an anagram of two separate words in the clue.

  5. Clever crossword, and relatively painless. Calendula is better known as a pot marigold, and despite my general botanical ignorance I had actually heard of it. Possibly from shampoo or similar, it gets used for that sort of thing.

  6. This wasn’t too difficult, and with both known plants, I had no trouble with CALENDULA. However, I did have trouble parsing both 1D and CONTRALTO, so thanks to Bruce for putting me straight – both were more obvious than I’d thought. CONSOMME was late in arriving, as I hadn’t realised Amiens was on the Somme, but I shan’t forget that from now on! I particularly liked STANCE, once I realised what was going on, so COD shared between that and the enjoyable &lit HERBALIST.

  7. Finished in – tada – 35 minutes, though I hadn’t parsed 17ac so thanks to blogger for that. Never would have come up with this particular how; very clever. Thanks, all.

    1. Many congratulations! I’d left you a couple of nil desperandum messages after a couple of your despairing comments, but I was confident that you’d come up with a sterling effort in no time, and this was it. My Nitch was in the 90s, so this was no cakewalk and a cracking puzzle to crack to boot!

  8. We are told that the ‘not Aries’ clue appears only to have come up once before. Perhaps so in The Times, but I did a search on fifteensquared and found several examples from The Independent and The Guardian.

  9. 59.33 This had some enjoyably creative cluing (e.g. 17 and 20) but I found it fairly straightforward. All parsed except for CIRCUS and KEYING, both biffed at the end. Thanks to branch.

  10. 33’30”
    Kept up a good gallop throughout, stayed on gamely.
    I had the enormous good fortune to teach in a classroom, once a chapel, overlooking the Cambridge University Botanical Garden for eight or nine years, and, rain or shine, spent every lunch hour there, which has proved invaluable. Often, when it was warm enough to open the mullioned windows, morning lessons would be accompanied by woodpeckers.
    On the subject of a Saturday Snitch, I’d argue that Starstruck probably enjoys his/her day off, and I quite like a less competitive day, plus I’ve concocted a homemade Snitchawitchometer, which gave me a 90 Nitch today. I don’t seem to have caught the Snitchmeister’s eye; perhaps it’s a combination of my copying the grid onto squared paper and solving with a pencil and my posting my comments relatively late.
    All parsed bar the Disraeli quote, but it seemed a fairly accurate description that someone might well have posited.
    This was so good throughout I feel it would be iniquitous to single out any particular clues; so bravissimo/a setter and many thanks Bruce.

  11. I managed about 3/4 of this puzzle before looking at the blog – many thanks, especially for the parsing of KEYING, CIRCUS, NOTORIOUS and TALON (had forgotten about hobby). No problems with CALENDULA (I love calla lilies) or LOBELIA ( although I had not come across ‘obeli/obelus’ before). Very enjoyable, particularly NOTARIES. Thanks all. Will keep plugging away.

  12. LOBELIA defeated me, in 41 minutes, but I did get all the rest including CALENDULA, which rang some kind of bell. For the other plant I put in LABELLA, thinking all the time it was actually the brand name of a kind of lip balm sold in Germany (so I was not much surprised by the pink squares, but I would never have gotten the right answer anyway).

  13. Rather fun for a 25 minute puzzle, with NOT ARIES the laugh of the day. I have no idea where I knew CALENDULA from, but apparently I did.

  14. DNF, foiled by CALENDULA where I didn’t know either plant. I put ‘cylendula’, thinking of ‘cylla’ from mythology… which of course would be Scylla. Doh.

    Didn’t know LOBELIA either, but managed to get there from the wordplay. Had absolutely no idea how STANCE worked, and add me to those who didn’t know Amiens was on the Somme.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Boarding school

  15. I can see I took 40 minutes on this with LOI calendula. I can remember having the ENDU part but never having heard of either Calla or Calendula I have a feeling I ended up googling around till I got a matching plant. I don’t enjoy these obscure plants and using such in both parts of the clue a bit much.
    (I remember Lobelias well as common garden plants from my childhood however)

  16. Done ages after the day and didn’t time but worked steadily through with hubby’s help. Really enjoyed the puzzle. LOI thatching but obvious really. COD talon but so many were good. Including boarding school. Nice clue.

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