Judy Kay-Wolff

DEPARTING FROM THE NORM

Though I am far from a philosophic individual (to which Bobby will readily attest), I was mesmerized this morning while shopping when I happened upon five beautifully presented colorful wall hangings with marvelous (anonymously inscribed**) words of advice.  Each had a captivating one-word title accompanied by a brief explanation.  The applicability between real life and bridge moved me so much, I wanted to share them with you.
SUCCESS:  "Success is a journey, not a destination."
QUALITY:  "The race for quality has no finish line."
CHANGE:  "A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn."
EXCELLENCE:  "Many times the difference between failure and success is doing something nearly right or doing it exactly right."
TEAMWORK:  "It is a fact that in the right formation, the lifting power of many wings can achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone."
The commonality of these realistically presented truisms with our challenging game I considered almost eerie .. as success in bridge as well as happiness in our everyday lives share the same common denominator.  Forgive my sentimentality, but it really struck a cord.
(**)  Since writing the above, I researched the origin of all five, although I claim no authenticity regarding the original authors.   My findings were:  Success (attributed to Arthur Ashe and others); Quality (undetermined); Change (Helen Keller); Excellence (Edward C. Simmons); Teamwork (unknown).  If any of you quotation buffs can add (or correct) anything, I would love to hear from you.

What has become of our once-exalted Bridge Hall of Fame?????

It is a crying shame that the ACBL HOF has been the increasing target of bones of contention .. (some deserved and others not) in recent years. It no longer is synonymous with a stalwart supreme salute to an institution that has honored the prides of our majestic game as it has branched out in a myriad of directions .. administrators, officials, directors and truly world class players. It has sadly even housed some acknowledged and recognized cheats!!!. I know that is a mouthful but the HOF  formerly reigned as the supreme palace on high — saluting the best that Zone 2 recognized. To combine world class victorious players with other assorted contributors to the game (though many are most deserving), detracts from the glory and supremacy of the designation HALL OF FAME. To me, tossing dozens of individuals’ names into one big cauldron deflects from its majesty. It would be more accurate if broken into applicable categories where the victors would be recognized and classified amidst their own peers. A melting pot is not the solution.

Very recently, the issue of the sexes has been brought to light. There are many deserving women who have been overlooked perhaps because of the voting procedures (percentage/mathematical standards designated) which determine who wins and who loses. Perhaps the time is right to review the ‘process.’ 

At one time, soon after Norman passed on, I was invited to serve on the HOF Selection Committee. I was honored. However, it was not long after my appointment that I became dismayed as I did not approve of some of the goings on and the obvious politics and favoritism that emerged, including partiality to friends. That is NOT what the Hall of Fame should be all about.  The overall process and objectives (whether by vote or selection) should be rethought and categories established (and delineated) ..recognizing all those worthy of the honor .. regardless of where their talents lie.

As far as different categories for men and women, I see no reason why they should not be encompassed within one non-gender grouping — honorable top bridge experts.

Let us return to the distasteful subject of bridge cheats. To me, cheating is cheating .. though in the eyes of some relenting souls, unethical behavior (a matter of body movement, slow or fast actions, etc.) deserves a mere slap on the wrist. Whether just casually ‘helping partner’ on occasion or stealthy, pre-arranged signals, I consider them unacceptable and in the latter case — despicable and intolerable. These horrendous actions have been recognized by our organization and to avoid  scandalous chatter, some of the rightfully accused permanently ceased play. However, others who were fingered, charged and convicted, stopped playing for a while and then resumed. Yet .. their names still discredit our Hall of Fame.

And, don’t get me started about Norman and Bobby and their world competition heartbreaks. That is old news!

Bridge Hanky – Panky

This blog was inspired by our good friend from the United Kingdom .. “Howard Bigot Johnson” .. who via his humorous tongue and creative mind has, for years, tried to right the ship.  HBJ’s frequent renderings are listed at the very bottom of bridgeblogging.com’s main page on the lower right hand side.   I suggest you begin with his February 8 contribution captioned “I’ll Tell You What Constitutes Unfriendly and Anti-Social Behaviour .. and  It  isn’t Foul-Mouthed Criticism and Rudeness.” It will help you to understand how the indifference of unqualified and unconcerned bridge administrations are destroying our once-wonderful game.  From what I have been reading on other sites, it has become universal.  Cheating (whether out of naivete or ignorance) is in a class by itself.  I remember in my early exposure to our game, those with the credentials and authority to stop it here in the States, deliberately closed their eyes for fear that official finger pointing and punishment (temporary banning or permanent expulsion) would generate lawsuits.   I understand their concerns as juries do not house knowledgeable bridge players and the verdict might have been in favor of the cheats — because of lack of sophisticated knowledge of those in decision making positions who may not have any clue about the protocol of our game.  HBJ covers cheating and other unethical behavior (deliberate or unintentional) and how it affects everyone participating in the event by distorting their scores and invalidating the final standings.  From his vantage point, club committees and governing  bodies turn a blind eye to the culprit and turn their attention to the accusers.  He goes on to discuss the realms of acceptable behavior versus venomous actions as decided by committees.  His tales are portrayed with exaggeration and humor .. but if “kidding on the level” ever applied, HBJ would  (with no close second) win the award for telling it like it is!
More to come ….

W B F Luminaries….

veldhoven

Sorry for my tardiness, but lacking skills as a computer techie (among other things), I finally was able to reproduce this beautiful assemblage of the five WBF Presidents taken in 2011 in Veldhoven.  From left to right:  Bobby, Jose Damiani, James Ortiz Patino, current WBF President Gianarrigo Rona and Ernesto.  I  also wanted to share with you a touching one liner from fellow Brazilian bridge legend Gabriel Chagas who was a close friend of Ernesto .. “Indeed a very sad moment in my life.”  I met Gabriel back in the early seventies when he visited New York and bunked out at Edgar’s.   Then decades passed and he came back into my life as he was in continual touch with Bobby via the Internet.   No one has a larger repertoire of humorous articles and stories than Gabriel and Bobby and I look forward to his weekly renderings.

Benevolent Brazilian Bridge Icon Passes On

I read with extreme sadness that Ernesto d’Orsi, one of the most respected and beloved Administrators in the annals of international bridge, died today.  Before Bobby came into my life, Ernesto’s name represented merely a friendly wave or warm smile.  After 2003, when I began to accompany Bobby to a multitude of exciting world championships (mostly on foreign soil),  l got to know and adore Ernesto and his charming wife, Cecilia.  Our hearts go out to her at this very sad time as well as the entire d’Orsi family and thousands of his bridge friends all over the globe.   Bobby and Ernesto worked together several decades for the betterment and perpetuation of our incredible game via The World Bridge Federation.  You might enjoy reading Bobby’s heartwarming tribute on Bridge Winners to a man whose friendship he cherished … and deservedly so!

Exactly where is the A C B L Heading?

 

Effusive remarks concerning the above are continuing to surface on the Internet .. with strong opinions on both sides. There is much room for improvement on these issues despite many vociferous protesting contributors (some qualified and others not!). The subject is delicate indeed, as it involves specific individual personalities, likings, hang ups, their knowledge (or lack of it), their stature, livelihood and leanings, card fees, master points, committees, directors’ aptitudes and qualifications, sensitivity, resentment of criticism, challenged egos, losing valued customers at local clubs and so on. No one can deny bridge is heading in the wrong direction and without a concerted effort, it will continue sinking here in Zone 2.

It brings to mind a very costly refused pro bono offer which I have mentioned before … and it has sadly come back to haunt us. Over two decades ago Bobby offered the head directing honcho (then in Memphis) to allow him to travel to headquarters (all on his own dime) to deliver a seminar to the directors, educating them on the salient points involved which were (and still are) in dire need of understanding and improvement. He was told in no uncertain terms It was too much of an inconvenience to the ACBL (and its directors), and Bobby was flatly refused. Some twenty or more years later, we are dearly paying the price for their refusal to recognize the dire need for some direction. Bear in mind, no one was in a better position or more knowledgeable on the subject which has immersed him for close to sixty years in countless capacities. Not only did he serve on the BOD early in his career, he but later became President of both the ACBL and WBF, head of countless Appeals Committees, created the Recorder System for weeding out suspected cheats, was elected Chairman Emeritus of the WBF Appeals Committee and was unanimously elected to the WBF Committee of Honor.

Let us begin by turning our attention to the club level. Some proprietors/owners/directors are in business because of love of the game, their innate nature of being ‘people persons,’ pure interest in productivity and last but not least (and not applicable to all) … dependency on it for a livelihood which is understandable in today’s economy. Their incentive is not the issue — but rather — the perpetuation (or restoration) of the dignity and equity of the game. I don’t know what the current requirements for franchised directorships are, but I can recall in my day it was the ludicrous ‘open book test.’ Everyone has their own personal motives for playing … be it sociability, making new friends, boredom, master points, a desire to improve — or just trying to kill time to make the day go faster. Their reasons matter not .. but learning the rules of ethics and insisting upon acceptable behavior at the table ARE CRUCIAL!!

Whether a newbie or experienced participant, EVERYONE must play according to the same standards. I see no reason to relax the rules for neophytes. It is the responsibility of a director to explain at the outset in a pleasant, non-confrontational, respectful manner, that everyone must follow protocol in order to be accepted and move forward. Bear in mind that every game has its rules. The participants must be aware of their responsibility to the game and the directors must be knowledgeable, qualified and polite to resolve situations which may alter the scores in favor of the non-offenders. To me, the failure of directors to both understand the rules, the possible infraction and the equitable adjudication of the alleged protest is the root of many ugly occurrences. ALL DECISIONS SHOULD BE TRANSPARENT AND THE ONES AT THE HELM SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PUBLIC. The solution at the duplicates is not handled best by instructing the contestants to continue play and stating he or she will adjust the scores at the conclusion of the session if appropriate. With this suggested manner of disposition, often I have noticed (and challenged) the fact that the particular board result is not visibly included in the scoring sheet … but later appears to be quietly taken into account without informing the foursome involved and making no further waves. No one can play God. Volunteer Committees of a few of the better players should be gathered at the conclusion of the game and allow them to fairly resolve the problem. If you don’t teach them (both the players and the director), we will never ascend to a higher plain. I have all too often heard the protests that newcomers will be scared off by such restraints. If that is their persona … who needs them? This game is not about pampering or soothing hurt egos … but of greater consequence — the perpetuation of a uniquely magnificent game. And, I can think of no more beneficial place to begin than at the club level!

Another club problem (at least in my eyes) is the distribution of master points for under average results. I believe that is governed by the ACBL and recognizing mediocrity (or worse) is a means to attract players who are obsessed with such ridiculous bonuses (and false gods). I recently saw a 30+% game hailed in a “C” category … which to me is ludicrous and disgraceful. It is just a way of encouraging the person to come back and pay a card fee, both to the club and the ACBL. Why should someone attempt to move onward and upward if there are no goals to achieve and a mind set of acceptance of mediocrity and worse. Perhaps if the score was recognized for what it really was (awful!), the player’s would exert efforts to improve their methods by reading basic bridge publications, taking lessons or learning by playing with better players. I have always believed in hitching your wagon to a star or striving for a higher ground rather than falling prey to distorted goals.

On a related issue, Appeals Committees (although performing an important and indispensable service to the game) must be comprised of true (not wanna-be) experts, devoid of politics and personal leanings. In my opinion, (if at all possible) pros should not serve on these bodies as their leanings could be influenced if the accused was asked to rule upon sponsors (perspective clients) or fellow pros with whom they have a kinship and benefit by referrals. These temptations should be avoided as everyone is ‘human’ and often it is impossible and understandable not to be swayed by personal associations or potential benefits. Also recusals (a dirty word) should be absolutely mandatory if the committee members are in any way involved (pro or con). There have been many infamous cases where personal motivation was the driving force. In fact, in international play, biases and prejudices involving certain players and nations have entered the picture. We are all familiar with some of these egregious, warped, influenced mishandled issues. Probably the premier one to go down in history at (or near) the top of the list is Bobby’s infamous “Oh, Shit” case. If you don’t know the details, you are in the wee minority. It was the most absurd decision which had no bearing whatsoever on the facts, actions, rules, laws or sensible reasoning and it will be a long time (I hope and pray) before justice will be ravaged to such a nauseating degree in the future.

My attention this past week has been occupied by the Bridge Winners site. BW has come a very long way from their early beginnings and they serve as a strong and fair venue where the bridge players state their views (mostly strong ones) in a civil, respectable tone … in an effort to right the many alleged wrongs which have been surfacing. Intervention by the BW administrators has insisted on non-offensive remarks encouraging the contributors to express their individual views and responses politely. It has been very educational.

The brouhaha involving the 1.9 million dollar ACBL ordeal over an unsuccessful computer programming system has drawn national (and even universal) flack and this week over two hundred comments have accumulated on a particular BW blog entitled ACBL SCORE UPDATE … mostly from concerned, caring players (in both bridge and computer programming) with all sorts of explanations, recommendations and suggestions how to resolve the problem. Of course, the big stink all stemmed from authorizations by the ACBL Board of Directors and CEO — but no one seems to be owning up to the despicable aftermath and enormous loss from the debacle. No one can deny we, the members, are indirectly footing the bills. Are we not entitled to know ALL the facts!!! We have often heard the trite expression about the animals running the zoo. Here it strikes much closer to home because WE are the financial support of the ACBL … akin to moneybags. Where is the money earmarked for the treasury going? Inquiring minds want to know. I think it is our entitlement to learn how it is being disbursed! Salaries? Perks? Raises? Bonuses? Equipment? Whatever!!! Since no direct official answers have been forthcoming, perhaps the only way this can be resolved is to have an independent investigation of where we all stand. If nothing was out of line, there should be nary a refusal to detail facts, figures and names from the outset.  I believe every ACBL member is entitled to an answer.

 

RAPE OF THE FLOCK

Perhaps my reading comprehension is on the wane as I could not fathom the article in Sunday’s NABC Bulletin entitled “Screen Surcharge Approved” beginning in the Spring of 2015 (unanimously passed by the Board of Directors).    It applies to all NABC+ Events that use screens.  Thus, each player who participates in a session that uses screens pays a $20 entry fee plus $10 surcharge per session.  Where is the money going? Salaries of personnel? Perks? Expenses?  Pensions?  Bonuses?  I should think that having a treasury of over six million dollars should suffice.   I do believe the dues paying members are entitled to know.  I would love to see the difference in salaries over the years of management, office personnel, directors and travel allowances.

How Different It Might Have Been!

Bobby and I were discussing the cascading effects of bridge on its enthusiasts when he offered, “Bridge has governed your life.” My initial reaction was one of offense — especially since he, of all people, should be the last person in the world to point a finger on that subject. However, after a few seconds’ reflection, I thought to myself: He is so right .. and in my case, it has been a super positive influence (although there is no denying how frustrating, depressing and aggravating it has been at times).
Bridge has affected just about every facet of my own existence. I might have chosen a more “normal” way of life .. especially after college but that was not to be. Instead, I sought social activities far from the norm of girls my age and traveled with individuals of all ages (and backgrounds) who shared with me exciting goals and pleasures. As my mother often apologetically described my way of life to her friends: “Judy is obsessed with ‘that travelling circus’ — running to a different locale each week — expounding upon her remorse with ‘How’s she gonna meet a nice man’?” Of course, when she met Norman, she did a total about face (and would have exhibited the same reaction if she had the pleasure of meeting Bobby). In my case, learning bridge forced me to overwork and challenge my brain as I was not blessed with (as Bobby labels it) ‘numeracy.’ I had to strive harder to improve my chosen hobby but marital guidance served as a big ‘upper.’ I have made cherished lifetime friends all over the world on a course that encompassed over fifty years. Bridge has introduced me to different cultures and afforded me the opportunity of seeing (up close and personal) important historic landmarks which I had only heard of, or read about, in college. As much as I love my hometown, I have enjoyed my past eleven years with Bobby after leaving Philadelphia ( with a brief stay in historic Dallas and over nine years in Las Vegas). I suppose bedding down here makes me aware that cards (in this instance .. blackjack) are more a part of my life than I realized and it is a great venue of relaxation as long as you don’t check your brains (and lucre) at the casino door.
Bridge and its many disciples blessed Bobby with a unique existence. I can confidently predict his life’s experiences and travels (plus his incredible disposition to remember names, places, dates, bridge hands and numbers) could provide sequels to The Lone Wolff (ala Parts II and III). However, been there — done that.   Time marches on.
I’d love to hear how you feel that the game has affected your own existence (for better or for worse) and where you project you might be today .. without it?

Falling from Grace

The introduction of the Internet to the universe probably tops the list of “the best things since… sliced bread, chopped liver, hula hoops …. whatever.” Feel free to name your own poison. No doubt cyberspace has changed our difficult, tedious, time consuming process of communication and has brought the world so much closer together. However, as I see it concerning our once-incredible game, quite a few users have haphazardly overstepped their bounds.

An old adage attributed to Oliver Wendell Homes, Jr. states: “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.” It is applicable in bridge (both at the table, in elected or appointed high level positions and as adjudicators of what is essential to keep our game at the top of the sphere). It is one thing to express one’s thoughts (pro or contra) privately and politely to a friend (or foe) but to have the gall to unleash unfounded, sarcastic, ugly public comments when some of the accusers are far from versed to do so is reprehensible and insulting to the erudite, well informed and long-time experienced volunteers who understand what is best for the game and equitable to all players. (In Bobby’s case, he is not swayed or influenced, and rarely does he know which individuals allegedly did what to whom. His only concern is to uphold the standards of the game as best as humanly possible).

Sometimes, though not often enough, one is privy to the opportunity of hearing from a respected individual who has definitely earned the distinction of being consulted with, having been there, done that, and is qualified (by anyone’s objective standards) to be closely listened to in an effort to determine correct answers to an important subject. When that happens (and the individual does not necessarily agree), it may be classified as pure, unadulterated foolishness and more importantly, a wasted opportunity, to not even try to understand. Unfortunately this happens all too often within the bridge world, where people from the four corners of the earth (usually via the Internet) are concerned with the same subject, but, at least at this point, have different ideologies, as to which direction the specific facts lead. When that occurs, it is certainly acceptable to disagree as to the overall result in a polite manner, but then to condemn and insult the well known messenger is downright rude and completely out of line. Those are the surroundings in which a supposedly learning neophyte sometimes finds himself. However, instead he should feel gratitude for the learning experience and understand the lack of knowledge background from which he, himself, is coming. To not accept that fact wreaks from lack of humility and no understanding of the magnitude of his or her indiscretion. It is a major violation of social intercourse with which today’s world is damned.

Bridge has changed immensely since I came upon the scene in the mid fifties. I was a newbie and the only icon whose name I recognized was Charles Goren. He put our game on the map (thank heavens!) but I later learned that although he was beloved by the public, he was far from a top ’expert’ though a celebrated and respected PR person. His accomplishment of introducing bridge to our hemisphere was unrivaled. In fact, he was a good friend of my late husband, Norman Kay, and when he made his grand appearance at our wedding in 1963, our other guests (especially my mother’s Thursday Night neighborhood bridge clique) froze up in disbelief that it was Mr. Bridge in the flesh! He certainly earned his distinguished reputation before that star struck audience!

Another difference was the composition of the Board of Directors. I am not casting any aspersions on our present representatives as I know most by name only, and I have no doubt they are hard working, devoted players who are totally dedicated to our game. However, I envision an earlier cast (listed strictly in alphabetical order) who were knowledgeable, experienced world class experts with an enormous number of scalps on the wall as well as administrative and judicial prowess which favorably shaped the progress of bridge. You may recognize some of these revered old timers .. Johnny Gerber, Edgar Kaplan, Lew Mathe, Eric Murray, Tommy Sanders, Sidney Silodor, Margaret Wagar and Bobby Wolff… with apologies to those I overlooked.

The old standards seem to have changed since personal alliances, biases, prejudices and politics have taken over and the honor and best interest of the game are no longer priorities. Everyone adheres to his or her own agenda and, IMO, professionalism has affected the thinking of many where money plays such an overwhelming role.

Nowadays, respect for the justifiably informed opinions of others (based on performance and administration) appears to have been scrapped. Everyone is an expert. Just ask them. I yearn for the ’good old days’ where the focal point was the beauty and majesty of the game. Outside influences and personal motivation have caused them to fall from grace! Hopefully, it is not too late to pick up the pieces… or is it?

Las Vegas Bridge World Shocks Bobby Wolff!

Unbeknownst to Bobby, with permission from with the gracious owners of the LVBW and the engagement of an independent catering duo (who had performed sensationally on several occasions prior to yesterday) — an unbelievable luncheon feast was awaiting the Tuesday Game in honor of his 82nd!! Announcement of the event was made at the club on the days we were not in attendance and a sign-up sheet was available to get some idea of how many mouths were eager to be fed. Our estimate for the number of attendees was pretty much on target with sixteen tables in play and several others whom I had invited for lunch whether or not they were able to stay for the game. About seventy bridge lovers were on hand to scream “Surprise” as he staggered through the door in disbelief. We usually arrive a minute or two before game time (having eaten at a nearby Wendy’s beforehand). However, I had to find a way to coax him to the party by 11:50 without eating first (as the guests were already there waiting to attack the spread) and the game was starting at 12:30. I trumped up a story that it was our friend Carol Pincus’s birthday (which was actually three days prior to his) and insisted we be there early not to spoil the surprise. He quizzically asked the day before .. “Are you sure this party is not for me?” I assured him that knowing how much he hated to be the center of attention and do a lot of socializing in light of his steadily failing hearing, that I would NEVER violate his strong feelings of privacy and he was convinced his hunch was wrong. When he entered the door to shouts of “SURPRISE,” he looked at me but before he could utter a word, I said “So, I lied!!!” Although he would never admit it, I could see he was enjoying everyone coming over to his table with beaming smiles.

This was no easy task as Bobby despises (and is embarrassed by being the center of attention) and is basically very shy and modest despite a huge laundry list of achievements for over six decades. Had I asked his permission, it would have been a flat “NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” so as a loving wife, I took matters into my own hands (no pun intended) and went undercover for about three weeks. However, I enlisted help of our supreme caterer (Barbara Lotief) and her able assistant, Evelyn Dahl, who doubles as the President of Unit 373. I gave them the number of guests expected and left most of the decisions as to menu up to them .. as I had seen their handy work on many prior celebrations and sadly some memorial tributes as well. One of the owners, Dixie Perkinson, worked tirelessly with me sanding down the rough edges, and my daughter Robin (who commutes between Scottsdale and Las Vegas) did a lot of scut work, including ordering, picking up and delivering some scrumptious bakery goodies to round off the catered array which adorned a mammoth table in the middle of the room. Of course, there was no better or more appropriate site to host a bridge event than the lovely, huge facility of the LVBW and Dixie’s two other partners (Joanne Euler and Jane Rubin) were very happy to provide the site for Bobby’s shindig.

Both before and after the duplicate, it was very gratifying to see a steady stream of visitors either kissing Bobby’s cheek or shaking his hand (you can figure out which sex did what) .. and thanking me for the delicious lunch. Regardless of his protests, it was so obvious how much he was savoring the love-in in his honor. Thanks to all who made Tuesday, October 14th such a special day for The Wolves!!

←Older