Judy Kay-Wolff

What is a BRIDGE GURU????

If you question twenty people, no doubt you will receive twenty different opinions. However, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition (as applicable to our game) is “a person who has a lot of experience in or knowledge about a particular subject.” Knowledge and experience are the keys to the bridge kingdom. Having survived six decades on the hearing end of these rants, I firmly believe the bottom line IS MOST CERTAINLY the two components mentioned above: KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE. It doesn’t take much observation to prove my point. Just casually meander down an aisle after the completion of a hand or round … and listen to the falsely expounded personal emphatic opinions of the fallacies of partner and/or opponents … either solicited or otherwise. I have witnessed it at our table as Bobby clenches his teeth, bites his tongue and restrains himself from getting involved. Besides out and out cheating, my pet peeve is know-nothings espousing their dogmatic views as if it were gospel. There are many present day young up-and-comers who eventually may rival the greats in bridge history … but it may take decades of practice, comeuppance, putdown by the true experts and the proverbial black eye or two. In a widely read publication, I recently viewed a critique of an auction by a relatively young, naive enthusiast which sent Bobby through the ceiling. I had to calm him down with a couple Cabernets to prevent him from going bonkers and publicly exposing the ineptness and ridiculousness of the confidently analyzed hand. Last evening, having dinner with a lovely local couple (and the gentleman being a successfully proven peer of Bobby’s), Bobby presented the hand that riled him beyond description. It obviated the failure of the young assessor to recognize the huge elephant in the room which totally obfuscated his intended point. Our guest patiently awaited the punch line of Bobby’s tale as the analysis was beyond reality and so off target. When told, he shook his head in disbelief as it was so embarrassingly beyond absurd.

A lesson to be learned: Until you have the scalps on the wall (whether in playing, directing, authoring or analyzing) … don’t be too hasty and foolhardy to advertise your inexperience, naivete and lack of understanding to the high level bridge community before you (yourself) are confidently qualified to pass the litmus test!!!


CPApril 3rd, 2015 at 5:22 am

No doubt a most provocative subject which raises a host of questions since there are many conceived levels of gurus! Many are self-designated while others are recognized by those qualified and accepted as their true comtempories. Don’t be influenced by hearsay. Judge for yourself!

Judy Kay-.WolffApril 3rd, 2015 at 5:37 am

Well put, CP. it is both a ticklish and controversial area. To me one of the greatest tests of expertise is the consistency of repeat performances Nothing is a better standard than consistence!

Howard Bigot-JohnsonApril 3rd, 2015 at 7:01 am

HBJ : My image of a guru is a person who has accumulated a lifetime’s wealth of knowledge , experience AND WISDOM.
When asked a difficult question he/she will see what other essential questions need to be explored and answered in order to consider and answer the initial one posed. That ability to know what else needs to be looked at and investigated first is what makes a person worthy of the guru accolade. Gurus never get sidetracked with irrelevancies , getting to the crux of the problem immediately, and knowing which paths need to be followed if an answer is to be arrived at.

Bill CubleyApril 3rd, 2015 at 3:24 pm

These days I am asked to play with someone at the club who thinks I am a good player. I tell her/him that he/she has made only one bridge error – partner selection.

I don’t do play critique unless asked as there are many books on the subject and that is the only facet of bridge you can do for yourself.

I will offer bidding advice as I have won a couple of world wide contests. The only magic bid I know is, if your hand comes closer to anything on our card and you are short a trump or a jack in value, make that bid. It won’t be perfect, but it is the best you can do as no system covers all hands.

I did play standard on okb against a World Pairs Champion who asked me to be his opponent. He played Precision. My partner refused to discuss methods and we eventually, as we played, agreed on Forcing 1NT, Jordan/TOX, Reverse Drury. Before play we agreed on Mathe/Precision. Never spotted anyone the convention card yet we won. Partner took full credit. It was also a non-competitive game so no credit whatsoever for me.

Maybe I should changer my name to Rodney Dangerfield.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 3rd, 2015 at 5:14 pm


I think “a lifetime’s worth” says it all. One or two or even three swallows DO NOT make a summer. Many ‘Johnny-come-Latelys’ may eventually reach the promised land but with most who exhibit some talent .. it may take a decade or two to be recognized. Many of those on the way up are modest and respectful, recognizing that the summit is a ways off.

What triggered this blog was a far-from-expert player trying unwittingly to pass himself off as an analyst. Ego is a dangerous commodity .. especially when both writer and uninformed reader are unaware of the individual’s ineptitude.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 3rd, 2015 at 5:35 pm


I always enjoy your tales of yore .. though modesty is not one of your shortcomings. There are so many variations of personalities which comprise the bridge world. They surface every day .. as evidenced by the local duplicate players (some wee beginners and some who have world championships under their belt). It is a universal potpourri and the beat goes on. What makes blogging so intriguing is that you hear so many different views of the game we all (sometimes) love.



Mac KennedyApril 7th, 2015 at 6:52 pm

When I think of a ‘guru’ I am reminded of Kwai Chang Caine’s mentor in the TV series ‘Kung Fu’ and my favorite quote from his blind mentor played by Keye Luke who started his film career playing Charlie Chan’s number one son in the ’30s
“Because a man can see, he does not look.” — Master Po
This can so be attributed to many facets of our beloved game

Judy Kay-WolffApril 8th, 2015 at 2:37 pm


How true, how true! You are really turning back (pardon the expression) the hands of time citing old time performers like Charlie Chan. I think it has much to do with early training and concentration and being tuned in to the right channel.

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