Judy Kay-Wolff


                                  KRAUSS AND MATHE

Edgar and Norman played on several teams with Don and Lew – and this was snapped on one of those occasions, but I cannot be sure when or where.   I do remember a world championship in 1971 in Taipei when the foursome of Mathe, Krauss, Swanson and Walsh added Kaplan-Kay as their third pair but there is no assurance the featured photo above was taken there.  I do, however. vividly recall on the never-ending initial flight with a stopover in Hawaii, I kept getting smacked in the head during of a wet washrag fight between John and Dick every time I arose from my seat.  Sort of broke up the monotony of being airborne.

Don and Lew were as opposite as night and day.  Don was sweet, kind, warm and friendly whereas Lew (although I had seen the mellower side of him during our tour of the remains of The Arizona in Pearl Harbor on our way home from Taiwan) was normally tough as shoe leather.  I actually enjoyed him that day.  In the world of bridge,  he was normally far from what one would describe as “self-restrained.”  Lew was, shall we say, explosive and impetuous?  It was his way or the highway.   But ..  I do remember one of the funniest bridge incidents involving Lew at the Trials at the old Traymore Hotel in Atlantic City long before it was imploded.   Lew screamed for the Director and at the top of his lungs vehemently insisted that he stop the mice from scampering  back and forth across the rug as it was very disruptive and interrupting his trend of thought.  Soon as I heard that, I hightailed it out the door – never to return.  Mice are not my favorites!

Don, on the other hand, was more of a social being.   He afforded Norman and me one of the greatest thrills of our lives when we were visiting California by inviting us to join him for lunch to meet a “good friend” who adored bridge.  Of course, we were game as it sounded so mysterious and intriguing.   His good friend turned out to be the legendary Hollywood Screenwriter/Producer/Director Billy Wilder  who was  credited with such successes as Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, The Apartment, Some Like it Hot, The Seven Year Itch, etc., etc., etc.   He was like a World Grand Master in the Motion Picture Industry and as a human being.   What was even more astounding was his modest, down to earth demeanor as just one of the boys.  Norman and I both found it surprising that he wanted to turn the conversation away from his never ending monumental achievements and talk more about Norman’s bridge successes!  I still reflect upon it as The Afternoon of a Lifetime and Don arranged a repeat performance the following summer when we returned to the West Coast. 

It’s bizarre that my mother (who was a very bright and astute women) used to think that bridge was such a waste of time.  She viewed it as a ‘traveling circus’ (and she wasn’t referring to Omar).   Looks are deceiving!


jim2June 18th, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Many posts recently have included Edgar Kaplan and the recent 40-poster one involved a controversial appeal decision.

I happen to have a story that involved both Edgar Kaplan (whom I never met or spoke with) and an appeal that was deemed controversial. So, while I wait for “Just another Sunday afternoon,” here it is.

The place was Charlotte, NC and Mr. Kaplan was not there. The date was 1980 (plus/minus ~two years). The event was a big local game, perhaps a club championship. The hand was (IIRC) the last hand of the tournament.

The bidding was clearly difficult, as indicated by periods of long thought, though my own role (and that of my partner) was simply to pass in tempo. Our opponents were “experts” of local renown and the final contract was four spades.

There was little to the play.

Indeed, slam was virtually laydown so much so that if one saw only the hands of declarer and dummy, slam was the obvious place to be. In fact, this pair was the only one in the room NOT to be in slam.

The problem was that I held all five missing trump and declarer could make only eleven tricks, just like every other declarer in the room.

I suspected it would a bottom for us as soon as dummy came down. This was confirmed at the elation of declarer when my partner showed out on the first round.

The play had been so quick that, despite the protracted bidding, our table was first finished. The pair began to discuss the bidding (and how they had missed the slam they “should” have bid).

Then the one who had been declarer uttered fateful words, something like “when you didn’t alert my xxxx, I wasn’t sure if you had remembered … so I decided not to ….”

I raised my hand and called for the director, and the other three at the table leaned back in shock.

When that long-suffering notable appeared, I explained that the other pair had used a failure to alert as unauthorized information in their auction and requested score adjustment.

The uproar was instantaneous but their witnessed speech was their petard. The director ruled against them and they appealed. The appeal committee met and also ruled against them.

One of those involved wanted to appeal even higher afterward and called Edgar Kaplan (so I was told).

To the phone-caller’s absolute horror, Kaplan not only agreed with the ruling but expressed pleasure that the bridge authorities in North Carolina were so enlightened.

That was the last of it.

The irony for me was that I would not have known to appeal except that I was then a Bridge World subscriber and Kaplan had addressed specifically almost that exact situation! That is, that any player who used a failure to alert by partner as a factor in an auction should never be allowed to keep a good score on that hand.

bobby wolffJune 19th, 2013 at 2:37 am

Hi Jim2,

re: NPL trumps non-offending pair

To say your story is interesting is to understate it. However, even after saying the above, and agreeing to the majority view on your opponents, no doubt, benefiting with their result from unauthorized information (UI), there are still fish to fry before your subject leaves the building.

In any and every round robin type of format, used in almost every major sport, there are several factors:

1. The score of the subject encounter and its effect with those two teams.

2. How that score affects every other pair. In matchpoints every pair has quite a large number of teammates, all sitting the other direction to which that particular pair is sitting. Even though any one particular board only has a maximum of 1 matchpoint up for grabs for every pair sitting their way, the particular pairs who are present at the table, with an irregularity, have up to one board (whatever top happens to be) at stake.

A major question is in the event of an irregularity, should not equity make its way into the picture or should there just be cut and dried rules. Right now those cut and dried rules are probably correct in punishing the offending pair (not much argument), but what about the opponents to that pair?

Should they be given a windfall result of being awarded a top board, when, in reality every pair in the room would normally love to be the opponents of a pair who missed a laydown slam, the only way to go set being a 5-0 trump break. Of course, it would be different if the defense defended beautifully to beat the slam or there was a mechanical error, or even a revoke, by the declarer, but the normal playing luck (constantly present during every bridge tournament might suggest that by missing the slam, normally (90+%) they would get an earned zero, but this time Dame Fortune was smiling directly on them and their bad bridge gets them a top.

Now, mind you, I do not even begin to think that what they admitted doing should go unpunished, even though it was caught by casual conversation by you and furthermore had all the earmarks of being a true statement. But it is not them I am trying to protect. It is your pair receiving a top when normal playing luck (NPL) is suggesting that you got royally fixed.

The discussion of equity in bridge is a difficult one to comprehend unless one understands all the luck which accompanies a normal session.

While whenever I may describe the subject above, almost everyone’s instinct is to both punish the wrongdoers and make random rewards to the offended pair.

That is only half right as far as I am concerned. Yes, a different ruling should be made if the opponents were wired on that board, e.g. knowing the result before arriving at the last table, since, in that case NPL has also left the building since the playing of that board is severely tainted because of one pair’s knowledge of the result. However, when the opponents have a misunderstanding, in this case an alert which is compromised and a great slam is missed, but circumstances, in the form of lady luck (LL), intervenes, then, of course, the offenders need to be highly penalized, mitigated a little by their free admission (sort of like a plea bargain) and perhaps a full board penalty but no more than that should result, but, at least to me, your -650 should remain, just as if the trumps broke no worse than 4-1, your -680 would have been a top for you.

While I fully realize that others will not buy this type reasoning, I think it should apply and one thing certain:

Whenever there is an appeal with the result not having any administrative error, such as someone else boxing a card or causing a 14-12 situation etc., then a TD ruling followed by a committee ruling should never allow more than a full board’s matchpoints since director calls are always about the possibility of something wrong happening and if such is the result it is not logical that the board involved will result in more than that board’s matchpoints to be awarded on such a basis to make it more than whatever is top, on a cumulative basis.

One thing for sure is that the particular pair who played against you should realize that although the one admitting what happened didn’t realize the repercussions of his comment, without which this subject would never have existed, at least in such a transparent way, he may have, in effect, learned something by it and just maybe what I am talking about will make more sense to bridge lovers who are interested in making our game the fairest it can be.

At the very least in my coloring book, I would like all logical scholars, to consider what I am saying, and then voice an opinion as to why they agree or why they don’t. At least, in that way we can all learn something about this sometimes very difficult subject.

jim2June 19th, 2013 at 10:35 am

Your points have great merit, but their application to my actual example turns out to be imperfect.

You see, I did not ask for – nor were we granted – a top. Rather, we received the same score every other pair our way achieved. The offending pair, however, was given a result lower than average. They may have been given a bottom, but I think what they actually were given was the equivalent of an average-minus, perhaps 3 of 12.

Thus, we did not get a windfall, just equity. The opponents, OTOH, did not get to keep their top but were punished instead.

bobby wolffJune 21st, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Hi Jim2,

I am almost overwhelmed by your bringing me up to date with the result from your important escapade.

That result, at least to me, is right in line with my specific views already expressed. The only thing to be added is that, just perhaps by giving the transgressors anything above a zero is perhaps too generous, and keep in mind that average minus is usually thought of as about 5 out of 12 with an average plus the reciprocal number of 7. However 3 is closer to zero than 5, so if your guess is right, equity is alive and, better still, going in the right direction.

Also the circumstances involving self admission, rather than subjective determining based on suspicions, might be thought to favor the wrongdoers.

I am also pleased that you do not think, by the not so great adjustment to your score, that you have been discriminated against, shows, at least to me, a fair and thoughtful mind at work, and, if only for that, I am impressed with your attitude.

That decision, long ago and far away, is indeed uplifting to me, and offers hope for the future.

I really do appreciate your story and others may hopefully be positively influenced by it, in the future.

jim2June 21st, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff –

You are far over-generous in your expression of appreciation and even more so in calling my minor episode an “important escapade.”

It was not a national event, let alone an international one, like so many of your own stories and experiences. I don’t even know if the results changed the local tournament’s outcome to any great extent. We did not win, or at least I don’t think we did. I just did not want the other pair to benefit from their (lucky) misuse of improper information. If we had been told that we would keep our NPL zero, then I would not have liked it but would have understood the rationale.

In any case, the only part of the escapade that I deemed “important” enough to remember was that Edgar Kaplan agreed with me even though we had never met/spoken!

bobby wolffJune 21st, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Hi Jim2,

As usual, your personality continues to reveal the logic which resembles a modern day saint, one who is only interested in the advancement of mankind (in this case bridge jurisprudence and the fairness of administering it).

If only more of us would think about bridge and how to improve its many nuances (mostly judicial with sometimes strange twists because of its necessary ethics surrounding authorized and unauthorized communication between partners),

Add to that top level players who are intelligent (and I use that word in a broad sense) enough to stack committees who are not crusaders for establishing our vacillating bridge laws toward equity rather than Edgar Kaplan’s laws which were designed for only him to interpret.

His superior intelligence and forthrightness was well able to, in most cases, cause bridge to prosper, but nowadays, in his now forever absence, often subjects our wonderful game to a political bent which represents the gold ole boys network of scratching each other’s back.

Natural evolution? Yes. Good for bridge? Are you kidding? NO as in NOTRUMP!

Both the Cavendish, when it was in Las Vegas and most of our team trials as well as our famous National team games are made up of very well respected intelligent players. These committees have a common characteristic of wanting to please and not crusade for much better ways to work hard, examining them when necessary, to fit our ever changing game, both behind screens and without.

A daunting task, but one which is totally necessary to insure the fairness to which bridge is certainly deserving.

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