Monday 31 August 2009

... another enjoyable evening !

Well it looks like this blog is going to be a morning-after blog rather than a night-before blog ! Somehow 6pm and the closing of the office for the night creeps up on me and then I don't have time, and although I take the computer up to the room each night, I don't actually plug it in so ...

Anyway, what happened yesterday. Well, play got under way, the office got into full swing ready for today's Executive Council meetings so the photocopier was humming all day.

I was very sad to hear of the death of Peter Czerniewski - I didn't know him well, but the dealings I had with him were always a great pleasure and I am sure anyone reading this will wish to join me in sending sincere condolences to Pam, his wife and his family. He will be much missed in the bridge World. I am also told that Masud Saleem of Pakistan has died after a long illness. He used to partner Zia Mahmood and was, I am told, a national hero in the Pakistan bridge world.

In the evening, Jimmy Ortiz-Patino, the President Emeritus of the World Bridge Federation invited us to a cocktail party for the opening of his antique Card Exhibition - he has one of the greatest collections of antique playing cards in the world, and it was completely fascinating ... cards from the 15th Century onwards all beautifully displayed in glass cabinets. We had a good look round but I for one will certainly be going back to have another look and examine some of them more closely.

Then into the Piano Bar for a bite to eat and so to bed ... (isn't Samual Pepys useful!)

Sunday 30 August 2009

better late than never ....

It was my intention to write this after the Opening Ceremony, but what with one thing and another it was about 1am when I got back to my room and .... sleep took over!

Yesterday we got into our office, and started getting properly settled - we are in the basement of the hotel although thank goodness there is some natural light from skylights, and the office is very large to accommodate the three of us - Carol, Christine and myself - in comfort with plenty of space for other people to come and work if they wish to. The photocopier has arrived, and our computers are plugged in and online, so work is well underway with Carol producing all the papers for the Executive Council Meetings, and Christine sorting out all manner of things. As for me, somehow there always seems to be plenty to do!

We stopped work at about 6 to go and change for the Opening Ceremony which was to be held in the theatre adjacent to the hotel. It is a lovely theatre, with lots of space, and with an impressive set comprising two ENORMOUS hands holding a projection screen on which was displayed the WBF Flag. The speeches were not too long, and then we had a famous concert pianist playing the Brazilian National Anthem and other pieces, followed by a show devised by Ernesto d'Orsi outlining the musical culture of Brazil; this included a fascinating dance routine and I was sad that my daughter Vickie, who teaches dance, could not see it as it was so unlike anything I have seen before and I am sure she would have been fascinated!

Following the Ceremony there was a cocktail party with delicious canapes (especially the little hot ones!) and various pasta dishes. However, unfortunately Mark had received a text message from Harvey asking for help with programming the Sonic Wall - a job that needs two very clear heads - so he missed all of this. But as it was all ending, they finished so we met up in the bar where they demolished beer and a toasted sandwich and chips before we all retired rather later than intended.

Now it is 10 am and I really (really) must do some work ! Play starts at 11, so all the teams are busy psyching themselves up - as are the TDs of course.
More to follow ...

Friday 28 August 2009

Getting there ...

welll things are starting to happen thank goodness.

As far as the Secretariat is concerned, we still don't have an office, but Carol, Christine and I have been working in José's suite and our own rooms so that at least we can get a head start. Our office-to-be has actually been moved from the room it should have been in to a much bigger one next to the WBF Meeting room, and the tables and chairs are all in place ready to use. We are waiting for 220 volt sockets to be installed so that we can plug in the printers and hubs and also need the big photocopier to arrive then we will install ourselves and our laptops and can really start to get on with things.

As far as the other offices are concerned, the Brazilian hospitality team is handing out the very nice bags and badges, and the vu-graph studio is being set up by Bernard and his team - a really big job that one.

The playing rooms are having all the tables and screens built (they arrive sort of flat-packed) and there is a star-wars style projector (pictures to follow) with a MASSIVE screen in place to put up the results. The scoring team have got all their computers up and running and are all networked which is good news as well.

The not-so ready bit is the Press and Bulletin room, which is still occupied by a banking conference, as is the room to be used for a special exhibition of playing cards courtesy of Jaime Ortiz Patino - I am really looking forward to seeing that as it is, I am told, unsurpassed.

Harvey Fox - the WBF IT manager - has joined us for a peaceful drink in the room, and tomorrow morning no doubt all hell will break loose as we start meetings - Tournament Appeals Committee, Tournament Directors and Captains' Meeeting - followed by the Opening Ceremony tomorrow night ... so watch this space :-)

Thursday 27 August 2009

A free day !

Well, we can't get into our office until tomorrow, so Jose said we could go out today and enjoy the sunshine, and we weren't going to argue about that !

We had an excellent breakfast - it is a truly splendid buffet ! Watched the parrots at the bird table outside for a few minutes, and also saw a humming bird collecting nectar from the Birds of Paradise flowers, then headed off for a recommended shopping centre the Cidade Jardim Shopping - recommended for its very VERY expensive and exclusive shops ! We (Carol, her Mark, "my" Mark and I) had a lovely wander round admiring a lot of things there is no way we could afford, then headed for a less expensive mall (Iguatemi Shopping) where we might be able to afford something.

In the end we didn't actually buy much, but had a lovely lunch in the restaurant on the 3rd floor (also highly recommended) which wasn't outrageously expensive, and wandered round the vast - and I do mean vast - shopping centre, eventually stopping only at the supermarket to stock up on things like tonic water! Carol examined most of the jewellry shops in the hope of finding some earrings to match a ring that she has, but failed dismally on this occasion. But we did see one of Bernard Gitton's Timeflow water clocks which is in the central atrium there - absolutely fascinating and the two Marks could have watched it for hours I think.

Then back to the hotel to check on emails, write this blog and put our feet up before we wander down to the piano bar for something to eat and drink this evening.

A lot of players seem to have arrived now, with plenty more to come no doubt. 90% of the staff are here I think, we certainly seem to have bumped into plenty of them ! It is great to see everyone again after a year ... we only meet up at the Championships, so last time was Beijing.

So - more tomorrow !

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Safe arrival

Well, after a truly excellent flight with TAM airlines, I am safely ensconced in the Hotel Transamerica in Sao Paulo, with a view of the city from the window, and a very comfortable room. I landed at 05.10 (bit early in the day for me, but never mind) and whizzed through customs control and baggage, then it was about an hour through quite heavy traffic to get to the hotel. My room was ready despite the ungodly hour, so I was able to unpack, shower, change and go down and have some breakfast. yes they did serve it on the plane but I really can't wake up and eat immediately, so I had passed on that one, and was glad to have it at the hotel. It was a fabulous buffet, but I stuck to a roll and jam this morning.

I met up with Harvey (IT Manager), Tomas and Calle (Scoring team), Maurizio (Operations Director), Jean-Claude Beineix and his wife Odile and other members of the "working team" and we went off to have a look around the facilities here - the playing rooms look excellent as far as I can tell, and I am sure the offices will be fine although we couldn't see most of them as there were other conferences in progress.

Then back up to my room to check on my email etc - there is free internet throughout the hotel - wireless everywhere and a DSL cable in the bedrooms which is brilliant ! So I worked until lunchtime when I went down to meet up with my "partner in crime" and great working colleague, Carol who had arrived with her son, Mark and also with Ernesto d'Orsi, a past President of the WBF, a member of the Executive Council and - most important of all - the On Site Organiser of the Championship and a dear friend and colleague. We all had lunch together in the hotel buffet-restaurant - a really great lunch, where I was able to have the local dish of Feijoada - a black bean stew with different meats that is really delicious! Google Feijoada and you will find a full description and various recipes.

Next came some work with Calle to try and sort out who will play with who in the different teams so that he can make the line-ups easier for the Captains to register, and back to the room to clear the last of my email.

Now it is 6.15pm local time, though my head is telling me it is later - it is 10.15pm back in England, but I am sure I will get used to it quickly, it is only a four hour difference after all. Anyway, it is time to stop and relax with a book for a bit before going down to meet Jose Damiani, the WBF President, when he arrives from France, then probably room service for a "light bite" and an early night as no doubt we will be up and running big time tomorrow.

Watch this space ! I will try and keep you updated as we go along ...

Saturday 22 August 2009

Frantically getting organised ...

... ready to leave for Brazil and the World Championships, where I will try and do a daily blog as I did from Beijing last year. You can find links to the results pages, bulletins etc and other blogs from the Championships by clicking here.

It isn't just a matter of organising a suitcase, it is making sure I take all the data, and all the right leads for the computer, the Blackberry etc etc etc but I am sure I will manage, especially with Mark keeping his normal watchful eye on me !

On the home front, the WBU Simultaneous Pairs is at the beginning of September, closely followed by the EBU pairs in mid-September. The material for both of these has been sent out, but if you still want to enter, fear not - my trusty PA, Karen, has promised to come in and post it out for me!

As soon as I come home, we will be packing the material for the BGB Autumn Pairs and then it is Children in Need time ... I wonder if we can do as well as we did last year - we sent them over £56,000 which was just amazing. Do join us for any (or indeed all) of these if you can .. you can find the dates and link to more information on our Calendar page.

So - watch this space for more "inside" information from Brazil - don't expect hands and things though, I will be telling you about all the behind-the-scenes stuff :-)