Judy Kay-Wolff

Straight From the Horse’s Mouth …


 or more descriptively  “………. the Wolff’s Mouth.”

Both Bobby (via Aces on Bridge) and I (on judy.bridgeblogging.com) have always enjoyed the refreshing inference of the words ..  freedom of the press (as long as certain boundaries are observed and honored).  The owners of this site have afforded us the privilege of blogging to the bridge playing public.  For the most part, civility has reigned supreme with the exception of the owner stepping in on one occasion in the last seven years when outside comments became offensive, insulting and ugly.   The dignity of this site speaks for itself and has been maintained ever since (and no doubt long before) Bobby and I began contributing.   A few years ago, when Bridge Winners came to the fore,  we both became actively involved, but early on I felt that insulting remarks and jabs were out of place and issues could have been presented without ill-favor and sarcasm.  At that point I personally bowed out and, for the most part, (upon my urging) Bobby followed suit (with a recent exception or two when he felt he might be able to clarify a factual misconception of which others were unaware). 

In any event, a recent discussion on BW has evoked dozens of comments (some innocent and well intended but many dogmatically made without full knowledge and understanding of the actual background and wrongful adaptations of passages from “The Lone Wolff”).   References were made to Bobby’s role (mostly inaccurate remarks with a hodgepodge of fallacious views, statements and criticism).   For that reason, I have decided (against my better judgment) to educate the readers as to what really happened in the age-old Allan Cokin/Steve Sion cheating incident from 1979.  Let me further clarify that my only participation in this discussion is in the unsolicited role as Bobby’s Boswell, elaborating on his involvement in this distorted saga and its ongoing rants based on a plethora of hearsay and misinformation.   I have imposed upon Bobby to set the records straight and he has agreed to relate what actually happened from his first hand experience, being on the scene and very much involved in the resolution of the matter.  I think the public is entitled to have the documented facts .. to which few were privy though many blather about!

“A bit of personal background .. before detailing the Cokin issue:”

“I have had the dubious challenge of serving as the messenger in ridding the ACBL of dishonest players which led up to my creating the position of Recorder back in Montreal in 1985.  The Cokin/Sion issue manifested itself during my ACBL presidency when Cokin confessed his role of cheating with Steve Sion in front of the entire ACBL BOD in the Spring of 1987 in St. Louis.  Then, after signing his confession (drafted by me), it forced his partner to do the same.   Both documents were turned over to Jeff Polisner, ACBL Attorney at the time, and were held in his office in San Francisco.”

“In the late 1980’s the ACBL In-House Committee had selected a celebrated expert to be chosen Honorary Member of the Year.  The Committee was unaware (though I was) that this individual had been convicted of employing stealthy cheating signals (with the code being indelibly broken) and was immediately barred from playing and collaborating further with said partner.   Upon learning of this, said Committee withdrew the candidate’s name and substituted another for this august position.”

“I was also instrumental in processing a number of cheats out of the League.  Some were married couples; others were simply individuals who had various cheating partnerships with pre-arranged signals.  Lesser offenses (though still unacceptable) were copping boards by peeking at the opponents’ scorecards and/or hands; others were known to waltz up and down the aisles while other tables were still in play.  They all plied their ugly trades but nothing was as criminal as pre-arranged signals.  Another incident in which I interceded was preventing a convicted cheat from serving as captain of one of NABC Teams who was favored for the position.  A meeting was arranged wherein the Dean of the proposed captain’s Law School was asked to appear on his behalf, but after a meeting which included the accused culprit, the Dean, ACBL Attorney Jeff Polisner and myself, the captaincy was denied.”

“And now, turning to the world bridge scene, it is commonly known (and the accompanying reasons) why deliberate unethical behavior permeated the international tournaments starting back in the Fifties.  Both I and several sets of teammates (as well as Judy’s late husband Norman and his groups) were subjected to similar deliberate ‘indiscretions’ (for lack of a more pungent word).  There is no going back.  The only comforting aspect of these heartbreaking experiences was a teary confession offered to me privately a few years ago that my suspicions were well conceived and on target.   It didn’t justify the undeserved victories (and painful losses), but it did soothe the pain and disappointment of losing and finally having the satisfaction of confirmation and admission of guilt (albeit privately).”

“I am not an advocate of second place finishers ascending to the throne when the winners of record have been proven to be cheating.   The reason:  since no one can be certain which team or pair would have played whom earlier in the contest and, especially in the knockout events, who would have fallen by the wayside .. leaving an entirely different cast of characters vying as they ascend (or fall from) the ladder.  It is only my opinion, but whatever is eventually done should serve as a future precedent for what should follow and to not consider that crucial is a delusional fantasy of the worst order.”

“These are merely my personal thoughts gleaned from six decades of experience in both national and international competition.  However, before agendas are discussed, the ones doing the talking should try and research the issues prior to declaring evil intent since every case is different and that is why I believe an ironclad rule should be in force.  Also, I proposed a WBF rule (which was passed) that if a pair (or even one person) has been convicted of stealthy cheating, then all of his/her past victories should be thrown out along with partner’s and his/her teammate’s.  This would result in the winner/s vacating their title/s, but NOT moving anyone up.   Such a policy would amount to my teams (1972-1975) being prevented from moving up .. regardless of what (if anything) the WBF plans to do with the current issues.  Personal wins and losses are of little consequence here.   It is the broader picture and the betterment of our game that should be the focal point of this discussion!”

“And finally .. to the actual subject at hand from an eye witness:”

“Allan Cokin was not a particularly good friend of mine and the following is a factual (and I feel objective and sincere) appraisal of our relationship.  Our liaison was more representative of a hoped-to-be reformed criminal and his parole officer who were allied to further his possible rehabilitation.  Allan graciously hosted a very expensive catered dinner (at his own expense) for the three North American Junior Teams (2 USA, 1 Canadian) in 1999 in Ft. Lauderdale.   It was held at his nearby home where he spent time with the Juniors (along with me as Coach and Bob Rosen as Captain).  Much time was devoted to trying to teach them to learn and concentrate on their systems in order to be fully prepared to play at that particular world championship.  One of those teams finished second, but the event was dominated by Italy and Europe, finishing 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th.   Cokin at other times always (at least to me) was deeply regretful of his past behavior unlike his seemingly non-repenting partner.  Allan then volunteered to give his copious bridge notes to whomever I suggested .. all as an obvious attempt at trying to make amends and repay his debt to bridge.  Whenever our paths crossed (mostly at the three NABCs), he was willing to do whatever it took to repent for his behavior, in no uncertain terms acknowledging how terrible it was!  incidentally, Willenken, Greco, Woolridge and Carmichael were all present and will bear witness to Allan’s actions.  Bob Rosen performed sensationally as usual and handled the many thorny problems that always seem to arise at WCs .. Junior or otherwise.”

“While Bridgewinners is a marvelous concept and an everyday vehicle for constructive, lively bridge discussions which lead to great accomplishments, some of  those participating should realize that sometimes their lack of experience and knowledge should serve to tone down their misplaced zeal and strong stances until they ascertain the actual factual background necessary to be accurate in their descriptions and opinions.  I have had some frustrating times trying to separate the wheat from the chaff after having to listen to several unknowledgeable (but very vocal) players blurt pretty radical and incorrect happenings — resulting in far out, improper assumptions.  However, BW has enormous potential, but until management requires even more grace and goodwill for which they strive .. it (at least IMO) will not rise to the heights it deserves.  Discipline, courtesy and respect are a better means to an end!”


44 Comments

SamSeptember 14th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Thanks for sharing! It certainly sheds more light on the background. I do have some questions concerning how this entire issue came to light. Why, in the first place was Alan Cokin’s name suggested to be used .. naming an event after him? Who approved? Did any money change hands?

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 14th, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Sam, you read my mind. The entire issue is shrouded with mystery. The only comment I read was that the naming of the event after Cokin was withdrawn. I too would like to know who proposed it.

JRGSeptember 14th, 2014 at 1:56 pm

For a little while, I used to browse Bridge Winners. There are some great teaching articles on the site. I refrained from commenting on the blog site for fear of being the recipient of some of the sarcasm and vitriol I also saw, and eventually stopped reading. Often comments added nothing to the original post and were even totally off-topic.

That is not to say I never visit Bridge Winners — they have a terrific convention card facility which I have used several times.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 14th, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Good morning, JRG:

I, like you, have ‘refrained from commenting on the blog site’ — but not for fear of retaliation with sarcasm and vitriol. My time is better spent in more constructive venues.

The owners/creators of BW have attempted to put restraints in place .. but not nearly enough. Many blatherers seem to be experts on subjects with which they are hardly familiar. Who, better than Bobby, would know what went on in the Cokin/Sion case .. especially concerning the signed confessions (which he actually drafted). Many of the remarks were ludicrously out in left field. I am not a proponent of allowing the animals to run the zoo. And sadly, although the cages supposedly now have tighter locks, some culprits seem to sneak out between the bars — avoiding detection.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonSeptember 14th, 2014 at 5:26 pm

HBJ : I am both shocked and amazed at the shenanigans that have gone on with regards to ( a ) the cheating incident itself , (b) the lack of courage and moral fibre of governing bodies to strip the cheaters of all their titles (c) the inabilty of the administrators to find a fair and sensible way to determine and declare the true winners (d) the gross hypocrisy of people happy to honour a high profile cheat with a memorial trophy in his name.
Has the world of bridge gone to the dogs or what. For instance other sporting bodies have no hesitation or difficulty in punishing cheaters big time , stripping them of titles and reinstating new winners in their place.
If tournament bodes have kept records of all the results, I see no problem of determining the rightful winners.
The new age of bridge is trapped now in a world where money, power and greed talk louder than integrity , dignity and respect.
I do hope this blog pricks a few consciences and forces others to open up their eyes and
come off the fence.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonSeptember 14th, 2014 at 5:32 pm

HBJ : Did you read my article ” a bridge world gone mad ” posted a few days ago, which tried to address this issue of hypocrisy gently touched upon in my earlier comment.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 14th, 2014 at 7:40 pm

No, HBJ, I have not yet read “A Bridge World Gone Mad” — but it is a most provocative title because it is so accurate especially at this time. Will get to it after I respond to the above.

First of all, I am not shocked or amazed by the shenanigans. Perhaps it is because I am accustomed to it. Cheating is not a new cancer on the horizon. It has been in existence for decades. I witnessed it first when I came onto the serious bridge scene in the 1960’s when I married Norman and kibitzed him in international play. Enuf said!!!!

Cheating is insidious but fear of lawsuits and the like have stifled the various administrations from pursuing a solution that will discourage and possibly put an end to it .. but perhaps not in my lifetime.

I heartily agree about stripping titles from the proven bad guys for using devious, illegal methods to capture wrongfully begotten titles. However, I am just as vehemently against ‘moving up’ the next in line as other elements come into play. Let us assume you are not playing in the same bracket as a cheating team. You don’t have the disadvantage suffered by your counterparts in the other bracket. Who knows what would have occurred if positions had been reversed. Since no one can be sure what would have happened .. it seems you may be creating an undeserved windfall when there are so many uncertainties involved.

“A fair and sensible way” of adjudicating after the fact is an impossibility. It is all guesswork.

As far as ‘honoring a high profile cheat” being hypocrisy .. that is an understatement. It is unclear to me how that happened and I don’t think the ACBL has explained the details. However, they are accountable and I believe they owe their dues paying members an explanation as to how it slipped through the cracks and prevent a recurrence.

I am not celebrating the life of Allan Cokin. He strayed from the straight and narrow, admitted to it, was disgraced, did his best to repent and now he has paid the ultimate price. Perhaps the time has come to let him Rest In Peace!

Paul ElsteinSeptember 14th, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Judy,

Not sure how much good it would do, but you or Bobby might want to put some of this on BW. I personally see both sides of the issue on not allowing the second place team(s) to move up, but as you wrote, there’s misinformation being presented about Bobby’s role in this that could be cleared up.

Thanks

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 15th, 2014 at 1:27 am

Paul,

Thanks for your concern. I will be in touch.

Cheers,

Judy

roger pewickSeptember 15th, 2014 at 9:50 pm

One of the things that I have noticed when the zeal to kill off cheaters takes hold is the absence of activity with regard to ascertaining what scores the various parties actually earned.

bobby wolffSeptember 15th, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Hi Roger,

While I cannot claim to know 100% to which you are referring, I can sincerely attest to my experience.

When the smoke got thick enough, the scores of the various parties virtually became irrelevant, since the skill set of the suspects needs to coincide with their results in order to remove the suspicion cloud. That together with the experience of the realistic play, defense and bidding, or lack of same was enabling enough for our group to have what I remember as a perfect 100% of establishing both guilt and innocence.

The down side was that even though guilty as charged, it was sometimes not strong enough to overcome the practical side of being able to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt and consequently the culprits changed gears and soon our sure case floated away.

That above fact caused us to revise our plan to just allow the accused to take a 90% case to 100% by just allowing them to prove beyond doubt of their guilt. Sometimes “sting” operations were used (filming, setups, and other, not to be discussed methods, of enabling even lay juries to realize just how crooked some partnerships had become.

Using one of the partners against the other invariably caused them both to confess, if for no other reason than to punish each other.

Roger, you are talking about the easy part of our job. Being notified of the possibility and the early part of the investigation was the difficult part, because as soon as a pair (not a single party) became aware of what was being investigated, they turned 100% honest.

Sleuthing a bridge crime scene can become fascinating, and when the ACBL started using their own investigators, guilty verdicts eased and the culprits went back to their shady ways.

However I have not been a part of one in about 15 years, so different circumstances may have entered the building.

Keep in mind that the ACBL NEVER wanted to find guilt, since by doing so, it usually cost some money and raised fears that a jury would not see it our way. When a guilty party(s) became embroiled in the process, he usually would take a plea bargain, but I have lost track of the recent circumstances, and fear that nothing strong has been substituted in its place.

Unless I am not privy to something which happened before, I have never failed to prove guilt, and no wonder, since every one of the culprits I was dealing with were 100% guilty and almost every one of them confessed, implicating everyone else involved in their scam.

The above may seem a bit cocky, but in the interest of weeding out our miscreants, it seems proper here to give an honest response in order to eventually reduce cheating pairs as much as possible.

Bill CubleySeptember 16th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Judy,

Re: BW and the negative comments. They are trying to stop rude remarks. However, some players, as in life, are self centered.

There were many who commented negatively on WBF uniforms. Foolish comments were made over heating and ventilation issues. They commented on how far to go to stretch the rules on this. I commented that I would be proud to go as a caddy, that this is like mom dressing twins, and the requirement could be same colored tee shirts as opposed to Brook Brothers.

I also mentioned that I would not want to be the player who flouted the rule and got his team penalized or disqualified because he would not wear the right colored tee shirt.

I have also commented that players in high level events should not have extra time because they played slowly. Bridge is a timed event and I have never seen a board at pairs where every declarer took 9-10 minutes. If players want special time rules in NABC team events, they can be in the conditions of contest.

I recently played with Barnet Shenkin who is known for slow pay. Barnet had zero problems in pairs or teams in meeting the time requirements. When he thought long, he always got it right.

Hope I am not too off point.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 16th, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Good morning Bill:

I appreciate your involving yourself in this keg of dynamite which has brought to the fore the actions of a few bridge participants who voice their opinions about subjects they know little about. I think Robert Burns said it best in the popularly quoted line from ‘To a Mouse’ .. which stated .. ‘The best laid plans of mice and men aft go awry’ (with differing versions). However, they all lean in the same direction and stray from the actual truth.

That misinformation provoked my candid recall of the Cokin/Sion issue. HOW DARE ANYONE challenge Bobby’s accounting of the actual happening when he personally witnessed the entire episode in the flesh .. beginning with the reporting of the incident, the confessions (oral and written), the drafting of the admitted wrongdoing, following it through to Cokin’s humiliating public admission before the BOD IN 1987 and the actual turning over of both guilty parties’ signed confessions to Jeff Polisner, league attorney, for safekeeping. If that is not documentation, I do not know what is.

Allan Cokin’s attempt at repenting for the unforgivable sin of admitted cheating forced Sion to follow suit (without which the second confession might never have been obtained). As far as repenting (which assumes many faces), Allan tried to show his remorse by hosting the Juniors in Ft. Lauderdale. It may have eased his conscience, but that too was jumped upon by the usual group who wanted blood, blood and more blood. It is time they gave it a rest.

And, for those who are still on a tear for moving the runners up into the winner’s seat and refuse to accept (or do not understand) all the ramifications of what might have happened otherwise, a simple solution is: Strip the winners of their title? ABSOLUTELY!! But elevating Second place to First? NO WAY! It exposes the obvious failure to understand all of the extraneous facts involving what might have been? This nightmare should beneficially serve to help our group focus upon ridding our game of cheats and then we would not have this ongoing rant by those who do not understand the consequences of the aftermath of foul play.

I restrained myself from venting my spleen until this latest frothing at the mouth by those who questioned the actual facts and relied on rumors, incorrect facts and erroneous hearsay. It is time the public was provided with the actual happenings .. not the blathering from those with personal agendas!!!

Avon WilsmoreSeptember 16th, 2014 at 11:26 pm

I am the author of the Bridge Winners article regarding Sion-Cokin and the naming of an NABC event after Cokin.

I have to say I am somewhat puzzled by comments here.

1. Yes, it is true that some commenters at BW have been intemperate, but there is no doubt that matters have greatly improved of late. Dean Pokorny has twice been given temporary bans from posting, and Nat Silver once. This sends a clear message to posters that there are limits and they will be observed.

I read quite a lot of BW and can think of nothing recently that is “de trop”. There have been views with which I disagree, but that is quite a different matter. I like to recall Bertrand Russell’s definition: “Propaganda – The advocacy of opinions with which I disagree”

If anyone can find a BW posting in the last month that is intolerable or outrageous, let them put it here so we can judge.

2. I have examined the BW Cokin article, looking for all instances of “Wolff”. I can find nothing dreadful that was said about Mr Wolff or his actions. If anyone can see anything terrible, please point it out.

3. The fact is, discussion and debate about most topics will inevitably mean that someone says something not matching one’s own views. Mr Cubley, above, does not like what some people said in an article published in July, 2011. As Bertrand Russell also said, “It is very easy to be tolerant of views with which one agrees.”

I do not agree at all that BW is a hotbed of hatred and intolerance; personally I find it quite the opposite. I do not regard this Cokin discussion as “a keg of dynamite”, nor the ensuing comments as, “the latest frothing at the mouth”.

Again, if anyone can point to actual text that is highly offensive, please do so.

4. I wrote the article with the intent of finding out the community’s views regarding the naming of bridge events after a known and convicted bridge cheat.

Very shortly after, the events were “unnamed”. From my point of view, this was a desirable outcome. But let us suppose I did not have BW as a forum; what could I have done to “shake the tree”? I dunno.

I like BW, I will continue to read it daily, I accept that the odd posting is not to my liking and I think the administrators do a good (unpaid) job in maintaining an acceptable standard.

Bill CubleySeptember 16th, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Judy,

I do not believe we should punish people forever. Cheaters get 2 years and agree to not play with the colluding partner. It is over.

This is not the equivalent of looking for Nazi concentration camp staff. We are both old enough to remember the John Profumo – Christine Keeler scandal. {He was the War Minister, she was a prostitute sharing her favors with the Russian military attaché].

Mr. Profumo quit public life and devoted himself to helping the poor in East London for decades and anonymously. He was on the Queen’s Honors List eventually for his good works.

Mr. Cokin has tried to help bridge by devoting his time and his money. Let him live in peace.

So I will remain the only permanently punished player in the ACBL. My offense was telling a playing director to take his hand out of the board so bidding could proceed. The police were called.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 17th, 2014 at 5:04 am

Bill:

I sympathize with your experience as explained at the conclusion of your comment re the Cokin issue. Were you jailed or let out on bail?

Seriously, there are many issues that are handled poorly which involve politics, committees, favoritism, recusals (that’s a dirty word for those who have personal involvement), rulings, laws, etc. Many of the policies should be rethought and only those qualified and very knowledgeable in specific areas should be making and changing some of the existing regulations. A multitude of problematic issues should be addressed, but sadly those at the helm seem to like the status quo. Go fight City Hall.

Bill CubleySeptember 17th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Avon,

I like your writing style. You also researched thoroughly.

My point about the complaints about team uniforms was that the thoughts regarding heating and cooling were just plain wrong and whining over what historically has never been an issue at tournament bridge.

The US team in Tunisia wore towels on their heads in support of one player who was trying to keep cool. There were no complaints from the opponents nor the directors. This is the most extreme dress issue ever in WBF history and it caused zero problems.

I did think the discussion on who pays is legitimate. Discussion of what the uniform will be should have player input. But I think the fundraisers for the team should cover this cost and the ACBL can budget for it.

Best wishes.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 17th, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Avon:

Let me preface my remarks by suggesting that our thinking may differ as a result of our diversity of cultures.

Firstly, regarding the subject issue of your questioning the honoring of a proven and confessed cheater (Cokin) has much merit. Of more importance to me .. how did this slip through the cracks and be allowed to happen? Just one more example of individuals handling matters in areas in which they are not adequately armed to make judgment calls .. especially when such a heinous crime is discovered. Fortunately, the matter was resolved and hopefully sets a precedent. A valuable lesson to be learned: The ACBL should not permit unqualified individuals to make crucial judgment calls and stay on top of important matters to avoid further screw ups. This applies to many facets of the game. And, by the way, who was responsible for suggesting Mr. Cokin’s name be emblazoned on an ACBL event. And, where did the $10,000 come from?

As for my experience with BW, I joined over three years ago but soon it became apparent to me that sarcasm, ugly insults, uncalled for jabs and disrespect were a major part of their aura with the site creators having very little control over (or desire to stop) the distasteful comments. At one point, I ceased contributing and soon after (for the same reason), Bobby followed suit. Believe me, it was their loss. No one alive today would have more constructive real life bridge experiences to share than Bobby Wolff!

A feeble attempt was made to crack down on the ‘regular’ offenders .. but feeble is as feeble does. The two you mentioned (Pokorney and Silver) became prominent after I stopped posting, but from what I have been noting, the beat still goes on (in varying degrees). Despite the fact that there are many sincere, dedicated, knowledgeable bridge players who regularly contribute in a positive manner, the ‘bad boys’ are still out there. You speak about citing comments that are ‘intolerable or outrageous.” They shouldn’t have to reach that proportion to be reviewed !

You allude to the Cokin article (and there is more than one site in which it is mentioned). In your opinion, you can “find nothing dreadful.” The fact that unknowing, unfamiliar, inexperienced contributors to the site make challenging remarks about which they are not the least bit qualified to render an opinion is a disgrace and a negative reflection upon the credibility of BW. Bobby saw the entire Cokin matter through from start to finish. Interested parties with individual self-issues (and something to gain personally) have challenged Bobby’s on site (in the flesh) witnessing of all these events. To me THAT IS ‘terrible” as individuals like to act authoritatively and see their names in lights as the champions of causes where they have a personal interest but not the foggiest idea of the true facts. Bobby’s sole objective is to see justice served. It has been his credo for over sixty years and he is not going to stop now — regardless of inane refuting by BW commenters. Furthermore, on the issue of “moving up the second place finishers” — the premise is from somewhere in outer space because those who promote the proposal have no understanding of all the extraneous issues that will have been bastardized as everything would have been different. I am not a proponent of living in a dream world and am saddened to witness the direction in which our game is going.

Your reference to the great Bertrand Russell’s philosophies are immaterial here. The game of bridge is a breed unto itself .. with its own language, moral code, standards and boundaries, heroes (v. culprits), etc. which should be honored. When people crossed the line with personal supercilious attacks, sarcasm and unfounded inane, baseless opinions, I disassociated myself from the BW site and have regained my self-respect after having allowed myself to temporarily fall from grace.

Avon, it is nice that you “like BW,” and “will continue to read it daily.” Go for it! However, I was reared to be much more sensitive to people’s feelings. Perhaps that explains why they make chocolate and vanilla!

Robb GordonSeptember 17th, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Avon – I actually responded to the quip on BW below which I found offensive (and basically irrelevant to the topic):

“Al Roth. (Insult? Yes, but I said so to his face and I don’t really think anyone should say anything good about him just because he finally did us a favor and left us).”

No – I am not going to quit BW. I think the owners are working very hard to make it a useful (and constructive) place for bridge discussion.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 17th, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Robb,

It gets more and more grotesque to me as I read on. Perhaps moderation/approval PRIOR to the blathering might go a long way toward curbing acidic tongues. No doubt Al (who was a friend and teammate of my late husband Norman) was a brilliant player .. but no excuse for his sarcasm and intimidating nature at the table. There is no debating or defending Al’s insulting demeanor but the ugliness of gloating over his ‘departure’ via a sick sense of humor far exceeds the offense of Roth’s mannerisms.

Furthermore, to insult people who are sadly not earthside to defend themselves is inexcusable and a horrendous practice to allow, condone and/or support.

bobby wolffSeptember 17th, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Hi Avon,

With confidence in you and I having mutual respect (which is certainly true from my side), I will only ask you to experiment with checking out Judy’s long time site and then hopping over to the AOB adjoining site and follow the back and forth, going on for years now, and involving a cast of characters I would be very happy to have as both bridge partners, teammates and more importantly, very close relatives. We may not be good enough to win at a high-level, but for sure it would be a most enjoyable experience for me.

I do not want to influence you (a lie because, of course I do), but I would be keenly interested in your opinion of what constitutes happy, worthwhile and very productive exchanging of all types of bridge information, but doing so in the most sincere, humorous, and above all, respectful way possible.

Being interested in psychology, I can understand the need for contentiousness with some, but in these modern days, with cultures colliding due primarily to the internet, we need to find an interchange which will stand the test of different manners, emphasis, and language innuendos.

Even the detours usually bring smiles, at least to me, but in doing so we, as Shakespeare once said, will get the conscience of the king (meaning the game itself).

Robb GordonSeptember 17th, 2014 at 9:21 pm

For the record, I was an Al Roth fan. Yes he could be unbearable but on more than one occasion I saw him do something altruistic helping somebody out who had no other options. To me a good heart covers a lot of sin. And cheering anybody’s death is a “schanda” (for those non-Yiddish fans, just call it bad karma).

Avon WilsmoreSeptember 17th, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Robb is quite right; the BW posting about Al Roth was astonishingly ill-mannered. However, there are hundreds of postings at BW each week and the Great Bell Curve of Life dictates that some posts are going to be stupid / idiotic / offensive.

The BW staff are unpaid and I am prepared to put up with a little bad for a great deal of good. If they filtered every comment it is quite possible they would have to move to a paid subscription model and we would lose a great number of participants.

Further, this would require a form of censorship; I have forgotten who it was who said, “The problem with censorship is that it requires a censor, generally a conservative elderly white male”.

Bobby: I am a reader of both this blog and Aces on Bridge. There is a major difference between those sites and BW, and that is that posters to BW address the group while posters to AOB/JK-W address the individual – the sole moderator. I suspect that is the occasional lesser civility we find at BW.

As for how to have a “happy, worthwhile and very productive exchanging of all types of bridge information, but doing so in the most sincere, humorous, and above all, respectful way possible”, I have no magical answers. BW is the best bridge forum I know and I don’t find the imperfections to be a burden.

Avon WilsmoreSeptember 17th, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Typo: should read, “I suspect that is the cause of the occasional lesser civility we find at BW.”

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 17th, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Robb,

Believe it or not I haven’t heard that term in many a moon. When I was a child I recall my parents saying … ‘It’s a shanda for the neighbors” .. but never researched it’s meaning!

And, by the way, I was an Al Roth fan too. Never saw that side of him, but apparently his demeanor was common knowledge as he was a fierce competitor although an ethical player.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 17th, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Avon:

I guess the happy medium in this scenario is to agree to disagree! In life as in bridge, one must do whatever it takes to float his or her respective boat! Happy sails!

Cheers.

Judy

MarthaSeptember 20th, 2014 at 4:36 am

I have been on the bridge scene for what seems like forever .. playing in countless major events and serving in a successful key role in local administration for a few decades. I am now semi-retired and do lots of traveling although on occasion I make the time to follow the threads about bridge on the Internet. I have been reading your most recent blog and can understand where you are coming from. Because of my involvement in bridge, I got to know some of the best the bridge world had to offer. The more brilliant they were .. the more self-effacing their aura. Today, from what I have been reading, that is a lost art as everyone professes to be qualified to render expert opinions about bridge theories which they are obviously not capable of understanding … but that doesn’t seem to stop them. It appears that ‘free speech’ is being overdone and those adopting the platform are not in a position to voice opinions from on high. Wealthy sponsors have assumed the roles of experts and spout their views as if they were gospel though in many instances they don’t understand the concept under discussion. It is not so much the issue of disrespect … but rather the delusion that they are qualified to challenge the decisions of more experienced and capable performers! Sorry to be so brutally frank .. but had to get it off my chest.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 20th, 2014 at 4:59 am

Wow, Martha, that is quite a mouthful.

I can’t say I disagree with you but I really believe most casual readers accept forcefully expressed opinions as gospel. However, I too have been on the scene for a very long time and have learned that you can’t take everything at face value although some of the strong overtones can be quite convincing. With my background (having kibitzed the world’s best for almost half a century), I have been trained to examine each statement on its own merit and come up with my own conclusion. I am not an easy sell and must confess it is refreshing to hear someone else speak up. Jumping on the bandwagon is not uncommon as people like to see their names in print.

Greg NowakSeptember 21st, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Great things come when Bobby Wolff talks to everybody.

Great things come when Bridge Winners lets everybody talk.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 21st, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Greg,

Batting five hundred is not a bad percentage!

Georgiana GatesSeptember 22nd, 2014 at 10:42 am

Judy, I think you’re being too hard on Bridge Winners. Yes, they have some people who say things that you don’t like, but I’ve seen very few nasty posts.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 22nd, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Good morning, Georgiana:

Thanks for your heartfelt remark. Though I don’t know you well, I recognize you are speaking from the heart and want what is best for the game .. as do I.

However, I cannot agree for the following reasons.

At one time, I felt BW was a free for all which allowed and seemed to encourage sarcastic, unproductive, insulting, jabbing remarks — attempted as humorous. People just said what they wanted and life went on. However, to their credit, BW now does some monitoring and censoring (though hardly enough — IMO). What other site feels it mandatory (in bold red print) to put people on probation (naming names) based on their current monitoring system? It is sad to me that it is necessary.

When you confess to seeing “very few nasty posts,” you obviously are not reading in between the lines or looking in the wrong places as you are unfamiliar with the backgrounds of certain incidents which have eluded your scope. One in particular criticized the opinion of a well respected person who was challenged by someone who was too lazy to research the issue and get the facts for himself (which were exactly as presented). It was easier to take a cheap shot than assume the responsibility of checking it out.

That was minor compared to another even more offensive statement, criticizing an extremely qualified and experienced pro bono administrator who had been performing similar tasks for eons where his judgment was challenged by individuals who didn’t have the mathematical know-now to understand where or how to begin. To me, these people equate to young fledglings who are just learning to fly and have long ways to go before understanding the intricacies involved in calling the shots and making harsh, unfounded, erroneous disapproval. There is nothing more offensive to me than self-professed experts .. yet they criticize and blather without a clue to what is involved.

To me publicly issuing such strong negative opinions without the artillery necessary to substantiate their judgment with experience is what I consider “nasty” — but the majority of followers don’t seem to be aware of the problem or cannot read between the lines. As they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and those in charge are just as guilty as those issuing their stamp of approval to false claims.

Georgiana, I am not criticizing you .. just trying to explain that there is so much more going on than meets the average eye! Allow me to add, there are a huge number of positive, creative and constructive contributors to BW and it is a sensational concept! However, though the offenders are so miniscule in number (maybe 5%) — it has become a feeding ground for miscreants to vent their rupturing spleens!

Greg NowakSeptember 23rd, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Of course there are great times in Judy’s nostalgia files.

Bridge Winners has some not so great times (ignore them?).

That doesn’t mean I’m not going to enjoy the great times.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 23rd, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Hi Greg:

I understand where you are coming from. I have gotten to know you over the years as a good player and polite gentleman. However, our site with bridgeblogging.com is very expressive and the overall tone and demeanor of the writers (though not always in agreement) is courteous and non confrontational.

However, I ask that you consult my response to Georgiana. What people are not aware of is that a few (with little knowledge of facts and background) blather about situations of which they have no clue. By doing so, they wrongly accuse and poke fun at knowledgeable and extremely qualified individuals who are doing what is best for the game.

There is nothing as offensive to me as know-nothings acting as professed experts in areas in which they do not have accurate facts as to what has transpired. Thus, their rants are meaningless .. with no credibility .. and in many instances .. insulting (though baseless).

By all means, continue to enjoy the great times .. but bear in mind all that glitters is not gold.

Will probably see you later today.

Cheers,

Judy

bobby wolffSeptember 23rd, 2014 at 4:27 pm

The last number of comments, chock full of cordiality, respect, humor, informed opinions and for the most part, shared truths but from different slants and backgrounds.

From such a beginning will flow original and unique bridge truths, as long as all commentators feel and then exercise the responsibility to not be self-serving in order to carry off a personal agenda.

The above, at least to me, represents a very interesting, successful and exuberant enterprise, leading to enjoyment for most, if not for all, as long as rascals mind their manners and do not try and downgrade the mood, to theirs.

SamSeptember 27th, 2014 at 12:08 am

See you have lots of comments since I opened the discussion nearly two weeks ago. I suppose, insidious as cheating is, the tactics fall into many categories and people view them differently. I happened upon the BW site today and couldn’t believe how vehement some were and how casual and indifferent others viewed ‘cheating.” If you haven’t seen it, it is called The “C’ Word. I’d be interested to hear your reaction as I know Norman and his teams suffered through some avoidable heartbreaking losses in international competition. If you have a chance, let me have your thoughts.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 27th, 2014 at 12:18 am

Yes, Sam, Cheating at Bridge is a subject that will haunt me till my dying days. As you know from the preface of this blog, I no longer participate in the discussions on BW, but now I am curious as to what has been going on. I have a house guest, but when I am free to review the specific article you alluded to in the quiet of my office, I’ll be happy to respond .. but don’t be shocked. You know I don’t pull any punches, especially where cheating (of any kind) is concerned. Bridge is a hard enough game to play without encountering unfair obstacles. Thanks for calling it to my attention.

Later!

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 28th, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Sam,

There are not enough hours in MY day to examine and comment upon my disgust and horror for the many current situations to which I have been privy over the Internet over the last day or so.

As far as BW, the issues on cheating (and their shockingly diverse views on the severity of punishment) are worse than appalling to me. Of course, few are in my shoes — having two husbands being obviously raped in the past by premeditated obvious cheating .. specially in world competition). Here on our own soil, we presently have our own crosses to bear .. though markedly reduced in number).

There are varying degrees of cheating punishable (in my own opinion) from slaps on the wrist with permanent records kept .. to hanging from the highest tree or in the alternative .. permanent, irreversible lifetime barring (crossing over to the hereafter as well). I make no shame of my vehement feelings as I suffer deep scars from being an eye witness and mourner for those who were deprived of rightful victories on a consistent basis. I don’t ask that they be ‘moved up.’ I just ask that the truth be known and employ all means to prevent a repeat performance for those who may find themselves in the same position.

… to be continued!

ReneSeptember 29th, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Judy:

If I remember correctly, a few years back you had some issues with the unnecessary rudeness and sarcasm of some of those posting on BW. If I am not mistaken, you called it to the attention of one of those in command whom you saw at a tournament and got a reply .. something to the effect that they believe in Freedom of the Press. From what I have been reading recently, they are now clamping down and using ‘probationary measures’ for repeat offenders. ‘ What took so long? Perhaps if they heeded your insight, all of this could have been avoided. Just my two cents worth.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 30th, 2014 at 1:38 am

Thanks for your support, Rene. It has been a very controversial site .. with more differing opinions than you can shake a stick at! My concern is regarding two issues: (1) Displaying complete respect for others despite having strongly differing viewpoints; (2) Refraining from voicing effusive opinions .. particularly when you are not well-armed with the exact facts and details. This has nothing to do with bridge expertise .. but rather researching the details involved and not relying on guesswork! I don’t think that is too much of a burden to place upon those voicing their views.

PaulOctober 3rd, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Rene,

Their comment about “Freedom of the Press” just repeats an old myth. The First Amendment was designed against Governmental (originally Federal, but later State Government) interference with the press. Private sites, whether newspapers, BW or this site may censor or bar whomever they wish. Hopefully, such actions will be rare and prudent, but Freedom of the Press is not an issue here.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 3rd, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Paul:

In response to your comment directed to Rene: It was Steve Weinstein (an old friend for several decades) who (a while back) replied to Bobby and me while at a tournament that they/he believes in Freedom of the Press. This is not a legal issue where it is allowed or forbidden .. merely a stance taken by those at the top. Apparently BW has adapted a different slant as things got more and more out of hand. I saw it coming. And .. shame on them .. for letting it reach the point where it did. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

BW is a wonderful forum to point bridge in the right direction .. but by constructive ideas and suggestions .. not being ugly and contentious. My mother always said .. it is easier to catch flies with honey rather than with vinegar!

AlanOctober 12th, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I agree there are ways of saying things and WAYS OF SAYING THINGS!
Enuf said.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 12th, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Alan:

Your timing was perfect concerning something I read this morning on BW as a caution to those making comments: “Please remember to keep things civil and polite, as players at the tournament may be reading this thread.” It is shocking that this reminder is necessary — although I made lots of waves early about the sarcasm and jibes which I found offensive and unnecessary well over a year ago. Better late than never!

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