23666 – fat chance

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 58:12 with one mistake

Pleased to get under an hour – it felt a bit longer. I was very slow to get started, but gradually worked my way though – the SW and NE corners were last to be filled in.
Overall an enjoyable puzzle – a mixture of easy and difficult clues and a few new words for me to try to remember.
I didn’t know the phrase at 5d – and went for a reasonable guess, just getting one letter wrong!


1 CAST[i]LE – a castle is a man in chess; I didn’t know Isabella of Castile.
11 IDIO[ma]TIC
12 HOMER – homer is short for home run.
14 COUNTRYMEN – “Friends, Romans, countrymen…” from Julius Caesar.
19 AMPS – had to check that MPS was indeed a pharmacist (Member of the Pharmaceutical Society).
22 S(OP,H)OCLES – a socle is another name for a plinth – new word to me.
25 M1,L(IT)IA; M1=motorway, AIL reversed containing IT=Italian vermouth.
26 EX(=Exodus),POUND
27 COR(VET)TE[z] – I’ve learned what I know about Cortez from the Neil Young song.
28 ESTEEM; MEETS+E reversed.


1 CH,A CH,A CH,A – CH=Companion of Honour
2 ‘S,A,RUM – I had vaguely heard of Sarum – the ancient name of Salisbury. There hasn’t been a cathedral in use there since the early 13th century – long time no see!
5 ADI,POSE(TI)S,SUE – ADI POSES SUE containing TI (odd letters of this) – I hadn’t heard of this. I guessed the first girl was ALI… Typing ‘alipose tissue’ into Google, it suggested ‘adipose tissue‘ – pretty difficult clue.
8 L(U,C)ID
15 UN,POP(U)LAR – just checked that the postal code for Poplar is E14.
17 AMSTER,DAM; MASTER with top two letters switched and MAD reversed.
18 PLA(=alp reversed),TYP[e],US
22 SUM,AC – not heard of this shrub – but SUM=problem and AC=bill were the first answers that sprang to mind.
24 TRU(C)E

10 comments on “23666 – fat chance”

  1. Not as easy as is traditional for the start of the week, I thought. Took me 10:14. The bottom left was the difficult bit with SOPHOCLES involving the relatively obscure word SOCLE. I also struggled to remember Cortez’s name (despite learning “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer” by heart at prep school). And I tried for a while to make LILAC work instead of SUMAC at 22D. I hesitated for quite a while on AMPS, not being familiar with MPS for pharmacist. Wordplay was complicated for both 5D and 18D, and I didn’t bother to work it out fully before ‘submitting’. Jason J
    1. I filled in 19a hoping some dictionary would list AMP as a valid abbreviation of “ampoule” 🙂 Fully agree with you about the SW corner – none of them were easy. But strangely enough, after filling this up, I got blocked on 1a and 2d. Waiting for the solution for these.
  2. 10:57 here. I had no trouble with the SW corner, but got stuck for a bit in the SE corner due to hastily putting in ALPINIST for 18dn with just ?L?????? and reading “Mountain-climbing type…” I then got EXPOUND and ESTEEM and re-read the clue properly. Time includes that taken to Tippex it out and write in the correct answer.
  3. I did this in a fairly fast 8:42, but with at least five answers for which I had not worked out the wordplay (19, 22, 25, 3, 18). I think with the definitions and checking letters they were all pretty safe.

    Credit to the setter for 22. I wouldn’t have been able to resist the obvious “inverted existentialist” or “he wrote novels upside down” approach.

  4. 6:27 here – socle = plinth was new to me. Got 1D quickly to get a quick start on the NW, but was fairly slow on 6,10 and 13 – especially 6 where ‘TO SAY’ was an obvious start, and THE should have beeg guessable as the next word. MPS wasn’t a familiar abbrev., but ‘Member of the XYZ society” is a pretty common pattern so decided it was OK. But did pause to check how 25 worked.
  5. Calling sumac a shrub is pushing things a bit. Mine is typical and it is 30 feet high.
  6. I was all set to post a pompous and pedantic message in which I said that it isn’t a castle; it only looks like one and anyone older than about seven calls it a rook. Then Chambers put me straight.
  7. 6:10 for me, including a very careful check, after last Monday’s debacle! For old hands, this was (or should have been) a pleasant, easy start to the week.
  8. Just the half dozen “easies” in this one:

    4a Smutty-sounding state of sailors (8)
    NAUTI CAL. Sounds like naughty cal (ifornia).

    16a Part of diAGRAm that includes Taj Mahal (4)

    23a Heading for the championship (5)

    7d From which we order (glue) and (a coat)*, perhaps? (9)

    10d The taciturn manage this, with no exaggeratoion (2,3,3,5)

    21d Grit container? (6)

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