Nominations are in – We have six candidates

The election of the WGPO Board of Directors will take place from December 11 at 2 PM through just before midnight on December 15 Central Time. The WGPO board will consist of current Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives Steve Pellinen, Keith Hagel, Laurie Cohen and Helen Flores. They will be joined by the three top vote getters from the six candidates shown below:

Will Anderson

Will Anderson

Jan Cardia

Jan Cardia

Bennett Jacobstein

Bennett Jacobstein

Maureen Morris

Maureen Morris

Ben Schoenbrun

Ben Schoenbrun

Susi Tiekert

Susi Tiekert

Please click on the candidates’ names to read their candidate statements. 


Kirsten Gwilliam 1968 – 2021


From the WGPO Boards:

To anyone who has not yet heard, Kirsten Gwilliam (member of the WGPO Board) died late last month. If you got to meet her at a Scrabble tourney, I’m sure you remember her as a kind and caring person. Several WGPO members shared their memories of Kirsten, and more continue to express their loss in comments on the WGPO Facebook page.

Many of us first met Kirsten at the Grand Canyon tournament or at Larry and Barb’s 34th Annual Phoenix event. She was one of a small contingent of Utah players at the time. Kirsten was soft-spoken and perhaps a little shy, but always smiling and friendly. Kirsten combined Scrabble and traveling and joined us at 17 tourneys in Portland, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Florida including Word Cups.

Without being asked, she volunteered to help with WGPO fundraising and always brought several items for our silent auctions. She was an eager WGPO supporter and ran for the Board of Player Representatives (BPR). We dealt with difficult and controversial issues during Kirsten’s tenure, and she contributed thoughtfully at every turn, through the lexicon voting process, bylaws revision and incorporation. 

Susi Tiekert, Florida: The Boards of WGPO benefited greatly from Kirsten’s knowledge, expertise, and organization skills. Kirsten was an invaluable help to our Boards during the pandemic. Her training and experience helped us navigate the troubled waters we were all foundering in. Hoping that her family finds solace in knowing that she was so valued in so many ways. She absolutely will be missed in this world.

Laurie Cohen: I’m so very sorry to hear this terrible news. I enjoyed working with Kirsten as a board member for our Scrabble organization and chatting with her at tourneys. Recently we discovered we have the same birthday. 

Helen Flores, Wisconsin: Kirsten was easy company, thoughtful and bright. Over time, she was my worthy opponent many, many times. She likely bested me in more games than not, but I always enjoyed playing her and – slowly – getting to know her a little bit better. After the 2019 Word Cup, when my travel home plans were delayed, Kirsten saved me from a sleepless night in the Coral Gables hotel lobby. Her roommate had checked out early, so Kirsten graciously let me be her roomie.

Pat Yovonovich, Minnesota: We roomed together for the St.Patrick’s Day tournament down in Bloomington MN. She came into town a day early. I picked her up at the airport and we went to the Swedish museum. My birthday was that weekend and she had arranged with the museum cafe to present me with a special Swedish dessert.

Deborah Baggett, California: Kirsten was such a joy to see, play and visit with. This is heartbreaking news. I’ll miss Kirsten’s face across her beautiful Paris-inspired Scrabble board. Our games were some of my favorites, mostly due to Kirsten’s kind and patient demeanor. She taught me grace and I’ll remember her always. Prayers for peace to her family. Such a huge loss…

Below is her obituary notice. We are all shocked and saddened by the news of Kirsten’s passing. She was a smart, sensitive and generous soul. Our times with her were too brief and too few. She had great depth and so much more to offer. We shall miss you. R.I.P. Kirsten. 

Seeking Nominations to Board of Directors

From now through Saturday, November 27, WGPO is seeking nominations for three Board of Director positions to serve two-year terms beginning on January 1, 2022. Four existing Board positions will be carried forward until January 1, 2023, per the new bylaws that stipulate that approximately half the board seats are up for election each year. The positions carried forward are held by Helen Flores, Laurie Cohen, Keith Hagel and Steve Pellinen. You may nominate a candidate with their permission, or throw your own hat into the ring. Send your nominations or questions to

Candidates should submit a short bio, a statement of qualifications, and what you hope to accomplish during your term in office should you be elected. Include any particular skills or experience that you think enhance your qualifications.

Members of the Board of Directors should have a desire to serve and a belief in WGPO’s commitment to play often, play fair and have fun. Directors should familiarize themselves with the history of WGPO and thoroughly read and understand the requirements, rules and laws that apply to nonprofit, tax-exempt corporations (see WGPO Articles and Bylaws and IRS Publication 557). Board Members should also work well with others and be ready to accept majority decisions that differ from their own.

The activities of the Board vary in time and complexity such that it’s difficult to estimate the amount of time expected of members, but Directors should be ready to commit to 5 – 10 hours per month, with some months needing more and some less.

During this nomination period, WGPO will also be reviewing and refining our membership roster to identify active WGPO members and update contact information in our database. Look for more information on this process in the coming days.


The WGPO Board of Directors

Exciting News!

Dear Players,

We have exciting and quite possibly game-changing news we want to share with
the Scrabble® community, beginning with the following slightly edited email that
WGPO Executive Committee member Keith Hagel received from long time expert
player Jon Shreve in December 2020:

Hi Keith,

I am sending this note to you, but intending it to be shared appropriately
within WGPO.

The Oct 26, 2020 Sports Illustrated article made me realize (much as I am
sure you have known) how much of Scrabble’s decline has been self-
made. I had thought before of WGPO as an alternative, but I am now
thinking that WGPO should attempt to take the leading place in this space.

If WGPO is able to become officially a non-profit organization, then I would
be willing to commit $100,000 per year (from our family foundation, the
Carter Chapman Shreve Family Foundation) to supporting WGPO. I would
want to confirm the intended use of the funds. I think it would primarily be to
offer a large prize fund for the Word Cup, and could also see seeding some
other tournaments.

Please let me know what you think, and whether you would like to discuss.


Since then, in consultation with Jon, the elected WGPO leaders have moved
cautiously, wanting to make sure our ducks were in order. We have retained an
attorney to guide us through the complex processes involved in incorporating as a
nonprofit and applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS (started two years ago
but tabled by the pandemic). Now, with WGPO legally incorporated, the new
bylaws overwhelmingly approved by membership vote, and application to the IRS
imminent, we feel it is the right time to inform everyone of this extraordinary
opportunity for WGPO and the Scrabble® community.

Under its new bylaws, WGPO must restructure into one Board, and we hope that
there will be an immediate interest, and corresponding increase in membership,
ahead of our December vote for the players who will serve on that Board. The
current EC and BPR members will serve as a temporary Board until the election
determines our new Directors going forward. If ever there was a time to join
WGPO, this might be it. WGPO places no requirements other than membership on
those who are tournament players, directors or committee members of other
organizations and would welcome their participation, knowledge and experience.
We hope the generous support from Jon and his foundation will stimulate
continuing and increasing revitalization of our game. This has already begun on
several fronts and we want to be open to partnering with others as we go forward.
Our community seems poised for some exciting progress as we return to post-
pandemic live play. WGPO intends to be an integral part of that, but it takes a
village to build or rebuild a community. The road ahead of us will have some turns
and blind spots and will be best negotiated by an active and lively Board of
Directors and community of players who are interested in bringing our various
factions together for the good of the players and love of the game. The heart and
soul of WGPO is the collegial attitude that extends across and pervades all that we
do. We want to retain what’s best about us while exploring new possibilities, and
we extend a warm invitation to ALL players who share our vision to join us.

The last word belongs to Jon Shreve:

“I have been playing Scrabble all my life, and in tournaments since 1985, and I love
the game. The tournament (and club) scene has declined over this time, partially of
our own making, and partially because of environmental factors. It is up to all of
us to reinvigorate the Scrabble world. There are lots of ways we can do this, and I
am sure many of you have ideas.

I chose to support WGPO, because our principles are aligned with the good of the
game. I also challenge others to contribute to WGPO, as well. With time and effort
we can rebuild the community of over-the-board players (old and young!)”

From Keith Hagel, Steve Pellinen, Nancee Mancel, Laurie Cohen, Helen Flores,
Susi Tiekert, Maurice Ross , Kirsten Gwilliam – the temporary Board of Directors
of the Word Game Players’ Organization