David Gibson

From Steve Pellinen:

David at Word Cup IX

David at Word Cup IX

David Gibson passed away on November 22, 2019 after a fight with pancreatic cancer. It’s hard to say he lost that fight, because he and wife Nancy are devout Christians who see this as just another step in their journey of faith. Nevertheless, he will be missed by many in the various circles in which he moved. He was a gentle man, and a gentleman, and yet was a fierce competitor in the game he loved and mastered to a degree unmatched by all but a very few.

He didn’t play as often as many others, but when he did he often dominated the field with his somewhat unorthodox defensive style that stymied so many of his opponents. He leaves the Scrabble® world with the top ratings in both NASPA (2200) and WGPO (2166). His legacy includes the giving of his name to tournament lore and terminology, when in 1995 he dominated the strongest field of players ever assembled at that time for the Superstars tournament.

The term Gibsonization was born when tournament organizers were faced with an unexpected dilemma. 54 of the highest rated players in North America gathered in Las Vegas to compete for an unprecedented $50,000 first prize. But there were also significant lower prizes to be had with the $100,000 prize fund, and going into the last day of the 24 round event, David Gibson held a four game lead with three games to play. He had already clinched first place, and the organizers were concerned that David would either not play optimally with nothing on the line, or would continue to dominate the next ranked players in the king of hill format in a way that would somewhat unfairly give lower ranked players who wouldn’t have to play him a chance to move up in the final standings.

In a stroke of debatable genius, a decision was made to pair David with the players with the worst records for the last three games, thereby allowing the remaining equally motivated contenders to play amongst themselves for the lesser prizes. Ironically, in the final game, the last place player, Rodney Nivison, defeated Gibson. Some of the players started using the term “Gibsonizing” to humorously describe what happened on that last day. The relief felt by the top contenders was balanced by the dismay the last place players felt when, after obviously struggling to no avail for three days, seeing they were paired with David. That dismay disappeared when David, in another unprecedented act, generously shared a significant portion of his winnings with every other player.

Tournament pairings changed forever on that day, as more and more directors used the same approach in their tournaments. Today Gibsonization is routinely used, though it has been modified to match the winner with the highest ranked players that cannot win a place prize. The last place players are no longer dismayed, and, David Gibson, ever the gentleman, would like that.


Wisconsin Dells South 36th Year

From Steve Pellinen:

Helen Flores

Helen Flores in Fitchburg

For several years now the long-running Wisconsin Dells tournament has been finding more affordable space in the suburbs, away from all the water park madness and traps for unsuspecting tourists. This year’s suburban Dells events found a home in Fitchburg at a lovely venue that, unfortunately, managed to double book our meeting space. As second comers, we ended up in all of the available meeting areas apart from the main conference room. That put 21 players in the poorly lit Nesbitt Room, 10 players and the directors in the Theater with a strategically located protruding AV shelf, and 8 players in the cozy Den fronting the main lobby and not-so-quiet dining area. The Theater was located across from the elevator, a busy and talkative location.

At least three times the same family exited the elevator with a young daughter asking, “Mommy, what are they playing?”

“They’re playing Scrabble, dear, you know, like your Scrabble Junior at home.”


“Those are nerds, honey,” from a male voice (in the Theater, to be fair).

Anyway, the players proved amazingly resilient and tolerant despite the cramped and less than ideal playing conditions. Winners in the main event included James Nalepka in Division C, Dan Terkell in Division B, Jason Vaysberg in Division A, and Mike Johnson in a strong Collins Division, where he won his last nine games after a 1-3 start. Early Bird winners in five divisions were Lynn Wolter, Mary Becker, Fran Galt, Lynda Finn and Steve Pellinen. Lynda Finn did a remarkable job directing and working with the hotel to find suitable playing space and arranging for a free lunch to somewhat make up for our inconvenience. All-in-all, a fun weekend in challenging conditions.



From Lynda Finn:

Thank you to:  Steve Pellinen and Lisa Odom for tourney directing and supplies; Sue Hoehn, Mike Johnson, and Jason Vaysberg for help with coordination; Norman Wei for donating beautiful wildlife photography and one of his hook books and Helen Flores for donating the frames.  Thank you to the following people for their generous financial contributions to Word Cup 10:  Dan Terkel, Carol Gibbs, Fran Galt, Sue Hoehn, Lynn Wolter, Mary Krizan.

Collins Winners


Remembering Maliha (1946 – 2019)


Maliha Mahmood left us August 21, 2019.  She was a warm, kind, generous soul and is greatly missed by all who knew her.

Maliha was a vital force in the early days of WGPO.  She was an enthusiastic participant in tournaments and contributed generously to help with the expenses of every tournament she attended.  She also gave generously to our organization.

Her interest in SuperScrabble® led her to form a club at her home in Tuston, California, and to publish a word list containing all acceptable SuperScrabble® words containing 2 to 21 letters.  In 2014, she updated it with many additional words.  This was endorsed by WGPO and published as Word Judge 2, the official WGPO word list.

Sadly, there was a parting of the ways with WGPO in 2017.  Many of us have deeply regretted this.  I enjoyed a number of games with her using the Collins lexicon.  As a recent convert to SuperScrabble®, I am sorry that I’ll never have the opportunity to play that with her.

For more information about Maliha and SuperScrabble@, go to https://superscrabble.wordpress.com/

Maliha Mahmood with SuperScrabble

Maliha Mahmood with SuperScrabble

Share your news via a new WGPO group forum

Dear Friends,
Yahoo recently announced that it is winding down its yahoo-groups forum and listservs. While WGPO’s current yahoo-groups listserv will likely be functional for at least the near future, it is time for WGPO to move to a more reliable forum for players and directors to send out tournament announcements and other important word game related news.
We’d like to announce the creation of a new WGPO google-group and listserv. We hope you will consider signing up. To join, send an email to wgpo+subscribe@googlegroups.com . You will receive a join request email from googlegroups. Just click “Join this group” to submit your join request. You will receive an email confirming when your request to join has been approved (to filter out spam accounts). You should then be able to send/receive emails from our listserv: wgpo@googlegroups.com. Those signing up through a google account can also access past messages by going to groups.google.com/ and logging in to their google account.
We hope you will join our new WGPO google-group listserv.
Mike Johnson on behalf of the Executive Committee

Janice is retiring – Can you help us?

Janice Kaye

Janice Kaye

Dear Friends,

This fall, Janice Kaye has let the Executive Committee know that after over 9 years as WGPO’s Treasurer, she has decided that it is time for her to step down from this role. The Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives would like to thank Janice for her longtime volunteer service to WGPO on behalf of the entire membership. Thanks Janice!

This fall, the EC will be seeking volunteers/nominations for a new Treasurer, and hope to fill this important position by the end of the year.
The new treasurer will be responsible for

1) accurately keeping orderly financial records for the organization
2) handling the regular financial transactions of the organization, by
deposit donations, writing checks that are authorized by the EC, etc.
3) assist the EC with longer term financial planning by creating occasional financial reports, assist with budgeting, etc.
4) communicate periodically with the larger organization regarding the financial status of WGPO

Previous financial experience is a plus. If you are interested in volunteering or would like to nominate someone for this role, please email the EC at


During this time of transition, Steve Pellinen will act as our interim Treasurer.

The Executive Committee of WGPO