I’m a little behind but I wanted to congratulate champion Eric Maddy and finalists Brian Fodera and Jon Berman for their phenomenal performance in the recent Crosswords LA tournament held on the UCLA campus. I also want to thank tournament director Elissa Grossman for her tireless efforts in organizing the tournament and for entrusting me with the “puzzle wrangler” position. The tournament constructors: Andrea Carla Michaels, Patti Varol, Jeffrey Harris, Samuel Donaldson, Trip Payne, Joel Elkins, Ronald Allen, C.C. Burnikel, and Doug Peterson made my job easy. The tournament included a warmup by Marc Spararagen and Dake Shukan and and team puzzle by John Doppler Schiff but the highlight for me (and I apologize if this is a spoiler) was the tribute to Merl Reagle in the form of a tournament puzzle constructed in his style. The reveal of that puzzle elicited murmurs of appreciation and applause for constructor Trip Payne.
On the topic of crossword memorials, I have been reading in social media memories of puzzle genius Henry Hook who passed away this week. Like Merl, Henry was a figure that I didn’t have a strong personal friendship with, but he was a pleasantly familiar byline in my early days of solving Games Magazine. I also remember his game show activities from ACPT, such as a Hollywood Squares game where he put his Games Magazine colleagues on the stage to weigh in on clever trivia questions. Rest in peace, Double-H.