Denise Mahnken

Denise Mahnken on the Pacific Ocean, April, 2014

Denise Mahnken on the Pacific Ocean, April, 2014

We lost one of our stellar players Thursday.  Denise Mahnken succumbed to Kreutzfeldt-Jakob disease.  Those of us who encountered her at tournaments remember her for her friendly and fun-loving spirit.

Denise began her tournament career in 2001 in New York, and plunged in enthusiastically.  All told, she played 4,210 rated games (NSA, NASPA, and WGPO), winning about half of them.   Her final tournament was in Cabo San Lucas in December of last year, ending with a rating of 1178.


She won a prize

These pictures are from VanRand archives.


Wisconsin Dells – Cold Outside, Hot (and Cold) Inside

From Steve Pellinen:

IMG_0843Wisconsin Dells is hone to no Scrabble® clubs or tournament players, yet every year it is home to one of the longest running tournaments in North America.  Some great players have made their debuts at the Dells (John O’Laughlin, Rob Robinsky, et al), and many of us have fond memories of our experiences at this event started by Dan and Robin Proud back in the early 1980s.

It can’t be said that the thirty-second annual Wisconsin Dells tournament went off without a hitch. We were moved to a new room in Chula Vista Resort this year, and it wasn’t an upgrade. Mountains are several states to the west or east, and our Sierra Vista room would more aptly be called the Parking Lot Vista (Estacionamiento Vista?).  However, given the too hot, too cold, rarely just right temps forced on us by a very maladjusted HVAC system, Carol Gibbs came up with the best name for our new digs – the Menopausal Room.

Despite the thermodynamic challenges, a lot of Scrabble® did get played.  Two Early Bird divisions were won by Mike Johnson and Julia Bogle. This was Mike’s first Division 1 win. The four division winners in the WJ2 Main Event were Jason Vaysberg, also his first Division 1 win; Steve Hartsman Division 2; Julia Bogle Division 3; and Linda Stratton Division 4.  The Collins Event was won by Rob Robinsky, who won his last five games to close it out.IMG_0842

Three players made their tournament debuts this year – John Pellegrini, Pat Yovonovitz and Chris Palahniuk (all from the Twin Cities), with John winning a performance prize for his sixth place finish in a 14 player field. There were also two obvious stars over the weekend. Julia couldn’t have done much better, winning both of her events, and Jason’s 11-2 record was four games better than his nearest competition in Division 1. Very impressive results.

October in Phoenix – What better time and place for a one-day tournament?

Director Larry Rand posted these comments:

The Phoenix One Day results, prizes and ratings are now available at the Word Game Player’s website,

Congrats to all players who attended.  Daniel Ahrens, Norine Ahrens and David Weiss, from Albuquerque, played in their first Phoenix One Day event.  : )
Special thanks to the club members who brought all of the delicious food and beverages for our lunch break.
Two fun prizes were conducted for the morning and afternoon sessions.  In the morning, Martin Janowski and Laurie Cohen played the highest scoring plays “beginning with O,” “outages” and “orrises,”  respectively.  In the afternoon, the fun prize was “ends with an r.”  Zach Simon played “equator” (130), and Laurie recored “negator.”
He didn’t mention the colorful shirt contest, which must have occurred if the SmugMug pictures reproduced here are accurate.

GRITS – Great times and, incidentally, a tournament

GRITS being serious

GRITS being serious

Just to prove they actually do get down to business, here’s a peek at a tournament session.  Lynda Finn won with a 13 – 3 record, followed by Nola Hembrook at 12 – 4.

Notes from Peggy Grant:  “Another year of GRITS is in the books…and a great time was had by all. Sixteen wonderfully diverse, fun-loving women from all across America arrived to our luxury beach house in Garden City Beach, SC  for our sixth annual meeting. The food prepared by our home chefs and local restaurants was scrumptious. Time was spent in the surf, on the beach and in the pool and hot tub. Free time included playing miniature golf, billiards, Texas Hold’ em, Balderdash, reading, and of course, Scrabble®. Even the threat of Hurricane Joaquin didn’t dampen our spirits. We already look forward to GRITS VII in 2016.”

More photos from Peggy:
 The GRITS Gang
GRITS groupCooks at GRITS

WGPO’s Official Word List

WJ2Here’s the printed word list – all words with 2 – 21 letters allowable in WGPO tournament play as well as Super-S.  The printed list is available from  Author Maliha Mendoza Mahmood has pledged to give all royalties received from the sale of the book to WGPO.  Don’t want a hard copy?  There’s an app available for free download at  There are Apple and PC versions.  The app has been revised to correct earlier misjudging when extra spaces were entered.

The Amazon link is

WGPO Membership Meeting Notes – September 8, 2015

Clackamas, Oregon

 A Questionnaire was distributed to those attending (40 attendees).

Keith invited attendees to voice their concerns and comments about WGPO, and responded. Brief notes are below.


  • How to get more WGPO tournaments on the East Coast? (Willie)
    Keith: we are working on it, there has been resistance in the Northeast
  • Peggy: we need the players and we need directors in those regions. If a player becomes a WGPO director, they will not lose their membership in the other major North American organization for Scrabble®players.
    Mike suggestion–codirect , split duties between hosting and directing.
  • Rules–Laura would like to see the rules easily available on the website.
    Keith: they should be there, we will look into it.
  • Zyzzyva – how to get up-to-date version    Ruth will send the link (Jim Miller link) or players can contact a member of the board
  • Cheryl… Is there a plan to have history available, similar to
    Keith … Yes, we want to do it, need tech volunteers.

What do you like most about WGPO / additional comments?

  • Winter … Less bureaucracy.
  • Jeff … The voice of the players is heard.
  • Marcia … 1. Be more open about upcoming events. (Keith: The plan is to announce WC2017 at the Feb. Spring 2016 tournament)  2. Likes the Collins approach to challenges.
    Helen … suggested starting the Collins approach at local club, one day tournaments are valuable, build it from grass roots.
  • Bennett … 1. Was appointed to be the liaison for all the people interested in hosting 2017 WC … Contact Bennett if interested. 2. Would like to see the Collins challenge rule in WGPO… Winter spoke to the rule: If the word is not good, just like our rule. If you challenge and the word is good, you don’t lose your turn and the player who played the good word gets an extra 5-10 points.
  • Marla… feels that WGPO would lose players if the challenge rule changed.
  • Dave l… Similar to gay-straight alliances, is there a way to have WGPO alliance with the other major North American organization for Scrabble® players? Mike J said that when he goes to tournaments sponsored by the other organization, he tries to be an ambassador; personal connections are the best we can do. Mike B is trying to do more formal things; friendships. Susi … The co-president of the other group refuses to let people in the house.
  • Roy wants to see if we can get on Keith commented that the web developer of that site has resisted. Lynda … Urges people to talk to the web developer .
  • Keith asked first-time Word Cup players for comments about the event. Lynn doesn’t think there are too many games. Nancy likes the round robin format.
  • Mike J thanked all the volunteers who contributed to the success of the Word Cup.

Respectfully submitted,
Melissa Brown
WGPO Member Liaison