Judy Kay-Wolff


(Original Publishing Date: Jul 9, 2010 @ 21:52)

Yes,  that is Bobby’s pet nickname (and how fitting) for the Pendergraph ….. the long forgotten Vugraph presentation for which Peter Pender’s $50,000 probated endowment was directed to perpetuate his name.   He died in 1990 and according to recent reports, the last sighting of an instrument resembling the Pendergraph was around 1995.

Let’s backtrack a moment.  Peter’s first donation (before his death) of $27,500 was for the Peter Pender Trophy awarded to the winner of the Junior Trials.  That money was intended to be used for engraved replicas to be presented to the winners.   His request was honored for the first few years but we have learned it cratered and lapsed into obscurity for the last fifteen years.

At our request, Jay Baum, conscientious ACBL CEO, has agreed to research the old records, bring the trophy up to date and present engraved likenesses to the worthy winners.  That does not seem to present a problem as there remains over $28,000 – although we are wondering why over a twenty-year period it has not accumulated an enormous amount of accrued interest because so little of the original money was ever used as designated.

However, let us readdress the major problem – the present status of the Pendergaffe.  From the original $50,000, about 20% remains – but the Pendergraph (intended to perpetuate Peter’s name) ceased five years after his death.  How could that happen?

BBO has ably taken over and it is fantastic for viewers both at the NABCs and those watching from their homes all over the world.   For my money, BBO is an incredible contribution to our game – second only to the genius of Charles H. Goren laying the groundwork to put bridge on the map.  However, that does not account for or excuse the use (or misuse) of the money for other similar programs THAT DO NOT HONOR THE NAME OF PETER PENDER.   Incidentally, according to reports from the ACBL, a total of four video cameras were stolen over a period of two Nationals.   I would imagine that insurance would cover their replacements as I’d hate the prospect that it came out of Peter’s endowment.   I also saw reports of repair, upkeep and maintenance expenditures and I couldn’t imagine the nerve to use Peter’s money to support anything other than THE PENDERGRAPH.

This preposterous situation has been called to the attention of the Board of Directors, ACBL President, many individual Board Members, past and present Legal Counsel for the ACBL and the Chairman of the Board of Governors.   Though investigations are underway and reports voluntarily given by the cooperative Educational Foundation, in whose lap apparently the money landed — when I made an inquiry, I was told it was NOT listed on the Agenda to be discussed at the upcoming NABC Board Meetings scheduled in about ten days.  I was not a happy camper!

An attempt to pacify me was made by offering a sincere glimmer of  hope that “it can still be brought up” and the interested parties are earnestly looking for a way to solve the problem.    Having no assurance that this nightmare will be discussed, I felt compelled to make the issue one of public domain.

I do have a suggestion:   Whichever party was not minding the store can start by putting back a humongous portion of the $50,000 into the decedent’s Residuary Estate as his bequest was not honored.  Bear in mind, Peter wanted to be remembered by his contemporaries.  Many of them are pushing up daisies today and few of the newer breed have ever heard of him.   No one can deny we let him down by violating his trust in us.

Let the ACBL BOD or the EF (whichever body was responsible for this embarrassing and disgraceful negligence) either shell out the missing money or come up with an UNBELIEVABLE plan to make amends and honor Peter Pender in the manner in which his money was intended.  Maneuvering seems to be the keyword in today’s universal financial world.   However, when a generous icon in our bridge society dies, it seems a bit much to pick his pocket.

This should be resolved in New Orleans NO MATTER WHAT!   Peter has waited long enough.


MarthaJuly 11th, 2010 at 9:32 am

Leave it to Bobby to come up with such a great play on a word. Perfect description according to the dictionary: “a social blunder.”

However, it appears even more serious with so much money involved. I agree with your going out on a limb as no one but you and Bobby seem to be so concerned to take immediate action to rectify the Pendergraph gaffe!

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 11th, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Hi Martha:

Surprised you found the blog after it departed the designated mainstream because of some new-fangled system that arbitrarily moves and/or removes prior blogs although some others are plastered there for over a week. I suppose the solution must be not to write two blogs close together (regardless of the importance of content or public interest) because one of them gets bumped. Go figure.

As far as the Pendergaffe, it is really no laughing matter.

Those who know about the disgusting misuse of the Pender 50 G bequest are horrified, especially people, like Bobby and myself, who were close friends of Peter. It will be interesting to note if the ACBL BOD will bury their disgusting lethargy for not having someone stand guard over the $50,000 designated for THE PENDERGRAPH or face up to their sloth — by either restoring the money in question or find another significant fashion in which to perpetuate his name — though not in a very timely manner as he died in 1990.

The ACBL BOD meetings start in a week. THE TIME IS NOW! BETTER LATE THAN NEVER.

ChuckJuly 12th, 2010 at 8:40 am

I don’t understand how something like this can happen. I am no expert on managing money left via a Will, but is there not some person who is appointed to watch over the

funds and assure their rightful usage? I would imagine someone or some group has to be accountable.

According to your reports, it was designed to be spent on some machine that existed as the Vugraph and to be reinvented as The Pendergraph. If that was Peter Pender’s intention, why was it not done — but more importantly, when his name was no longer perpetuated, how can those holding the money still lay claim to it? It seems in violation of the decedent’s specific bequest. An open and shut case to me — but I am no lawyer. Am I missing something?

JSJuly 12th, 2010 at 7:44 pm


I rarely read the blog sites and stumbled across yours quite by accident.

Living in Philadelphia, I remember Peter Pender as a well-loved hometown hero although I did not know him very well. I do recall him leaving some money to the league, but it was two decades ago and the details are sketchy. I loved coming into the vugraph room to watch the Pendergraph at the Nationals and laugh at the humorous banter back and forth from the microphone, but didn’t give much thought to its disappearance.

Sorry to learn some of the background. I sure hope the group in charge does something to set the record straight. Keep plugging! You are doing the right thing by pursuing it.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 13th, 2010 at 9:25 am


I am sure many people like yourself admired Peter from afar. He was kind, bright, funny and most of all unpretentious — unaffected by his talent, success and wealth. That is why the whole debacle is so sad.

Diana SchuldJuly 13th, 2010 at 9:41 pm


It’s so nice to hear from you, even though it pertains to this travesty. I’ll never forget Peter at the 1974 Nationals in NYC when he came to the cast party after our second performance of “Bridge to Broadway,” which we reprised as a revue at the 2004 NABC. He was so complimentary of our work and said then that it was the best he’d ever seen at a National.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 13th, 2010 at 9:53 pm


That’s quite a compliment coming from Peter.

However, you have performed a great service to bridge yourself and I was sad to see Phillip Alder’s June 13th New York Times Bridge Column Headline, “A Last Hurrah on Long Island……..” He opened the article bewailing, “There was a sad event this spring: The Vanderbilt Bridge Club in Lake Success, on Long Island, closed its doors. It was started on January 1, 1975 by Diana and Frank Schuld. After Frank died, Diana continued to run the club…..”

If it were up to Diana, she would have kept going with her charming vigor and vitality. However, I learned from her they had terrible flooding with water seeping through the floor and eventually rust, mold and mildew hitting the walls. As Diana said to me, “There was no other place to go, so I called it quits after 35 years, the last of which were in that space.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end — even popular landmark bridge clubs.

A Michigan LawyerJuly 14th, 2010 at 8:56 am

I found this blog on the Pendergaffe interesting.

Peter’s will probably had a clause specifying that the “rest, residue and remainder” of his estate go to some person or entity, which would ordinarily include failed bequests (suppose he designated $X to go to his old partner A, who died before Peter; the bequest fails, and the $X becomes part of the residual estate to be distributed under the (usually) last operative section.

In 1970, the US Supreme Court decided a case called Evans v Abney; in which a rich city dweller, State Sen. A. O. Bacon, had left land to his hometown of Macon, Georgia in 1911 to be used as a park “for whites only”.

Eventually, the park had to be opened to everyone (by virtue of a 1966 US Supreme Court decision, Evans v Newton); the benefactor’s third or fourth generation heirs then successfully petitioned to have the land returned because it could no longer be used in compliance with their ancestor’s stipulations (a crappy result morally, but one that shows how the law treats failure to fulfill conditions that accompany a gift, devise, or bequest, whether such failure occurs immediately or many years later).

Peter probably had an executor, who, if not deceased, could petition the appropriate probate court to reopen the estate to deal with this matter. If the original executor is deceased, someone or something that could benefit from the residuary clause could so petition, and then the EF and ACBL would have to answer to a judicial officer for their handling of the money bequeathed to them with conditions.

Michael LedeenJuly 14th, 2010 at 11:47 am

It’s outrageous for Peter’s desires to remain unfulfilled. Not to mention ghoulish and disgusting. I’m totally with you on BBO, it has had a great impact on my life. But it’s for folks who are not at the tournament. The point of the Pendergraph is to enable kibbitzers right there to watch and enjoy. I did a lot of Vugraph back in the seventies, and everybody enjoyed it immensely. So I suspect there is still a useful role for Peter’s legacy. It’s not only a matter of misappropriation of funds.

I would be happy to help; just tell me how.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 14th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Dear “Michigan Lawyer:”

You really did your homework, although I suspect from your fluent rattling off of Evans v. Abney, this must be a well known precedent for a bequest in a Will which either was not (or could not) be fulfilled to go back into the residuary estate of the decedent.

I personally would rather see the ACBL/EF (whomever was at the reins) restore all moneys spent for anything that did not bear the name Pendergraph. Hopefully, this will be discussed at the New Orleans BOD meetings and resolutions passed to restore equity.

Thanks for your free legal advice and suggested remedy — and in your case — it is NOT what you pay for is what you get!!


Keith GarberJuly 14th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Hi Judy,

I had the opportunity to play against Peter on numerous occasions and was dutifully impressed by his achievements at the bridge table and in life (albeit from afar). It is tragic that things have taken the “Pendergaffe” route and I would like to lend my name and support to the effort to restore Peter’s wishes for posterity.

DiogenesJuly 14th, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I would also think that the estate of Peter Pender was entitled to compounded interest, on the endowment, from the time the Pendergraph was no longer used. The ACBL certainly has had use of these funds and the resulting interest for a very long time.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 14th, 2010 at 5:08 pm

For those of you newcomers who are not familiar with the name of Michael Ledeen, I met him for the first time in 1972 as a young lad when the Omar Sharif Circus came to Philly. No wonder his remarks above are so profound about the Pendergraph as he always covered himself with glory as a brilliant and entertaining analyst on the vugraph panels.

I had not seen Michael (when I knew him he was just plain Mike) in many years until Bobby and I had the pleasure of having dinner with him at the 2008 NABC right here in Las Vegas. We reminisced for a couple of hours about the good old days and shared many heartwarming memories. Although his bridge playing days are limited by his many other responsibilities, I am guessing bridge is still probably his first love (after his wonderful family, of course).

Just so you won’t relegate him to the level of merely another bridge devotee with an opinion, I want to share with you some of his accomplishments that I checked out. Dr. Ledeen is the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and also a contributing editor at The National Review Online and previously served as a consultant to the National Security Council, the State Department and the Defense Department (and also a special adviser to the Secretary of State). Michael has authored over twenty books, mostly on terrorism, and has regularly appeared on Fox News and a variety of talk shows. He has also been on PBS’S News Hour and appeared on Larry King Live. Quite a celebrity amongst us bridge players — but not too busy to speak up against the “ghoulish and disgusting” happenings with the Pendergaffe. Thank you, Michael!

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 14th, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Cyberspace has a way of reuniting old friends. Keith Garber (from NY) and I (from Philly) are transplanted Las Vegans. Although we rarely see each other except down at the Riviera for the Sectionals and Regionals, he was kind enough to reflect upon his memories of Peter Pender, one of his contemporaries. Keith, a rather reserved, modest young man, has quite a few scalps on his own wall and fondly recalls Peter’s achievements both in bridge and in life.

What is so sad (not only that Peter died at such a young age) but that he was so revered by those who played with or against him and the Pendergraph has gone the way of all flesh without a peep up until now!

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 14th, 2010 at 5:38 pm


Right on — from a legal standpoint! There is no doubt that you are correct. However, there are realistic assessments that need to be made, with the end result still to be determined.

When one considers what has transpired, we are all connected to the bridge world — and hopefully with respect for one another. I, personally, am hoping that this will be handled in a civilized way with all masters being served.

From all this muck and mire, we have at least gotten everything out in the open and upon the table.

JSJuly 15th, 2010 at 8:43 am


Forgetting the insult to a man who is not here to defend himself and his generous wishes, how can an organization allow the Pendergraph to just disappear and not explain their actions. It seems to me as a layman, once the Pendergraph name stopped being used and seen, the money flow should have been halted and, YES, I would also want to know where is all that compound interest????????


JoanieJuly 17th, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Well, zero hour approaches. Do you think the Pendergaffe will come up on the agenda at the ACBL BOD meetings?

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 17th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Good question, Joanie!

Though I am sure they would like to assume the roles of ostriches with their heads in the sand, it is going to be a hard issue to avoid! The reason? An earlier detailed email was sent to all 25 members of the Board of Directors, the ACBL CEO and the members of the Board of Governors (who sort of keep an eye on what is going on in the ivory tower).

So, my answer is definitely ‘YES,’ but I’ve been wrong before! However, utmost in everyone’s mind should be the fact that most (excepting perhaps three or four) were not on the Board at the time of the Pendergraph fiasco, are totally blameless, and our findings will come as a shameful shock to the great majority. BUT … that does not exempt them from digesting the facts, verifying all the details and then acting in an honorable way to either abide by Peter Pender’s wishes to perpetuate his name or restore the misdirected money to his residuary estate.

Hard to imagine a third choice.

ReneJuly 18th, 2010 at 9:13 pm


My friends and I read your site but this is my first attempt at a comment.

I am astonished that this situation was not uncovered long before this. Weren’t any of Peter’s family, bridge cronies or friends around to notice how The Pendergraph vanished and didn’t they care enough to find out why? I saw that Bridge Base Online took over and have read you sing their praises. Apparently, from the blogs and comments, no one can (or wants to) account for what actually happened to make the Pendergraph fall off the face of the earth and be replaced by Bridge Base Online.

Doesn’t that seem peculiar to you? Here one day and gone the next. I am not quite clear about whose responsibility it was to look after the money. The ACBL or the Educational Foundation? Hopefully the BOD and the Board of Governors will be able to retrace the steps, pinpoint the strange disappearance of (as you jokingly refer to it) The Pendergaffe and make amends (either monetarily or by some memorial to Mr. Pender). I am astonished that no one raised the question until now.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 19th, 2010 at 9:07 am

Rene — Welcome to the site of bridgeblogging.com. You get a gold star for doing your homework.

What happens remains to be seen. I would be shocked if an investigation by the BOD was not ordered and the findings determine what be done to restore equity to the perpetuation of Mr. Pender’s name and the disappearance of The Pendergraph.

Susi RossJuly 20th, 2010 at 5:36 am

Just want you to know that I do get on your site and do read it. You do a great job of keeping people in touch.

You write with such meaning. Keep it up in letting us know what is going on.



Judy Kay-WolffJuly 20th, 2010 at 9:03 am

Thanks Susi:

Well, it’s Day 2, I believe, of the Board Meetings of the ACBL at the site of Katrina, and have no word yet if they have come clean about the status of the Pendergaffe and how to right the ship. A good place to start would be with an audit to pinpoint the date The Pendergraph ceased being operative and the day the original Vugraph no longer bore his name (thus the automatic stoppage of the use of his intended funds).

Thanks for writing.

JRJuly 21st, 2010 at 7:32 am

Hi Judy:

I was away for a bit and just saw this blog.

I can’t believe it. How inefficient can the ACBL be? (I don’t know if the Board or the administration is to blame; sounds more like the administration maybe). I would certainly HATE to see that the money has mysteriously disappeared. Keep up the outrage!

Mark LombardJuly 22nd, 2010 at 7:15 am

Touche’, Judy!

Go get ’em!

Thanks, once again, for standing for the integrity of the game.

[…] and unique bridge tales rolled into one! (I am posting this blog with full knowledge that THE PENDERGAFFE, because of company rules, will be dropped from Featured Bloggers to my regular site, […]

Henry BetheAugust 10th, 2010 at 10:02 am

Vugraph as Peter knew it is dead. You know that and I do too.

Nothing we knew in 1990 could have prepared us for the internet’s effect. But that does not excuse either aspect of the misuse of Peter’s bequest. I think the important question now is whether to use the money to further at least one of Peter’s implicit desires, namely making watching high level bridge more broadly available, or to admit that we cannot do that and return the money. I would like to think that Peter would have preferred the former.

There are a couple of things I can think of off hand:

1) Training of the at-the-table vg operators. This is not an easy task — I could not do it! —

2) expanding the offerings: It is only laziness, in my opinion, that prevents showing the finals of the LM Pairs, the Blue Ribbon Pairs, and the Platinum Pairs. The Reisinger SF and the finals of the two final-weekend four session Swisses are other obvious candidates.

Could we associate Pender with the vugraph offerings onsite? The easiest way would be for the Daily Bulletin to have a short piece on the day of any shows remembering Peter and saying that the equipment being used is courtesy of Peter’s bequest.

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