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GOING HEAD TO HEAD

New York Times, Sunday, September 2, 2018

Author:
Tom McCoy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3211/14/201310/7/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
17815100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61362
Tom McCoy

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 77 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 31 for Mr. McCoy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tom McCoy notes:
Since starting grad school a year ago, I haven't had too much time to construct crosswords, but I was happy to find some time during a break a few months ago. This puzzle was inspired by ... read more

Since starting grad school a year ago, I haven't had too much time to construct crosswords, but I was happy to find some time during a break a few months ago. This puzzle was inspired by the phrase "going head to head." It's only now occurring to me that, in addition to going head to head, enemies are also said to cross each other...there's probably another theme in there.

For some odd reason, my favorite part of this grid is the 2x2 box of L's in 99- and 106-Across.

With this puzzle, I've now managed to fit two of my sisters into crosswords (you're welcome, KUDZU). Two down, two to go!

Jeff Chen notes:
Famous showdowns, the opponents going HEAD TO HEAD, i.e., the first participant flipped around so that their head touches the second's. When I got to ????? BOWSER, this Super Mario Bros. ... read more

Famous showdowns, the opponents going HEAD TO HEAD, i.e., the first participant flipped around so that their head touches the second's. When I got to ????? BOWSER, this Super Mario Bros. nerd KNEW it had to be MARIO BOWSER. I was simultaneously disappointed in the boring execution of simply sticking two opponents together, and frustrated by not being able to make MARIO work. Neat a-ha moment when I realized that it had to be OIRAM, not MARIO, and then another one when the meaning of HEAD TO HEAD snapped into place.

Solid choices for the themers, Don QUIXOTE vs. the WINDMILL in particular amusing me. I'm often on Tom's wavelength, having similar interests, so I enjoyed the selections. I can see, though, how some might feel like it's too heavy on the fanboy stuff – LUKE / DARTH VADER, MARIO / BOWSER, BATMAN / JOKER, etc.

And what, no DLEIFTAHMCCOY? Tom, Tom, Tom.

I do have extremely high expectations for Tom, one of the top creative minds in all of crossword construction. While I did enjoy the moment when everything dawned on me, it wasn't quite enough to make me say that this was one of his best puzzles.

Solid execution though, and a good amount of snazzy COOKIE CUTTER / IRON LADY / NO CALL LIST / AMEN TO THAT to help perk up my solve. It wasn't a ton of long bonus fill, but you only really need a handful + smooth short fill (SCHS / ALG / OSTEO / HITEM is well under average for a Sunday) to create a feeling of gridwork excellence.

1
S
2
T
3
A
4
N
5
D
6
P
7
A
8
W
9
N
10
S
11
B
12
E
13
D
14
N
15
E
16
R
17
F
18
A
R
M
O
R
19
U
H
H
U
H
20
E
C
O
21
S
O
L
A
R
22
S
U
E
S
E
23
H
T
M
I
N
O
24
T
A
U
R
25
T
W
I
C
E
26
S
E
N
T
27
I
T
E
M
28
O
I
R
A
M
29
B
O
W
S
E
R
30
T
R
31
O
T
S
32
S
T
O
O
D
33
S
P
H
E
R
E
34
L
O
I
R
E
35
W
36
I
N
37
N
O
38
W
I
S
E
39
N
O
T
L
I
M
40
A
H
B
U
41
R
42
R
43
R
O
D
44
R
45
B
46
I
47
S
C
H
S
48
L
I
M
B
O
E
49
D
50
R
E
51
L
E
A
S
52
E
53
A
A
A
54
C
55
E
L
T
56
I
D
R
57
I
S
58
O
W
N
E
R
59
L
T
60
C
O
L
61
E
62
K
63
U
L
D
A
R
T
64
H
V
A
D
E
R
65
O
R
K
66
S
U
N
67
E
N
O
68
Y
E
S
69
Y
70
P
71
O
O
N
S
72
R
E
D
B
73
A
R
O
N
74
P
R
I
75
N
76
T
77
D
R
A
K
E
78
H
A
Z
E
L
79
L
80
A
O
S
81
O
A
82
R
83
S
A
T
I
A
84
T
E
85
U
N
I
86
D
87
E
A
L
88
O
C
T
A
89
T
H
E
90
Y
A
91
K
92
D
I
V
A
D
G
93
O
94
L
I
A
T
H
95
C
96
A
P
S
I
97
D
98
D
R
Y
99
H
O
L
L
Y
100
A
101
S
102
S
U
M
E
103
L
A
104
M
105
B
S
106
S
M
A
L
L
107
N
A
M
T
A
B
108
J
O
K
E
R
109
A
110
T
T
A
111
A
L
112
G
113
A
114
G
L
I
T
Z
115
E
T
O
X
I
116
U
Q
W
I
N
117
D
M
I
L
L
118
E
S
T
E
E
119
D
O
T
120
B
R
U
I
N
121
U
P
S
E
T
122
L
A
H
R
123
I
N
A
124
E
L
A
T
E
125
O
S
T
E
O
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0902 ( 25,135 )
Across
1
Group of trees : STAND
6
Potential queens : PAWNS
11
Word that looks like its meaning when written in lowercase : BED
14
Harmless weapons maker : NERF
18
Strong suit? : ARMOR
19
"Continue" : UHHUH
20
"Foucault's Pendulum" author, 1988 : ECO
21
Like the Gregorian calendar : SOLAR
22
Showdown in Greek mythology : SUESEHTMINOTAUR
25
A couple of times : TWICE
26
Word of confirmation on a messaging app : SENT
27
Couple : ITEM
28
Showdown in classic video games : OIRAMBOWSER
30
Quickened paces : TROTS
32
Wasn't struck down : STOOD
33
Realm : SPHERE
34
Tours can be seen on it : LOIRE
35
Triumph : WIN
37
Not in any way : NOWISE
39
Showdown in American history : NOTLIMAHBURR
43
Hot ___ : ROD
44
One of four in a grand slam : RBI
47
Univs., e.g. : SCHS
48
Bent over backward, in a way : LIMBOED
50
Bit of P.R. : RELEASE
53
Like baseball's Durham Bulls : AAA
54
Speaker of Welsh or Breton : CELT
56
Actor Elba : IDRIS
58
One of the o's in "o/o" : OWNER
59
Rank above maj. : LTCOL
61
Showdown in cinema : EKULDARTHVADER
65
Mork's planet : ORK
66
Brightly colored blazer : SUN
67
Obie-winning playwright Will : ENO
68
"What is it?" : YES
69
Showdown in the funnies : YPOONSREDBARON
74
Not use cursive : PRINT
77
University in Des Moines : DRAKE
78
Greenish-brown hue : HAZEL
79
Neighbor of China : LAOS
81
What's used to row, row, row your boat : OAR
83
Leave fulfilled : SATIATE
85
Less than perfect : UNIDEAL
88
Geometric prefix : OCTA
89
Italian "il" or French "le" : THE
90
Prattle : YAK
92
Showdown in the Bible : DIVADGOLIATH
95
Protein shell of a virus : CAPSID
98
Like sauvignon blanc : DRY
99
Traditional Christmas decoration : HOLLY
100
Jump to conclusions : ASSUME
103
Some petting zoo animals : LAMBS
106
Word with wonder or world : SMALL
107
Showdown in comic books : NAMTABJOKER
109
Lead-in to boy or girl : ATTA
111
Simple plant : ALGA
114
Ostentation : GLITZ
115
Showdown in literature : ETOXIUQWINDMILL
118
Businesswoman Lauder : ESTEE
119
Apt name for a Braille instructor : DOT
120
TD Garden athlete : BRUIN
121
Knock over : UPSET
122
Cowardly Lion portrayer : LAHR
123
___ bit : INA
124
Overjoy : ELATE
125
Bone: Prefix : OSTEO
Down
1
What "Talk to the hand!" is an example of : SASS
2
Unswerving : TRUE
3
"I couldn't agree more!" : AMENTOTHAT
4
They're found under a bridge : NOSTRILS
5
Beats by ___ (headphones brand) : DRE
6
Short strokes : PUTTS
7
"Alas!" : AHME
8
Sudden impulse : WHIM
9
Sister : NUN
10
"Try me" : SHOOT
11
Be relevant to : BEARON
12
Country named for its latitude : ECUADOR
13
College student's assignment : DORM
14
Words after an interruption : NOWWHEREWASI
15
Stefanik who is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress : ELISE
16
Fast one : RACER
17
"___ Jacques" : FRERE
21
Conductors' announcements : STOPS
23
"___ where it hurts!" : HITEM
24
Uncle, in Argentina : TIO
29
Under half of 45? : BSIDE
31
Brother of Dori and Nori in "The Hobbit" : ORI
32
Surprising lack of Oscar recognition : SNUB
34
Suitable for a dieter, informally : LOCAL
35
Body of water connected by canal to the Baltic : WHITESEA
36
Watson's company : IBM
38
Defeat : WORST
39
Govt. org. based in Ft. Meade, Md. : NSA
40
Word before right or rise : ALL
41
Move turbulently : ROIL
42
Increasingly ripe, say : REDDER
45
Wedding need ... or booking : BAND
46
Stereotypical therapist's response : ISEE
49
Pipe cleaner : DRANO
51
Enthusiasts : LOVERS
52
Go wrong : ERR
54
Part of the eye : CORNEA
55
Wapitis : ELKS
57
British Bulldog : Churchill :: ___ : Thatcher : IRONLADY
60
Undistinguished, as many a subdivision house : COOKIECUTTER
62
Rapidly spreading vine : KUDZU
63
Get straight : UNBEND
64
Prefix with allergenic : HYPO
69
Football units: Abbr. : YDS
70
Idiot, in Britspeak : PRAT
71
Vow : OATH
72
Relatives of emus : RHEAS
73
Et ___ : ALII
75
Numbers to avoid : NOCALLLIST
76
Ragged : TATTY
80
North African land: Abbr. : ALG
82
Cry of school spirit : RAH
84
Laid-back : TYPEB
86
Data storage items on the decline : DVDS
87
Organ in the leg of a katydid, bizarrely : EAR
88
Frontier lights : OILLAMPS
91
Unit of explosive power : KILOTON
93
"That sounds awful" : OHMAN
94
Mauna ___ : LOA
96
Wow : AMAZE
97
Territory name until 1889 : DAKOTA
100
Brat's opposite : ANGEL
101
Popular dip : SALSA
102
Skilled laborer : SMITH
104
Tex-___ : MEX
105
Bit of corruption : BRIBE
106
Author of the "Fear Street" series for young readers : STINE
108
Some saber wielders : JEDI
109
Bluish-green : AQUA
110
Ninny : TWIT
112
TV show set in William McKinley High School : GLEE
113
Prefix with stratus : ALTO
116
It's used to cite a site : URL
117
Bonnie and Clyde, e.g. : DUO

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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