Bridge players may know the term ‘pianola’ refers to a hand so easy that it plays itself. A Leeds-based company is giving the expression a twist, however, with the launch of a new, web-based tool for clubs and players that is so simple it requires no technical skill to use.
After playing at his local club for several years, Pianola creator James Ward came up with an idea to help club managers arrange partnerships for club members online. The concept grew over time to provide clubs with a way to automate many other common tasks too.
“Pianola is designed to make life easier for club managers,” James said. “For example, by uploading results to Pianola, our system publishes the results online, updates each player’s personal history and even sends the P2P file to the EBU – automatically.”
Clubs are able to send emails to specific ‘groups’, subsets of the membership that can be targeted for certain messages. These groups can be based on interest (eg improvers), role (TDs, committee, etc), ranking (updated nightly from the EBU) or play history.
The system also handles annual membership renewals, sending a personalised email to everyone with an email address and producing a letter version for those without. “This feature alone will save membership secretaries and treasurers many hours of frustration” James said.
Players can also enjoy Pianola’s features which include the ability to track results over time, analyse their performance by role (declarer, defender - even dummy) and advertise for new partners.
One of Pianola’s first customers was Marietta Andree who runs three clubs, including the EBU’s two largest; Richmond and Wimbledon. “Pianola saves me literally hours each month and allows me to reach members and target specific groups in ways I've never been able to before.” Marietta said.