Judy Kay-Wolff

A Huff ‘bout the Buffett!

Freedom of speech on BW at its ultimate!   I am not (and don’t pretend to be) armed with the specifics of what REALLY happened and how all this came about, though I do have my suspicions.   It seems like too many strong personalities with their own agendas and boundless influence and power have destroyed the intended elegance of this once respectable and prestigious event. Shots are bring called from on high and the USBF got caught in the middle of the tornado.   Could someone explain how we fell from grace — with the whole world kibitzing our horrendous bridge freak show?   Is this what our top level game is all about?  How can anyone say, "It ain’t broke."   It is  now!   The interlopers saw to it.   The question is .. Can it be fixed and how?


JRGJune 29th, 2014 at 3:34 am

Just in case, like me, you didn’t know what Judy is alluding to…

The Buffett Cup, a bridge contest between North America (the USA) and Europe, has been cancelled for 2014. There’s a remote chance it could be resurrected…

The issues, both real and perceived, are explored in a blog post (and over 280 comments!) On the Bridge Winners website. You can read the “huff” at


Judy Kay-WolffJune 29th, 2014 at 4:17 am

Hi John:

It WAS the BW site that indeed incited my post. I found some of the remarks very self-serving with personal comfort and individual likes and dislikes placed far above what the event was designed to achieve. Someone contacted Bobby privately and asked for his ‘take’ on what is going on. I will try to convince him to render his views on what caused the big huff, but I make no promises.

Jane AJune 29th, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Thank you JRG for clarifying what this was all about. So here is my opinion from the “peanut gallery” as a flight B player who loves the game but am not knowledgable about big time events.

I have never heard of the Buffett Cup. After reading the posts on the BW site, what seems to be the main issue was the lack of communication between the various parties. I call this a turf war, but I have no doubt there is more to the story. The team selected does not seem to be the problem, although who really knows.

If a professional did not want to play in this type of event however, he or she can easily say “no, but thanks for asking”. The concerns that one pro mentioned about losing ten days of pay, the jet lag, the time away from home and paying clients are valid, but no one is forcing this player, or any of the others asked, to participate, so if they choose to do so, this is the down side for them. They have to decide if the exposure to an event like this is worth it.

Would an event like this really help bring new people to the game? In my humble opinion, I would say no. If I did not read Judy’s blog every day, I would not know the event existed. For those players who enjoy watching the pros play, it would be fine, but I don’t see this as much of an allure for the non player. I also found it interesting that Mr. Buffett does not contribute financially to the event which carries his name. I personally don’t think that because he plays bridge is that big a deal. Many well known people play bridge. I like that, but I have to wonder how much difference that makes to anyone who might want to jump in and learn the game.

I believe grass roots efforts are the way to go to create renewed interest in bridge, such as the one being held at our national in Las Vegas in a few weeks. Judy is quite involved in promoting this, and I applaud her. To me, this is what will get new people into our wonderful game, not a bunch of pros playing in Monaco. I am not against the Buffett Cup so that is not my point. If this event is deemed important enough to continue, then the powers that be will need to set their difference aside and make it work. I just question how much benefit it really is in promoting bridge to the “masses” so to speak. But I don’t know if this really is one of the prime directives either.

All very interesting however, and I appreciate Judy and Bobby bringing many things that happen in the bridge world to our attention.

bobby wolffJune 29th, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Hi JRG & Judy,

Although I have been out of that loop recently, it is clearly (at least to me) a “turf war” which in mafia-like terms could be explained as, although somewhat unseemly and mostly without character, the acceptance of a “deal” but only on a self-serving basis where one interested group will dictate the conditions of its acceptance, take it or leave it.

That overall handling is tough minded and without grace, but leaves no one wondering about the realism of what is being decided.

The reasons specified are almost never well-explained but, at least to some, giving ridiculous answers are better than nothing at all. Vaguely, or at least attempting though failing in “spades”, to camouflage the absence of respect present, the rhetoric used, leaves a casual listener no choice but to consider the source and though, in spite of many intelligent and decent people involved, still run as far away from this project and its coterie of participants as possible.

The future of bridge seems never to be a consideration, even by the ones who are dependent on it for their livelihood.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 29th, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Hi Jane A:

You may be a “Class B” player, but getting to know and respect you since our arrival in Vegas almost nine years ago has been one of the highlights of my recent bridge exposures .. which has encompassed so much over the years. You leave no doubt as to how much you love the game and want to maintain its respect and dignity.

Unfortunately, though sponsorship and professionalism in many cases provide an incredibly positive learning experience, the negative effects are obvious. It surfaced beyond a doubt via the unashamed confession of one of the talented pros chosen to play in the Buffett Cup, while others admitted they would have been honored and delighted to participate if selected. I agree with so much of what you say .. especially about the monetary aspects, and because of this recent hoopla and disgraceful public media exposure, the Buffett Cup has fallen from grace. How could anyone have foreseen these revolting developments?

This event was not about playing with your friends and buddies whose company you enjoy. Its objective was putting together the best pairs (honorability was a ‘given’) as a unit to compete against their European adversaries. If these prima donnas only want to join forces with people they like, then participate in team competition where they have control over whom their teammates are. Apparently, that was not the structure of the Buffett Cup. So, as said above .. take it or leave it.

Jane A, thanks again for your input and taking the time to be so brutally frank about the direction in which you think bridge should be leaning.

CPJune 29th, 2014 at 6:09 pm


I just read two on-target descriptions on the above actions: “elitism” and “entitlement.” That is about as close and accurate as you can get.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 29th, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Yes, CP, I can’t argue that! The issue, as I see it, is HOW did the player(s) end up in the driver seat(s)?? When we were kids, a way of expressing annoyance about usurped power was … “who died and left you boss?” Some things never change.

JodyJune 29th, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Someone on BW said no one except bridge players cares about the BC. Perhaps, but I think it could be enormously important as a tool to promote bridge around the world. WB, #2 on Forbes list has kindly loaned his name to this event. Many perceive him as the most important investor in the world. WB likes bridge? Wow, maybe I would too. If I were a pro I would use this Monaco event as a business opportunity. We have no press in this country for bridge but I believe they do overseas, and it could be a real promotion for our game, as it is in Monaco, a hoity. toity country (lol.). I bet WB would say NEGOTIATE. Emotions should not take over.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 29th, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Hi Jody,

I found this whole adventure very distressing as it got so out of hand. Instead of making such a fuss over a promotional match, perhaps we, here in the States, should be going all out to try and get bridge into the school bridge curriculum. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but the egos and personalities involved in the BC really turned me off.

Bob YellenJune 30th, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Saw the hand you played (a while back) in the NY Times though it was no surprise to me that it showed how good a player you are inasmuch as you and Bobby have always trimmed my sails in Las Vegas. Many happy returns on this special birthday with belated greetings to you and Bobby. Your very good friends….Bob & Cookie Yellen

Judy Kay-WolffJune 30th, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Hi Cookie and Bob:

This came into my email. I didn’t realize till just now you answered on this site. Every now and then all players make lucky bids and good guesses. Don’t throw in the towel. It can happen to you too!

Patty TuckerJuly 1st, 2014 at 6:53 pm

I think there is a place for the Buffett Cup and a place for LBIAD…two ends of the spectrum. Those players in the Buffett Cup were once non-bridge players learning bridge! Who knows where the next “expert” starts. It may be in Atlanta Junior Bridge (young person lessons), it may be in “school bridge” or maybe in a local club or at a kitchen table. Those of us who play bridge, love it for EVERY hand, for EVERY play, for the excitement we feel at EVERY game. Bridge should be preserved at every level, at every outlet. Bridge is the BEST game in the world….we duplicate players know that (of course) duplicate is more fun. I know this is a thread about the Buffet Cup hub-bub but I think the underlying message is more important….personal aggrandizement, opinion, profit or status should never get in the way of a promotion of the game of bridge…period.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 1st, 2014 at 11:23 pm


Your last sentence says it all!! Unfortunately egos, money, politics, et al. have seemed to tarnish the beauty of the game.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonJuly 3rd, 2014 at 5:53 am

HBJ : Is it case that in places of where politics and power sit menacingly side by side…… THE LUNATICS HAVE TAKEN OVER THE ASYLUM ?

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 3rd, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Yes, HBJ.

It is hard to fathom how this issue has garnered so many versions, interpretations, opinions, excuses and universal ‘takes’ on what actually happened. What amazes me is the authoritative positions taken by so many. I am saddened that all the dirty laundry was aired publicly. Whether the Buffett Cup is restored, dropped or replaced, all the blathering no doubt had a negative impact on our game throughout the world.

Paul GipsonJuly 5th, 2014 at 9:03 am

I think you are seriously over-estimating the concern that the rest of the world has about Americans endlessly debating airfares for such an event.

The Buffett Cup is an anachronism and its demise will not concern the viewing public. The format and scoring was unfathomable and who wants to see irregular partnerships.

Even the naming of the cup, with no associated sponsorship of any kind, was a cynical attempt to buy interest and it has just been exposed.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 5th, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Good morning Paul,

You misunderstand my concern. It has nothing to do with airfares or monetary issues. It DOES have to do with control freaks (in this case players) who are trying to call the shots. I am not pro or con The Buffett Cup. It was about attempted manipulation that caused the universal scandal.

Bobby WolffJuly 5th, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Hi Paul & Judy,

I agree with both of you first Paul, about the perceptions of the Buffett Cup and then, Judy, the attempted but failed manipulation which took down this years attempt.

To me, unless the ACBL BOD’s together with Horn Lake get together and arrange to get bridge in our American school system, bridge as we know it, will not be saved in the Western Hemisphere. It will probably go on for another 15 to 20 years with the two above entities marking time, but unless we accomplish which so many countries in Europe and, of course China with its 200 million students, have found necessary to do, with up to now mostly rave notices by both the teachers and students, for doing it, we will be forever remembered as an Ostrich coup, an elimination play which destroyed our game.

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