2012 Word Cup

As a start to the goal of moving the WGPO Word Cup around the continent, the 2012 version will be held in Bloomington, Minnesota, on August 3 – 8. Event details still need to be worked out, but there likely will be an Early Bird on Friday, August 3, followed by a five-day, 31 – 35 game Main Event, similar to this year’s Word Cup in Reno.

The tournament will take place at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel Bloomington – Minneapolis South, just a few miles from the Twin Cities International Airport and Mall of America. Free shuttles to and from those locations, from which light rail connects to downtown Minneapolis, Target Field (Minnesota Twins) and places between.

Stay tuned for details,

Steve Pellinen

2011/07/03-04 WGPO Committees and BPR Meeting

WGPO Committees and Board of Player Representatives Meeting

Reno, NV

July 3-4, 2011

Attendees:  Stephanie Steele, Keith Hagel, Peggy Grant, Susi Tiekert, Steve Pellinen, Rick Wong, Larry Rand, Janice Kaye (nonvoting), Melissa Brown (nonvoting).  (Laurie Cohen was unable to attend.)

Meeting Chair:  Day One – Stephanie; Day Two – Keith


The Sunday, July 3 meeting was called to order by Stephanie.

1) Rules update (Susi)

Susie distributed copies of the rules.  Susie believes this is a complete first draft, as written by her with editorial assistance from Melissa.  These rules are intended to be used at WGPO clubs and tournaments in lieu of any other organization’s rules.  As NASPA comes out with new rules, WGPO will review and determine if revision necessary.  Moved by Rick that the committees and the board review the draft, and discuss at a future meeting.  Seconded by Peggy, and passed unanimously.

2) Director’s test update (Janice)

Janice reported that two people (Bill Pizer and Michael Bradley) have taken the Director’s test, which was created by Peggy and revised by Janice.  Janice will distribute a final copy of the test to committees and board.  Stephanie moved that the test contact info should be included on the website; the motion was seconded.  It was agreed that Larry and Rick will announce during the Word Cup that the test is available.  Expressing interest in taking the test is not a commitment to doing so.  WGPO will utilize only the one test, and it will be used only for new directors; not required for those who have already passed the NSA/NASPA test.  Keith will compile a list of all the WGPO members who are directors.

3) Director’s recognition (Peggy)

Peggy would like the group to consider expanding recognition of directors for the next year with the goal of focusing on having more WGPO tournaments.  Peggy moved to adopt, in principle, to offer a tournament entry fee reduction or waiver incentive for any director who directs a WGPO tournament in the next fiscal year.   Details need to be worked out before this incentive is implemented.   Keith seconded.  Supported:  all except Rick and Larry, who abstained.

4) 2012 and 2013 Word Cups (Keith)

Keith stated that planning should being immediately for the 2012 and 2013 Word Cup tournaments.  Rick stated that he has already made arrangements with the Grand Sierra Resort (Reno) to hold a tournament there at the beginning of July 2012.   Minneapolis was discussed as a good choice for the Word Cup because of its central US location with easy access by a large number of WGPO members.   Keith stated that a committee should be formed and given 30 days to make arrangements for holding the WC in the Minneapolis area.  If arrangements are not made in 30 days, the early July Reno tournament can again be the WC.  Keith moved that a committee be formed immediately to plan the 2012 Word Cup Tournament in Minneapolis to be confirmed in 30 days, and that a committee also be established to begin planning for 2013.  Rick seconded.  Unanimously passed.

5) Formal recognition of WGPO as a legitimate organization by Hasbro(Larry)

Larry proposed that the group approach Hasbro with information about WGPO and ask for formal recognition, because WGPO has almost 800 members, directors, tournaments all over the country, rule book, word list, software for directing, and inclusion in the monthly newsletter.  There was discussion around licensing agreement, and the pros and cons of approaching Hasbro.  Early on Steve had approached Hasbro and did not get a response.  Steve considering approaching Hasbro about the NAST using the registered trademarked name.  There was not a formal motion or vote on this item.

Because of time constraints, it was decided that the meeting will be continued on Monday, July 4.

Two additional items were discussed:

  • Holding a WGPO membership meeting for everyone in the tournament on Tuesday, July 5 at  8 pm in Crystal Ballroom.  Unanimously agreed.
  • There is a $2000 balance due for the Word Cup shirts.  Moved by Steph that the balance be paid by WGPO , seconded by Keith, passed unanimously.

Meeting adjourned.

*     *     *     *     *

The Monday, July 4 meeting was called to order by Keith.

Continued discussion of Item #1 (Rules).  After their initial review, Steve and Rick gave some general comments on the conciseness and tone of the document.  It was agreed that Susi will provide a soft copy of the document to all attended, with comments due to her by August 1st, with the goal of having a finalized copy completed for the Wisconsin Dells tournament.  Rick moved that comments are due August 1st, seconded by Larry, and agreed upon unanimously.

6) Establishment of a Scholarship Fund (Susi)

Susi proposed setting up a scholarship fund for people who cannot afford to travel to a WGPO tournament.  There was discussion around how to raise funds for this effort (for example $1 per entrant per tournament or asking for voluntary contributions).  Steve proposed setting up a Scholarship fund, asking for voluntary contributions, with a committee set up to determine winners.  Rick moved that WGPO look into to establishing some sort of scholarship fund and look into administering it.  Steve seconded, passed unanimously.

7) A plan to get more tournaments (Keith)

Keith stated his concern that there is a small number of WGPO tournaments, mostly held in the Midwest and West.  Keith commented that more directors are needed.  TC Houlgate-West from California and Marcia Wade from Indiana have expressed interest in taking the director’s test, per Janice.  Bill Pizer, who has taken the test, is planning to look into directing a tournament in New York, and others in the East have expressed interest in directing.  Regional plan suggested by Keith.  Peggy raised the idea of having a destination tournament in the East or Midwest, to be directed by Larry, ensuring that it does not conflict with any NASPA event.  Larry mentioned looking into a place that has not had tournaments before, like St. Louis.   Steph reinforced the idea of incentive to get new directors.  Keith suggested Hartford and Peggy suggested Mystic, CT.  There was not a formal motion on this item.

8.) Open discussion.

Rick said that he is considering delivering speech for closing ceremonies to state that WGPO is not competing with NASPA, but to look for new ways to become a better organization.  Rick estimates that 5 million people in the US play the word game, and even attracting 1% of them would be a big opportunity.  His idea to bill a national tournament as a convention including lectures and other innovative features to attract the fan base.  Look at what has succeeded in other industries.  Steph and Steve agree it is a good idea …  Think different, like the Apple slogan.  Susi cautioned against use of the trademarked name in advertising.  Timing suggested for first thing Wednesday morning or immediately before the awards ceremony for Rick to do a 10 minute speech.

Membership meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday evening.  Steph will take minutes or engage someone else to do it.  Format of the meeting was  discussed.  Moderator of meeting will be Peggy.  There will not be a formal agenda, instead, it will be a Q and A with the audience.  Keith suggested that EC and committee members introduce themselves.

Motion to adjourn was made by Keith and seconded by Steph.

Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Melissa Brown

2011/07/05 WGPO Membership Meeting

WGPO Membership Meeting

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grand Sierra Resort

Reno, Nevada

WGPO Player Representative Peggy Grant called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.

The Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives introduced themselves:

Keith Hagel, EC

Stephanie Steele, EC

Rick Wong, EC

Susi Tiekert, BPR

Larry Rand, BPR

Steve Pellinen, BPR

Peggy Grant, BPR

Not present was Laurie Cohen, BPR

Peggy opened the floor to questions from the membership. She addressed the question of the different roles of the Executive Committee & the Board of Player Representatives:

The Executive Committee oversees the day-to-day operations of WGPO while the Board of Player Representatives deals with the policies and bylaws.

She related how the bylaws were used for one of their first tasks, that of filling a vacancy on the Board when a newly elected rep defaulted.

Tobey Roland, MD, asked what the status was of WGPO becoming a nonprofit.  Keith Hagel, EC, responded that it is an issue the two boards want to discuss.  Susi Tiekert states we should just continue as we are.  Steve Pellinen, who was on the NASPA Steering Committee told us that they all agreed NASPA was to become a nonprofit, but when Chris Cree incorporated he only put three voting members on the Board of Trustees, with no voting power for players and that there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Peggy stressed the fact that WGPO charges no fees for ratings or other services.  The budget comes entirely from raffles and donations.  There is no “war chest”; everything is totally volunteer.

Dennis Fenichel, MN, thought this tournament was more well-run than the nationals in which he’s been playing for over 25 years.  He suggested that many members would be willing to pay a membership fee, as he would.

Stephanie Steele, EC, responds that WGPO wanted to make it clear that it is not necessary to charge large fees to play competitive scrabble, or to receive a rating.

Keith H. said it’s in the bylaws that any consideration of a ratings fee or membership dues would be voted on by the whole membership.

T.C. Houlgate-West, CA, objects to NASPA requiring membership in order to play in a tournament.  She considers becoming a director in order to bring in new players to try tournaments.  Asks if WGPO can do cross-tables, and about Cornelia Guest’s newsletter.

Peggy clarified that Cornelia’s newsletter has become independent from NASPA, but it is linked from the WGPO site.  It’s a good source for things related to scrabble.

Stephanie reports that Brian Galebach is working on the web site.

Gretchen Cowan, CA, suggested everyone send a contribution to WGPO for Brian Galebach, who does the web site, and other volunteers to receive some remuneration.  Janice Kaye, MN,  requested that contributions be sent to her instead of using the Pay Pal link on the web site to avoid the fees they charge.  Steve Pellinen also warned that Pay Pal may freeze funds because they consider scrabble a “gambling” operation.

Stu Goldman, CA, asked if there’s a newsletter just for WGPO.  Peggy responded that  minutes of meetings are posted on the web site as soon as they’re available.  Rick Wong further stressed that this is a “Players’” organization.  The Executive Committee and Board of Player Reps won’t do a newsletter at this time, but members could form a committee and do it.  He offered the help of the BPR and the EC.

Peggy reiterated that the organization is about the members and their active involvement.  Janice Kaye offered to help members become directors, as we need more people to direct tournaments.  Stephanie Steele also volunteered to help new directors with tournaments.

TC Houlgate-West questioned whether the word “Scrabble” can be used in our publicity.  Stu Goldman pointed out that the hotel signs about our tournament do not use the word “Scrabble” at all.  Rick Wong explained that their 5 year contract with the hotel is for WCC (West Coast Championships), but the hotel changed it to WGPO as soon as they were told.  Stu feels if “Scrabble” were in the title, it might generate new interest.

Mary Capalbi, FL, inquired about the demographics, noting that there were not many players from the east coast. Peggy assured her that it’s being addressed.  Keith reported that WGPO has higher membership from CA, MN, and the mid-Atlantic states.  But membership numbers are low on the east coast. WGPO needs to expand membership there, hoping members will become directors and start WGPO tourneys in that area.  TC Houlgate-West suggested encouraging easterners, as she sees a lot of support from there.  Peggy has cultivated relationships from Boston to the South.  She’s attempting to get people willing to direct WGPO tourneys along the mid-Atlantic corridor.  Peggy says about 80% of active players don’t care whether a tourney is NASPA or WGPO, but about 20% are afraid to make the choice.

Ed Liebfried (Mr. Bicoastal), currently in OR but moving to VT, volunteers to enlist friends in the east to become WGPO members & directors, but he wants to get a feel for the “lay of the land” first.  He’s concerned people will have questions about WGPO using the word list and any tools that were developed by NASPA.  Stephanie reassures him that the tournament Scrabble community “owns” these components of tournament Scrabble, and not any one organization.

Larry Rand further explained that WGPO has not stolen from NASPA. The word list was developed by players, not NSA, not NASPA, but by a player.  Zzyzzva was developed by player Michael Thelen.  We were on crosstables until Chris Cree asked Seth to stop listing our tournaments.  Brian Galebach does the ratings for zilch.  The fees for this tournament would cost over $2000 with NASPA.  WGPO has no newsletter, but “The Last Word” has lots of info. It belongs to no one except Cornelia Guest and the volunteers who submit to it.  Larry also confirmed that a rule book draft is being submitted to the EC and BPR for review to be ready by fall.  He promises it won’t be 27 pages long, and will give directors more latitude.

Stephanie has heard the comment that “WGPO can do it all for free because it’s riding on the coattails of NASPA.”  She feels our organization was stolen from us when Chris Cree walked away from the Steering Committee and made NASPA his corporation.

Keith H. stated that the rules will be open to critique from all members.  He spoke about Chris Cree’s ending the newsletter and firing the communication committee members, of which he was one.  None of them were ever paid anything.

Peggy confirms that WGPO exists because of the philosophical differences with NASPA. WGPO wants players to have input.

Michael David, WI, asks if he should start school scrabble through NSA.  Stephanie said he could do it through WGPO, as Brian has developed a school teams rating system.  She offered to network with him since she does school scrabble.  The NSA does not do high school Scrabble.

Barbara Van Alen, AZ, who took over the Phoenix Club 29 years ago, says she finds the same warm, friendly atmosphere (sans politics) at WGPO events, that she experienced at the Phoenix Club.  She offered to help direct a WGPO tournament anywhere.

Ruth Hamilton, OR asked what the money contributed goes toward.  She feels Brian deserves thousands of dollars for his work, but WGPO couldn’t pay that.  Janice Kaye reported there’s $2400 in the account at a TCF bank in St. Paul.  These are some of the expenditures:

Web site $50

Recognition awards


Possible other uses could include scholarships for those who can’t afford to enter a tournament.  Stephanie directed members to the web site where all the expenses are posted.  Rick Wong suggested donating time and involvement to make WGPO better, instead of sending money.

Larry R. acknowledged all the contributions of time and talent from players who wanted to give something back to the game:  Pairing program from Fontes, Tourney man from Jeff Widergren, Director from Mark Levesque.  They received no payment for their programs.

Albert Hahn, Canada, asked why ratings of non-members aren’t shown on the web site.  Larry responded that some tournament players didn’t want to be recognized as WGPO players, and Peggy affirmed that it’s out of respect for those players. Rick says it doesn’t have to stay that way, and that WGPO exists for all its members. Stu G. suggested asking non-members if they want their ratings publicized. Peggy asserted that none of us knew whether we were playing a WGPO member or not, that we were all here just to play!

A WGPO member from CA who requested anonymity, detailed having had a difficult year because of the differences between members of both organizations.  He is contributing to both groups, directing at the Dallas open. But feels one organization doesn’t meet all needs.  Steve P. spoke of being on the NASPA budget committee with this member, as its chair person.  The biggest difference he sees between NASPA and WGPO is the “can’t do” versus the “can do” attitude.  He tried to get both organizations to work together, but NASPA defrocked him as a director, and booted him from three committees, not at his request.

Peggy acknowledged the philosophical difference, and the feeling of angst with NASPA, feeling that a player’s organization will work best.  Steph reminds us that the break from NSA and Hasbro was the opportunity for players to have their own organization.  But Chris Cree chose to make NASPA his own business, and also passed up numerous opportunities to try and bring the community together.

Steve P. asserted that growth will need to come from new people, not NASPA.  Denise Mahnken NY/SC, thinks NASPA will undermine WGPO as they are formidable, calling people telling them not to play WGPO tournaments, etc.  Keith promises WGPO won’t be intimidated by the possibilities.  Rick feels those tactics won’t work, but stresses increasing WGPO membership by enlisting some of the 5 million people in the US playing scrabble. Rick plans to give a 10 minute motivational speech immediately after the tourney on Wednesday.

Marcia Wade, IN, has been playing tournament Scrabble for a long time and has decided to become a WGPO director.   She remembers paying $10 for tourneys when most of the money went back to the players.  She feels WGPO is a good organization.

Marie Gier, FL, questioned how much money would go to NASPA from this tourney (if it was a NASPA event) and for what.  Rick says total fees would be about $2200. Peggy says we don’t know where NASPA money goes, and asked Tobey Roland to share what he found about their budget.  He detailed expenditures and deposits, showing NASPA made $100, 000 for the 6 months of 2009 they were in existence.

Lester Schonbrun, CA, applauds Rick for his well-run tourneys, making scrabble fun.  He feels WGPO is run in the same spirit.


Peggy adjourned the meeting at 9:40 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Bobbi Hendrickson

2011/05/19 BPR Minutes

BPR minutes: May 19, 2011
Matter: Appointment of vacated BPR seat
Members present: Peggy Grant, Steve Pellinen, Susi Tiekert, and Laurie Cohen

BPR met and called for discussion concerning the matter of filling the vacated seat on the BPR of WGPO. There was discussion of the BPR and review of the WGPO bylaws. The bylaws state that the responsibility of filling a vacated seat is that of the BPR. A motion was made and seconded, and the matter was unanimously passed, that the BPR would nominate and appoint a WGPO member in good-standing to fill the vacated seat.

BPR called for discussion concerning the process which would be followed in order to select a candidate to fill the vacated seat on WGPO. A motion was made and seconded and the matter was unanimously passed, to send a “call for candidates” to the general membership with request of a short biography from members to be considered in the selection process.

As of the deadline, two WGPO members submitted names for consideration of the vacated seat: Larry Rand, AZ and Pat Feigin, FL.
After discussion of the merits of each candidate, based on information submitted to the WGPO, a motion was made and seconded to appoint Larry Rand to fill the vacated seat on the BPR. The motion was carried and approved with 3-0 vote (Pellinen, Cohen, Grant) with 1 abstention (Tiekert).

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the WGPO BPR,
Peggy Grant – BPR
May 19, 2011

Inaugural WGPO Word Cup 2011

The WGPO is proud to announce its inaugural championship, the WGPO Word Cup, which will be held July 1-6, 2011, at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada.  The tournaments are being organized by Jeff Widergren and the WGPO, and will be directed by Rick Wong and Larry Rand.  An 8 game Open Early Bird, “The Preamble,” will take place Friday, July 1st.  The Premier Event will feature three divisions, each playing 35 games, July 2nd-6th.

The Grand Sierra has attractive room rates for our group, starting at only $66/night. You must register with the group code (SCS11) or using the WGPO Reservation link to receive a $40 refund at registration.  Maximum two refunds per room.  A $25 refund will also be given to players who postmark their payment by Saturday, April 2nd.

The entry fee for the Preamble is $45.   The entry fee for all three divisions in the Premier Event is $140.  Unlimited play ups are permitted.  Your current recognized rating on 6/30/11 will be used for qualification into restricted divisions.  WGPO ratings take precedence.

Premier Event:

Red Division:  No rating restrictions
White Division:  1650 and below
Blue Division: 1200 and below

A flier and entry form are currently available at this link. A list of entrants, under “upcoming tournaments” is being maintained at the website for all events.  If you plan on attending, please reply to larryrand@cox.net and let me know if you plan to play in the “Preamble” and/or the Premier Event.

As everyone is paying the same Premier Event entry fee,  players WILL have the option of changing divisions anytime without penalty until 10PM, Friday, July, 1st.

The Reno 2011 Martin Luther King tournament, held in January, returned 117% of all entry fees to the players in rebates and prizes thanks to the Grand Sierra’s contribution to the prize fund.  The 2011 WGPO Word Cup will not disappoint you!  Come celebrate the Fourth of July weekend and the Red, White and Blue!

Please forward all questions to larryrand@cox.net

Rick Wong and Larry Rand

Jeff Widergren and the WGPO

2011/02/20 Meeting Minutes

WGPO Committees and Board of Player Representatives Meeting

Phoenix, AZ

February 20, 2011

Attendees:  Stephanie Steele, Keith Hagel, Peggy Grant, Steve Pellinen, Rick Wong, Laurie Cohen, Janice Kaye (nonvoting), Larry Rand (nonvoting), Melissa Brown (nonvoting).

Minutes recorded by:  Melissa Brown

Meeting Chair: Steve Pellinen


  1. Duties of Executive Committee (EC) and Board of Player Representatives (BPR)
    1. The duties of the EC and BPR are outlined in the WGPO Bylaws. EC shall be responsible for “day to day” operations and decisions, while the BPR shall be responsible for setting policy, either brought to it from the EC or from the players at large; this may or may not necessitate member input / vote of the players depending on the issue. Keith suggested that WGPO maintain a policy manual documenting the policy decisions.
    2. Peggy suggested that the BPR split up the members for representation, somewhat based on geography, but not solely. With discussion, Peggy agreed to take the membership roster and study how it could be distributed, and make a proposal back to the EC/BPR.
  2. Word Cup
    1. Schedule: Friday, July 1st: 8-game Early Bird. Saturday, July 2nd through Wednesday, July 6th: 35 games, 3 divisions. Entry fees will not be as disparate as in January, which was $150/$75. Would like something more in the range of $125/$100/$100.
    2. Discussion around having three divisions: Division 3 with a maximum rating of 1199, Division 2 with ratings above 1200 (the group did not reach agreement on whether the cutoff for division 2 should be 1600, 1650, or 1700) and an Expert Division; there will be unlimited play-up to both Division 2 and the Expert Division.
    3. Distribution of entry fee money to winners of the respective divisions was discussed, but conclusion not reached.
    4. A Word Cup Committee will be formed to continue discussing and to finalize the details of the event, at Keith’s suggestion, with Rick agreeing.
    5. Larry Rand would like the group to consider awarding prize cups in memory of the late Al and Vicky DeMers, to be sponsored by their daughter Sheryl DeMers. This will be decided by the EC.
  3. Growth and Development:
    1. WGPO Clubs: Currently, clubs are listed on the WGPO website under the title designated by individual club directors. Mary Rhoades has stated to Carol Dustin, Chair of WGPO Clubs Committee, that any NASPA club advertised on the WGPO website must include the official NASPA designation.
      1. Stephanie proposed a motion that the listing of clubs on the WGPO website shall not include the NASPA designation in the club name. Motion was seconded by Keith, with suggestion of including a footnote that clubs are sponsored by other organizations. Failed 2-3-1 (Steph and Keith for; Rick, Peggy and Steve against; Laurie abstained).
      2. Rick proposed a motion that that club directors should decide how they want their club listed on the WGPO site. Passed 5-1 (Steph, Rick, Peggy, Laurie and Steve for; Keith against). It was agreed that the club page would list at the top that these are WGPO clubs, some of which may be affiliated with other organizations as well.
      3. Peggy suggested a recruitment incentive for directors for running clubs and tourneys, and proposed that “free entry” to a WGPO tourney be considered. The EC/ BPR supported idea of incentives, and Rick suggested that Word Cup entry would be a good place to consider due to anticipated size of the tourney to support waived tourney registration for qualifying directors. Peggy will work on those details and get approval from BPR and EC. Peggy continues to work on the WGPO director’s test, and will coordinate with Susi T. as the WGPO rules are developed/ condensed for implementation.
    2. NASPA:
      1. Peggy suggested that there should be a designated person who acts as WGPO liaison with NASPA. Group discussed and concluded that such a liaison is not currently needed.
      2. Posting WGPO announcements on CGP was discussed. It was concluded that the policy on interfacing with other organizations will be similar to the previous informal policy. Also, any formal dialogue will be directed simultaneously and in writing/email to the three members of the EC.
    3. Outreach and Publicity: Rick proposed a motion that WGPO form a committee to handle outreach and publicity. Motion seconded and passed unanimously. Peggy Grant will lead this effort.
    4. Web development: Keith and Rick will discuss offline.
    5. Incorporation: The issue of incorporation of WGPO will be researched by Steve for presentation and discussion at a later date. It was agreed that Steve will lead a committee on the research.

Conclusion:  It was suggested that another meeting be held and documented in Reno at Word Cup 2011, and any other tourney at which we have a quorum of EC/BPR (which would be at least 2 of EC and 3 of BPR; would consider use of electronic devices to make quorum in needed).

Meeting Adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,
Melissa Brown