Judy Kay-Wolff

Enough is Enough!!!

Reflecting upon the Bridge Winners blogsite, it is no doubt a marvelous venue to educate the world of bridge to the happenings in distant corners of the universe to which they would not normally be privy. However, concerning the recent ‘alleged’ cheating issue introduced two weeks ago, the discussions involve some never-ending versions, numerous ugly contesting opinions and has turned into a free for all (beyond ridiculous), unbecoming both the ingenuity of the site and our once-marvelous game.

Before proceeding further, it must be pointed out that other competitions have had similarly distressful incidents. Lest we forget … the baseball and bicycling steroid issues, the punishment of the late football legend Joe Paterno and the ongoing football deflategation incident. Unacceptable practices occur in most sports venues although often escape the uninformed public. The following relates my personal experience and my heartfelt desire to attempt to do away with or reduce the atrocities which have infiltrated our bridge scene .. on both foreign and American soil.

As a naive inexperienced bridge player in 1963, I arrived on the big scene as the bride of Norman Kay, traveling with him to international team destinations .. not only within the States .. but across the sea as well. It was exhilarating indeed, but I realize now how unknowledgeable I was about our intriguing hobby and all the nuances that were going on behind the scenes which escaped me. As time went on and I gradually became more aware, I realized that all that glittered was not gold. HARDLY! My first awakening was when Norman’s partner, Edgar Kaplan who always captained the teams, advised him of a new pair replacing one of their ‘regulars.’ I never gave it too much thought until many years later when I figured it out. Incidents like those were put on the back burners and spoken about in whispers for fear of giving our game a bad name.

I was the local administrator for the traveling Sharif Circus in Philadelphia at the Drake Hotel in the early seventies. There were three-way matches. Ours featured:

  1. A local team of five Philadelphians (plus Edgar imported from New York to partner Norman);
  2. The upcoming Dallas Aces (including one Bobby Wolff and five others) ;and
  3. The main attraction: The Sharif Team starring the recently deceased handsome and popular Omar Sharif and five foreign players (four Blue Team members and Claude Delmouly).

It drew thousands of bridge lovers in each of the seven cities it visited .. and Bobby was honored to be included. It was a fantastic entourage and each locale awaited their arrival with baited breath. I recalled one incident early on the tour, however, which highlighted an obvious auction which was, shall we say? … far from kosher .. where the following occurred:

After reading the scenario I am about to relate … take a gander at the actual auction. Bobby’s partner, the late Jim Jacoby, opened 1 (playing four card majors) in third seat. There ensued a double, and a redouble by Bobby, followed by three passes (although the Jacoby/Wolff partnership was assured that the pass following the redouble was NOT a penalty pass). What d’ya know? The doubler sat for the redouble holding something like Kxxx AJ AQxxxx x. Partner ‘happened to hold’ Q109XXX in trumps. Imagine that!!!!

W
West
N
North
E
East
S
South
Pass
Pass
1
Dbl
RDbl
Pass
Pass
Pass

After the smoke cleared, Bobby departed the table with three boards to go in the set, muttering to himself, “I’ve had it” and returned to his room. Soon after, a chagrinned and embarrassed Omar arrived at his door, having been told of the horrendous ‘INCIDENT’ and how the Aces went for 1,000 at the one level which you can see for yourself after a bizarre auction. The goings on needed no explanation. After Omar’s apology and plea for Bobby to return to the game downstairs (ASSURING HIM IT WOULD NOT RECUR), Bobby succumbed/relented to Omar’s plea .. and the rest of the days went smoothly (and without incident so far as he knows). HOW’S THAT FOR STARTERS?

Believe me, I could go on and on about other eye openers recorded in the annals of bridge that would knock your socks off! However, first things first .. dealing with the current issue. This topical blog directly concerns:

  1. The present alleged cheating issue/s mentioned on BW;
  2. The AMERICAN CONTRACT BRIDGE LEAGUE and ITS BOARD OF DIRECTORS (and subsidiary committees);
  3. Mandatory revisions to our methods of dealing with these incidents. To my way of thinking, these matters are IMPERATIVE and must be taken SERIOUSLY, with not a moment lost before the ugliness gets more and more insidious than already has surfaced.

Freedom of Speech and random speculations are far from the ideal remedies. Formal action about current issues must be taken NOW by the ACBL to reinvestigate the recent allegations. THEIR SOLE RESPONSIBILITY IS TO SEEK THE TRUTH, PRONOUNCE THEIR FINDINGS and IMMEDIATELY DEAL WITH THEM EQUITABLY. EASIER SAID THAN DONE .. but enough of these nasty speculations.

Let us address the issue/s in a civilized way ASAP before our game becomes the laughing stock of the universe .. if not already too late!!

AS THEY SAY .. WELCOME TO AMERICA!

The Spingold Semi-Finals take place today in Chicago after a late night Appeals Committee reversal replacing the team of Richie Schwartz with that of Jimmy Cayne.  That is not the only eye opener.   For the first time I can recall, only two of the four six-man teams (totaling two dozen players) are native born to the United States .. Captain Jimmy Cayne and Michael Seamon.  The remaining twenty-two (with Zia now listing his residence as the States) represent Monaco, Israel, Italy, Argentina, Spain and China.  The two contests feature Cayne v. Lavazza  and Pan-China v. Monaco.  For the names of all the contestants, go to the fantastic Bridge Winners site which offers everything you may want to know.  Should be an exciting day on BBO!

It’s a Mystery ….

Unless I am missing something, we are well into the Chicago BOD meeting sessions ..  and I heard nothing about the original proposal re the ACBL/WBF discussion that Steve Weinstein raised on Bridge Winners (with over 700 comments).    Seems strange .. unless the issue was canned.   Just as I was  about to post this .. I read (unofficially) at 5:45 Pacific Coast time via the internet that the motion was withdrawn.   Can someone confirm?

LOSING OMAR …

Today is a very sad day for me as I had not seen the Internet, TV or newspapers — and I was not aware of Omar’s passing until I spotted in Bobby’s AOL column of today a comment posted by one of his readers.   Omar was no doubt bridge’s greatest promoter who had attained his fame and fortune in another realm!   I felt like I had lost a friend.    About forty-five years ago, when the Sharif Circus was on the move, fate involved me quite actively in the organization of the Philadelphia presentation of the Circus (OSBC) held at the Center City Drake Hotel.  I had a chance to closely watch him in action and observe his genuine passion for bridge.  In addition to be being outstandingly handsome, he was the epitome of warmth, modesty and humility .. abounding in enthusiasm and love for the game that brings us all together.  Today is ‘bridge day’ so I am rushing off but when I return, I will delve into all my Circus memorabilia to see if I can find anything of interest to share with you.  

Scan0014

IT PAYS TO BE IGNORANT!

No one can challenge the fact that bridge is no easy game unless you are one of the miniscule few who have been blessed with extraordinary talent and sixth sense for doing what is almost always successful.  I am amazed about what I learn after a session with Bobby .. even at our  local club which often presents a challenge as there are quite a few top players who pop in on occasion.  I accept my capabilities and limitations for what they were.  However, for some unknown reason, card combinations come to me somewhat easily (as opposed to other facets of the game).  

In the quiet of our den, Bobby was looking at yesterday’s hand records and asked if I knew how to play K1052 opposite AQ874.  I was rather surprised he would ask a question with such a simple, automatic answer.   "Elementary to bang down the ace first .. in case J963 were in front of the K1052.  Right?"  Usually .. but not always!   Said Bobby:  "There IS an exception.  If for some reason you suspect a void in the other hand, you play  the king first .. and can pick up the J963 by double hooking."  So much for self confidence.    I am truly blessed to have marital access to a walking bridge encyclopedia .. among other wonderful attributes.

Great News from Las Vegas Unit 373

I just learned that the bridge tournament which was originally canceled for this coming October has been rescheduled due to the giant efforts of Co-Chair persons Jan George and Bob LaFleur. I’m at a tournament as I write and don’t have access to my regular computer. However, here is the vital information:

The LAS VEGAS DAYLIGHT SECTIONAL will be held on Thursday, October 22nd; Friday, October 23rd; Saturday, October 24th.

Starting times will be 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Location: The Donald W. Reynolds Scouting Resource Center located at 7220 South Paradise Road, Las Vegas.

Plenty of on site free parking!

Events include Bracketed Knockouts, Stratified Opens, Stratified 299ers, Compact Knockouts, Stratified Swiss Teams, etc.

As soon as I am able, I will arrange for the exact schedule to be posted on this site.

See ‘ya there!!!

How Fate Affects One’s Destiny!

Reflecting upon comments from my last blog above about Hans and Henry Bethe, it gave me great pause for thought.

As some of you may recall, my reference to Bridgeblogging.com and our contact with the Lees stemmed from my fortuitous discovery of a half-drafted script high on a dusty shelf in Bobby’s Dallas apartment soon after we were married. When I questioned what it was and why it was abandoned, I could not accept his lethargy that would cause a unique little known tale of our game’s history to die a quiet death. Thus, I took it upon myself to resurrect it. It was unquestionably my best bridge decision ever!

It took close to five years of editing, re-editing, and inspiring Bobby to pick up where he left off .. a real labor of love .. but very exhausting and time consuming. After such a tedious, often frustrating effort was completed, we embarked on finding a publisher. We didn’t know where to begin. Our good friend Larry Cohen pointed us toward Master Point Press.

It turned out to be a perfect match as Ray Lee with his generous time and patience worked incredibly well to get “The Lone Wolff” on the shelves.

However, it did not end there! Little did we know that Linda and Ray Lee were behind Bridgeblogging.com — a new bridge-oriented attraction on the Internet. One day soon after, Bobby and I awakened to an invitation to pen our individual columns .. Bobby’s being a presentation of his Aces on Bridge newspaper Column (now produced by Uclick) which two weeks earlier appeared in over one hundred newspapers universally. The column began in 1982 .. some thirty-three years ago!

My subject matter on this site was very divergent from his as I still don’t (and never will) profess to be an expert. I leave that for other dreamers. My collection of contributions flashes back to 1955 when I became exposed to the game as I happened upon four head cases screaming and throwing cards at each other under a beach umbrella one summer at Columbia University. When questioning their actions, as told before, I was informed they were playing bridge. That was almost six decades ago .. and if that isn’t fate .. I don’t know what is! Of course, through marital fortunes, I was exposed to the greatest bridge players both home and abroad .. and I have always threatened to follow Bobby with “The Lone Wolffess.” Oh, the tales I could tell!!

Fate played an even bigger role in my life in 2002 when Norman Kay, my beloved husband of thirty-nine years, passed on after a three year battle with cancer (of which most of the bridge world was unaware). The day following his funeral, an unfamiliar voice on the other end of the phone offered heartfelt condolences as he was a good friend of Norman’s and shared his zest for the sporting world. I was shocked when he introduced himself. For over four decades at the NABCs, “the caller” and Norman would regularly exchange stories of their shared love of baseball, football, basketball, hockey .. whatever!!! However, his general indifference and cold attitude toward yours truly didn’t win him any medals or masterpoints as he never acknowledged my existence though I crossed paths with him frequently when kibitzing Norman in big league competition. Need I go any further? Shockingly, I must confess Bobby Wolff wasn’t the cold fish that he portrayed. The following year he began an unceasing computer courtship. We exchanged notes back and forth daily (to which I can testify by boxes of voluminous emails in our storage room) and in 2003 we married and honeymooned in Vegas and I left Philadelphia for Dallas a few months later.   Eventually we returned to the scene of the crime and have enjoyed life in Las Vegas ever since!

Some may consider these happenings as mere “coincidences.” I gratefully look upon them as fate!

HENRY BETHE PASSES ON

I just learned of the passing of one of of bridge’s greatest fans and promoters.  I met Henry at a tournament at the Americana Hotel in New York in the 1960s and he was kind enough to play with me as a rank beginner in a side event while Edgar and Norman were thrashing it out with the big boys in a more serious venue.  Although he prided himself being the son of Hans Bethe, celebrated Physics Nobel Laureate who was involved with generating the atom bomb, Henry enjoyed his own calling .. and contributed tirelessly for many decades in a myriad of areas .. all for the enhancement of our beautiful game.   He will be sorely missed.

MEMORIES …

This blog is certainly a departure from the norm, but hopefully a welcome change of pace from the everyday grind.  In most venues of competition, certain memories loom larger than others .. whether they be sports, politics, bridge .. whatever.  There are some delightful ones we cherish — and others we choose to forget.  In our unique game (especially for old timers who have spent an eternity at the tables), those recollections are unending.  Bobby and I have been enjoying recounting some personal ones which I will share later on.  They have not necessarily taken place at the table .. but akin to the game. I’d love to hear what emerges foremost from your bridge archives!  Don’t be shy!  Who’ll start off?

The Passing of a Friend

I just learned from Mike Whitman that yesterday Don Krauss passed away quietly after a gradually debilitating illness. I met him in 1971 when he was partnered by Lew Mathe on a team with Norman and Edgar and John Swanson and Dick Walsh who (unsuccessfully) represented Zone 2 in Taiwan. Coincidentally, that event was captured by The Dallas Aces — a six man team which included a guy by the name of Wolff. After Edgar passed away in ’97, Norman retired from the active bridge scene and in our newly acquired spare time, we would take frequent trips .. often to California where we would catch up with Don, Eddie and Yvonne Kantar and Hugh and Min Ross. Until the last few years Don and I stayed in touch and then suddenly we lost contact. If I had to describe Don in a few words .. I will always remember him as one of the most uncharacteristically ‘sweetest’ bridge players and human beings I had been privileged to call a friend. My thrill of thrills, alluded to before, was what started out to be a routine lunch date with Don and a fella he thought we would enjoy meeting. I am far from an idol worshipper, but having Don arrange for Billy Wilder to join us for luncheon was an unforgettable afternoon.   Not only was he an amazing producer and film writer (and so much more) ..  but so down to earth .. and perhaps the most modest individual for a man of his stature. It was quite an experience.

Rest in peace, Don. You were special!

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