Johnny Nevarez

Johnny Rita condensedWord is that Scrabble® great Johnny Nevarez has died from complications of Covid.  Although we haven’t seen him for almost a quarter century, those of us who were active players in the late ’80’s through mid ’90’s have fond memories of him and the tournaments he organized and directed in California and Nevada.  An expert player himself, he knew how to organize a well-run tournament, hiring well-qualified staff for word judging and data entry.  The Reno tournaments attracted up to 250 players from around the country, including the highest-ranking experts.

Johnny is pictured here with other Scrabble® luminaries, including the late Rita (Norr) Provost, Larry Sherman and Steven Alexander.  Photo is from the collection of the late Joan Mocine.

WGPO Inclusive Survey Results

From Laurie Cohen:

WGPO conducted a survey in late June to get feedback on ways that we can be a more inclusive and welcoming organization. We also wanted to know if individuals had experienced any harassment or discrimination with respect to race/ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or other protected status.

The results are summarized here:

WGPO Survey on Tournament Wordlist

WGPO has created a short survey to solicit member feedback regarding whether WGPO should remove certain slurs from their wordlist. This survey will be open until August 14th, and will be used to narrow down options leading to a binding referendum later this year.

Check your email for more information about how to complete this membership survey.

Tournament Word List

The WGPO Board of Player Representatives (BPR) and Executive Committee (EC) met this afternoon to discuss the recent decision by NASPA and Hasbro to remove slurs from their North American tournament wordlist. Here is a short summary of our discussion.

Our bylaws clearly state that any “change from the existing primary official tournament word list, and any subsequent editions of it, to some other source shall only be made by a referendum of the total membership” (Article VI: Section 6). This means that if we take no action, our organization will be using an expurgated wordlist with slurs removed when WGPO tournaments resume. Because of the primary importance of the wordlist and our mission as a player-run organization, both the BPR and EC feel that it is important for our membership to be at the center of our decision-making process regarding updates to the tournament wordlist, culminating in a binding referendum later this year. Here’s how we expect this process will unfold:

We will develop a short survey to hear from the membership. Look for this survey to be sent out in the coming weeks. This survey is not the binding referendum, and is instead meant to get a sense of what our members think about a range of possible options. The BPR will use this survey to guide future conversations, and narrow down the possible options to carefully create a clear and credible referendum for the membership to vote on. This binding vote will be run according to our bylaws and start no later than December 1st, 2020.

Many of you have very strong opinions regarding the lexicon, and we look forward to hearing from you in our survey and in other formats.