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Archives - 1 Apr 2013

The supreme statistician “JJ” HUBERMAN passed away


It is with great sadness that the death of Jean-Jacques HUBERMAN is announced. The supreme table tennis statistician, he passed away on Tuesday 26th March 2013 in the Canary Islands; he was 60 years old. He died of a brain tumour. In recent years he had s

It is with great sadness that the death of Jean-Jacques HUBERMAN is announced. The supreme table tennis statistician, he passed away on Tuesday 26th March 2013 in the Canary Islands; he was 60 years old. He died of a brain tumour. In recent years he had suffered from a heart condition; unfortunately the heart condition could not sustain the operation to remove the tumour.

Born on Saturday 6th December 1952, he amassed an unparalleled record of results, working for the International Table Tennis Federation from January 1998 until the Liebherr World Team Championships in Dortmund in 2012. Little did we know that when we parted company on that early evening in April, just one year ago, we were not saying farewell, we were saying a final goodbye.

My first encounter with Jean-Jacques HUBERMAN was in 1995, soon after I had started to work for the International Table Tennis Federation in the offices in the south coast English seaside resort of St Leonards-on-Sea.

A telephone call was diverted my way; the caller was Jean-Jacques HUBERMAN. The question appeared relatively simple. “I’m missing the name of one of the quarter-finalists in the Men’s Singles at the World Championships”, was the comment. Quickly I replied that I was sure it was no problem whatsoever. He then added “Cairo 1939”. It did not take long to realise that Jean-Jacques HUBERMAN, alias “JJ” had an unparalleled collection of data.

One year later Table Tennis Illustrated was born and soon I was well aware that a regular section “Table Tennis Superstar” could be introduced, there was one man who could supply the necessary information for a player’s career highlights; that man was Jean-Jacques HUBERMAN. He made an outstanding contribution to every issue of the publication. Always information was supplied punctually, always with detailed accuracy and the greatest precision.

Communicate with him, he may have advised that he was busy and would reply four days hence, the reply would come in two days.

Writing articles on tournaments, especially when not present, I relied heavily on the information provided by Jean-Jacques HUBERMAN. It was the same for journalists, commentators and the whole gambit of the media, they relied heavily on his fountain of data. I never heard anything but high praise for his unstinting efforts.

The sadness is that many who praised his work never met him to express a personal gratitude.

“Thank you” was all he asked. One occasion stands out in my mind when he supplied detailed information quickly and accurately. The recipient never responded to express gratitude; a disappointed Jean-Jacques HUBERMAN contacted me to express his displeasure.

Perhaps we all took it too much for granted that Jean-Jacques Huberman would deliver on time and with unerring accuracy.

Sometimes he did not receive the credit he richly deserved. “Jean-Jacques had a passion for table tennis facts and figures; also for rock music”, reminisced Arne MADSEN, Chair of the ITTF Media Committee. “He was never a very good player but he became a fantastic table tennis statistician; he even sent me information on Danish players, players from my country I didn’t know even existed!”

The extent of the information at hand was remarkable; he could advise on the most obscure tournament in the most obscure setting. “He attended several World Championships but he did watch many matches”, continued Arne MADSEN. “He did not have time; with his typical ironic humour he would respond that he had to work to update his statistics and profiles to give journalists the best service.”

Jean-Jacques HUBERMAN worked quietly in the background; modest, always helpful, punctual to respond to requests, pleased to part of a team but never seeking the limelight.

The life of Jean-Jacques HUBERMAN is over, he is sadly missed but he will never be forgotten, his work lives for ever. He leaves a wife and two children, a son who lives in Switzerland and a daughter in Paris.

Ian MARSHALL, courtesy ITTF

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