Judy Kay-Wolff

GETTING THE ACBL HALL OF FAME BACK ON TRACK

I’ve been involved in the game (starting at the lowest echelon when I started playing in 1955 before graduating college).   It’s a miracle I survived my last semester as I did nothing but play kitchen bridge and duplicate when there were enough people available to hold 52 cards.   It was not until the early 60s when I met Norman Kay and after our marriage in ’63, that I actually got clued in to what the ‘real game’ itself was about and the attributes that go into being a world class player.   THAT IS WHAT A LEGITIMATE, REVERED, SANCTIFIED HALL OF FAME AND ITS CONSTITUENTS ARE SUPPOSED TO REPRESENT — not the present day charade as evidenced by the current ballot!

Winning a duplicate, sectional, regional or even an insignificant national title doesn’t mean didley-squat.   Maybe it was just your lucky day and your basket was overflowing with generous gifts from your opponents.  Someone up above deemed it to be ‘YOUR DAY.”  Lucky you — but don’t get a swell head, take yourself too seriously or suffer from delusions of grandeur.   To consistently succeed with your peers is what determines your ability, outstanding talent and expertise — not playing with a great husband-partner (of which I have been guilty and privileged many times — especially recently).   Norman always used to tease me that I was in a NO-WIN position.   If we win, the wagging tongues say, “Sure, SHE (that’s moi) is playing with HIM.   If we lose, the same blabbermouths, say,  What do you expect?    HE was playing with HER!   I never got the credit  — always the blame — but I have broad shoulders and I laugh it off — forever considering the source.  I always viewed my game objectively.  Did I improve?  Of course, but with two children (almost twins — eleven months apart), I had my hands full and played infrequently.   However, I never had skewed aspirations or deluded myself that I had special talent.   I dedicated myself to the game when I played, watched the experts every time I could, gave it my ‘all’, won a number of decent events, got to be christened a Diamond Life Master (mostly partnered by my peers until Bobby came along), but I was always happy with my station in life — never pretending to be what I was not.    Bridge ability comes in all sizes and shapes and there are a miniscule number of  ‘tens’ among our ranks.

Sorry for getting off the track, but the point I intended to make is what constitutes a great Hall of Famer (or a candidate for the HOF) is not necessarily succeeding in key events (even world titles) when playing with five well-paid professional huskies who drag you to the finish line first.  It proves nothing other than that you or your spouse has an abundance of lucre    And, bear in mind, especially in WBF events –you needn’t play anywhere near half the time.   Bobby cites an instance where the late Bud Reinhold won a world championship, but was benched by one of the big-wig pros who refused to play one single board in the Finals if Bud sat down at the table (and Bud was picking up the tab).  So, just be realistic — one or two (or even five or six) swallows doesn’t make a summer — especially playing with hot shot professionals with big price tags.  Winning major events as an acknowledged sponsor in the company of five giants does not afford you the credentials for Hall of Fame Nomination.    You must stand on your own two feet — without the aid of a crutch, cane, walker, wheelchair or professional partner.    A HALL OF FAMER MUST HAVE LEGITIMATE CREDENTIALS OF HIS OR HER OWN!

I think it is high time the ACBL takes a serious look at the existing farce that the 2010 ballot represents.   The ACBL HOF is supposed to house the ‘TENS’  of Zone 2 (possibly conceding the 9-1/2s).   Let us not make a further sham of this once-glorious institution.   I understand the HOF Selection Committee (which rotates every couple of years) is hand-appointed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors.   This very important Committee must have no personal agendas or personal conflicts of interest (like a dear friend or spouse who may or may not be a worthy candidate) and should recuse themselves if either situation is evident relating to the generalization of being a pro or a sponsor who is always scratching each other’s back).    I recall when I sat on the HOF Committee myself about six or seven years ago, was horrified to see three members raise their hands to nominate and support a sponsor with whom they were buddies (and one of their husbands was a pro and might have been looking for potential future ties with this ridiculously unqualified candidate).    The idea was soon squelched and business went on as usual but it was distressful that the name was even broached in the same breath with the greats of our game.

Another current day annoyance is the time frame.   All electors are sent their ballots one month in advance of the deadline.  This year it was February 15th.   It never occurred to anyone to check the date and realize it is a legal holiday (President’s Day) and our postal service makes no deliveries.   Just carelessness — but since the ballots were supposed to be received on the 15th, why, pray tell (for what rational reason) is the HOF Committee (in conjunction with an ACBL administrator) holding the ‘SEALED BALLOTS” (“locked in his office”)  — waiting for any other strays to arrive before the final count is tallied ten days after the official deadline on February 25th.   It is not fair to the interested public (especially electors who mailed their ballot in a timely manner) and certainly awful for those on the ballot anxious to know if they got the required percentage of votes.   What would happen if the polls closed at 7:30 and you arrive at 7:45.    So sorry — you are ‘SOL!’   You just lost your right to be heard.   If one month is not enough time for an elector to drop his ballot in the mail box, perhaps he or she does not deserve the honor of voting.   And — to further avoid any hanky-panky — why is your ACBL number on the ballot (for anyone opening the ballot to check out) AS WELL AS your name and return address pre-stamped on your return envelope.   (Strangely, I might add that Bobby’s ballot which was mailed early Saturday, February 6th never reached the ACBL so he was contacted and asked to confirm by email, defiling the confidentiality of his voting rights).  So much for  the right to privacy.    It never reached Memphis nor was returned to us — despite the fact it had been pre-stamped and adorned by a label with his name, street address, city, state and zip — and is somewhere in absentia.   Time to straighten up and fly right — and get the kinks out of such a prestigious undertaking.

That’s it for now, but I believe I have given everyone lots of food for thought.   I hope others have the gall to speak up about the defamation of the Hall of Fame by even considering average players (at best) to infiltrate the once-hallowed shrine by the use of hired guns to win world titles and use their distorted records as criteria!


6 Comments

diogenesFebruary 20th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

GIVE ‘EM HELL, HARRY. How can anyone argue with your strong objections. They sound like valid complaints and constructive suggestions for the future.

PimoFebruary 20th, 2010 at 6:42 pm

As I have stated before, open the doors to everyone, caddies, pets and even writers, but don’t count ballots that have not arrived within the original stated frame of time (as in no extensions) as this looks underhanded. Meyer Schleifer is a great example of a player recognized for his talent, not attendance or wins.

Nomination Criteria (as you will see, this really does allow anyone to be nominated and entered, as in “Where’s the beef?” )

The ACBL Hall of Fame Award, in any category, shall be given to distinguished individuals who are held in high regard for their ethics, deportment and sportsmanship, while residing in the territory administered by the American Contract Bridge League.

The ACBL Hall of Fame Open Award shall be given annually to living individuals who have achieved prominence in the game of bridge and have an outstanding tournament record. They shall be elected by electors, as described in Section 5 of these operating procedures.

The ACBL Hall of Fame von Zedtwitz Award shall be given to living or deceased individual(s) who have achieved prominence in the game of bridge and have an outstanding tournament record but who may not have been in the limelight for a significant period of time. A deceased person must be deceased for three years before becoming eligible for selection, but this rule may be waived if at least six HoFC members vote to do so. Each year, as many as two (2) recipients may be selected by the HoFC whenever deemed appropriate.

The Veteran’s Committee recommends nominees for the von Zedtwitz Award. A von Zedtwitz selection will often be a person who was a nominee for the Hall of Fame for several years. It may also be a person whose identity has come to light through the Veterans Committee.

The ACBL Hall of Fame Blackwood Award shall be given to individuals who have contributed greatly to the game of bridge without necessarily being world class players. Each year, up to one (1) recipient may be selected by the HoFC, whenever deemed appropriate.

In either the von Zedtwitz or Blackwood category, in a year where the HoFC believes that an additional award is clearly warranted, the Board may, upon receiving appropriate rationale from the HoFC in advance, vote to approve an additional award for that year.

Nominees in the Open category must have attained the age of 60 by January 1st of the year of the induction ceremony.

The primary basis for consideration in the Open and von Zedtwitz categories is the player’s North American and international record and achievements as a member and representative of the ACBL.

An individual’s personal history, whether good or bad, should be considered in nominating candidates or selecting recipients.

A proposed nominee’s ACBL disciplinary record may be reviewed as part of the process of determining whether that person meets the criteria to be nominated for admission into the Hall of Fame. Upon request, the committee will be provided with information as authorized by (ACBL) Board Resolution 033-02 as amended.

Individuals shall give their consent for nomination in the Open category, selection for the von Zedtwitz or Blackwood Awards. The HoFC will not replace an individual who has declined nomination in the Open category, but may replace an individual who has declined to receive the von Zedtwitz or Blackwood Award.

Admission to the ACBL Hall of Fame may occur in one of the following ways:

a. Election as a member in the Open category by the electors

b. Selection for the Blackwood Award by the ACBL Hall of Fame Committee

c. Selection for the von Zedtwitz Award by the ACBL Hall of Fame Committee

JUDY KAY-WOLFFFebruary 21st, 2010 at 2:02 am

Pimo:

I know of only one person who turned down the nomination for the Primary Hall of Fame. It was Mike Lawrence and he took that stance for personal reasons. He, certainly by expert standards, would be a worthy candidate and would have been a shoo-in. On the other hand, I consider some of the other recent acceptances as an embarrassment to what the HOF represents.

As you also may have noticed on the ACBL site, they “mush the names of all the electees together” into one great big category — not distinguishing the experts from the do-gooders and outside contributors. Each certainly has earned their rightful place in the sun but the administration is hell bent on not insulting anyone and their names are listed in alphabetical order as one big equal group — without distinction. I guess we could call it The Hall of Fame Potpourri!

Bobby WolffFebruary 21st, 2010 at 2:17 am

At least to me, there should be one principle requirement for admission to the ACBL HOF after the paperwork has been done as to his eligibility.

1. Does the person, in the eyes of the electorate, have the personal bridge skills and talent to perform on the highest stage and at least hold his (her) own against others who also may have world class skill. If so. that person is eligiible; but if not, he or she is not.

2. The person in question must have excellent bridge ethics and, of course, have never been convicted of any bridge crime resembling any kind of stealthy cheating.

3. If, after being inducted, his (her name) should be quashed from the record if he (she) is ever found guilty of a serious bridge crime, of course, being automatic to do so, if found guilty of any form of cheating.

4. The playing record of possible inductees will only be used to help determine whether that person is possibly eligible to be selected to the HOF and not to be substituted as an excuse for a player otherwise deemed not to be possessed with world class bridge skills to be approved to be on the ballot.

Without either the above or similar rules for induction, the HOF totally loses its majestic significance and we are all better off if it is disbanded since it is perfectly obvious that it would then turn into a deceitful honor which could easily be bought by anyone who has enough money to accomplish it.

A third string quarter back (or even a second string one) does get a ring for being on the Super Bowl winning team, but by not playing or even if he plays a very small part in the season-long quest for that glory, is not entitled to be considered for HOF status in football, or for that matter in any other sport, unless he simply is determined by a proper judge of talent to be worthy to be selected. Any other process of selection which doesn’t emphasize world class talent is so flawed that it should not pass scrutiny of any body (other than those bought and paid for) who would be qualified to do the judging.

Rich KasprowiczMarch 9th, 2013 at 3:12 pm

It is March10, 2013 and I still can’t get the vote results for the 2013 ACBL Hall of Fame. Is this information classified? I would think the information should be attainable! Even the votes and percentages of the President of the United States elections are reported to all or any individual interested.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 4th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Rich, would you believe I just saw this as I was about to write a topical blog on the upcoming election. I don’t think it is common knowledge or privy to the public. It could be embarrassing.

Judy

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