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.
Thanks!

Jon

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

WGPO – Special Election is Here

From the Elections Committee:

Dear WGPO Members
We are holding this election to ask for your vote on an important issue affecting our organization, changing the WGPO bylaws to allow its incorporation as a nonprofit organization. Your vote matters.  WGPO is a player run organization and player input is critically important to its continued success.
If you registered or voted in any of the previous three year’s elections, you have already been emailed a ballot (it may arrive in your spam folder, so please check there if needed). If you did not receive an electronic ballot and would like to vote, please email your request to elections@wordgameplayers.org and you will receive your ballot by email.
Electronic voting ends on  (11:59pm Central time). You may also print out and return a paper ballot, but it must be received by . Contact elections@wordgameplayers.org for more details about paper ballots.
Revisions to the existing bylaws of the WGPO (including replacement) require an affirmative vote of the membership. The Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives of the WGPO request and recommend a “Yes” vote to replace the current bylaws with the new proposed bylaws in order to be consistent with the Articles of Incorporation and to allow application for tax-exempt status with the IRS. The proposed bylaws must be approved in their entirety, without modification. If the new bylaws are rejected, WGPO will not be able to function practically or legally going forward.

Executive Summary of the Changes

The new bylaws will completely replace our current bylaws due to extensive changes needed to qualify as a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation. A Board of Directors will replace the Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives. Current EC and BPR members remain until a new election is held, possibly on a single day in December. We will need to follow state and federal laws pertaining to nonprofits, some of which seem awkward but we have an attorney to help us when needed. We will continue to operate in a transparent and responsible way as a players’ organization.

More explanation of the changes  can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ujnuHgqWtxQxBlbHhlWCXtGwxfzVh8L2/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=103956436027912322080&rtpof=true&sd=true

The new bylaws can be reviewed in their entirety at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-30ajlEk2efsFD65mKxCnxsG8qRRvaUm/view

The current bylaws are posted on the WGPO website at: http://wordgameplayers.org/about/wgpo-bylaws-2/

WGPO BANK ACCOUNT HACKED

From Steve Pellinen:

Short Version

A little over a month ago I was notified that our bank account was overdrawn. Turns out someone had made a PayPal link to our account and was able to use that link to transfer our funds to their PayPal account. After more than a month of working with the bank, PayPal and the police, the situation has been resolved and we have been reimbursed for the entire amount withdrawn. The culprit has not been caught, which is disturbing.

I think we are going to change banks.

Long Version

About a month ago I received notice that WGPO’s checking account was overdrawn, and a journey began that would take me to our bank’s branch office near home to the bank’s home office in Ohio, to PayPal Security, to the local police department, back to the banks, back to PayPal, several more virtual meetings with the police, several more meetings and phone calls with our local banker, responding to information requests from all of these.

There was no legitimate way that our account could be overdrawn because during the pandemic the account activity has been negligible, with the only payments going to the attorney that was helping with our incorporation process. But over the course of a month, someone had withdrawn all of our funds (about $4,000) using an escalating withdrawal amount until the overdraft occurred, triggering the notice.

It turned out that someone had figured out how to link their PayPal account to our bank account such that they could withdraw funds via PayPal. Long story short, the case is still under investigation, with our funds being reimbursed per bank policy once they determined that we were not at fault.

But wait! No sooner had I confirmed the replacement of the stolen funds when I noticed that two more unauthorized withdrawals ($499 and $999) had been made. I immediately contacted the bank to enquire how this could be. Didn’t they put some type of block on this person’s ability to continue using their illegitimate PayPal connection? Well, it turns out that, no, the bank has no mechanism or procedure to prevent this from happening again and doesn’t work with PayPal to get them to stop this at their end. WTF? Don’t they care that they’ll have to keep reimbursing us for these unauthorized withdrawals?

After I talked with bank central, they informed our local banker that they can, in fact, block payments to PayPal when asked to do so. So I asked them to do so. Case closed, right? Not so  fast – those last two withdrawals would not be reimbursed. Again, WTF? This was exactly the same type of loss that they had previously reimbursed, so why not this time?

The explanation from bank Dispute Services: “We are unable to reimburse you for the transaction(s) in this dispute case for the following reason(s): The disputed transaction(s)looks like your normal account activity. You have previous undisputed transactions(s) for the same or similar retailers, location, frequency, and/or transaction amount(s).”

Seriously? This looks like the kind of conclusion an AI algorithm with incomplete information would reach. Surely no human investigator would have the gall to suggest that because they reimbursed us for similar amounts that these were now considered “normal account activity?” Or that those reimbursements were not made for disputed transactions just a few days previously? At this point I’m getting frustrated with the process and go back to my local bank branch for help. I find a sympathetic bank officer who takes on the task of dealing with the Dispute Services department on my behalf. Three weeks later, all is good, except that I received no explanation for why it took so long t. We have been reimbursed for all of the unauthorized withdrawals, I changed the password and we’re back in business.

But I’m pretty sure we’re going to change banks.

Updated Tournament Rules – Effective September 1

Updated WGPO sanctioned tournament play rules:

The Board of Player Representatives (BPR) has been monitoring current Covid-19 CDC guidelines that affect WGPO sanctioned tournament rules previously established by the BPR to get back to in-person play. Those rules will expire on August 31, 2021. The BPR has decided to renew the previous rules with some minor adjustments:

WGPO Tournament Rules

September 1-December 31, 2021

The Board of Player Representatives will continue to allow directors to hold sanctioned WGPO tournaments. Rules will be in effect September 1December 31, 2021, or until amended.  Rules apply to sanctioned tournament play only. Standards for resuming local WGPO Club play shall be determined by individual clubs and directors. 

1.Tournaments must not violate local health directives.

2. Participants must appropriately wear a mask during tournament time.

3. Tournaments must be held at a location that is away from the general public (e.g., in a private room in a restaurant, community center, hotel, private home, etc.)

4. At registration, participants must provide the director with evidence that they have been fully vaccinated more than two weeks past their final COVID-19 shot. Copies of images of the card are acceptable.

5.  On the day of the tournament, each participant shall attest by signature to the following: 

I do not currently have COVID-19 symptoms.

I am assuming all risks of attending the tournament.

I have fully cleaned and sanitized all equipment offered for use in play.

I will practice safe hygiene and follow COVID-19 safety precautions.

 6. Directors at a minimum should provide hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes to participants.

Requests for changes to the rules established for sanctioned WGPO tournament play from September 1- December 31, 2021, must be approved by the BPR Board prior to tournament play. 

The BPR may approve changes to dates and rules as CDC guidelines change and/or are deemed appropriate. Future BPR meetings to revisit changes and make amendments will occur when necessary.

Return to the Pruneyard

Jeannie Wilson accepts performance prize from Bennett

Jeannie Wilson accepts performance prize from Bennett

We have a twenty-some year history of Pruneyard tournaments.  Most have happened on Memorial weekend, but our return this year was mid-August.  Twenty-two of us followed Covid protocols (for the most part) and enjoyed the comradeship of fellow Scrabble® addicts.  Bennett Jacobstein did his usual superb job of organizing and running the event.  We’re hoping we can gather there with even more of our friends next year.

Dinner photo from Julia Swaney, others courtesy of Jeannie Wilson.  Thanks to both of you.

Kevin Fraley, Winner, Division A

Kevin Fraley, Winner, Division A

Angela Dancho, Winner Division B

Angela Dancho, Winner Division B

Gary Smart, Collins Winner

Gary Smart, Collins Winner

Billy Nakamura and Benjamin Ansell

Billy Nakamura and Benjamin Ansell

Break time

Break time

Lunch

Lunch

Dinner

Dinner