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INITIAL TURN

New York Times, Sunday, January 24, 2016

Author: Francis Heaney and Brendan Emmett Quigley
Editor: Will Shortz
Francis Heaney
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
94/17/19961/24/20163
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
20132001
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53110
Brendan Emmett Quigley
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1768/7/199611/3/201716
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
344152017462614
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.635213

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 71 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Heaney. This is puzzle # 168 for Mr. Quigley. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: 'INITIAL TURN' hinting at three-letter acronyms formed by swapping the last two letters of a normal word. Francis and BEQ sure found a ton of good answers — BOY WONDER turned into BYO WONDER (bread), CUP OF ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

"INITIAL TURN" hinting at three-letter acronyms formed by swapping the last two letters of a normal word. Francis and BEQ sure found a ton of good answers — BOY WONDER turned into BYO WONDER (bread), CUP OF NOODLES into CPU (central processing unit) of NOODLES, etc. And BTU, SERIOUSLY?! hit perfectly for this mechanical engineer frustrated by non-metric units. I especially liked the ones that added in some sort of implied punctuation, like TIM COOK into "TMI, COOK!"

One of DC Comics' many BOY WONDERs

We longtime solvers even get an insider's nod, with SDI AND NANCY — the SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) is something Will has been trying to phase out, but it works here. Neat find, that SID (Vicious) AND NANCY (Spungen, both of the Sex Pistols) turn into a pair of Reagan-related answers.

One aspect of the puzzle that I really liked was that the odd letter combinations — words starting with CPU, TBA, SDI — seemed totally wrong. I actually erased these starts a few times because they seemed like they couldn't be right; that some sort of word-bending trickery had to be going on. Neat to realize that there wasn't, and my mind had just led me down a wrong path.

Francis and BEQ do something few ever dare: cramming 12 theme answers into a 140-word Sunday. It is true that some of their themers are shorties (GTO MILK, TBA COLA, etc.) but executing on a Sunday with an average number of themers (about seven) is probably the toughest skill in the game. Trying to nestle in 12 themers is just plain old nuts. Given how much is going on, it's really impressive that they still gave us some nice long fill — MOUNT ETNA, MEIN HERR, CALL SHEET.

It was a little surprising to run into a good amount of crossword glue like SAR, STYRO, CEN, NYES, etc. in a puzzle built by these two masters — that helped solidify my belief that something tricksy was going on — but after some thought, it really shouldn't be surprising given how much theme and long fill is packed in. Just part of that trade-off to get so much nice material into the grid.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0124 ( 24,183 )
Across Down
1. Home of Garden State Plaza, one of the largest shopping centers in the U.S. : PARAMUS
8. One staying in a lot? : CAR
11. Greenish blue : TEAL
15. High in calories : RICH
19. The Rebels : OLEMISS
20. Org. with suits and cases : ABA
21. Rights grp. : ACLU
22. Morales of "Criminal Minds" : ESAI
23. Two things on Ronald Reagan's mind? : SDIANDNANCY
25. Cousin of pow! or wham! : BOOM
26. One in your corner : ALLY
27. Really small : EENSY
28. Negotiation failure : NODEAL
30. "We'll tell you what soda we're serving later"? : TBACOLA
32. Brute working on the Human Genome Project? : DNASAVAGE
35. 1900s, e.g.: Abbr. : CEN
37. 20-Across members: Abbr. : ATTYS
38. Completely : INALL
39. Like : ASTHOUGH
42. Tuna that's often served seared : AHI
44. Planted : SOWN
47. Rhein rejection : NIE
48. Soggy computer brain? : CPUOFNOODLES
50. H&R Block employee's biceps? : CPAGUNS
52. Upbeat : CHIPPER
53. Renaissance fair instruments : LUTES
54. Hartsfield-Jackson airport code : ATL
55. "Game of Thrones" actress Dormer : NATALIE
57. Bleed (through) : SEEP
59. ___ speak : SOTO
60. Theodore who directed "St. Vincent," 2014 : MELFI
62. Refuses to settle? : SUES
63. Onetime Iranian leader : SHAH
65. Origami BlackBerry, e.g.? : PDAOFPAPER
68. Amusing baseball scoring play? : RBITICKLER
74. Boehner's successor : RYAN
75. Weight : HEFT
76. Ingredient in a Spanish omelet : HUEVO
77. "Without ___" (1990 live Grateful Dead album) : ANET
80. Place of control : HELM
83. Last king of Spain before Juan Carlos : ALFONSO
86. Tourette's symptom : TIC
87. "Friendship is like ___, easier made than kept": Samuel Butler : MONEY
89. Narrow-minded views : MYOPIAS
91. Drink in an old Pontiac? : GTOMILK
93. "An A/C measure? Are you kidding me?"? : BTUSERIOUSLY
95. Patriotic men's org. : SAR
96. Crafty e-tailer : ETSY
97. Scottish John : IAN
98. Quality of beef : LEANNESS
99. Basic vocabulary level in Common Core programs : TIERI
101. Place for plugs : SCALP
103. VW head? : STU
104. Sign in a restaurant that doesn't serve white bread? : BYOWONDER
108. Chef who explains in detail how sausages are made? : TMICOOK
110. Star employee : EDITOR
113. Now, in Nogales : AHORA
114. Hat-tipping word : MAAM
115. Opening in a schedule : SLOT
117. Financial aid plan for a school in Provo? : BYUONCREDIT
120. Get the pot started : ANTE
121. Bird with a two-pointed tail : TERN
122. Rule of crime? : ANN
123. "The Silence of the Lambs" heroine : CLARICE
124. "Bill ___ History of the United States" (1894 humor book) : NYES
125. Arcade giant : SEGA
126. Visibly embarrassed : RED
127. Not an original : RETREAD
1. Asked : POSED
2. John of the Plymouth Colony : ALDEN
3. Royal in un palacio : REINA
4. Piling up : AMASSING
5. Quorum for Jewish worship : MINYAN
6. EUR competitor : USD
7. Tax ID : SSN
8. One that might reach a tipping point : CANOE
9. Opening of a kid's song : ABCD
10. Country singer Collin : RAYE
11. Bounces around a restaurant : TABLEHOPS
12. Prefix with terrorism or tourism : ECO
13. Loads : ALOT
14. Lower back pain : LUMBAGO
15. Flinch, say : REACT
16. Stands by : ISLOYALTO
17. Daily schedule for filming : CALLSHEET
18. "Hello there" : HIYA
24. Billiard player's calculation : ANGLE
29. Malfunction : ACTUP
31. Playwright Fugard : ATHOL
33. One making a U turn? : VANNA
34. Most wanted : ALIST
36. Free, as banking : NOFEE
39. More sore : ACHIER
40. Secret collectors : SPIES
41. Turmoil : UNREST
43. "That ___ last year" : ISSO
44. Rogue : SCAMP
45. Chose, with "for" : OPTED
46. When doubled, a Washington city, county or river : WALLA
49. Actress Eliza of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" : DUSHKU
51. Make one : UNIFY
52. Lead : CLUE
56. Creature formed from Medusa's blood : ASP
58. Follower of upsilon : PHI
61. Strengths : FORTES
64. Sound of sternutation : ACHOO
66. Oom-___ (polka rhythm) : PAH
67. Weakness : ANEMIA
68. Pony Express riders, e.g. : RELAYS
69. Pals 4 life : BFFS
70. "What was ___ do?" : ITO
71. "___ Go" (hit song from "Frozen") : LETIT
72. Pandora's box contents : EVILS
73. Trainer in "Creed" : ROCKY
75. Acclaims : HAILS
77. Both: Prefix : AMBI
78. Fewer : NOTASMANY
79. Not mumble : ENUNCIATE
81. Fête des Lumières city : LYONS
82. View from the Gulf of Catania : MOUNTETNA
84. Marsh of mystery : NGAIO
85. Toss around : STREW
88. Mello ___ (soft drink) : YELLO
90. Poseur : PSEUD
92. "Cabaret" song with a German title : MEINHERR
94. Shares on Tumblr, say : REPOSTS
95. Commercial prefix with foam : STYRO
100. Greatly enjoy, as a joke : ROARAT
102. Maxima : ACMES
104. Tied up : BOUND
105. Smith who wrote "The Hundred and One Dalmatians" : DODIE
106. Writer Jong : ERICA
107. Like businesses on Yelp : RATED
108. Tax fraud detector, informally : TMAN
109. Artist Paul : KLEE
111. Construction piece : IBAR
112. Newcastle's river : TYNE
116. URL ending : ORG
118. Big A.T.M. maker : NCR
119. The Browns, on a ticker : CLE

Answer summary: 19 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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