Silicon Valley Classic is Back! Come join us.

Gretchen Cowan celebrating at the Pruneyard in 2014

Gretchen Cowan celebrating at the Pruneyard in 2014

From Bennett Jacobstein:

The 29th Annual Silicon Valley Classic will be held at the Pruneyard Plaza in Campbell CA from August 13 – 15.  The tournament has been given a waiver and will be allowed a maximum of 60 players.  It has previously always been held on Memorial Day Weekend.  It was not held in 2020 and the 2021 version has been moved to the summer (COVID-19).

The tournament has been held in Santa Clara, Los Gatos, and for the last 20 years at the Pruneyard Plaza Center in Campbell.  The hotel was originally the Pruneyard Plaza Hotel and has now become the Doubletree by Hilton.

It was started by Johnny Nevarez and has been directed over the years by Rick Wong, Jeff Widergren, John Karris, John Green, Steve Pellinen and Bennett Jacobstein.

Notable tournament-related highlights have included a very young Noah Walton singing opera at a group dinner at Buca di Beppo, Stu Goldman’s great upset at whoever used his jacket to cover up an air-conditioning vent (many years later it was revealed the culprit was Alan Whitman), and Chris Cree chasing John Green down the hall to discuss how the pairings were done.

Past tournament winners have included many prominent Scrabble players:

1992 – Ellis Wyer

1993 – Steven Alexander

1994 – Lester Schonbrun

1995 – Brian Cappelletto

1996 – Lester Schonbrun

1997 – Jim Geary

1998 – Ira Cohen

1999 – Lisa Odom

2000 – Lester Schonbrun

2001 – Jeff Widergren

2002 – J Goard

2003 – Dave Weigand

2004 – Nathan Benedict

2005 – Jerry Lerman

2006 – Lester Schonbrun

2007 – Dominick Mancine

2008 – Scott AnderBois

2009 – Andrew Friedrich

2010 – Jeff Widergren

2011 – Kevin Fraley

2012 – Noah Walton

2013 – Dominick Mancine

2014 – Lewis Martinez

2015 – Jerry Lerman

2016 – Lisa Odom

2017 – Robin Levin

2018 – Kevin Fraley (TWL)

2018 – Bruce Ward (Collins)

2019 – Norases (Saint) Vesdapunt (TWL)

2019 – Bruce Ward (Collins)

2020 – Not held due to COVID-19

2021 – ??????????????????????????????????

Tournament Time!!!

The Board of Player Representatives is excited to announce it has established the following minimum standards for directors to resume holding sanctioned tournaments beginning this summer.

WGPO Summer Tournament Rules

June 1-August 31, 2021

The Board of Player Representatives has established the following minimum standards for directors to resume holding sanctioned tournaments. Rules will be in effect June 15, 2021 – August 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. Tournaments will have a maximum of 16 entrants.

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 resuming sanctioned WGPO tournament play from June 6, 2021 until August 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. A future BPR meeting to revisit changes and make amendments will occur when necessary.


What’s happening in WGPO governance, lexicon, and return to live play.
The main focus lately has been on the incorporation process, and I’m glad to report that WGPO is now incorporated as a nonprofit corporation. We have functioned as an unincorporated nonprofit organization for 11 years, but in the last couple of years have been approached with some opportunities that in one case, at least, require the corporate status. Our bylaws anticipated the possible need or desire to incorporate and made for a fairly straightforward process in which we retained the services of an attorney who specializes in not-for-profit corporations.
Our next step will be the application for federal tax-exempt status. In the meantime, we will be holding a special election of the membership to approve a new set of bylaws which have been prepared to be consistent with our new Articles of Incorporation and pending tax-exempt status. We will publish our Articles and proposed Bylaws on the WGPO website in the near future and will announce the special election after interested members have had a chance to review our new governing documents.
In many ways we will continue to operate as usual, but the formalities required by incorporation and tax laws will require us to adopt more traditional nomenclature in our governance. We will have an elected Board of Directors consisting of the current Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives, but will need to name at least a minimum number of corporate officers for president, secretary and treasurer out of our Board of Directors pool. Going forward, the EC and BPR may or may not continue as our functional leadership committees, but that will take shape as the Board decides how best to function in its new structure.
The Lexicon Committee has recommended that for the immediate future, the referendum results are best implemented by maintaining the unexpurgated TWL (NWL2018) as the lexicon for rated tournament play. There is some concern that WGPO may be isolating itself from the rest of the Scrabble world, given the decisions made by Scopely (ScrabbleGo), WESPA (Collins) and Woogles to follow the path begun by NASPA to bow to Hasbro and Mattel desires (to remove the slurs). This concern will be addressed in some way as we move forward, but it may connect to other issues as well so, for now, it will be TWL.
An unanswered question remains regarding Collins play – which lexicon will be used in sanctioned WGPO events? The Collins Coalition (CoCo) and probably Woogles will be following WESPA’s lead, while there is evidence from Australia and Africa that a number of organizations will continue to use the unexpurgated CSW19. One approach would be to follow the lead of the TWL vote and continue with the unexpurgated CSW lexicon. However, since this decision only affects the relatively small WGPO Collins community, it may be better to poll those players separately. We invite comments on this, particularly from our Collins players.
Regarding return to live play, some clubs are already meeting together under controlled conditions appropriate for their circumstances. The BPR will be establishing conditions under which rated tournament play may begin.
Steve Pellinen, for the WGPO Executive Committee

Word Cup 10 New Dates: Main Event July 9-13, 2022

Due to the continued uncertainty regarding the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Directors of Word Cup 10 and the WGPO Executive Committee have decided to once again postpone Word Cup until next year. The new dates for the Word Cup Main Event will be July 9-13, 2022.

The playing venue for the rescheduled event will remain unchanged: the DoubleTree by Hilton Lisle – Naperville in the Chicago West Suburbs. Any entry fees paid for 2020 or 2021 will be applied to the new dates or refunded by request.

While we had hoped to gather again in person for this special yearly event, we recognize that it is not yet time to plan for a large in-person event like the Word Cup. For 2021, Directors Lynda Finn and Mike Johnson are instead planning a Virtual “Cup of Words” weekend event tentatively scheduled for August 7-8. More details for the online tournament will follow, but save those dates if you are interested.

WGPO Lexicon Committee has been appointed

Our Lexicon Committee is up and running.

Committee members are Steven Alexander, Christine Economos, Fran Galt, Jim Sherrill, Samuel Smith, and Carl Voss.   They are charged with developing an official WGPO tournament word list.  We thank them for rising to this challenge.