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RIP Henry Hook and Doug Hoylman

I'm at a loss, folks. An utterly miserable year for our puzzling family somehow manages to get worse.

Henry Hook was a brilliant puzzle constructor with a unique personality. He was known for being gruff and perhaps even rude, but also for a terrific sense of humor, and he was well-liked in our community. His sadly out-of-print "Hooked On" series of puzzle books are still seen as some of the best around. I still remember riding the elevator with him at my very first American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in 2001; he wore a shirt that said "Yes, That's My Final F***ing Answer." We didn't speak; I was terrified (not to mention sixteen years old). I saw him again lingering outside the ballroom after the end of the ACPT a few years ago, and again I failed to stop and have a chat. Through all those years, I don't think I ever formally met the man, and that is to my profound regret.

Doug Hoylman was one of the best solvers in ACPT history, racking up six titles, which is tied for the second-most ever. He was very quiet, yet merciless during the competition, earning him the nickname Iceman. I would greet Doug at every tournament, but having long conversations wasn't his style. He let his solving do the talking and it spoke very loudly indeed. He did indulge in some whimsy one year, taking part in a prank on me in which many contending solvers wore the same Trogdor The Burninator T-shirt that I used to wear every tournament Sunday. Seeing a player of his credentials participate made it all the more enjoyable for everyone involved.

We'll miss you, gentlemen.

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