Judy Kay-Wolff


My heart swelled with overwhelming pride this evening when I had a chance belatedly to open today’s Daily Bulletin.  On Page 2 where Special Events are announced, I read “PETER PENDER MEMORIAL VUGRAPH THEATER PRESENTATION” (with the room to be announced) which will view the Reisinger. 

Many bridge players did not know that Peter had donated $75,000 to the ACBL with $25,000 earmarked for the Junior Program and the other $50,000 to be used to perpetuate his name.  I knew nothing of this endowment until Bobby told me of conversations with Peter.  Peter died in 1990 and over twenty years later the Pender name got lost in the shuffle.   I got on the backs of the ACBL and many of the people involved at the time were no longer on the Board.  No one seemed to know where the money went or who was in charge of it.   I hounded  them constantly and finally they conceded that they will recognize Peter.   I remember briefly something called the Pendergraph (the vugraph room with commentators for important NABC events) and then it became simply the Vugraph Room using Fred Gitelman’s ingenious technology.  I am appreciative that the ACBL followed it up and captioned the vugraph theatre as listed above. 

Peter was very special!  Norman, Bobby and I knew him quite well and I felt it incumbent upon myself to get the job done and settle our debt to Peter.  Below is a detailed account of Peter’s many talents from his Hall of Fame presentation. 

Peter Pender

1936 – 1990

There are those rare individuals who are talented at all that they do, whose every endeavor seems to meet with success. Peter Pender was such an individual, and his accomplishments as a bridge player are celebrated by his induction into the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame. Yet bridge was just one of the many facets of Pender’s career, whose brilliance was undiminished by his untimely end.

Pender of Forestville CA, attended Harvard and was an accomplished pianist. He was also a highly skilled figure skater who qualified to compete in national singles events four times and national pairs twice.

He was a gold medalist for both the United States and Canadian Figure Skating Associations.

Skating competitions took him frequently to Montreal, where he encountered the Canadian bridge elite of the late Fifties. It was there that Pender would meet future bridge partner Hugh Ross.

In 1960, Pender moved to San Francisco. He successfully owned and operated an exclusive resort, Fifes, located on the Russian River in the Bay area.

Pender’s talents also, of course, encompassed bridge. He became Life Master #1795 at the age of 22. He won the 1966 McKenney Trophy (now the Barry Crane Top 500) and in the same year helped England’s Jeremy Flint become an ACBL Life Master in 11 weeks, a record at the time.

Pender tallied 13 NABC wins: five in the Reisinger B-A-M Teams (1968, 1970, 1981, 1985 and 1986); two in the Life Master Men’s Pairs (1967 and 1984); four in the Grand National Teams (1982, 1983, 1985 and 1987) and two in the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams (1984 and 1987).

Pender was a member of the victorious U.S. squad in the 1985 NEC Bermuda Bowl in São Paulo, Brazil, and second in the 1989 Bermuda Bowl in Perth, Australia.

Pender was second in the 1982 Rosenblum Teams and won the Pan-American Invitational Pairs in 1974 and 1975.

Pender and Ross formed their now-famous partnership in 1981. The pair, playing with teammates Lew Stansby and Chip Martel, was arguably the most powerful squad in the world during the Eighties.

After winning the 1981 Reisinger, Pender offered this comment about the success of the foursome: "I think one of the reasons why our whole team did so well was because there is no rancor within the pairs or the team."

Pender continued to perform well in high-level competition through the late Eighties, despite battling the effects of HIV infection, the virus that causes AIDS.

Ross, in a posthumous tribute to his partner in 1990, said, "In the last four years, when he was constantly enduring pain, nausea and fatigue, he never gave up." Pender was so ill during part of 1987, that he was unable to attend the Bermuda Bowl in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Mike Lawrence filled in for the ailing Pender.

Pender recovered and succeeded in qualifying for the 1989 Bermuda Bowl held in Perth, Australia. His planned trip to Perth became controversial, however, when the Australian government initially refused to grant Pender a visa because of his HIV status. The decision was later rescinded following public outcry over the policy.

Pender finally succumbed to effects of the illness in November of 1990. In early 1991, it was announced that Pender had bequeathed $2.26 million to the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the largest donation ever received by the organization.


JodyDecember 2nd, 2012 at 2:59 pm

You are the greatest, Judy. Thanks for your compassion and the post about Peter, I didn’t know all those things. Imagine the incompetency of people who lose $75,000. Criminality, really, but I am not a bit surprised since I am reading Bobby’s book which I really got from Amazon. Quite fascinating.

jackDecember 2nd, 2012 at 4:58 pm

The bridge world really needs more people like you. The Pender situation would never been resolved without your persistance.
You always tell it like it is.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 2nd, 2012 at 6:09 pm


It is so good to hear from you after so long. I am happy you are well and still reading my blogs. Not that the ACBL was in the ‘right’ — but I think it was not deliberate to let the contribution go the way of all flesh. They passed the gavel so many times and most of the current BOD were not around at the time. I think it was just negligence but they were big enough to acknowledge they had shirked their responsibility and did something about it.

I am going down to the vugraph today and see it for myself in living color.



Judy Kay-WolffDecember 2nd, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Hi Jack:

I have known you for a long time but I am not sure we were friendly in 1976 when I wrote and produced “The Colonial Capers” with the directorial talents of Carole Moscotti. That was the year the Brits and Scots came over for a challenge match with the local Philadelphia experts (I think they made an exception and allowed Edgar to migrate south and join our team) From the year, it is obvious it was the celebration of the bi-centennial when we gained our independence.

We recruited lots of talented people to perform as well as a dynamic musical director and terrific backstage help. Everyone worked their butts off with countless rehearsals. All volunteers gave 100% of themselves without any gripes. We were all looking forward to the rising curtain.

The Director of Publicity who shall remain nameless arranged for a picture to be taken by the local newspaper. However, he wanted it to include only the four singers to the exclusion of everyone else. I opposed his idea, suggesting a compromise — the four be seated at a table and the others stand in the background. He took the bull by the horns and said it was his decision. That caused me to make mine as well.

At the next Board Meeting I took the mike, told the story and proudly resigned from the Board. That was 1976. I ran several successful charity events for local people in need (including the ailing Publicity Chairman) but made it clear that it was on my own terms.

When I was asked by the NABC local chairman to head publicity and oversee entertainment when they were in Philly in both 1997 and 2003, at first I refused reiterating my 1976 falling out. However, the Chairman reassured me there would be no repeat performance and they kept to their word.

So, Jack, you can see I am a person of principle and will always fight for what is right. Sorry this was so lengthy but being from the City of Brotherly Love, I thought you would appreciate my position.

I am who I am!

Kind regards,


Judy Kay-WolffDecember 2nd, 2012 at 9:51 pm

For whatever it’s worth!

I guess it’s not over till it’s over and the same notice appears in Sunday’s Bulletin:
Room TBA (TO BE ANNOUNCED). Well this is the last day. Where the hell is it?

I was told by Jay Baum sometime last year when the issue was apparently (?) resolved and there would be two Pendergraph showings: One on a screen in the hallway where the games are being held and the other in a special vugraph room that used to be specifically designated for that purpose.

However, the ‘TO BE ANNOUNCED’ still remains a mystery.

Bill CubleyDecember 3rd, 2012 at 4:54 am

I olayed against Chip, Lew, Hugh and Peter in the D21 GNT once. Pard claimed making 10 tricks in 3NT. Hugh claimed he was squeezed and conceded making 5 with Peter’s concurrence. Wow! What good sportsmanship by then.

When compared, we lost an IMP to this generous ocncession. Chip and Lew made 6! I would have bet the farm we pushed that board.

They made the match a fond memory of top players.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 3rd, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Let me follow up on the farce that was supposed to be called The Peter Pender Memorial Vugraph Presentation. There were two screens back to back in a hallway near the downstairs escalators. If you wanted to watch the screen you had to pull up your own chair from wherever you could scrounge one up. What was supposed to be called The Peter Pender Memorial Vugraph Presentation was viewed on the back of the other small screen facing a cubby hole of an open room adorned by a rounded sofa that would hold maybe a dozen people at most with a few watchers sitting on the floor. The name Pender was nowhere to be seen, In the upper right corner bore a legend that said something to the effect … presented by BBO,

What happened to the promise of Jay Baum, former CEO? His position was taken up by the new head honcho Bob Hartman whom, to my knowledge, has not followed up on the promise to honor Peter.


Gary MugfordDecember 3rd, 2012 at 11:11 pm


A suggestion. You might want to add an Edit to the main blog as to the change in status. I was all ready to post just a congrats comment until I got to the end of the current comments. The only other point I was going to ask about was how big the signage was in the theatre.

Keep on pressing. As only you can. GM

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 6th, 2012 at 5:08 pm


WHAT SIGNAGE??? I saw no mention of PETER PENDER on any screen or wall anywhere.

Since I am very distressed about the total
nonchalance and indifference of the ACBL, I have contacted the new CEO, Robert Hartman (whom I am sure is new to the problem) and asked him to follow it up. I received an immediate response that he would and then get back to me.

Believe me, I have no intention of waving a white flag and will continue to attempt to rectify the wrongs committed by the benefactors of the endowment of $50,000 from Peter Pender. This has been ongoing since Peter’s death 22 years ago and it is time it is resolved satisfactorily!