Judy Kay-Wolff

IS BRIDGE BEING DELUDED???

I recently read the cast of characters representing North America in Omaha at the Buffett Cup.   Noticeably absent are at least two of our country’s most outstandingly successful pairs (perhaps #1 and #2).   What is the reason?   Certainly, they are not afraid of flying and surely, it is not because they have to pay their own expenses.    I cannot imagine they would not have been asked or overlooked..   Since I am under the impression that this is not a professional event where Mr. Buffett pays the players for honoring him with their talents, what, pray tell, is the reason for them not being part of the group?
I should think it is a magnificent honor to represent one’s continent — especially to say thank you to someone like Warren Buffett whom (together with Bill Gates) has done so very much for bridge, and, believe it or not, even more importantly–for the betterment of the whole wide world, and magnanimously, to boot! 

Perhaps I am just some poor naive average bridge lover who has picked her brain clean and can come up with the only reason possible — the refusal to give up the lucre from some pro date at home vs. an act of good will to play the game they supposedly love.  To me, it is apparent it all boils down to the absence of enough MONEY — proving once again why it is the ROOT of all EVIL.

Please tell me I am either naive, stupid or just plain wrong!!


36 Comments

JOANSeptember 10th, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Don’t be so modest. I see your name in print and know you are a Diamond Life Master! Far from stupid.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 10th, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Master points aren’t everything,
but thanks for your comment

ReneSeptember 11th, 2012 at 3:39 am

Your assessment of the situation sounds very plausible to me!

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 11th, 2012 at 3:42 am

Rene:

I overheard some people (whom I didn’t know) talking about it at the tournament today and they alluded to the ‘strange’ lineups. I couldn’t hear any details.

Steven GaynorSeptember 11th, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Money is not the root of all evil, but the LOVE of money is.

I agree that there are a couple of missing top pairs from both sides of the pond, but those involved are still VERY accomplished players. From my vantage it is an impressive lineup. There should be lots of good bridge. Good luck at Glitter Gulch, wish we were there.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 12th, 2012 at 1:20 am

Steven:

Accomplished players alone is not necessarily the criteria. ACCOMPLISHED PARTNERSHIPS ARE!

Hope they can overcome the hurdle. Hard to believe that someone would turn down the honor of being asked but it wasn’t hard to figure it out.

Thanks for the good wishes at Bally’s.

Cheers,

Judy

Stuart KingSeptember 12th, 2012 at 11:50 am

Unfortunate as it is the professional players do need to make a living and annoying a big client by breaking a date is obviously a bad business decision.

But then again, maybe they simply have a family engagement or the like 🙂

bobby wolffSeptember 12th, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Hi Stuart,

While everything is correct about what you say, I think there are very important other considerations which directly are concerned with the future of bridge, particularly the highest level kind.

The Buffett Cup, similarly compared to what has become the most hotly contested event in professional golf, the Ryder Cup, could easily be a stepping stone to making our game of bridge what we all up close, know it to be, the absolutely highest challenging mind game of all time incorporating, among other attributes, problem solving, superior arithmetical logic, legal partnership coded communication
(bidding), legal psychological ploys (poker element), difficult mental endurace, and all out effort.

The problem (at least one of the more visible) is for both wannabe worthwhile competitors and significant educators needing to be made aware of all of these beautiful components for the playing of tournament bridge to rise in stature in the eyes of the masses who will either now or certainly in time agree to the above descriptions.

The first step for this to happen is for our best and brightest to display their significant skills for all otherwise intellectuals to feel the effects of such mental challenges and what they have to offer, both for excitement and even more importantly, for educational purposes by seeing how our game can be a powerful force in useful mind development for all other possible occupations and vocations, which demand high-level thinking.

At least to me, the above thoughts seem to take 2nd or even down the list importance causing many of our finest players to think me, me, me, instead of the future of the game itself.

Putting the problem simply on the table: Many of our administrators and bridge writers are aware of the above, but the subject discussed here are the sacrifices necessary (and in order to be much better placed in the future) for our best partnerships to perform today so that the game achieves what it might rather than to cater to making a little more money now and to hell with the future.

PaulSeptember 13th, 2012 at 7:33 am

“The first step for this to happen is for our best and brightest to display their significant skills …”

Unfortunately the key technology that would display these skills has been sadly lacking in Omaha. The vugraph presentation has been awful and many have said it is unwatchable.

Given that the event is largely run to promote bridge this is a fail of epic proportions and the organising committee needs to fix it before the event falls into disrepute.

Bobby WolffSeptember 13th, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Hi Paul,

While 100% agreeing with your report (it has been widely reported to be conspicuously failing), I have no idea of the whys and wherefores of such a tragedy happening and can only feel great remorse of what such a thing can cause.

Perhaps the technology attempted is not yet ready for a Broadway production and is merely in its formulative stages. If so, all we can do is keep on truckin’ and hoping for the next installment to show both great improvement in the presentation, but also in the willing sacrifices of our best and brightest, all with the intentions of showing the greatest love for the game and what so many of us have dedicated our lives to.

After all, it should be the greatest goal of making whatever one opts to do in life better for the future than what he (or she) experienced during his time on this planet.

Richard WilleySeptember 13th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I didn’t pay much attention to the selection criteria for this year’s team. However, I do recall some statements from previous years. As I recall, the organizers had an expressed goal to select individuals for telegenic appeal and their ability to serve as representatives for bridge as raw bridge playing ability.

As I understand matter’s, the goal of this venture is to popularize bridge with the hoi polloi. It doesn’t matter jack squat if “whomever” is playing in the place of Meckwell or Levin / Weinstein. You could select almost anyone within reason and their level of play is still order’s of magnitude better than the target audience.

To choose a potentially inapt analogy, do you really believe that the LA Galaxy recruited Beckham for his ability to play football?

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 13th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Richard:

What has “telegenic” appeal got to do with the presentation of an event which does not feature the best pairs we have got. It is so obvious that money was the primary factor for the obvious refusals to play by the hoi polloi. You’ll never convince me that the missing top pairs did not prefer professional dates (and there are plenty of big regional events going on concurrently with the Buffett Cup). The reaction to the subject event has been met with mediocrity and admitted disappointment — and rightfully so. To me, it is a question of pomposity and greed. Who wins is no great factor but not putting our best foot forward IS!

I also find it sad to criticize BBO for their stated colorless and less than stellar reporting. I think BBO is the greatest invention in bridge and without it, we at home would have no contact with many of the really stellar events Fred Gitelman and Co. have sponsored for our viewing pleasure at no cost whatsoever

It’s time to call a spade a spade.

Judy

Fred GitelmanSeptember 13th, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Judy – thanks for your compliments for the work we do and your ongoing support of our efforts.

I have no problem with people criticizing BBO when that criticism is deserved, but it is not in this case. BBO’s primary role in vugraph is that of a software provider – the relative quality of a given vugraph broadcast is largely a function of how well the tournament organizers in question utilize the software that we provide.

For whatever it’s worth, if the primary goal of the tournament organizers is to get the general public to be more interested in bridge, then I agree with the use of “telegenetic considerations” in selecting the teams.

Imagine, for example, that People magazine was considering writing a story about bridge (that may not be entirely realistic – this is only an example). I strongly suspect that such a publication would be more inclined to be interested in (say) the 20th best player in the USA if that player was young, charismatic, and sexy rather than the best player in the USA if that player came across as a grumpy old man.

Before you rush to criticize this opinion, please keep in mind that I prefaced my example with: “if the primary goal of the tournament organizers is to get the general public to be more interested in bridge”.

Fred Gitelman

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 13th, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Dear Fred:

As you stated, everyone knows how impressed and overwhelmed I was (and am) with your BBO contributions to the entire world of bridge. I feel it is the best thing that has happened to the game — barring none (except perhaps its invention)! What is even nicer is that you are modest and accept the praise with unbelievable humility!

I am at a tournament myself and
unfortunately (?) have not had time to see one second of the Buffett Cup (no great loss from what I read) so I have no way to judge the criticism of the presentation or commentators. However, while at home when I have time (and I always go out of my way to make time) — I watch the major BBO events and of course with such a wide variety of matches, I choose to watch the best players. I guess I am just spoiled having been around them my entire life.

I have known you for a long time and know it is not your bag to refuse commentators who avail themselves to you. However, IMHO, a few of them are not qualified to comment although they delude themselves and profess to be so-called experts. Everyone likes to see his or her name in lights — worthy or not!

You suggest the organizers are the ones to take responsibility for the event. From what I read (regardless of who wins) — it is no great shakes and not much to be proud of. Some of the new, experimental partnerships would not be what I would have chosen — but perhaps is what they had to settle for in the absence of the big boys!

Richard WilleySeptember 13th, 2012 at 6:33 pm

> Some of the new, experimental partnerships would not be what I would
> have chosen — but perhaps is what they had to settle for in the absence > of the big boys!

Professionally, I do product and program management. In many cases, I get to have conversations that boil down to the following. “Your opinions are very interesting, however, you aren’t the audience that we’re targeting.”

For what its worth, do you have any first hand knowledge who was / was not invited to participate? Alternatively, are you assuming that the “big boys” were invited, but they refused because they weren’t being paid?

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 14th, 2012 at 12:12 am

Richard:

It is common knowledge that one of the pairs do not play without remuneration (from situations of the past). I don’t know about the other. In bridge, there is something known as ‘payback.’ I think that people who have no other livelihood (and may not be trained for anything other than pushing cards) should show their appreciation for the opportunities afforded them. There are few professionals who ever do pro bono work although I do know of some exceptions. It is nice to see David Berkowitz and Alan Sontag participating in Omaha. I quickly had scanned the list and don’t remember other impressive trained partnerships of note — and I don’t recall seeing many other long standing expert twosomes with a track record. From what I have heard here at the tournament, the general public thinks that Omaha did not shine as one would expect.

I don’t even know who won as I haven’t as yet gone to the Bridge Winners site to check it out. I have no idea who the organizers were, but hopefully (if they pursue it next year), better pains will be taken to improve it overall!

PaulSeptember 15th, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I’d like to apologise to Fred and BBO as I never intended to imply that BBO were responsible for the problems with the Buffett Cup vugraph.

The main problem in Omaha was that the vugraph operators were inexperienced and did not receive any training. They were also unpaid. The vugraph organisation lacked any experience of delivering a vugraph presentation and were ‘hoping’ that some of those who do the USBF or NABC presentations would be able to help (unfortunately they never planned to attend).

No-one blames the operators themselves. They worked very hard in a testing environment.

The organising committee will know better next time, although they did not learn the lessons of four years ago when similar problems arose.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 15th, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I don’t quite understand if the Buffett Cup was to “promote” bridge, why greater efforts were not made to make it a better event. It is reported the vugraph operators were all volunteers and unpaid. Wouldn’t it have been wiser to kick in for one or two pros who would have presented a better reporting job for the viewing public if promotion was the main objective.

The only positive statement I read was from the participants themselves that they had a good time. Big whoops!

mike whitmanSeptember 16th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I do not see what the big deal is.

What exactly does the Buffett Cup do to “promote bridge?”
The BC is a private, invitational event. The organizers can invite anyone they want. Why should we care?
A team “from” the U.S and a team “representing” the U.S. are not the same thing. Why should a professional player be expected to play for free in a thing like this?

A final suggestion: If Buffett really wants his name in bridge lights, and to promote the game, and to pit the world’s best against each other, and to put some serious money back into something he clearly adores, he should take over the Cavendish and make it the most popular and publicized bridge event in the world.

bobby wolffSeptember 16th, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Hi Mike,

Trying to use the Buffett Cup to emulate the, what has now grown to be, the very popular Ryder Cup is perhaps most of the problem in trying to discuss responsibility for its organization and, of course, publicity.

Sure someone else is responsible for everything connected with it, but being chosen to represent our great country should be a cherished honor, not an event to be taken lightly.

Perhaps what you fear is what I definitely feel and that is our country has gone as far away from what I consider the “greatest generation”, the one which existed around the time of WWII. Today it seems to be the me, me, me generation of always doing what is best for #1 to the exclusion of love and pride of our one time great country.

I do not think I need to mention the one person which, no doubt, both of us knew to be a fine, super ethical, bridge player and one who undoubtedly loved our country above everything else.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 16th, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Hi Mike:

I was surprised by your reference to the professionals …. “Why should a professional player be expected to play for free in a thing like this.”

I beg to differ. In my mind — it is called ‘payback.’ I doubt seriously if our mutual friend Grant Baze (with whom I know you were very close) would not be, if asked, gracious enough to give up a potential paydate to accommodate Mr. Buffett who has been a great humanitarian (both to the world and to the game of bridge itself). I believed Grant would have considered it an honor and priority and would not have placed his personal plans and professional career first. He would have accepted with the grace and dignity for which he was known.

Judy

mike whitmanSeptember 16th, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Hello Judy and Bobby–
I agree with everything you (both) say. I’m just not sure it applies in this case, i. e. an invitational event with the field chosen subjectively by the organizers, not through any known competitive or other process, and expected to pay all its own expenses.
I don’t have strong feelings in the matter, but it seems plenty of others do. Some of the Bridgewinners posts on this subject are quite aggressive.
Best wishes.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 17th, 2012 at 4:43 am

Mike:

Your last remarks above caused me to check with someone who was playing and I was shocked to learn (flabbergasted is more like it) that expenses (flight, room, food) were not paid but it was alluded to that locals contributed. It only goes to show you that you cannot take anything for granted.

I am not much on The Bridge Winners posts as everyone seems to profess to be an expert and know everything about everything. Though a few offerings are excellent, I find a lot of blathering with others.

I suppose I expected too much because it was called The Buffett Cup. Live and learn.

Cheers,

Judy

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 17th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Here is a very plausible explanation from Henry Bethe that Bobby came across this morning on Bridge Winners. It cetainly helps to remove a lot of the mystery of the event:

from Henry Bethe

“I am not official, but here is what I believe the history of the Buffet Cup is:

Bob Hamman and Paul Hackett dreamed up the event. When they asked him, Warren Buffett agreed to provide his name to the event. I do not know whether he bought the actual Cup. As far as I know he provided no other direct support. Two of the corporate sponsors of this year’s event are entities in which Mr. Buffett directly or through Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company he controls, has a significant interest. Whether he encouraged this I do not know. I would guess that the aggregate cost of the event including transportation, lodging and food for the players, playing space and director, was on the order of $100k or somewhat more. This does not include the value added by the volunteers.

Hamman for the US and Hackett for Europe invite players. Each team consists of six pairs including one pair of women. Neither the ACBL nor the European Bridge League have anything to do with the selection, the financing of the event or the presentation of the event. The onsite director is hired independently by the event. The event is not run for profit. The ACBL does report the event as it would any bridge event involving major players.

Their original notion, I believe, was to hold the Buffett Cup at or near the site of the Ryder Cup over the days leading up to the play of the Golf event. The hope was (I think) that some of the journalists covering the golf event would be intrigued and write about the bridge event. As far as I know, this hope did not materialize.”

So, other than using his name, Mr. Buffett had little to do with its organization.

This may add some clarification to some of your thoughts and questions. I just could not understand what all the hoopla was about — and still don’t.

Gary MugfordSeptember 17th, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Judy,

I watched a little of the event via BBO at a friend’s house and enjoyed it for what it was. I also recently (FINALLY) watched the 2004 World Championship DVD that Zia Mahmoud and friends put out. Neither was overly satisfactory. One was too ‘inside the beltway” and the other was lacking in emotion-creating energy.

Poker and Backgammon have succeeded on TV by doing after-the-fact packaging. Outside of the World Series of Poker, which is now on just a short tape-delay, what we see is action recorded and then commented on after the fact. Editing finishes the job of getting the viewer as involved as possible. Until somebody comes along in Bridge and does something similar, the holy grail of NON-Bridge players peering in on the game remains impossible.

The reason why Bridge has this problem is bidding, of course. I think an after-the-fact Bridge broadcast has to basically do away with the bidding OTHER than a key moment or two. Somebody familiar with the bidding systems employed (Is there a person alive how can claim to be informed completely?) would have to explain why this bid or lack of bid, is pivotable. The commentators must explain the thinking process. But, unfortunately, must be brief and concise about it, because the viewer’s mind wanders at the first chance. THIS is why the after-the-fact commenting is necessary. And it would take skilled communicators who can discuss alternatives without resorting to what they know WILL be coming via the bidding box. It’s a thorny issue.

Once past the bidding, Bridge becomes something any card-player can figure out. I’ve long thought that teaching Bridge should be a play introduction and (relative) mastery first. Give the players the information bidding WOULD have given them, then let them play the cards. Discover finessing and long-suit establishment etc. ONCE the players know how cards turn into tricks, then bring bidding into the teaching spectrum. Knowing what the final goal is, would help many a young player. At least I think so.

As the Bard would say, “The play is the thing.”

And THAT is something card players who aren’t necessarily Bridge players can watch and enjoy at home. Again, knowledgable people on the mike must be employed. But style triumphs substance here. Sure, some like Edgar Kaplan had both. He was not unique, but singular all the same. We’ve lost other communicators over the years and Bridge is the poorer for it.

Who amongst the current crop is out there to be the VOICE of Bridge for the masses? Haven’t got the foggiest clue. It needn’t be any of the stars, past or present. It could be any unemployed actor … or yet another of the Van Patten’s. It would be nice if it was somebody with stories to tell, combined with a solid analyst with a sense of humour and a good ‘look.’ Look, in this case meaning photogenic with good pipes. And yes, women can, and should, apply.

THEN take this whole concept and get past the concept of teams with captain’s names. Nobody cares about them but their families and friends. It should be city vs. city, corporate sponsor vs. corporate sponsor (Our own Coke vs. Pepsi thing) or, as in the case of the Buffett Cup, a clash of civilizations, Old World vs. New. Get the show done and get it on ESPN 217 and TSN2 up here in Canada. Let rinky dink local cable channels have it in any market where some of the players hail from. BUY the time, if necessary. Show it at all odd hours of the night. The world, let alone North America, no longer works 9 to 5. PUT IT ON THE WEB on YouTube a week later.

I do like spending other people’s time and money. But it was my job at one time and I still care that a major event LIKE a Buffett Cup can come along and NOT make any splash news-wise, save for your blogging. Bridge can continue to mosey along, sending out press-releases aplenty to news organizations who delete the email unread. But that is NOT getting job done. Time to think bigger and turn back the clock to a time when a Bridge event was AN EVENT.

And I’ve never seen a clock turn backwards by itself.

Sorry to hijack the thread, but I wanted to get all of this off my chest.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 17th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Gary:

Thanks for taking the time to write and express your opinions, based on your experiences. I am
going to turn this over to Bobby who is much more qualified to
discuss your views.

And yes, I agree with your comment about the clock turning
backwards.

Cheers,

Judy

bobby wolffSeptember 17th, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Hi Gary,

Until we get an ACBL BOD’s and/or a Horn Lake home office group of people intent on publicizing bridge and doing whatever it takes to emulate Europe and China and get bridge in both primary and secondary schools along with many Universities we will never begin to do our greatest game, contract bridge (and its tournaments), justice.

There has to be a change in thinking and then, of course, doing that, instead of preparing a senior funeral for the game itself and catering to the shady and ignorant side of not placing value on the magnificent ethics of the game itself, as well as the problem solving, numeracy, logic and partnership legal cooperation in both bidding and defense which the rules of the game demand, we are not going to get out of the batters box in succeeding.

Instead of catering to lesser important demands by very selfish and not productive groups such as professional players and their sponsors, tournament directors and political misfits wanting only to satisfy their current needs with the resulting standing still of popularizing and making clear the marvelous attributes waiting for all to enjoy, we are waiting at go and not collecting what bridge has to offer, especially now when retirement occurs earlier for people along with much longer life expectancy opening the door for so many to enjoy the fruits of what a well capitalized organization (such as the ACBL) should produce, rather than to argue about who is paying for what, why the professionals are making so much money, why has my personal political power vanished, and so many other self-styled worthless programs which do not have any positive lasting results for the future of the game itself.

Who cares about who wins what and when we cannot even really even pull for our own country to win playing a game which we only enjoy by playing it ourselves, instead of the nothing less than marvelous educational opportunities our game exclusively possesses, how can we entertain some of your (and my) glorious hopes for where we belong?

I could go on and on, but unless we get off our duffs and go to work popularizing what has so much potential, we are born dead. It is up to someone or some groups to get it going and not up just to you and me to condemn those who do not give a damn, but at the same time do not relinquish control to others who do

Strong letter to follow!!

Steven GaynorSeptember 17th, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Regarding some of the comments from Gary;

Championship Bridge with Charles Goren had a pretty good format for presenting the bidding and play of hands. I think professional TV producers were involved with the presentation and it worked well.

The experts apparently were asked to comply with standard bidding (Charley did not always agree with their calls).

There was a lot of editing, of course, and it made an entertaining show then and now!

Who could be ‘Charley and Alex’ today? I would hope there is some well known personality from the entertainment or sports industry who is a bridge aficionado who could be the ‘host’. Then a top expert could be introduced to do commentary and 4 other experts making up the players for the week with the winners coming back to defend against two new players.

Now we need someone to subsidize a ‘pilot’ episode or two and see how it goes….

Gary MugfordSeptember 18th, 2012 at 4:33 am

Steven,

I too watched Championship Bridge, albeit in reruns twenty years after the fact. Later, I even did a version of that for the local cable channel as a test project. The diagrams were all done on a first gen chiron and we had four local experts play ten hands in all, while a fifth expert and I did co-play by play and analysis. It was a two camera shoot and I thought the whole thing came off pretty well. But there was no audience for it and just the one show consumed about three weeks of my life. Turns out I was no Goren.

The same show would probably take a day or two to organize, write and produce today. The biggest time sink would be finding ten interesting hands. Or four. Or however many. But without the right Charley and Alex, the effort would be for naught. I couldn’t do it when I was young and ambitious. Merely wanting star quality doesn’t make it magically appear. You’re right Steve, it still comes down to the voice in your ear.

But if Backgammon can pair Gus Hansen with somebody who I’ve never heard of and produce a series of hours I found entertaining enough to stop channel-hopping every Saturday for a couple of months, I HAVE to believe Bridge can do the same. Leave the majority of the show as something NON-Bridge players can relate to and chances of success increase dramatically.

Mind you, as Bobby so passionately pointed out, there has to be a will to do something like this. Doing something half-heartedly on the cheap … ugggh!

Get me Bill Gates to front 2-3 minute Gates Learns the Game segments for each episode in a 13-episode series. Get Buffett to foot the bill to get it time and have both ‘urge’ their companies to advertise and maybe sponsor one side or the other. The underdog Buffalo News Knaves take on the Microsoft Power Master Pointers in the final. Or maybe Omaha vs Seattle. BBO software runs the display while Eric Murray and baseball/basketball broadcaster Dan Shulman (yeah, I picked two other Canucks) handle the commentary. Murray for his wit and lawyerly ability to tell the people complex things simplisticly and Shulman for his voice and common sense. There’s the show.

That’s a wrap.

Steven GaynorSeptember 18th, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Sounds good to me! I have no problem with Canucks (my Mom is one). What can I do to help? (I have no money).

Rob PreeceSeptember 22nd, 2012 at 1:24 am

There was a nice interview with USA coach Donna Compton. She said that Buffet provides nothing but his name and that the players are not compensated (except for expenses). So, I think it’s nice that we had a large number of the world’s top players competing for a cup and a bit of fame (most of them don’t need more fame). I did see some problems with the vugraph, but mostly it looked like good bridge with useful commentary. Obviously it would be nice to get more sponsorship… mayb even paying the players a bit. But I think it’s great that we have this program at all.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 22nd, 2012 at 2:58 am

Rob:

I might be under a huge misapprehension as I heard that Buffett paid nothing (shocking) but that the “locals” raised money. The “locals” had to raise many, many thousands of dollars to pay the expenses of flights (especially overseas ones), taxis, rooms and food for that many participants.

Something doesn’t sound right to me.

I know that they were not paid as professionals. That was quite clear .. but unbelievable that the so-called locals could cover all the expenses of that many people. Must be plenty of sugar daddies in
Omaha!

Tim GoodwinOctober 4th, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I don’t understand the big to-do about players not accepting invitations (or not being invited at all). If I and a counterpart in Europe invited some players to come to my neck of the woods for a series of matches to be broadcast on BBO, would those players be under some obligation to attend? Would I be under some obligation to invite the best partnerships in the US and Europe?

Another thing, if my objective is to promote bridge amongst ordinary players, inviting a pair such as Meckstroth and Rodwell might not be the best idea. I’d rather have players who play methods more accessible to the general bridge playing public.

bobby wolffOctober 4th, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Hi Tim,

You make some good points regarding just why some of the top partnerships can decline, with a clear conscience, as well as inviting players with natural, well known systems, instead of artificial ones, in order to keep it simple for a much larger percentage of the viewing public to be able to understand what is going on.

While the above certainly represents a pragmatic approach to staging the “Buffett Cup”, it does not measure up to what the “Ryder Cup” equivalent has meant to golf.

Since watching and understanding the mechanics of golf is so much easier to comprehend by all viewers than would be the complications of presenting bridge as a spectator sport, the two different types of competition need to be presented in a way which would require bridge to, at the very least, make it as easy as possible to recognize the goals.

Starting out, somewhat like the ‘barnstorming tour of the top level tennis professionals as far back as the 1940’s” in the USA, featuring Jack Kramer (probably the best playing American tennis player at that time) was an attempt to popularize top-level tennis to the US public as a significant spectator sport worthy of rooting for and appreciating the vast difference between top level professionals and just, all the way down to, city champions.

In the bridge world today there are similarities between tennis, then and bridge, now. To illustrate that difference we need to compare players (and more likely, partnerships) who are among the best in the world to others who are only among the best players certain cities have to offer.

The Buffett Cup is intended to emphasize the talents necessary to achieve lofty positions as well, of course, to understand that the WBF represents the best world bridge has to offer and the recognizable bridge names, novice bridge players are familiar with. Since the internet is closely followed around the world, and particularly with name identification, relatively unknown players and partnerships will not cut it for world wide acceptance, consequently IMHO when our top partnerships decline invitations to play, the whole bridge event suffers greatly.

Sure the player should have that right to decline, but by doing so our marvelous game is taken down, and those same players, if young enough, will join with the game itself, as years inexorably pass, to feel the effect of not falling victim to less selfish motives and give their time, relatively pro bona, to do what is best for world bridge identification.

Tim GoodwinNovember 15th, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Two comments:

1) If you are attempting to get the best players the world has to offer, you should not limit your selection to players from the US and players from Europe a la the Ryder Cup. Sure, that’s where the majority of top players reside, but there are a few outside of the US and Europe and if you want worldwide appeal, you ought to include those players.

2) Professional golf is very different from professional bridge in the amount of money available to top players. The top professional golfers do not suffer greatly from a missed tournament and might even enhance their marketability as far as endorsements when they participate in the Ryder Cup. Not so for bridge professionals participating in the Buffet Cup.

3) Of course, the organizers of the Ryder Cup can sell the broadcast rights to the event and more than cover the expenses involved with bringing a couple dozen golfers to the playing site and probably taking care of them rather luxuriously while they are there. The organizers of the Buffet Cup cannot hope to match that.

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