23,505 – Corridor of uncertainty

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 23’40” (last 14 mins on 1ac and 2dn)

I didn’t solve the first few clues I looked at, but after that seemed to get on pretty well with what felt a trickyish puzzle. So probably on course for a fair time after about 7 mins, but the top left corner put paid to that. I cracked 14ac, 1dn and 9ac without too much pain but then it all went wrong. At least I got there in the end, so I’ll go for the ‘good day’ userpic (which, needless to say, doesn’t exist in LiveJournal’s spellchecker).

* = anagram.

1 LOCO (double definition) – ‘drawing’ in the locomotive sense. I was about to give up when I finally solved this, leaving me with just 2dn.
3 DUTCH (= wife) + UNCLE (= pawnbroker, i.e. ‘one taking pledge’)
9 VERMONT; NT (= books) inside (rev. of REV + MO) – three basic wordplay elements but this took me much longer than it should have. I was looking for (rev. of 4-letter ‘minister’) + O(S)T and only solved this on getting the initial ‘V’ from 1dn.
12 REINSTATE; REINS + rev. of ETAT – not quite sure of the exact sense in which ‘Louis XIV’ = ‘état’ (= state), but I’m sure a more cultured reader will clarify! [It’s actually a quotation reference: see comments.]
13 POLK + A – James Polk was the 11th President of the USA.
14 GEOGRAPHICAL; G[oing] inside (ARCHIPELAGO)* – a fantastic anagram, but I’m not convinced about the definition (‘Like study…’). Probably the clue is intended as a semi-&lit, but surely a question mark is needed?… (see 24ac)
18 JACK IN (= Give up) THE BOX (= TV) – a semi-&lit where the wordplay is used in the definition.
22 SAGE + BRUSH (= confrontation) – this sort of stuff.
24 PET (= sweet) + UN(I)A – (from 14ac) …yet this clue has a question mark for which I can provide no explanation.
25 EVERT + ON[e] – now complete with celebrity fan. I would mention that their last silverware was the 1995 FA Cup, but this is still too fresh in the memory.
26 SHOPLIFTER (cryptic definition) – I solved this ‘cold’ but wasn’t convinced until I had a few checking letters.
1 LEVERAGE; rev. of REVEL + A + rev. of EG (= say) – I felt lucky to spot this from the definition; I think it would have been a struggle via the wordplay.
2 CORRIDOR – how could this take me so long? I didn’t know ‘CP Snow’, or his novel The Corridors Of Power, but I think the real difficulty here is that the definition, ‘passage’, occurs in the middle of the clue. I could see only two options for the definition, ‘Powerful’ or ‘Snow’. A further red herring was the initial ‘C’, which meant that ‘CP’ could have been a container in the wordplay. Eventually after a few trawls through the alphabet, I considered the double ‘R’ and spotted the answer.
5 C(ART)E + SIAN – a follower of René Descartes.
8 E(NW + RA)P – N[orth]W[est] for Lake District is very English.
10 OBSERVATIONAL; OBS (= old boys) + (AT AN OLIVER)*
15 PIKE + S + TAFF – I solved this from the wordplay, having seen the word before, but had no idea what it meant. Apparently it’s the shaft of a pike (spear), used in the phrase plain as a pikestaff, hence ‘it’s plain’ as the definition.
16 A(B + RU)PTLY
17 EX + CHANGE – ‘bandy’ has several meanings, including ‘to give and take’ (similar to ‘bandy about’).
19 PAM + P(A)S
23 GE[no]ESE

6 comments on “23,505 – Corridor of uncertainty”

  1. Louis XIV famously said “L’Etat c’est moi” (I am the state), so the clue works rather well.
  2. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who got stuck on 1ac and 2d, but unlike you I gave up after an hour and resorted to cheating. I should have got CORRIDOR but for some reason kept getting confused with C.S.LEWIS. Guessed the right meaning of “drawing” in 1ac but still didn’t get the answer, and without the C it would have been a long haul (unintentional pun)through every possible four-letter word beginning with L.
    Richard S
  3. Is this a cryptic definition? Surely it’s jack in (= give up) + the box (= TV).

    Wil Ransome

    1. Thanks, I didn’t really mean ‘cryptic definition’. I’ve changed the post to make it clearer.

      Does anyone still have jack-in-the-boxes (or should that be jacks-in-the-box?)? I haven’t seen one for years. Mind you, they’re probably banned by Brussels now, on account of being dangerous. Or sexist. Or racist. Or something.

  4. Got the Louis XIV quote ‘cos Versailles has been on the Box recently and for CP Snow there’s always Google …

    Just the V “easies” today – well done O Senhor Talbinho:

    11a Colourful display a trendy bachelor assembled in bank (7)
    R A IN B OW. Where “A IN B” is a trendy bachelor and “ROW” is the bank in which he is assembled.

    21a Defence of one book involved in a libel? Not half (5)
    AL IB I. Where half of a libel = “ALI” contains one book = “IB”.

    27a Music-maker, one economical with the truth, say (4)
    LYRE. Sounds like liar.

    4d Over the top, but it makes some exULT RAther! (5)
    ULTRA. Hidden answer.

    20d One way sibling goes about building restaurant (6)
    B I ST RO. One way = 1 ST with BRO about.

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