Greeneye players unshackled

Doobie Kurus shared these photos from a Friday night escape room episode.  All five players made it to the weekend’s games unscathed.  Mike Johnson directed an exhausting but successful two-day, 23-game tournament.  See tournament results at Greeneye 23 results.




Larry Rand Remembrance

Shared by WGPO President, Laurie Cohen:

On March 7, we found out that we lost Larry Rand. It was only a little over a year ago that we learned that Larry and Barbara were retiring from directing tournaments after Larry was diagnosed with dementia. In 2022, the Phoenix tournament honored Larry and Barbara with a special celebration and scrapbooks of memories and photos sent in by current and former tourney and club players (some going back to the 1980’s). Although Larry forgot a few names, he was present and active in the celebration, even giving a speech thanking all present. I’m so glad he was able to be there to hear all the love expressed by the attendees and the love expressed in messages sent in as part of the scrapbook. The 2023 tournament, held just weeks ago, was renamed the Van Rand Phoenix Tournament to honor our beloved directors.

Every family seems to have one member who is at the center and who keeps everyone informed and engaged with each other. Here in the Phoenix area, that person was Larry. He was the one to let you know if someone was sick, if someone needed help, or if someone passed away. He was the first person to bring in a card or oftentimes a cardboard Scrabble board for everyone to sign. He was also the person who sent out messages of celebration. This person just won a tourney! This person improved their rating by 20 points! The person played in their first tournament and won a few games! In 20 years, he never once missed a birthday!

Larry ran a tight ship both when directing a tournament on land or sea or when directing the Phoenix Scrabble Club. He was extremely efficient. Things started on time, not a minute later. You didn’t want to have a messy scoresheet or make a mistake on your tally slip. Also, no asking when we need to be back from lunch! It’s right on your scorecard! Larry’s was intense, but kind and caring, too. He cared about every person playing at his tourneys and clubs. He once told me that his favorite part of running a tourney was hearing all the compliments from players when it was over. He was committed to making the experience a good one for all attendees and was happy to hear when people enjoyed themselves. I regret that I never had an opportunity to go on one of their Scrabble cruises. They always sounded like such a blast!

Across the board, Larry was also a formidable opponent. His word knowledge was much better than mine when I first started playing in Arizona. However, he would always try to help me improve. He’d often quiz me on anagrams of words played during the club. His influence was partly what convinced me to strive to be a better player.

Back in 2010, Larry was also one of the first directors to start directing tournaments for WGPO, announcing his plans and reasons in an email to the community. It was a hard decision to make at first, but WGPO’s democratic principles and lack of fees convinced him to take the leap. Larry also served on both WGPO’s Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives in the early days of the organization, shaping its formative policies and strategies. Of course, no mention of Larry would be complete without also talking about the other half of the dynamic duo – Barbara Van Alen. Larry’s love for Barbara always shined through whatever he did. Although the last year has been difficult, Barbara’s love and devotion for Larry was always in the forefront as she helped him through all the challenges of this terrible disease. She fought hard for him up to his last day.

We’ll all miss Larry very much, especially those in the Arizona Scrabble community. I’ll always think fondly of Larry and try to do my part to keep our Scrabble family in AZ and around the country a strong one and a caring one.


Players undaunted

Trophy winners Adam Henderson and Ruth Hamilton

Trophy winners Adam Henderson and Ruth Hamilton

Five intrepid players conquered the remains of a surprise Wednesday snowstorm to convene at my house on Saturday for our monthly tournament.  That made six of us.  Mitch Bayersdorfer is creative in recycling his trophies. This time, he gave one to Adam Henderson for his first-place finish and to me for best word (GLACIATE) having to do with national parks.

I’d love to share pictures and descriptions of other tournaments and events, but someone has to send them to me.

WGPO Board Meeting Minutes – January 2023

The WGPO board is sorting itself out after an abrupt change in leadership.  See the message from the board posted below.  They met three times in January.  You may find the minutes here:

Thank you to all the board members for rallying to keep WGPO afloat during this transition.  Steve has been our guiding light through most of our organization’s existence.  We would not be where we are without him.

Message from WGPO Board

Dear WGPO members,
I’m writing today on behalf of the WGPO board to officially inform you that our board president, Steve Pellinen, stepped down from his post recently to focus on his health. The remaining members of the board have unanimously agreed to appoint Laurie Cohen president in his stead. Conrad Bassett-Bouchard and I (Will Anderson) will become co-vice presidents to backfill Laurie’s role

Long before I ran for any elected Scrabble position, I greatly respected Steve for his wisdom and selflessness in serving our community. My time on the WGPO board has only deepened that respect. As the board works to take on Steve’s many responsibilities, I find myself amazed and inspired by the sheer amount of work Steve has done for WGPO and for Scrabble more generally, all while managing serious health issues.

In fact, while I’m proud of the work the board has done to keep WGPO’s business moving, including preparations for Word Cup 2023, sponsorship of the School Scrabble Championship, our ongoing website rebuild, support of regional tournaments, and much more, the simple fact is that Steve will be impossible to replace.

Nevertheless, as the board’s longest serving member and as a highly respected presence in the Scrabble community, Laurie is the right choice to take on Steve’s office. The rest of the board will support her to the best of our abilities.

We hope you will join us in wishing Steve well, and we thank you for your patience as we strive towards a great year for WGPO in 2023!

For the WGPO board,

Will Anderson