Well now, if I say this took me 13.58, including checking for typos and making sure all my wordplay worked, you’ll understand that, in my opinion, it’ll show up in the greenest green of the SNITCH. I don’t go much faster, but unless I’m very much mistaken, this is not because I can boast of my superior solving skills so much to suggest this is no Thursday stinker. Anagrams that are generously flagged up, words which threaten to be obscure technicalities are nothing of the sort. There is a bit of antique landscape floating around at 17, and a temptation to stretch its modern equivalent to fit, but the setter is generous with the wordplay. Sketchy knowledge of American and Mediterranean geography is required, but scarcely beyond the reach of the average daytime quiz show contestant. Four clues, no less, require a basic knowledge of music, but nothing much beyond what Julie Andrews can instruct you in.
Add a nod to today’s date, and you have a pleasant, gentle grid with a couple of clever twists to keep you entertained.
I have provided explanations and clarifications below with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS. Please press button B[Button B]
1 A tipster’s manner is confused and not totally clear (15)
SEMITRANSPARENT If you need a more obvious anagram indicator than “is confused” then I fear you may be beyond help! Muck about with A TIPTER’S MANNER until the answer becomes (almost?) clear
9 Temporary diversion going all around ruined tel (9)
INTERLUDE Your second, slightly less obvious anagram indicator for the day is “going all around”. Give the letters RUINED TEL to your notional million typewriting monkeys and about 3 of them should come up with the answer straight away. My probability calculation is messed up by there being two Es, but the monkeys aren’t to know that.
10 Tree is full with the mass at its head (5)
MAPLE Read AMPLE for full, and move the M(ass) to the front
11 Grub, not to provide food and support (6)
PILLAR I like this. The grub is caterpillar, remove the word cater (provide food) and there it is.
12 Point small boat across loch (8)
PINNACLE L(och) has PINNACE “across” it. Chambers says pinnace is only loosely a small boat, but also gives three (different) more precise definitions, plus, as antique slang, a whore.
13 Clergyman’s a board member after day one? (6)
RECTOR Clergyman, 6 letters, starts with R. The wordplay has you remove D(ay) I from DIRECTOR, your board member
15 Scots town, mostly where there’s rubbish chips (8)
DUMFRIES Chips, for our American friends, are not crisps but FRIES. Add DUM by taking most of dump, “where there’s rubbish”. I initially thought dumb for rubbish, but it doesn’t work
18 Something unlikely in telephoto picture? (4,4)
LONG SHOT A double definition.
19 Suspend inhibition (4-2)
HANG-UP Another double definition, the first not requiring the hyphen
21 Support team that’s bottom (8)
BACKSIDE For what it’s worth, I support Spurs, who cheerfully destroyed Dortmund this evening in the Champions League, and are currently nowhere near bottom. But regular readers would know that.
23 Quick break from work in Post Office (6)
PRESTO One of many Italian words used in music notation, which does indeed mean quick. Break from work REST inserted into PO, Ordnance Survey for Post Office
26 Misyoke with this makes donkey very vocal (5)
NOISY Takes some working out. If there’s no ISY in MISYOKE, you get MOKE, a donkey. Cute.
27 Potential lover of beer not heartlessly cutting source of wine (9)
VALENTINE Beer is ALE, not heartlessy NT, both “cutting” VINE, source of wine. Mrs Z has asked me to make it clear that I’m not available for today’s protestations of love.
28 Newspaper operations room where one can go to play (8,7)
NATIONAL THEATRE Organs such as The Times are NATIONALs (as distinct from regionals, provincials or locals). Operations room provides the (surgical) THEATRE
1 Captain of slalom team member keeping very quiet? (7)
SKIPPER There might be a technical term for a slalom team member, but just SKIER will do. Insert PP, more music notation for very quiet.
2 Like steel cutlery tons used to cut food (5)
METAL Again, no technical knowledge needed beyond what class of stuff steel belongs to. Food is MEAL, insert T(ons)
3 Strong winds sent a door swinging (9)
TORNADOES Third easy anagram indictor of the day, “swinging”. Rearrange SENT A DOOR
4 A peculiar genus of plants (4)
ARUM Apparently the cuckoo-pint genus, but also applied to versions of lily. A is –um–A , peculiar is RUM.
5 Attractive at first sight with a note of promise, wearing glasses (8)
SPECIOUS Not, perhaps, the first word you light on from the definition, though Chambers gives “looking good at first sight” amongst its definitions. Note of promise is the ever useful (to setters) IOU; it’s wearing SPECS, glasses
6 Fellow’s got under a million in capital (5)
AMMAN Capital of Jordan (but you knew that). Fellow again is the most generic possible MAN, placed under A M(illion)
7 Looking forward to former setter getting good (9)
EXPECTING Former is EX, your setter not our kind host but PECTIN, used for setting jam and such. Add G(ood)
8 Ancient hero of Florida and Alabama? (7)
THESEUS I like this one too. Unless corrected by our American contingent, Im happy to accept that Alabama and Florida are THE South East United States
14 Study text for play draft on Broadway? (9)
CONSCRIPT All Broadway is doing is inviting another Americanism, draft, which means our answer on this side of the pond, rather than something theatrical as suggested by the rest of the clue. Study: CON, text for play SCRIPT
16 Perhaps Cologne newspaper’s taken in neighbouring country (9)
FRAGRANCE A less esteemed newspaper than our beloved organ is a RAG. Insert into neighbouring (and occasionally invaded) FRANCE
17 Ancient area in 1006, a former principality (8)
MOLDAVIA Trust the cryptic for this one: ancient giving OLD, then A(rea), stick them into the Roman version of 1006 which is MVI, add A from –um–a
18 Chap keeping bar in Mediterranean country (7)
LEBANON At last we need a particular, if random, chap, in this case LEON, who is “keeping” BAN for bar
20 In favour of support involving key pupil (7)
PROTEGE In favour of: PRO, support: TEE, KEY probably the musical one (of 7, plus variants) G
22 Perhaps note authority for decision (3-2)
SAY-SO Another musical note, this time from tonic sol-fa, SO (a needle pulling thread). SAY stands in for “perhaps”.
24 Fast computer link nearly installed in street (5)
SWIFT The computer link is the prosaic WI-FI, which here is only nearly complete, placed in ST(reet), rather generously given in plain.
25 Spot line included in autonomous program (4)
BLOT I was a bit worried about this one, but settled on BOT for “autonomous program” for want of anything better, and chucked in a L(ine)