Hey everyone. As many of you know, Tom Gazzola died last week. Tom was such a powerful force in the puzzling community, serving the Pacific Northwest region so fantastically, and also being such a strong force in both the MIT Mystery Hunt and even more, the National Puzzlers’ League. This article by The Oregonian touches on many of the fields Tom was part of.
I met Tom for the first time (and sadly the last) while at the 2015 Mystery Hunt, where both of us were on Team Luck. The picture above shows Tom on the left working on the word search we had to deal with at 3am in the morning. Tom and I shared a room at the Hyatt in Cambridge, and both of us were at the same “desk pod” in the classroom while at MIT. Tom was such a smart and clever man, and it was truly a great experience being around him. In terms of hours alone, I was with/near him for most of the Hunt weekend, simply for the two reasons above, and it saddens me greatly that this man will not be joining Team Luck when we all meet back up in January 2016.
For anyone who has seen his Facebook page in the last week, the page is filled up with stories from both puzzlers, but probably more important, the students that he taught while a math teacher. Seeing these stories truly show how important Tom was to everyone he was with.
Today’s puzzle is named “It Takes Two”, which people in NPL will recognize as the name of the game Tom would bring to the conventions. From what I can tell, it was a form of doubles Jeopardy, and was one of the highlights of the event. I’m not a member of NPL, nor have I attended one of the conventions, but I’ve decided to become a member since I’m sure it’s the right group of people for me.
Especially in this last week, a quote Tom gave to The Seattle Times was “I have found my tribe”. More than anything, this quote stands out to me. As someone who lives in a puzzle-isolated region of the United States, I also believe I have also found my tribe. Between the USC Puzzle Hunt and now the creation of this blog, I have found a new group of friends that I truly appreciate and glad that I am a part of their ranks. Granted, I still feel that I’m nowhere near the skill of colleagues (especially in the puzzle hunters and indie constructors group). But with all things, I continue to strive to become better and solving and writing puzzles, and while I know I’ll always have a ways to go, but I am glad that I have had the pleasure to talk, solve, and be a part of your life. Writing puzzles is something that I love to do, and I want others to be a part of that process. Tom felt the same way, and now he shines as one of the brightest stars.
I know I promised an Indie 500 recap today, and I’m sure I’ll write one later this week, but today is a day for remembrance. I’ll always miss Tom, but I can’t wait to see and talk to you guys again.
And if it wasn’t clear from the puzzle, the four circled letters have nothing to do with theme, but is one last dedication to Tom himself.
Thanks everyone. Meta next week. Hope to see you then.