Took my time on this one, finishing in 32.21, though with all of the early runners and riders being in double figures that may be quite a decent time and suggest the puzzle is on the chewy side. Plenty of room for the kind of enjoyable side-issue debates that grace these pages, such as how can anything that starts with episode 4 be a trilogy, and what entomological boxes do ticks tick, if any? Just because you can form a superlative by adding -est, and an agent noun by adding -er, should you? Susie?
Early Scrabble high scorers suggested this might have all 26 variations in the set, but J and Z are conspicuous by their absence
Using clue, definition and SOLUTION, I present my findings. Be excellent to one another.
1 Having split, flies very quickly (2,3,5)
IN TWO TICKS Anything that is split is at least IN TWO, and flies are TICKS, “the sheep-ked and similar degenerate bloodsucking Diptera parasitic on cattle and horses, etc”. I looked it up because I think of ticks as being not flies but similar to lice. Turns out the ked/tick is a wingless fly. Surely that’s a walk? Open to the floor
6 Vegetable that’s small and sweet (4)
SPUD The humble potato, which consists of Small PUDdings
9 Greeting, very loud, in deception that one can see through? (7)
CHIFFON very thin material that therefore hides nothing, woven from greeting: HI, very loud: FF (music) contained in deception: CON
10 Reckoning further cure not working (7)
RECOUNT a (re)working of CURE NOT
12 Ancient structure to drag into tour of all bases (5,5)
ROUND TOWER Take your pick from Windsor Castle, several Irish examples and many, many more across the planet and decide which one qualifies as ancient. A tour of all bases is a ROUNDER (“home run” from rounders’ much younger sibling doesn’t work). Insert TOW for drag
13 Old-fashioned message that’s dispatched with passion (3)
IRE Keep a look out for clues where the “with” is there for its W. Dispatch W from an elderly message WIRE and you have your answer.
15 Old Yankee taken in by slip of a youth (6)
BOYISH The first of our NATO visitors today. Yankee gives you the Y, old the O, and slip the BISH. Arrange suitably.
16 Outspoken person responsible for dispatch rider in winter? (8)
SLEIGHER A soundalike derived from person responsible for dispatch: SLAYER. I'm ok with tobogganer, but sleigher looks less authentic.
18 State of antagonism ultimately leaves a bitter taste with one (8)
MISSOURI Took a while to break this down post solve. Antagonism finally is just the M, leaves a bitter taste IS SOUR and one I
20 Female, a reliable sort, endlessly felt for one (6)
FABRIC F for female, BRICK for reliable sort, minus its end, give our answer of which felt is an example.
23 Money-grubbing to hold back such a tip? (3)
NIB Reverse hidden in grubBINg
24 Use a fake King and Queen to move like Castle? (10)
KAFKAESQUE (The) Castle is one of Franz Kafka’s most impenetrable works, which even he gave up on, but is a fine example of the style of writing that produces the adjective we have here. It’s an anagram (moving) of USE A FAKE K(ing) and Q(ueen). K, the book’s enigmatic protagonist, appears 5 times in this puzzle.
26 Exit bar after upsetting female (7)
BEATRIX An anagram (after upsetting) of EXIT BAR
27 Version of Bible that is most zealous (7)
AVIDEST I’m sure we would normally write “most avid”. The A(uthorised) V(ersion)of the Bible is the one you need, and “that” is gives you the ID EST if you translate back into Latin.
28 A reminder that prejudice holds in Romeo and Juliet (4)
ECHO Not two but three visitors from NATO. Look closely and you’ll see that in pREJudice Romeo and Juliet hold Echo. Bravo
29 What we should have done perhaps with car tax once (6,4)
ESTATE DUTY In the UK, now mutated via Capital Transfer Tax into Inheritance Tax, the Government’s collaboration with the Eternal Revenue to ensure you really can’t take it with you when you die. DUTY, what we should do and ESTATE for car. Some of you might like to think station wagon or (d’un certain âge) Woodie or shooting break.
1 Long hold-up — hours wasted (4)
ITCH hold-up hitch with one of the Hours wasted
2 In experiment I saw sections from original Star Wars? (7)
TRILOGY I think this is I LOG (saw sections, i.e. a piece of sawn tree) inserted into TRY “experiment”. Research suggest that the original conception for Star Wars was one, three, nine or 12 “episodes”, but hey, after Jar Jar Binks, who’s counting?
3 Presumably no longer taken with music fan out to lunch? (3,4,6)
OFF ONE’S ROCKER A sort of double definition.
4 Taken in by local native (6)
INNATE “Taken in” gives you ATE if you squint and avoid grammar, and local gives you the INN, as in pub.
5 Spooner’s job to visit Orkneys town (8)
KIRKWALL The good Speverend Rooner might say “work call” as a rough parallel to job and visit. Spoonerisms don’t have to be spelt the same.
7 Girl to serve as old maid? (7)
PRUDISH Our girl is PRU, and she serves when she DISHes up.
8 Work as a magician? (2,3,5)
DO THE TRICK A rather laconic double definition, with "work" being used twice. Works for me.
11 Problem I had raised in renting vehicles in Welsh region once (13)
CARDIGANSHIRE Originally Seisyllwg, now Ceredigion. Build it up from problem: SNAG, I had I’D reversed in renting vehicles: CAR HIRE
14 Yet needing to be with one that’s so described? (10)
ABOMINABLE Add I (one) to the needy YET to get the Himalayan creature and derive the familiar sobriquet.
17 UN etc voting on energy solutions (8)
PREFIXES Un- being an example and etc suggesting others. One version of voting is PR, energy is E, and solutions provides you with FIXES
19 Starts on shirts and blouses on wash day (7)
SABBATH Very much not a wash day, of course, unless you’ve got a shabbos goy to hand.. The first letters of Shirts And Blouses plus BATH for wash.
21 Rake fetching in large gold coin cylinder (7)
ROULEAU Careful construction needed. Rake is ROUÉ, into which you place L(arge) and then ad AU for gold.
22 One in hand — or 3 short (6)
BANANA The standard bunch of bananas is, of course, a hand 3 (see above) equally suggests bananas, but you only need one.
25 Time to visit for example? (4)
STAY Decent enough &lit, with T(ime) “visiting” SAY for for example.