Judy Kay-Wolff

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous ….

Just about every sport imaginable has established their own Hall of Fame, celebrating the Best of the Best. Isn’t that really what a Hall of Fame is all about?   The individuals earmarked for this unequaled, prestigious honor should stand head and shoulders above the rest.  Let’s just look at some of the fields and call to mind what these individuals have accomplished.   Off the top of my head, but with input from others, the following (who are either dead or inactive) immediately flashed before me:   (Baseball:  Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams); (Basketball:   Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell); (Football:  Jim Brown, Dick Butkus Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas); (Golf:  Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Sammy Snead); (Hockey:  Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr);  (Soccer:  Pele, Ronaldo); (Tennis:  Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras).   Many others, very close in accomplishments and the miniscule number of female greats (such as Babe Zaharias, Steffi Graff, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova who excelled in the field of golf or tennis) were deliberately excluded for the sake of simplicity and space saving.  Those cited were absolutely at the zenith of their sport, whose successes survived the test of time.  No flashes in the pan or Johnny Come Latelys!  They were well deserved to be mentioned above the other standouts who may be right behind them.   But, no doubt their performances were as close to perfection as possible in their chosen field.

Now let us turn to our common pastime … the game of Bridge.    For those not familiar with the Bridge Hall of Fame, it was designed to commemorate the achievements of outstanding living bridge personalities for their long range sensational feats with the pasteboards.   It was the brainchild of Lee Hazen and inaugurated in 1964 by Sonny Moyse, then owner, editor and publisher of The Bridge World.  The first three elected were Ely Culbertson, Charles Goren and Harold Vanderbilt;  In 1965, Oswald Jacoby, Sidney Lenz and Milton Work were named; and in 1966, the honorees were Howard Schenken, Sidney Silodor and Waldemar von Zedtwitz.   The inductions came to a screeching halt and the process was not resumed until 1995 when the acting CEO, Roy Green, came upon the scene and resuscitated the dormant Hall of Fame.

Naturally, almost thirty years had elapsed and many worthy candidates were deservedly waiting in the wings so there was much catching up to do.   In addition to the primary Hall of Fame (decided by ballot), two other divisions were added and the recipients were selected by a Committee.   The Blackwood Award (named after Easley Blackwood) was established to honor bridge players, living or deceased, who contributed to the game in areas outside of bridge-playing expertise (writing, devising conventions, teaching, promoting bridge, acting as good will ambassadors, directing, administrating, etc.) and the second was the Von Zedtwitz Award (named after Waldemar von Zedwitz), established to honor a deceased person who contributed to bridge as a player.

In 1995, the primary electees to the reactivated Hall of Fame were Edgar Kaplan, Alvin Roth and Bobby Wolff; in 1996 — Eddie Kantar, Norman Kay and Alfie Sheinwold;  and in 1997 were Edith Freilich (a/k/a Seligman/Kemp), George Rapee and Bill Root.   Bear in mind at the same ceremony as the HOF presentation, The Blackwood and von Zedtwitz honorees were inducted as well.   Whereas the original inductees in the Sixties were the only honorees to join the HOF, by the time it was resurrected in 1995, the other two categories were in focus and as many as eight individuals were honored at one time.  The original HOF’s intention was not to salute that year’s Best Personality, Most Endowed Sponsor, Most Entertaining Bridge Player, Most Popular Bridge Player, the Winningest Master Point Achiever, etc.   The primary design of the Hall of Fame was to recognize SUPERIOR BRIDGE TALENT of living members — period!

At one point in the early 2000s, it became apparent there were some obviously egregious oversights of top players not achieving Hall of Fame Status.   In 2001 Sami Kehela and Eric Murray (from Canada. which is part of Zone 2) and in 2002 Tommy Sanders were inducted.  These were honors long, long overdue but I am trying to justify the classification into which they fit.   The Von Zedtwitz honored top DECEASED players (so that rules out the Von Zedtwitz) and the Blackwood recognizes players (living or deceased) who contributed to the game in areas OUTSIDE BRIDGE PLAYING EXPERTISE (so how did these bridge icons fly under the radar)?   Thank God they did and all lived to see the day (and are still with us in 2010) but can someone tell me how the electors could veer so far off course???   When I asked Bobby about the inconsistencies, he volunteered:   “I doubt if there is a player alive who wouldn’t take those three as a partner or teammate and play any honest team in the world a long match.”   And, if you know Bobby, he is not one to toss compliments frivolously.

As I look at the ACBL site on the computer, I note a list of Hall of Fame Members inducted from 1964-2009, but there is no distinction made (except between 1964-1966) as to those actually voted in and those selected.   However, there is a significant difference in accomplishments and talent and, like many other phases of bridge these days, most things zoom out of control or get lost in the shuffle (no pun intended).    There is no public differentiation between the three presentations — all of which have vastly different criteria (the latter two often spoken of in hushed tones).  On the ACBL site each year’s electees are listed in alphabetical order — indicative of the Age of Misinformation.   It appears as one big melting pot, separating the recipients by year of induction only — not delineating the category.

Admittedly, it took some time to officially recognize those not in the original group (’64-’66) because of the twenty-nine year hiatus, but after the “automatics” were inducted, it seemed like a free for all.   I am not necessarily alluding to this year’s list of candidates as there are indeed some worthy names listed, but in the last ten years or so, it seems like the flood gates have opened up.    There are tremendous gradations in performances of players.   I feel strongly there is an unparalleled distinction between an exceptional expert/world class player and a good sponsor.  Also, there are so few top women players who hold a candle to Helen Sobel, Sally Young and Edith Freilich (and perhaps one or two others) who set the standard for female superiority, holding their own against the best of the opposite sex.  The Hall of Fame might reconsider branching out and having separate categories for the female sex (which suggestion I know was voted down before as it thought of as very chauvinistic) as well as one for successful sponsors who have achieved impressive records playing with professional partners.  But, let’s not pull any punches and call a spade a spade.  The Hall of Fame Shrine (as distinguished from other recognized award categories) should strictly  house the most BRILLIANT, HONEST, SUPERIOR, DISTINGUISHED PERFORMERS (who also, not surprisingly, have countless scalps on the wall) — not merely those who have won ‘x’ number of championships (nationally or internationally) with or without the help of paid professionals.

Incidentally, those responsible for placing the nominations on the ballot are the Hall of Fame Committee and with all the close ties in bridge, it is virtually impossible not to have favorites and/or conflicts of interest regarding some of the proposed nominees.   At one time (in 2002) I was appointed to the HOF committee (which I considered a great honor) but, in retrospect, I really question why I was selected other than as a tribute to my late husband, Norman (who also served on the Committee immediately before his death). At that time, I  did not feel qualified to judge who were worthy candidates.   However, it is amazing what one can learn in eight years.   I ended up resigning about a year after I came on board  (though I really enjoyed the company of some of my constituents), but I did not like the way friendships blatantly played their part in the proposed nominations.   Besides, we were overruled on a few issues by the BOD who meddled in areas where they had little expertise.  Finally, our current President, Rich DeMartino, then on the BOD, acted as a liaison between the HOF Committee and the Board (actually running interference) and resolved several controversial issues, thereby allowing the HOFC to function more smoothly and effectively — and, above all, became scrupulously independent.

I believe the time has arrived to put a halt to the absurd defamation of the ACBL Hall of Fame and honor it by the induction of only OUR VERY, VERY BEST — emulating the superb judgment exercised in the sports field to revere their legendary all-time greats mentioned in my introduction.  To do otherwise and elect even one player with credentials substandard to those of our top bridge heroes and heroines would undermine the lofty ideals of its founders!


dannyJanuary 19th, 2010 at 3:38 am


Agreed that the VZ and Blackwood honorees should be distinguished from the players who got in on the bridge merits.

But, when you compare the bridge HOF to the other sports Hall of Fames, you cherry pick the very best, not realizing all of these Halls have plenty of non famous, non Ruth/Jordan/Gretzky like players…

Take my favorite sport, baseball. For all of the Ruth’s et. al There are plenty of guys like Chick Hafey and Ross Youngs who weren’t famous, and weren’t all time greats. Also, there are players who were known cheats (Gaylord Perry for example) and players who had absolutley no integrity on or off the field.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 19th, 2010 at 5:53 pm


I think it is nolo contendere on your first response that all the electees should not be lumped in some hodgepodge annual list but category awards should be distinguished, And — not that they should have been excluded from the actual Hall in the first place, but I am still trying to figure out how Eric, Sami and Tommy eked their way in (though very much alive and expert indeed) which makes them ineligible for either the Blackwood or Von Zedwitz by definition.

Addressing your second and third comments:

Does you post suggest that the BB HOF should enshrine for membership a baseball player whose highest achievement was to play utility outfielder for the Toledo Mudhens? On an equivalent basis, that is what you are apparently suggesting the ACBL do with some of its current selections to the Bridge HOF.

With reference to Gaylord Perry (and his spitball?) — look in your own back yard before you criticize other sports. How about honoring both halves of a bridge partnership by entering their names separately into the Bridge HOF, although earlier they were found guilty of exchanging stealthy cheating bridge signals while playing together during a Pairs Trials held to determine the North American Representatives for that year’s Bermuda Bowl — and as a penalty were asked to stop playing together (in exchange for keeping it quiet). I believe they ceased and desisted for a while, then resumed their magical partnership — but were never confronted with it.

PimoJanuary 19th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I think everyone who has bought an entry into a Nationally rated event should be in the Bridge HOF. OK, everyone who has bought an entry into said mentioned event and who is now dead should be an inductee…. Remember the league’s promise that no life master would ever pay dues? Anyone who was in that category and has since paid dues and is now dead would be an automatic inductee into the HOF, even if they never entered a Nationally rated event. Any African American who joined the ABCL instead of the ABA should be an automatic inductee into the HOF….All children who have caddied should be inducted. All directors should be inducted in a special category. Foreign players should be barred unless they became US citizens, joined the ACBL and have died, in which case, they would be automaticly inducted….

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 19th, 2010 at 6:21 pm


Bring in the clowns. Seriously, don’t make me laugh although I think you got your point across about it becoming a sham.

Ray LeeJanuary 20th, 2010 at 3:56 am

I’m not sure whether I’m still a HoF elector — haven’t received a ballot yet this year, so perhaps I’m not. In any event, the last two or three times, I did not use all my available votes, simply because I didn’t think that there were that many names on the ballot worthy of being in a real HoF. If you go to the ACBL site and look at the HoF criteria, they involve only tournament success. Clearly this was before the days of big-money sponsorship on the scale it exists now. Today there are numbers of people who have ‘won’ National and even World events who are clearly at best decent club-level players. So something more than simply tournament wins has to be involved, and that distinction is the responsibility of the HoF selection committee. However, if the committee is made up of people who depend on sponsors for their livelihood, they aren’t likely to live up to that. The answer may simply be (a) to create a new category for Sponsors (or what in the Hockey HoF world are called ‘Builders’) and/or (b) as does baseball, to require a minimum percentage of the votes cast before election is achieved (I have a vague recollection this was talked about for bridge, but I’m not sure whether or not anything ever came of it). Nothing (except selling tickets to the dinner) says that there need to be 3 people inducted every year.

Re Eric and Sami: their names were on the ballot year after year, and I voted for them every time. Neither ever came close to being elected — I’m not going to speculate why here, but I have my own theories. In 2001, with the Summer Nationals in Toronto, even the ACBL found the situation embarrassing, and gave them one of the other two awards, for which they clearly did not qualify. This in and of itself is a pretty severe comment on the whole system — two of the all-time greats in North American (indeed, world) bridge, couldn’t get elected to the HoF.

In retrospect, if I’m no longer an elector, I’m just as happy to be out of it.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 20th, 2010 at 5:24 am

Very eloquent, Ray! You didn’t miss a beat and made so many realistic observations about the weaknesses and failings of the Hall of Fame procedures (from the HOF Selection Committee on down). Sami and Eric were more deserving than having a bone thrown to them in Toronto — but at least Canada’s Bridge Warriors received some recognition — albeit not of the magnitude deserved — nor in a timely fashion. They are a credit to your country and Zone 2 was fortunate to have them on our side. I had the distinct pleasure to enjoy their company when playing on teams with Edgar and Norman for many years — and two more ethical experts and finer gentlemen are hard to find and difficult to rival.

Linda LeeJanuary 20th, 2010 at 5:31 am

I looked up the rules about the Hall of Fame on the ACBL website. The electors include:

- all living hall of fame members

- up to 10 journalist who are ACBL members tp ne selected by the IBPA executive committee

-ACBL members who have won at least 5 1st or 2nd place finishes in WBF/NABC Championships (these include both women and open events)

-WBF and ACBL Grand Life Masters

This seems like a reasonable list of electors although perhaps more journalists and less “champions” might be a possibility (as in Baseball) since this will reduce the number of electors beholden to sponsors.

It seems difficult to establish any criteria which would make it harder for a sponsor to be elected. It is hard to prove that a particular player who may have won a lot of events is not very good. So perhaps just being a sponsor in and of itself means that you cannot be elected except in a newly created sponsor category no matter how good you are.

I suppose that means that sponors have to declare themselves although at this level it is pretty obvious.

Some times it seems that very good things, like a Hall of Fame, do get cheapened in the attempt to bring money into the game. That does make me sad.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 20th, 2010 at 5:48 am


I agree with much of what you say. However, I think the main problem stems from the SELECTORS — not the Electors. When I was on the HOF Committee about seven years ago, three of the female selectors were gung ho to place a sponsor on the slate but there was quite a backlash from the majority (including yours truly) and the nomination was dropped. I think it is a conciliatory idea but you are facing an uphill battle regarding a special Hall for sponsors. Just as women don’t want to be placed in a separate category — neither do the sponsors. To them it is demeaning — not to be included with the big boys — but it is really absurd to denegrate what started out as a very pure venture!

By the way, I have been searching to learn who is on the Selection Committee but I have had a problem ascertaining the information. I have a call in to the League but so far I have not heard back. It will be interesting to see who put the names on the ballot.

Ray LeeJanuary 20th, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I believe I was nominated last year to fill a vacancy on the Selection committee. If so, I was not appointed, which I gather is pretty rare. Doesn’t bother me one way or the other, but if that is true, it may say something about who they want on the committee. I was interested to read your comments (Judy) about the relationship of the Selection Committee with the BoD. If you read the rules under which it was all set up (on the ACBL site), it is very specifically stated that the BoD has no say in any way on the list of nominees. Of course, it’s one thing to SAY that….

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 20th, 2010 at 2:23 pm


An afterthought: Why should the IBPA (a foreign body) be selecting journalists who may or may not have any direct ties with the nominees. I know the rules have changed vastly since I sat on that committee and journalists were always included in the vote. Out of curiosity, I think the public is entitled to know (1) The names of the Selectors as well as (2) the names of the ten voters from the fourth estate who are part of the Electoral process. I am looking to Memphis for answers.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 20th, 2010 at 2:31 pm


I just noticed your latest comment above — but not before writing to Linda. Your make an intriguing point. I am not concerned that the Board has no say. However, we are not running a secret society and the ACBL Members are entitled to know both the names of the Selection Committee and the names of the ten members of the press who were hand-picked. It is a good starting point!

Riki TikiJanuary 20th, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I think that too many are elected to the HOF every year. One in each category should be sufficient. Another point, is why do we have so many categories. As Pimo points out, soon all ACBL members will be in the HOF.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 20th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

For those of you in the dark, I am about to set forth three important factions involved in the 2010 Hall of Fame election process:


2) The Fouth Estate voting members (selected by the International Bridge Press Association from within their own ranks): PHILIP ALDER, JOHN CARRUTHERS, DAVID EZEKIAL, ALAN FALK, AUDREY GRANT, PAUL LINXWILER, BRENT MANLEY, BARRY RIGAL, DAVE SMITH, FRANK STEWART. This looks to me to be a very competent group of voters without any known conflicts of interests who will be looking at the list objectively.

3) The Hall of Fame Committee (who served as the Selection Commitee of nominees): STEVE ROBINSON, Chairman, CECIL COOK, KERRI SANBORN, BETTY ANN KENNEDY, PAUL LEWIS, RALPH KATZ, EDDIE WOLD, GEOFF HAMPSON, PEGGY SUTHERLIN. These appear to all be stalwart citizens of the bridge community (but with one exception, have, in my opinion, far too much personal involvement as either sponsors or professionals) and may tend to lean toward getting close friends and associates (or worse) nominated. People are only human and these innate demons are irresistable — removing the objectivity from one’s thinking process.

You scan the list and draw your own conclusions.

Fred GitelmanJanuary 20th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

As Ray points out, the HofF criteria is based on accomplishment rather than skill (that is, skill as perceived by the HofF Committee).

I am not sure if either Ray or Judy said so explicitly, but I get the impression that both of them would like to see this changed.

If this happens then the HofF Committee’s collective (and highly-subjective) perception of the skill of candidates for the ballot would come into play. Since the Committee will then have to answer (absurd) questions like (for example) “Who is a better player – Bart Bramley or John Mohan?”, it is necessary to have players on the Committee who are peers of the Bramleys and Mohans of the world.

But you don’t want professional players (or sponsors) on the Committee due to possible conflicts of interest. That rules out a big chunk of those who have the bridge skills to be qualified for the HofF Committee.

And I am sorry to tell you this, but the chunk that remains (ie great players who are neither pros nor sponsors) will also have conflicts of interest. The world of top-level bridge is just too small. If you are a great player in the USA who is not a pro, chances are 100% that you have personal relationships (some very good and some very bad) with just about all the other top-level players and several of the big sponsors. Personal relationships are a conflict of interest.

So I don’t think you can have your cake and eat it too: if you want the HofF Committee to screen for skill, then it is necessary that every qualified person on the Committee will have (multiple) conflicts of interest.

FWIW I don’t think perceived skill should be part of the equation.

FWIW I trust the HofF Committee to rise above possible conflicts of interest.

Fred Gitelman

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 20th, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Hi Fred,

As far as I am concerned, you expressed the HofF conundrum eloquently until the last two sentences.

Regarding the next to last sentence, I think differently, but feel strongly that you represent the majority view among the too few capable of making right-on judgments, both as to real skill and to overall worthiness.

However, concerning your last sentence, the proposed slate in its entirety, is, in my opinion, a direct contradiction to your trust.

I wish there were more Fred Gitelmans directly involved in all of the preparation, or perhaps just as a compromise, at least one.

PIMOJanuary 20th, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Once again, you should be dead before you are nominated to the HOF. Such a principle rules out hard feelings, hope, ego and conflicts of interest. That’s what the above list of candidates reflect. After all, what’s the rush, as we are all old and our skills are declining even as we speak. This policy would resolve all the aforementioned complaints about the present system of selection and their corresponding answers or follow-ups given.

The present list of candidates I know. They are friends, acquaintances and foes. I would hope that the honor of being nominated to the HOF would satiate some of them. The sad news about most of this group is that it appears that the bridge world is running out of GREAT players (and the number has been dwindling for some time now). Perhaps we should look to the foreign field for future candidates: Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Somalia, Haiti, Morocco or the international community found at the South Pole. Let’s be honest and spare feelings here. This is a pathetic selection and perhaps it’s time to ask the general populace just to vote for their favorite pro or sponsor, like baseball’s All-Star ballot every season. If you can’t see the conflict of interest between the selections and the selectors, then you are lacking the qualifications to participate in this discussion.

Ergo, qualification for the HOF has become in some cases an attendance award. In others, money will buy a HOF place, so there should be a special Hall for those who have paid so dearly. Since most of the planet doesn’t care, and even less would want to understand, may the selections all be entered, not just those receiving 75% or 90% or even 99% of the votes. May the Emperor always wear new clothes. Most of us aren’t looking anyway. Having so many HOFers in the field should lead to more committees. One will be able to hear the wail of the bourgeois as they cry for committees with the hope that their peers will rectify the injustices served upon them by the proletariat.

Fred GitelmanJanuary 20th, 2010 at 11:31 pm

It is nice to hear that you think I would make a good HofF Committee member, Judy, but, I too come with baggage that is packed full of potential conflicts of interest.

I was actually on the HofF Committee for a short while, but I resigned after a couple of meetings. The reason for my resignation had nothing to due with anyone’s potential conflicts of interest.

Fred Gitelman

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 21st, 2010 at 3:32 am


Like they say, many a true word is spoken in jest. You would have made a good satirist, but sadly many of your humorous jabs hit home. Frankly, I think the concept of the HOF (as it is today) has veered off course and needs some redirection toward the elegance it once represented.

My primary complaint is that a HOF is like a shrine and should stand for SUPREME EXCELLENCE. The last thing we should be doing is compromising our standards. Accomplishments alone are a poor critetia — especially in the area of team sponsorship. Playing in a major pair game and being victorious with a PEER is an

accomplishment — not paying five profressionals (local or foreign with US citizenship) to help win for you an important event or prestigious world cup that puts your name in the record books. That is a shallow victory and that, in my eyes, does not make one a HOF candidate! I am not a proponent of a win is a win is a win. Winning in a vacuum is meaningless.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 21st, 2010 at 4:36 am

Hi Fred:

Your words prove my point. If you, one of the finest, brightest and most honorable young men in our hobby, confesses to “baggage packed full of potential conflicts of interest” — what could we expect of lesser people?

It boils down to to those three not-so-little words ….. conflicts of interest. Perhaps if there were fewer people on the Committee, the standards could more easily and objectively be met. Look back to the caliber of player inducted in 1964-1966 and those standouts who got in those first few years when the Hall became reactiivated in 1995. It is not about wins alone — but rather about exceptional BRILLIANCE in the many aspects of the game. I am not trying to be disrespectful — but rather objective. As someone said earlier, if we elect only one each year, so be it. We shouldn’t be scrounging for candidates and make a farce of a once totally elegant body of electees.

Fred GitelmanJanuary 21st, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Judy – we agree – all strong players would have potential conflicts of interest if they were appointed to the HofF Committee.

So there are only 2 alternatives:

1) Put strong players on the HofC Committee and trust them to act responsibly

2) Put lesser players with no potential conficts on interest on the HofF Committee

Do you really prefer 2? Or is there some 3rd alternative that I am missing?

Fred Gitelman

Stacy Jacobs » hall of skillJanuary 21st, 2010 at 7:44 pm

[...] Kay-Wolff, blogging’s grande dame, summed her position up like this: I believe the time has arrived to put a halt to the absurd defamation of the ACBL [...]

PimoJanuary 21st, 2010 at 9:39 pm

As Judy said: “I believe the time has arrived to put a halt to the absurd defamation of the ACBL Hall of Fame and honor it by the induction of only OUR VERY, VERY BEST — emulating the superb judgment exercised in the sports field to revere their legendary all-time greats mentioned in my introduction. To do otherwise and elect even one player with credentials substandard to those of our top bridge heroes and heroines would undermine the lofty ideals of its founders!”

I agree with Stacy that electing hacks into the HOF must be ended or the defamation will continue. If that cannot be achieved, then by all means open the doors to the entire field: its directors, caddies and various tournament chairmen and committee members who has ever served. Perhaps there will be a special space for the kibitzers, writers, sponsors, friends and families of HOF’ers. The door should be open to all, not just a particular clique’s favorites. If there is no limit to the bottom of the barrel, then not correcting the problem just means that there is no limit to depth of mediocrity achieved

PimoJanuary 21st, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Fred offers an interesting choice. Yes, try (2) Put lesser players with no potential conflicts of interest on the HOF committee. This is a far superior solution than the answer of fear ( see Michael Crichton’s State of Fear ) which is (1) Use only strong players and trust them to act responsibly. That doesn’t work now! There is no need to rely on trust anymore, so stop “trusting”, as corruption never becomes something good. These selections are biased and lacking in merit in most cases. This article by Judy makes that point. The follow-up comments add to said point. Anyone without a predetermined interest could better serve the selection committees. The breach of trust by those stronger players ( though I beg to differ about the definition of strength ), as well as corrupt ACBL officials, and pandering writers is what is and has been the problem. This all starts in Memphis, so the nest should be cleansed.

Thus, we should give point 2 a chance before we rule against it. You cannot claim that it will fail, or that it is worse a solution than the present scenario, until it has been tested. To those who wish to cry that (2) is flawed, I say it is because you do not want to lose control of the present situation. The 3rd alternative easily deals with this matter of who controls. Anyone nominated is “in”, you just have to be dead before you can be nominated. It’ll give you something to look forward to upon your return…..

PimoJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 12:09 am

After discussing this argument with a large dinner group, we have come up with another solution. This is a partial answer to the big picture. The league should create a special award. A service type of award. “The Friends of Bridge ” category. Anyone who has contributed (the wealthy sponsor, the hard working tournament helpers, directors and even writers) would fall within the category. TFBers would be listed on their own pages on the HOF web site. Our group came up with many names (starting with Max Hardy, and yes, you can add to the list ) of worthy souls who have given so much to bridge with little to show. These super “shout-outs” or “thank yous” would go a long way and take quite a bit of pressure off the super players who are so necessarily now needed to select our HOFers. TFBers don’t have to be dead, as the award is the only merit they will ever receive…..

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 12:49 am


I believe you misunderstood Stacy’s statement. She was QUOTING ME — NOT AGREEING. Perhaps it was not clear as it was not placed in quotation marks — but I assure you her sentiments were not that “electing hacks into the HOF must be ended or the defamation will continue.” On the contrary — anything but!!

LET ME REITERATE SOMETHING FROM AN EARLIER COMMENT ON THIS SUBJECT: Although the ACBL chooses to lump the HOF into one great muddle as full fledged members, this is my understanding:

In addition to the PRIMARY Hall of Fame (decided by ballot), two other divisions were added in 1995 and the recipients were chosen (selected by Committee). The Blackwood Award (named after Easley Blackwood) was established to honor bridge players, LIVING OR DECEASED, who contributed to the game in areas OUTSIDE OF BRIDGE-PLAYING EXPERTISE (writing, devising conventions, teaching, promoting bridge, acting as good will ambassadors, directing, administrating, etc.) and the second was the Von Zedtwitz Award (named after Waldemar von Zedwitz), established to honor a DECEASED PERSON who contributed to bridge as a PLAYER (but was not voted in earlier based on his or her expertise). One is clearly a service award and the other is based on bridge expertise.

That is all well and good but let us not confuse balloting for the Hall of Fame (as opposed to the other two categories — either deceased experts overlooked earlier or non bridge experts who contributed mightily in other areas). However, I do object to contaminating what I call the Primary Hall of Fame with lesser lights who may excel in areas outside of supreme bridge expertise. THAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE BLACKWOOD AWARD. To save you time, here were the HALL OF FAME electees — starting in 1964-1966 and then resuming in 1995:

ELY CULBERTSON, CHARLES GOREN, HAROLD VANDERBILT, OSWALD JACOBY, SIDNEY LENZ, MILTON WORK, HOWARD SCHENKEN, SIDNEY SILODOR, WALDEMAR VON ZEDTWITZ (and after a twenty-eight year gap) EDGAR KAPLAN, ALVIN ROTH, ROBERT WOLFF, EDWIN KANTAR, NORMAN KAY, ALFRED SHEINWOLD, EDITH FREILICH, GEORGE RAPEE, WILLIAM ROOT, BILLY EISENBERG, MARY JANE FARELL, DOROTHY TRUSCOTT, BOBBY GOLDMAN, ROBERT HAMMAN, , SIDNEY LAZARD, IRA RUBIN, RICHARD FREEMAN, LEW STANSBY, HUGH ROSS, PAUL SOLOWAY, FRED HAMILTON, JACQUI MITCHELL, STEVE ROBINSON, TOBIAS STONE, PETER WEICHSEL, BETTY ANN KENNEDY, KIT WOOLSEY, MICHAEL BECKER, ZIA MAHMOOD, KERRI SANBORN, ALAN SONTAG, NICK NICKELL, MIKE PASSELL, MARK LAIR. No hacks noted above! Also understand, many of the deserving early superstars were selected for the Von Zedtwitz Award as they had passed away during the interim from 1967-1994 and were not eligible for the present Hall of Fame. Had the present HOF been in existence during their heyday, they would have automatically been elected. Thus, they were included in the Von Zedtwitz, per force.

The point I was trying to make (but obviously hit a brick wall) was none other than accomplished bridge superstars were intended to be on the Hall of Fame Ballot — though they may fit into the other worthy groups for special recognition (to be selected by Committee). To be unable to differentiate the Hall of Fame Election from the Blackwood Award Appointment is inconceivable to me. The Von Zedtwitz Award speaks for itself as it only deals with deceased top bridge players.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 2:57 am


I don’t really like either of the alternatives suggested.

To give you an idea of what I thought of as a potential solution, I would begin by selecting a three to five person committee to choose the slate. The HOF committee would provide the history and statistics necessary for this committee to select the candidates each year.

I would suggest the Slate Selection Committee be chosen from individuals such as the people listed below, who encompass, IMO, an unbiased, knowledgable group from different spheres of bridge.

Keep in mind that Bobby would undoubtedly be the perfect one to be included (because he cares deeply, has played often against most of the potential candidates and would be the least easily influenced, knowledgeable and fair minded person available), but obviously because of politics, it would be unrealistic to include him. Here they are (not in any particular order because I am too tired to alphabetize them):

1. Richard Pavlicek

2. Frank Stewart

3. Eric Murray or Sami Kehela

4. Eddie Kantar

5. Mike Ledeen

6. Tommy Sanders

7. Sharon Osberg

8. Zeke Jabbour

9. Marty Hirschman (Detroit)

10. Jeff Polisner

I think any of these ten people would be totally objective as they have no axe to grind and would be as fair-minded as one could get. They are all experienced and the sponsor-pro relationship would be cast by the wayside, eliminating many of the previous conflicts.

John Howard GibsonJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Dear Judy, The problem here is massive. What with so many past players who deserve recogniition and acclaim, along with those who achieve at the highest levels to day. How does one start on identifying the criteria for selection…..and what weighting should be given to each criterion. How do instances of sublime and brilliant play compare with an outstanding margin of victory in a premier event. What time periods are to be considered on which achievements are to be counted. And of course more importantly who are the best people to consider and judge the nominations that come forward from reputable bodies/and or people around the world. Those who award Nobel Peace awards might have some useful advice as to how to solve this problem. My view is that it takes one to recognise one, so once you have some initial agreement and acceptance as to who should be regarded as the world’s best, then it’s both wise and prudent to let them ( and only them ) consider future nominations into a hall of fame. You really do have to be a top player yourself, and to certainly play with or against possible contenders ( over a period of time ) to really know how good they are.

JodyJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 4:52 pm

This is a fun topic, thanks Judy! Obviously there are waaaaay too many people being nominated; one or two would do. Or simply vote for one only. I like the Friends of Bridge thing. bit why even do that? Bridge is a much smaller venue(?) than other sports, and as someone said, we seem to be running out of stars. I have a problem understanding why someone could not serve on the nominating committee due to “conflict of interest.” An adult longtime player who loves bridge can’t set aside his/her personal feelings for something like this? Kind of like being a juror. Maybe that’s why sponsors should probably out of the mix, no temptation

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Hi John:

If my memory serves me correctly, your comments are commensurate with the voice of logic — and again are in line with a rational solution — which is no easy one. Let me address your points:

Yes, it is a massive problem, but everyone seems to accept the status quo and nobody steps up to the plate in an effort to correct the many issues that obviously are contrary to the public interest which is the elegance (and hopefully the continuing magnificence and longevity) of The Hall of Fame concept. It if continues along this downhill path, I would sooner see it ended than watch it go the way of all flesh — like so many things in bridge. The only aspects of the game that are on the rise are the card fees and membership dues. Everybody today considers themselves an expert and involves themselves in the decision making process. For my money, too many cooks spoil the broth!

You talk about criteria (and I am only addressing what I call the “primary Hall of Fame” created in 1964 and resurrected in 1995 — not the other two awards which are clearly defined). The “Hall of Fame” is only for living EXPERTS. The von Zedtwitz recognizes deceased experts overlooked and the Blackwood is for exceptional contributors in other vital areas (living or dead) — exclusive of exceptional bridge expertise. There are no overlapping areas and clear as it can be although some very-much alive experts were inducted into the Blackwood category “dead non-expert” group. The blooper was probably the only way to correct its original oversight of non-inclusion.

The criteria for the Hall of Fame should celebrate superiority and excellence in all general areas such as bidding, defense, declarer play and carry over into opening leads, table psychology, placing legitimate pressure on the opponents and all areas of analysis. The inductees should have high ethical standards — with no checkered pasts. They should have played for a substantial number of years (at least several decades) with outstanding records — no Johnny Come Latelys who won a few major events (or even world championships). Not to be overlooked is the “sponsor issue.” A simple question — how would a sponsor fare in a world contest playing with individuals like himself or herself (specifically peers) rather than a herd of super experts (the individual/s who are paid thousands upon thousands to drag the person to the finish line ahead of the rest of the cattle).

As an aside, I have heard people watching a major event on either BBO or vu-graph comment how embarrassing it was to have an audience witness such inept play. However, by ‘buying’ these titles, one should not be deluded into thinking he or she has ‘arrived.’ and are entitled to be recognized as a great player because of their team purchase. Isn’t that what professionalism does? The true test of greatness (which should be a requirement to be nominated for the HOF) must rise above the green stuff. Bridge superiority is proven when one consistently can boast of outstanding performances while playing with equals — not top-level professionals. ( Please understand, I do not now nor ever have professed or had any aspirations to be an expert. I play only for the enjoyment of the game but have had the benefit of marriages to two exceptionally sensational Hall of Famers and have kibitzed much bridge at the top for half a century. That’s a long time — even if you say it fast).

You ask who are the best people to be considered to judge the nominations. My answer — certainly not any players with professional involvements to the potential candidates. See my latest comment to Fred Gitelman about a very objective method of forming a Selection Committee. It would eliminate bias from the angle of sponsor/pro or teammate ties and would certainly reflect more objectivity. Most organizations have their faults and weaknesses as we are mere mortals. Your reference to the Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t necessarily convince me — especially after Barack Obama was recognized. Heaven knows though he has tried hard, he sadly has played a great role (though accomplishing little) in the area of restoring the horrendous economy which plagues our nation and hasn’t done much in the way of effective solutions to stop the murders, bombings and carnage all over the world involving terrorism (no easy task) — try as he may. Intelligent and caring bridge individuals should be able to come up on their own with an equitable and just solution to solve this ever-worsening crises which plagues the HOF slate. I believe something along the lines of my suggestion to Fred is worthy of consideration and certainly other names could be added — from which to select.

Yes, I agree with your theory that it “takes one to recognize one” and that is why respected experts with no personal involvement with the Hall of Fame prospects (who ideally emerge from different phases of bridge) should evaluate the potential candidates. As you point out, the best judges should be top players who have competed with or against possible contenders over an extended period of time. It’s so logical, it is scary. Lay people (especially sponsors) are in no position to make such evaluations.

Thanks, John. Your comments are always thought-provoking and make the readers take a step back and survey the panorama from a different prospective!

PimoJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 5:25 pm

While still in Stockholm, all the Nobel prize winners, with the exception of Obama, gathered for a round table discussion for the BBC. It was interesting, since given that the winners had achieved their prizes for discoveries and theories made twenty, thirty, and forty years earlier, that their thoughts were united when asked about Obama’s winning the Nobel Peace prize. They all felt that it was awarded in haste.

The problem is not massive. The problem, especially when reviewing the new list of candidates, is that selections are not based necessarily on skill. I believe Judy offered a list of potential selectors who could be called “top players”. She attempted to suggest those who would be more apt to select candidates without being biased. Actually, concerning ” it takes one to recognize one “, a computer could probably do as good a job of selecting. It would need a program that need not include how to play bridge. The machine would select without bias.

Just induct anyone nominated. So a sponsor doesn’t really play well or for any length of time (What is it, about 38% of the boards need be played by the sponsor? ). They won, congratulations. Do they need to be seated in the hallowed Halls alongside the greats of the game? Please, winning should be enough for sponsors. If not, then open the doors and induct the masses. Make everyone happy!

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 5:41 pm


You are far too generous — but you are kidding on the level!


Fred GitelmanJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 5:54 pm

I am disappointed in your response, Judy. What you are saying is:

It is fine to appoint people to the HofF Committee who have conflicts of interest, even if they are (former?) bridge pros, as long as Judy Kay-Wolff thinks that they are worthy of trust.

You may find this hard to imagine, but there is a person on your list of alleged saints who I have very good reason not to like and not to trust. But so what? My bias against this person are just as irrelevant as the biases that you apparently have against some of the members of the existing HofF Committee (and against pros and sponsors in general it would seem).

News Flash: You are married to a (possibly retired) bridge pro.

I am sure I don’t have to remind you that your husband, Bobby, could reasonably be considered a pioneer in the field of professional bridge. During his 40ish-year career as a bridge pro, Bobby firmly established himself as one of best and most successful professional players in history. I have no doubt that you are extremely proud of the great things he accomplished in his professional career (as you should be of course).

I have no idea if Bobby still gets paid to play bridge, but let’s suppose he gets offered a lot of money to play on a top team for the next several NABCs and that he accepts such an offer. Would that automatically disqualify him to sit on the HofF Committee during 2010 in your eyes?

Of course the answer is “no” – you would still trust Bobby to rise above all of his many conflicts of interest even if some of these were new and involved money.

And some of the other people on your list are former pros. For all I know some still get paid to play. But you are willing to trust them.

There are plenty of pros and sponsors (including some who are on the current HofC Committee) who are similarly worthy of trust in the eyes of a great many people.

It is these great many people who matter – not you or me or any other individual. If any potential HofC Committee member was disqualified just because there existed some prominent player with an axe to grind against that candidate, it would be impossible to form even a Committee of one.

Fred Gitelman

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Hi Jody:

I always enjoy hearing your candid thoughts on the various blog subjects. I agree with your “waaaaaaaay” too many people are being nominated. I referred to it as scrounging for candidates. Though I can’t say I disagree, it’ll be hard to convince the powers on high to offer a choice of only one or two candidates. However, the way it is now, it has turned into bedlam. I think the great unwashed don’t want to recognize the fact that we are running out of worthy candidates at this point and the annual action and intrigue are lessened with fewer people on the chopping block.

Regarding your thoughts on conflicts of interest, I am not sure I, myself, could be objective where I might have either a personal, vested interest in a good friend’s, partner’s or teammate’s nomination — or worse yet be a pro whose livelihood depends on fostering sponsorship. It is not an issue of corruption — but rather of human nature! Yours is a noble thought — but easier said than done. All I want to do is see the glory and grandeur of the Hall of Fame honored and preserved the way it was intended by its founding fathers back in 1964 — regardless of what it takes to accomplish that goal!

PimoJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Thanks Jody, we got a kick out of creating the ” The Friends of Bridge ” thing too. Judy mentions in one of her responses the following: ” In addition to the PRIMARY Hall of Fame (decided by ballot), two other divisions were added in 1995 and the recipients were chosen (selected by Committee). The Blackwood Award (named after Easley Blackwood) was established to honor bridge players, LIVING OR DECEASED, who contributed to the game in areas OUTSIDE OF BRIDGE-PLAYING EXPERTISE (writing, devising conventions, teaching, promoting bridge, acting as good will ambassadors, directing, administrating, etc.) and the second was the Von Zedtwitz Award (named after Waldemar von Zedwitz), established to honor a DECEASED PERSON who contributed to bridge as a PLAYER (but was not voted in earlier based on his or her expertise). One is clearly a service award and the other is based on bridge expertise. ”

The Blackwood Award does cover TFB, but the Blackwood Award doesn’t have the ring to it like ” The Friends of Bridge “, does it? The Von Zedtwitz seems to slight a HOFer. As in, your either a HOFer or not. Why should it matter that you are deceased? Be they alive or dead, induction shouldn’t be differentiated. That is why I suggested that anyone selected now to the HOF should be deceased. That way, there can be no hurt feelings or damaged egos…

PimoJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Fred, I also would change names on Judy’s list. I guess that’s part of the discussion. Who gets to pick the pickers? I like Bobby’s name being included, but I’ve known and competed against him for 40 years, so I am biased. Fred, we need a computer program to make the selections…

Fred GitelmanJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 7:47 pm


Why not just adopt the attitude that most of your fellow bridge players are not fundamentally evil people and that they are capable of dealing with potential conflicts of interest in a responsible manner?

I said there is someone on Judy’s list I do not like or trust. That means I would not make a business deal with this person. I would not tell this person a secret. I would not want to spend time with this person. I have no interest in speaking with this person.

But I know, like almost all of us, that this person has a deep respect for the game of bridge and important bridge instituations like the HofF. Despite not liking or trusting this person, I think he or she would make an excellent HofF Committee member.

All of us bridge players are all capable of behaving badly some of the time, but I like to think that most of us are all also capable of rising to occasions that call for it (especially when we are being watched).

IMO going through life with this attitude is not only healthy, in this particular case it is also highly-practical since none of the other approaches are any good (as I have been trying to illustrate).

Fred Gitelman

PimoJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Thanks for the feedback. I think that I have the best attitude concerning who is fair minded and who is corrupt in the bridge world, having known both factions for over 40 years. In fact, I believe that our only real job on this tormented ball of clay is to achieve nirvana or heaven. Since I get to travel far more than most people, I can vouch for mankind as to not being evil. Of course 99.99% of the people I meet do not play bridge. So, I will surmise from your answer that there will be no computer program to solve the problem? That’s unlucky and thanks again…

Ergo, my list for a great Hall of Fame selection committee:

(1) God

(2) Diogenes

(3) Mother Teresa

(4) Buddha

(5) Merlin

(6) John Gerber

(7) Helen Sobel

(8) Joan of Arc

(9) The Lone Wolff

This group is so strong that a quorum of one is all that is needed…Later

PegJanuary 23rd, 2010 at 12:04 am

Here to help out, everyone! I have a good list of who should judge:


I’m afraid I’m just too modest to list all of my skills & abilities that clearly make ME the best choice for this committee. But trust me; I really would select the right people! :) :) :)

My bottom line is that this is a very emotional issue, with no clear right or wrong answers – particularly with who should do the judging, etc. I might also add to the bottom line that it’s an imperfect world. No matter how it’s ever changed – if it is change – it will still be imperfect.

Oh – and since I am in a magnanimous mood this evening, I’ll let Richard Pavlicek be with ME on the committee. Richard is close to sainthood these days; I think that qualifies him.

JUDY KAY-W0LFFJanuary 23rd, 2010 at 3:23 am


Thank you for pursuing the subject, but I am disappointed in your response as well.

We do not live in a perfect world — never have and never will. Everyone seems to have their own agendas and no better example exists than in the results of the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee whereby the lofty criteria for nomination and possible induction was compromised.

My suggested list was never fully intended as a final product (but merely volunteered as a significant beginning). It encompasses real live people who, in my opinion and that of many others, would sit on a Committee as an arm of the HOF and share a common admirable quality: CHARACTER. It is impossible to list everyone who would fill the bill but I would like to address what I considered a trusted group who defied the high standards and skills of excellence that the Hall of Fame demands. How can anyone justify a decision to offer up to the electors an individual who has a very compelling personality, is obviously bright and a very successful entrepreneur and individual, but who displays very average bridge skills. Despite the absence of superior bridge ability, which the Hall of Fame is all about, how could they see fit to nominate someone devoid of the main qualification — bridge expertise? It is beyond the realm of most people’s imagination. If I was circumspect, I would gloss over this abomination and chalk it up to foolishness. However, since you challenged my reasoning, you left me no choice but to detail what I considered a travesty of bridge justice and betrayal of the positions to which they were appointed.

It is no secret that bridge professionalism has taken over our membership with the advantage to our pros — being able to stay active in our game and earn a nice living, but at the same time the fallout from it is very dangerous and detrimental to the importance of the game itself. You, more than most, should realize that playing for one’s country in world bridge championships is the ultimate honor, but instead the money made waiting in line and attempting to qualify has become the sought after carrot, not necessarily the thrill of winning that big pie in the sky. Nomination for the HOF is not a popularity contest (nor should it be) and we are not operating under the ‘spoils system.’ It’s main objective should be to present a slate to the voting public wherein all the candidates meet the qualifications associated with our bridge shrine — each one manifesting world class skills or at least coming close. Obviously, the Committee has fallen from grace.

Back to my choices. I sought to include players whom I thought would place bridge first and money and politics down the list — to the point of having zero influence. I could go into each of my suggested selector’s reputations, but I’ll hazard taking the chance that pure bridge lovers will recognize their names and accept my proposed choices for what they are worth. Bear in mind, I thought the committee should be scaled down to either five or even three super knowledgeable and qualified individuals. Surely with all the names submitted (combined with worthy suggestions of others) — a very respectable selection committee could be arranged for future nominees.

Finally, while you are right about Bobby’s background, I made it abundantly clear that politics does not lend itself to his selection, but I can assure you if he was demanded, there would be no person alive who could possibly be disappointed by his being chosen, except, of course, the ones who are either jealous of his accomplishments or better yet, have a checkered past and know that they will not be among his favorites. I know him much better than you and I can guarantee he wouldn’t vote for his own mother unless she lived up to the highest standards demanded in that category. No ‘ands,’ ‘ifs,’ or ‘buts’!!!

While everyone is entitled to their own judgment, and I respect yours, I am quite disappointed as I expected more of a committee charged with the duty and responsibility of presenting to the balloters the Best of the Best and I feel they veered far off course, especially in the case alluded to above.

JUDY KAY-W0LFFJanuary 23rd, 2010 at 3:33 am


O.K., I’ll add you to the supporting cast, but you must promise to bring your camera.

Danny KleinmanJanuary 24th, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Judy, Judy, Judy, shame on you! Why are you wasting your time writing about the Bridge Hall of Fame, when there are injustices to be corrected in the vastly more important Baseball Hall of Fame? Don’t you have baseball cards for all the old-timers available? If you did, you would see that one Hector Lopez has been unjustly excluded. Baseball and bridge are both TEAM games (if you don’t trust me on this, just ask Rose Meltzer or George Jacobs). And the greatest team in baseball history was the 1961 Yankees. They had six (count ‘em, SIX) players who hit 20 or more home runs. They had a right fielder who broke Babe Ruth’s 34-year-old record for most home runs in a single season. They had a pitcher who broke the Babe’s even more venerable record for most consecutive scoreless innings in World Series. They had a catcher whose wisdom exceeded the wisdom even of the Wise Men of Chelm. And who was the THIRD BASEMAN on this wonderful team? (Just try to win even one baseball game, let alone a pennant and a World Series, without a third baseman!) That’s right, HECTOR LOPEZ. As their wise catcher said, YOU COULD LOOK IT UP. So why was he left off the ballots of the baseball writers? Most likely because of prejudice against players with Hispanic surnames. Please direct your considerable ire at those who kept poor Hector Lopez out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bobby WolffJanuary 24th, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Hi Danny,

Right on every count, even Dracula! Not only that, and although I have never practiced Yoga myself, this Yankee catcher has offered more quotable material than even Obama himself. Wise is an understatement.

Add to that, this Lopez fellow. I’ve known about him since he was a PUP! And the right fielder was go good they even put an asterisk by his name. Even though I don’t have one in my future Whitey must have pitched more than 29 2/3′s scoreless innings in a World Series, therefore confiming what I have always thought of, that perhaps he was the most underrated pitcher of all time since all he did was win games.

What I have always wondered was whether or not the catcher ever discussed logic with perhaps the strangest manager of all time whose first name was Casey. Or whether the Babe ever discussed playing shortstop with another famous Yankee named Mickey.

Thanks for sharing with us your sports knowledge agility.

JUDY KAY-W0LFFJanuary 24th, 2010 at 10:19 pm


Bobby thinks your above blog is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately, at first glance it will go over most people’s heads but upon re-reading the light may shine down upon them and they’ll realize what you and, in your own inimitable, eloquent way, are saying. Your subtlely is beyond description — but you did drive home your point.

Your humor (though kidding on the level) compares the injustices that existed in the BB HOF far more important than something much closer to our hearts. Unfortunately, neither of my husbands were hardly outstanding record-breaking infielders, outfielders, pitchers, catchers, sluggers, designated hitters, pinch hitters or runners, so I concentrate my efforts where I have vested interests — on the street where I live: Bridge!

Ray LeeJanuary 28th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

I wonder why suddenly now we have sponsors’ names on the ballot, and never previously? Glancing down the HoF membership list, I see Ira Corn and Kathy Wei, both (certainly Wei) in there as recipients of the Blackwood award, which recognizes contributions other than playing expertise and achievement. In my years as an HoF elector, I don’t remember ever seeing a sponsor’s name on the ballot for election under their player credentials. So I guess either (a) we’re running out of top players to nominate, or (b) the sponsors’ influence on the game is growing. Are we going to see major sponsors from previous decades up for the von Zedwitz award?

Let’s distinguish between basically two existing types of HoF members (the ACBL should list them separately, which they don’t currently): (1) those who are elected to recognize their playing ability and success; (2) those who are there because they have contributed to the game in other ways. IMHO (2) should include administrators, writers, etc., and not those who happen to have enough money to buy themselves a few NABC titles, if that is their only claim to fame — but others may disagree. Yes, I agree with Fred, that involves a subjective evaluation, but I’m reminded of the Supreme Court judge who commented on the subject of pornography, ‘I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it.’ We all know in our heart of hearts which players are HoF-worthy and which are not; the rest is semantics.

Bobby WolffJanuary 28th, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Hi Ray,

Thank heaven for your voice of reason which, quite simply, discusses all there is to discuss about the very icky, but necessary, subject of proper qualifications for the primary Hall-of-Fame induction.

It is never easy to have an opinion and then exercise judgment to turn down or vote against people whom one otherwise greatly respects, merely to satisfy the honesty god. However, to do otherwise, at least to me, is a direct and significant violation of one’s responsibility to do his duty, one in which he must serve as a beacon of what is right with this world, rather than one in which he gains politically, possibly financially, and/or in other ways to feather his own nest. All of us, if we live relatively long lives, will be confronted with decisions like being one of the electors in Hall of Fame elections or other conflicts of interest which seem to arise too often, from time to time.

How can the necessary process thrive if the ones under pressure immediately or eventually succumb to the first tinge of selling out, whether the reason given is friendship, money, reputation, relationship or whatever other false god present?

Not much more needs to be said except that your description about subjectivity is right on. In the playing of bridge there is not a top player alive or dead who does not or has not immediately recognized which of his possible peers are real and which are fake at the top-level.

It might be of interest for me to disclose that during the course of some number of years I have not voted for induction to what I consider the hallowed H-O-F my very long time doctor, a very worthy close friend and partner, nor put up for the Blackwood honor of my 60+ year probably closest friend ever (now deceased) as well as another person who has relatively great bridge credentials of which we were both in each other’s weddings over 50 years ago. All of those just mentioned, at least to me, had several times the credentials the ones recently mentioned have offered.

As would be easy to guess, this blog is a very difficult one for me to write, with the only reason for my doing so, is to try and snap the ACBL in general and the H-O-F in its entirety, from denigrating the process by selling their souls in what others may consider sacrosanct to respond honestly.

Ray, thank you, your blog is more than worth considering, and such which has taken me out of my lifelong game plan of not getting personally involved with very emotional subjects involving myself and, of course, others.

My fervent hope is that other thoughtful people will begin to understand the seriousness of their responsibilities, rather than just regarding them as “so what, just business as usual”!! To ones (and I suspect the great majority) who already do, I salute you and am confident that you will continue to do so.

Danny KleinmanJanuary 30th, 2010 at 3:49 pm

We need many more Bridge Halls of Fame. How about a Clients’ Hall of Fame? We can start with some of the best: Charles Goren (a client, as noted by Bobby in THE LONE WOLFF), Barry Crane (an inference from the fact that a much better player, Grant Baze in his prime, deigned to play with him), and Sam Stayman (an inference from my personal observation of his bidding and play some fifty years ago). I might even make it if I ever scrape up enough money to hire a World Champion like Rose Meltzer. How about a Huddlers’ Hall of Fame? We’d better interview the former denizens of the Cavendish West Club for nominations. How about a Revoker’s Hall of Fame? Beside the most obvious candidates, Lewis Himmell and the late Harold Guiver, we can include the more obscure Steve Lake, who invented the Revoke Obligatory (a rare legal revoke) some forty years ago. The possibilities are endless.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 30th, 2010 at 5:02 pm


I, for one, appreciate your incredible sense of humor and candor. You poke fun at some of the ‘suggested’ other Halls of Fame — but many a true word has been spoken in jest.

You have what we call “chutzpah” as you dare to address a subject where others fear to tread. Yes, your point is well taken and a total revelation to some of the players new to the fold who have heard of some of these names only as revered legends. In all fairness to Goren, though, certainly a sponsor (whose team Bobby was hired to play on when he was a rising young star in his early thirties) — let us never forget it was HE, CHARLES H. GOREN, who put this game on the map (though sometimes I rue the day when I note all the sacrilege and abuse to which it has been subjected).

In the early days of bridge, much was experimental. New conventions, different styles of bidding, what was standard and what was not, what certain strange bids meant, etc. Today, we are supposed to have all that stuff down pat and abide by the rules or laws, though imperfect in many areas. Goren is responsible for making it the popular game it is today and let us uphold its high standards and maintain its dignity — especially not making tomfoolery out of the primary Hall of Fame. It needs to be kept separate and distinguished from the Blackwood and vonZedtwitz Awards which are different in purpose and let the “Hall” honor only those who are the epitome of living bridge expertise and have sustained the test of time.

Bobby WolffJanuary 30th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Thank you Danny and Judy for continuing to update so that others will be properly informed.

To continue in that mode, the Blackwood Award is to recognize many wonderful people who contributed positive bridge promotion rather than bridge skill to further our great game. Without their special talents and work ethic, we wouldn’t have achieved the recognition the world over that we have today.

The Von Zedtwitz Award was meant to specify great and deserving players who have died before the ACBL was able to recognize their overwhelming talents and reminds me of being in the audience in 1996, Philadelphia, when Norman Kay was giving his acceptance speech and mentioned that he was grateful to be included in Category 1 (the regular living channel) instead of Category 2 (the Von Zedtwitz).

It should also be mentioned that the ACBL used its editorial license to induct Sami Kehela, Eric Murray and Tommy Sanders, all superior players of the highest order, using the Blackwood and Von Zedtwitz designation, when, for whatever reasons, they missed out on what should have been direct inclusion to the regular channel Hall-Of-Fame induction.

John Howard GibsonFebruary 8th, 2010 at 12:41 am

Dear Judy and Bobby, Please read my latest blog ………aka HBJ….. my alter ego. I have volunteered my version of a what a World’s Best Bridge Players Hall of Fame should be about in terms of gaining recognition and entry. In amongst the tongue-in-cheek humour I’m sure I’ve stumbled upon some useful ideas on a fair and just process. Would love to hear your views…..even if they are all bad. Yours John Howard Gibson

[...] Judy has the record for comments.  She engages her readers like well like nobody but Judy.  From the Sublime to the Ridiculous …. January 2010 was about the Bridge Hall of Fame had 49 comments.  With Judy prepared to respond to [...]

Alejandra SandosMarch 26th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

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