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:
I am sending this note to you, but intending it to be shared appropriately
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
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