Judy Kay-Wolff

HERE WE GO AGAIN!

Soon after my return from SF, on December 5th I emailed CEO Robert Hartman expressing great disappointment concerning the ACBL’S handling (or lack thereof) of having a room called The Peter Pender Memorial Vugraph Room as promised through the efforts of our last CEO, Jay Baum. 

Within a few hours, I received an immediate response that he would look into it and the next day the following email arrived — reassuring me we will not have a repeat performance at the next National in St. Louis.

“After speaking to a few people here, you are correct that the Pender Viewgraph was not handled well in San Francisco. Rather than go into the reasons why, I would rather focus on how we can be sure this will be handled properly in the future. I can commit to what Jay promised in his original email, which I believe will properly honor Mr. Pender. This includes:

–Large monitors in a high traffic area for players to enjoy the vugraph. Brass plates will soon be affixed to these monitors honoring Peter. There may or may not be audio given the public nature of the space.

–Peter Pender Memorial Vugraph Theatre. The time/location will be publicized appropriately in the Daily Bulletin. There will be signage at the entrance honoring Peter. Please be aware that the size of the room will vary depending on the available space at the playing site. For example, in San Francisco, the room would have been rather small. Audio will accompany the vugraph, provided via BBO commentary.

Thank you for following up with me on this item. I appreciate that you took the time to be sure that we properly honor Peter’s memory.”

I was quite impressed with his alacrity and concern that the problem be rectified.   When I next reminded him of the good old days of the vugraph with entertaining people on the mike, he responded:

“If you are interested in helping us secure a good volunteer commentator that will liven up the show, there is no problem having a microphone in the room. This is an area where we’ve had difficulty before as playing commitments seemed to get in the way. At the very least, we will have commentary as BBO currently provides an audio feed to accompany the Vugraph.”

I certainly agree that times have changed and with so many more events made available for our top players to participate in, they may have previous commitments.  I agree it will not be easy to recreate the days of Ron Anderson, Edgar Kaplan, Mike Ledeen, Bobby Wolff and many other quick witted and humorous people on the mike, but I would hope the new breed will surface and volunteer.

At least it is a start and a concerted effort on the part of our new CEO.   Thank you, Mr. Hartman for stepping up to the plate and trying to make amends to Peter.  

 


8 Comments

ChuckDecember 9th, 2012 at 4:31 am

Boy, no grass grows under your feet. I can imagine the disappointment when The Pendergraph Room was nowhere to be found. It sounds from the tone of Mr. Hartman’s letter that action will be taken. Good for you!

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 9th, 2012 at 4:41 am

Yes, Chuck, I was disappointed but I have a good feeling after all the immediate attention paid to the problem by Mr. Hartman. However, I do think it may be difficult to get suitable volunteers since so many of them will be engaged in other events. I am hopeful the word will get out and we can provide some entertaining people on the microphone.

JSDecember 9th, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I haven’t been to an NABC in years but I used to attend regularly and loved the amusing analyses of many of those at the microphone. Why don’t you put out feelers to some of the possible candidates asking them, in the unlikely chance they are knocked out of their event, if they are interested in participating. And, I am sure there is lots of fresh blood out there who would be thrilled to help out.

Gary MugfordDecember 11th, 2012 at 1:41 am

Judy,

Congrats. Of course, words are cheaper than action, but those are mighty fine sounding words.

I hadn’t realized that the theatre VuGraph I was so familiar with back in the ancient times when I was the press guy for the ACBL, had gone the way of the dinosaur. In my last turn in the job in Niagara Falls (or was it Buffalo … the mind wanders), I actually tried recruiting new blood for the commentating panel and handled it about as badly as is humanly possible. The old guard were a tad testy have me tromping their turf. And let’s just say, my idea died aborning. The problem is that the old guard was, well, old. And unfortunately, some (most?) of them have passed on.

I wish I had figured out how to do it right. Coming from my sports reporter background, I assumed there should be a new voice or two every year, sometimes replacing last year’s new voice, sometimes replacing a man who, frankly, was a legend. That wouldn’t count out said legend from coming back, after enough time that the heart would grow fonder. But I screwed it up. And the long-term harm is evidenced in what you wrote in this posting. (And no, I’m not assuming guilt in this for more than a tiny fraction of the overall blame. So I DO sleep at night.)

But commentary is the froth that makes watching (rather than playing) worthwhile. Speculation and excited utterances and barely concealed surprise/contempt/appreciation all are needed to transform the experience into something memorable. Even if done poker-style, after the fact, like Zia’s DVD from Ankara, can make even mundane deals interesting due to the failure of the players to do what is expected. The immediacy trumps even the commentary written post-facto in World Championship Books, The Bridge World or with the briefest of commentary in The Bulletin (apologies to international readers with their own magazine favourites).

To me, it’s not just right to bring back The Peter Pender Memorial VuGraph, it’s important to bring back the snappy panel.

GM

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 11th, 2012 at 5:36 am

Gary:

Thanks for contributing your personal background information and views on the subject.

Thought you might be interested in the statement which I discovered (of all places) on the ACBL web site which goes back to bridge’s beginnings. Among the myriad of subjects, events and people discussed I came upon this one …..

“Pendergraph”

“For the 1991 World Junior Championships in Ann Arbor, Fred Gitelman (founder of Bridge Base Online) took it upon himself to develop a vugraph program written for DOS (the operating system PCs used before Windows). “To the best of my knowledge, that was the first time software had ever been used to present vugraph at a major tournament,” he says. “Before that, technologies like overhead projectors were used.” Impressed with the possibilities the software offered, the ACBL — funded by a bequest from the estate of Peter Pender — contracted with Gitelman to develop the program further, improving both the function and the graphics, and eventually, to rewrite the program as a Windows application.

As far as I remember, Pendergraph was used at the ACBL NABCs through most of the Nineties and at the 1994 World Championships in Albuquerque, Gitelman recalls.

Gitelman describes BBO and Pendergraph as two completely different applications. Pendergraph was designed only for onsite vugraph presentations. The only commonality the two programs have is the programmer. While Pendergraph has been
retired in favor of BBO to broadcast NABC matches, the vugraph hall at all NABC sites is now called the Peter Pender Memorial Vugraph Theater in honor of the player whose grant helped advance vugraph technology.

The advent of the computer age led to a number of vugraph innovations. One such advance was Bridgevision. In addition to the computerized presentation of the bidding and hands and the live commentary, roving cameramen filmed the players and televised the images to an avid audience.”

If this doesn’t back up my plea to revive The Pendergraph, I don’t know what does!

Gary MugfordDecember 11th, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Judy,

Perhaps, given your warm relations with Mr. Gitelman, you might ask if he might join the crusade. In fact, given his position as a principle in BBO and his unique position as a creator of the software that powers NABC match presentations, might he not so subtlely rename the software of ACBL-specific broadcasts in a way that gives credit to Peter Pender? There is some rationale to do this in light of the seed money that powered at least a bit of BBO’s development a generation ago.

If the end justifies the means, the end-run I suggest might acheive the goal we desire. Just a thought.

GM

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 12th, 2012 at 5:17 am

Gary:

I am satisfied with Mr. Hartman’s letter to me that my justified requests will be taken care of and he seemed quite sincere to me. We will find out — but not before St. Louis. Hoping this time the ACBL will honor Peter after wrongfully dropping the Pendergraph Room (vugraph) like a hot potato as they did in the mid 90s — shortly after his large endowment to the ACBL.

Jane ADecember 15th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Hi Judy,

You are “back” on the new web site with a link for your blog. Go to the new web site for the clubs that was built several weeks ago, and you will see in the unit 373 info that you and three others now have a link to their blogs. Don’t know why you “disappeared” from the other site. Several people mentioned it, so you were missed. I let our web master for the new site know, and she made this happen.

I know this has nothing to do with the above blog concerning Mr. Pender, but I don’t have another email address for you, so wanted you and your fans to know

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