Judy Kay-Wolff

Where is Our Once Wonderful Game Heading?

To be quite candid and crude .. my most accurately descriptive reply would be into the proverbial ‘crapper.’ Everywhere one looks .. be it our local scene, national or international venues, ugly situations non-conducive to happy campers seem to have engulfed our game.

Right here, in Vegas, we are experiencing vocal discontent and disappointment, despite sincere and earnest latecomers on the scene trying desperately to fix what’s broke — namely, the unit morale and obvious discontentment and unhappy reflections of the present site selections. This disaster would have been resolved and put to rest two years ago had we not witnessed personal ego/control freak issues. Obviously, the stressful worldwide recession has played a huge part in the difficulties encountered and the site selection problems we face as I write; but, that is something we have to live with (and work around), eventually restoring our tournaments to national prominence as we are a Utopian bridge resort site. At one time, our Sectionals (with such great drawing cards via headliners, casinos, elegant restaurants, etc.) were showstoppers .. sometimes outdrawing even a few Regionals. I find the scenario so very sad as I reflect upon hundreds and hundreds of tournaments I attended and counted the minutes till the entry desk opened. Alas, no more. It is definitely an uphill battle and I pray for a turnabout.

The national scene is a far cry from when I started attending nearby NABCs back in 1957. The events were splendorous .. including the manner of dress as well as the respectful conversations exchanged .. regardless of table results. I savor those memories of the elegant old timers who (with few exceptions) conducted themselves with aplomb and dignity. Criticism was not expressed rudely across the table and polite partners did not discredit the opponents in their presence. That was unheard of! And, although sponsorship had already appeared on the scene, money had not yet publicly reared its ugly head and changed the direction and personalities of those involved. No need to elaborate on what affect professionalism has had on bridge .. even to the point of featuring weak players of substantial means to be representing our country which, to me, is an embarrassment to the game. Of course, there are a handful of exceptions but I always believed world championships were intended to be a conglomerate of the best of what each country could produce to battle their peers.

However, the ugliest possible issue has now arisen (both here .. but mainly abroad .. although the U. S. can hardly enter the court with clean hands): Cheating in events sponsored by the World Bridge Federation. Perhaps I am ‘hit’ harder than most, being married to a man who has unselfishly (pro bono) devoted over sixty of this eighty-three years to high level bridge, serving in more official and unofficial capacities than anyone in the history of the game. I am not alluding to his trophies, commendations, and awards .. but rather to his involvement in giving his entire being to cleaning up the game, ridding it of despicable, underhanded deliberate cheaters and checking every nook and cranny to make certain others were not lurking there .. ready to pounce upon unsuspecting victims)!

Though the current cheating adventures (hardly a secret) were dropped upon the Bridge Winners Site like an atomic bomb, a huge prior awareness by top players became immediately evident. It was like waiting for the proverbial ‘pin’ to drop. and, thank heaven it did! With Boye Brogeland and Kit Woolsey at the helm (plus the eager help of countless qualified techies examining videos and scrutinizing hundreds of hands), this unified team (which has earned the gratitude and respect of thousands of supporters and fans) is unrelenting in justifying their findings with an undeniable determination to putting an end to these appalling practices .. regardless of the shame it brings to the game or specific individuals.

CHEATING AT BRIDGE HAS GONE ON LONG ENOUGH. IT IS TIME TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT, PROCESS OUT ALL THE CULPRITS AND RESTORE OUR UNIQUE GAME TO ITS ORIGINAL RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THE SUN!


25 Comments

AlanOctober 31st, 2015 at 12:34 am

Of the three distressing situations cited, in my opinion the local issue of site selection should be easier to solve than the national and international nightmares which have surfaced. And though minuscule in comparison, the inability to secure an affordable place that will serve our needs adequately should not be so devastatingly hard to find. Why, all of a sudden (though Sectionals and Regionals have highlighted the tournament scene for decades) does nobody want to house our tournaments? There must be more to it than that!

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 31st, 2015 at 12:58 am

Alan,

I have not been involved in that facet of bridge although I served in countless other capacities when I was active in District 4 starting in the sixties. I know arrangements were always firmed up at least two years in advance of the event and attention could be turned toward advertising and enhancing the other specific aspects and comforts of our guests rather than worry which hotel will host us?

My question: Why did this happen? How did this happen? Who is responsible for this gaffe? Knowing we did not have a suitable site for either last week’s episode or this coming February/March Sectional, EVERYTHING should have been put on the back burner and the head honchos should have done everything humanly possible to negotiate a convenient locale.
I do not take kindly to the word IMPOSSIBLE. We should not have found ourselves at the mercy of some godforsaken geographical location off the beaten Strip with a repeat performance in the offing.

Someone has to be accountable.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonOctober 31st, 2015 at 12:42 pm

HBJ : Great article. I do hope it gets the wider circulation it deserves.
Cheating is now endemic as it is in many other sports. I wouldn’t be surprised if some players take stamina /mind enhancing drugs even.
The human condition sadly undermines our moral conscience and will power to maintain the highest of ethical standards. People cheat on their partners,wives(husbands). They try to cheat the tax man . And when cheating is exposed in the world of politics , what chance is there for people to find role models to behave in a honest and moral way.
But the real problem is that the game of bridge offers corrupt players unlimited opportunities to
apply their evil craft. The fact that screens were introduced to curb cheating to me says it all.
May be clubs who embark upon teaching beginners how to play bridge should devote the early lessons to what really matters ….that of playing in tempo and with total honesty.
Moreover , ethical players should be revered and honoured in some way , while established cheaters get named , shamed and ultimately banned.
As I have said before clubs target players who are found to be rude and bad tempered , leaving slow players and cheats to prosper without challenge or reprimand.
Such is the bizarre world of bridge.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 31st, 2015 at 2:29 pm

HBJ:
There is much truth and wisdom in your overall assessment.
However, with the tenuous world conditions affected by troubling monetary issues, I believe the almighty dollar dons a much huger role in the playing of the game .. even at the club level. When we first arrived in Vegas, I could not fathom that the local duplicate field was so huge. Today, no doubt due to the economy, the attendance is halved and the last thing the owners want to do is antagonize the players with fear of losing them. The average age of bridge participants, especially here in retirement areas, is old .. yes, old! In fact, we used to joke about the average age as 'dead.' Very few are not senior citizens and because of attrition, people tend to play slower than in earlier, perkier times. Tardier play is more understandable and tolerable but poor manners and stealthy (or even a hint of) cheating is unforgivable! At our local club, any suggestion of poor ethics is not tolerated. During the last few years, management has barred some and placed others on probation. Hats off to LVBW (despite our poor economic environment) for continuing to honor the beauty and majesty of our game.
Yes, HBJ, BIZARRE is the perfect description!

SamOctober 31st, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Whoever woulda thunk bridge would have reached this point in time!!

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 31st, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Hi Sam:

Don’t know which venue worries me more. Obviously, local problems are closer to the heart personally .. but the now-exposed and admitted big-time cheating issues threaten the future existence of our game. Serious stuff!!!

As most of you who knew me as Judy Kay realized .. I always had an axe to grind but I had to speak in measured words (not my style). The trite expression “All that glitters is not gold” was a perfect description of some of the heralded pairs and teams who sported trophies and made the headlines!

I could well understand the cover ups both here and abroad because of law suits, but in retrospect had we done something about the known cheats (not merely rumored culprits) when the stuff hit the fan, perhaps the ugly situation we are now facing would have been resolved decades ago. We are in a no win position and with Denver right around the corner, there figures to be lots of excitement and bad blood. I am proud that the ACBL rose to the occasion barring some of the accused perpetrators from playing .. but it is far, far from over.

However, it is at least a start .. pointing us in the right direction. Yet, we here in Zone 2 are not going into court with totally clean hands. There are/were rotten eggs all over the place .. some well known and others just run-of-the-mill dabblers who strayed from the straight and narrow.

I have very mixed emotions as I hate to see the game disgraced, but at the same time, if we want to move forward, huge changes are in order. Good luck to our newly appointed panel whom I have confidence will oversee the cleansing of our currently active unsuitable participants.

My greatest regret is that Bobby is not still active as no one has had more experience and sensational judgment in this realm of ridding the game of its miscreants (both big and small).

Only time will tell.

ReneOctober 31st, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Judy,

Don’t mean to open a can of worms, but have you seen the latest BW post on transgender?

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 31st, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Hi Rene:
I just researched it on Bridge Winners and you must be alluding to a serious, well-written article posed by an attorney named David Caprera asking our parent organization about the possibility of transgender being an issue for participation in specially earmarked ACBL events.
It was startling to me as I never gave it a second thought (or even a first one .. for that matter). There seems to be quite a bit of interest on the subject and although the topic is a serious one, there are some pretty humorous comments.
I guess there is more to this game than counting trump!

Paul ElsteinOctober 31st, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Judy,

Having read numerous blogs on BW I am struck by the following:

1. A few make it sound like cheating at bridge is a new phenomenon. (I (finally!) read The Lone Wolfe; Bobby’s and some others’ experience should not have been new to them
2. Some of the top bridge players claimed they were suspicious of some of the accused teams. Whether they were silent because of the threat of lawsuits; lack of clear evidence; or personal liking of some of the suspected cheaters, they still did nothing about it.
3. Some top bridge players say that there were only 3-4 top teams who they suspected of cheating. I’m willing to bet that there are more than that.
4. As Howard said “cheating is epidemic….” Money cannot be the only cause, since it’s become more prevalent at the Club level.
5. Baseball fans might be interested in reading “It Ain’t Cheating if You don’t get Caught,” by Dan Gutman. It was written in 1990, and has no mention of steroids.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 31st, 2015 at 9:41 pm

Hi Paul,

Your observations are quite realistic. Ever since I became an interested observer (aka kibitzer) beginning back in the 60s, I was privy to conversations between and among the top players of that era who knew who was and who wasn’t .. shall we say ‘kosher’?? The misdeeds ranged from petty thievery to grand larceny. Some received a slap on the wrist; others were quietly asked to bow out or were officially barred. Here it is .. half a century later and the only differences are techniques and faces, but the beat goes on.

I will always recall a not-to-be believed incident involving the Board of Directors at a time when Bobby happened to be serving as one of the District Representatives. A specially appointed Committee was assembled to select the ACBL Honorary Member of the Year. When the winning candidate’s name was announced to the group, Bobby quietly raised his hand, arose from his seat and explained that the individual selected had earlier been officially convicted of cheating. After a brief intermission, the Committee’s decision was reversed! However, back then and even now in retrospect, it is difficult (actually impossible) to accept the fact that it was not public knowledge.

I suppose if one plays bridge long enough, nothing should come as a shocker!

Ray MischNovember 3rd, 2015 at 8:14 am

Hi Judy;

Re the first part of your post, I’m finding it pretty interesting to observe what is going on in our Las Vegas Unit. What looks to be occurring now is the same thing that occurred here 30 years ago, although probably not quite as vitriolic (yet).

The people in charge of the Unit Board then, who, through selfless hard work, did a fantastic job in making the Las Vegas tournaments the best-run and best-attended tournaments in ACBL history, were continually attacked. The criticism started with accusations of Martha and Grace being control freaks who obviously needed to be purged in the best interest of bridge and all that is righteous, and descended from there into a steady stream of malicious personal attacks. The bulk of the innuendo was completely false, apparently leveled at them purely out of jealousy or spite. It took a long time for the Unit to recover.

The current villains, Barbara and Tom and Justine, are among my closest and longest-standing friends – a statement for which I offer neither qualification nor apology (just as 30 years ago with Martha and Grace). I don’t agree with everything they have done, but it is indisputable fact that the local tournaments were pretty good when they were running things, and the tournaments are not pretty good now when they are not running them. Inter alia, it is mind-boggling to me that this circumstance is somehow morphed into being their fault.

Further, I would like to find out what drug anyone is taking to make them so delusional as to accuse my aforementioned friends of the slightest irregularity with Unit funds.

So there’s my rant. I fervently hope what happened before doesn’t happen this time. Thanks for the forum.

Ray Misch

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 4th, 2015 at 2:09 am

Thank you, Ray, for such a comprehensive, well-presented commentary on your recollection of Unit 373 bridge in happier times.

I do not know Grace, but Martha is a close friend and the real estate agent who helped Bobby and me relocate here in Vegas. I knew nothing of her earlier exploits and successes in local bridge administration .. but that is immaterial. Regarding Barbara Dunkley, Tom Shulman and Justine Hancock: Tom was a teammate for several tournaments early on; Barbara I know only as a courteous opponent and Justine as a casual passerby at the bridge club. My involvement with all of the above was superficial at best (and I do not even know Grace .. other than tales of her success with Martha decades ago). Thus, not being an eye witness to any of their involvement/s, anything I could add would be strictly hearsay .. and unreliable. I cannot in good conscience either refute or agree with any of your personal observations.

That brings us to the current nightmare facing our Unit. It all began at a disgracefully run Board Meeting earlier in the year which is public knowledge and made its way to the ears of the nearby and far off bridge world. The despicable handling of the potential problem which (if treated with grace, tact and regard for personal sensitivity) was entirely avoidable but exploded and was in large measure responsible for the onset of destroying the camaraderie, morale, determination and enthusiasm of Unit 373, resulting in quite a few resignations over the last several months.

In order to resolve one of the many troubling issues, Bobby and I attended a special meeting this summer at which Bobby (as creator of the Recorder System) tried to explain the responsibilities of such an appointment to both the Board and Chairman/President .. but his plea fell on deaf ears. And, to this day, is still status quo. This should not be about personal feelings or desires, but rather about what is in the best interest of bridge and in this case .. our pathetic struggling Unit!!!!! The head honcho should be a highly experienced bridge player and avoid unconscionably unilateral decisions (by disregarding suggestions and criticism of others more knowledgeable) and avoid the hostility of taking matters into one’s own hands,

It is not a shocker that the recent October Boy Scout adventure held off the beaten path was such a disappointment (nice site — inconvenient location). However, at this late date (despite recent attempts to secure either the Gold Coast or Tropicana — to no avail) for the February/March Sectional, we will once again be relegated to using the BSA site on Paradise Road. In retrospect, this could (and should) have been avoided had timely preparation (well over a year ago) been tended to by those at the helm, but Bob LaFleur and Co. was very recently recruited (or .. roped in) too late to commandeer a Strip Casino and avoid the long trek. LV tournaments at one time drew hundreds of visiting bridge players who could be comfortably housed on site (at reasonable room rates) and could enjoy the lovely hotel/casino amenities! I spoke with Bob today (and with a new cast by his side), he was quite optimistic that ALL future tournaments will be more conveniently reachable for locals as well as out-of-towners .. so please hang in!

Art KorthNovember 4th, 2015 at 7:46 pm

“Moreover , ethical players should be revered and honoured in some way , while established cheaters get named , shamed and ultimately banned.”

I cannot disagree with this comment by HBJ. However, in the best of all possible worlds, it should not be necessary to revere and honor ethical players, as ethical play should be the norm.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 4th, 2015 at 9:01 pm

I agree, Art but I fear from all outward appearances, we (you and I) are living in a dream world! Now, with the predominance of professionalism and the focus on the almighty dollar, the passion for winning sometimes dilutes the importance of honor. Cheating has been going on in bridge since (and before) I entered the scene in 1957. However, it is only of late that the starstruck public has become aware of its existence!

DianeNovember 6th, 2015 at 8:04 am

I will nominate Judy to be Board President at the next Unit Election. I think your experience, casino connections and your and Bobby’s suggestions need to be implemented. It’s time for action.

Diane GraeseNovember 6th, 2015 at 8:28 am

On second thought, I need to warn you. Don’t run for the Board.

When I moved here the tournaments were GREAT. But Grace and Martha (whom I never really knew) were RAILROADED out of town. Some thanks for SAVING this UNIT.

But after them came many folk who also gave their ALL and got chastised at every turn. Real givers to our local bridge and running the Unit:

Tom, Barb and Justine. But also Helen,Harvey, Jeff, Dee Dee, Gary and Jackie, Steve and Loretta, Dixie, Joanne, Jane and Bruce, Ray, Addis, Peg and Dewey, a host of others … and now the current Board.

Liz, Bob, Ev, Ed, and the others are still TRYING while getting attacked. WHY would anyone step into their shoes? They should be thanked for their service to our Unit.

I understand you had a meeting to make suggestions. I know from behind the scene comments that your (and Bobby’s) appearance was appreciated. But some things have changed here in Vegas and it isn’t like the old days.

I support the current Board (behind the scenes) but if you believe the Board needs to be replaced then please recruit the replacements or volunteer yourself.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 7th, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Hi Diane:

To answer your first comment: NO THANK YOU! We are not attending the meeting tomorrow and would not touch it with a ten foot pole. There are far too many issues that have come to light … politics, ego and you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. However, without holding any official position, Bobby (whose administrative record over sixty years stands alone) would be more than willing to serve as consultant on matters on which others are not qualified. It is so unfortunate that because of earlier goof ups and poorly handled matters that someone like John Scibelli stepped down and wants nothing to do with our unit/district other than as a mere player. Good move, John! It’ll add years to your life.

Can’t say I blame him.

I will move on to your second comment below!

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 7th, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Point No. 2:
I was asked a while ago to run for the Board. I wisely declined without batting an eyelash as I could not begin to tolerate what I had been witnessing. And though I respect you as a well-meaning performer, I cannot say I agree with all your plaudits.
Perhaps .. it is because my comparisons of times here with those back in District 4 were like black and white. Respect in 373 for those at the helm are obviously absent and from what has gone on here for the last two years, I can see why. This unit lacks unity, leadership, common goals, respect and camaraderie!
I understand Bob LaFleur threw his hat in the ring and has aspirations of running for Board President. His efforts involving the Boy Scout site when all else failed spoke well for him. I am far from his Campaign Manager but Bobby and I observed him in action and liked what we saw.
I believe the major predicament in recent times is that a few people are holding positions for which they are not qualified and it is imperative our future BOD gear their members' duties to ones for which they are suited.
You say above: "But some things have changed here in Vegas and it isn’t like the old days." Perhaps, you have hit the nail on the head. That could very well be the very source of the problem.
People on the Board must be experienced, knowledgeable and willing to put the interests of bridge ahead of their own .. and those of their buddies. Promoting the game and affording our members the cheapest and most convenient sites reachable should be of prime concern .. and done IN ADVANCE. I believe that was the cause of most of the discontent. Decisions cannot be relegated to the last minute and expect members to stop what they are doing, change their plans and run to tournaments at the drop of a hat (particularly in inconvenient locales). Also .. it wards off out of towners!!
Believe me, Diane, I respect your efforts but cannot agree with your overall reflections. I hope and pray the Unit turns itself around as we cannot survive otherwise.

SamNovember 9th, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Hi Judy:

I know you were not planning to attend the nominating meeting, but did you hear any of the goings on?

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 9th, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Yes I did! One of the presently active Board members advised that two very experienced gals who have migrated to Vegas (as there are few natives), agreed to run. They are both bright, been on the scene for an eternity and are not afraid to speak up. If they win, it will make a huge overall improvement in the average sophisticated input of Unit 373. The election does not take place till the Christmas party which will announce the results. It is a giant step in the right direction and hopefully the Unit will be run in a more democratic way. A big ray of hope!!!

Jane ANovember 9th, 2015 at 5:12 pm

There are actually eight people (if I counted correctly) who were nominated and agreed to run, and for the most part, I think it is a good slate of candidates. It is good to have eight people who are interested enough to run for the board, and all of these candidates will be willing to work in my opinion. I wish all of them the best and thank them all for their willingness to run.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 9th, 2015 at 8:44 pm

Jane A.

We did not attend yesterday’s meeting and despite several non-matching lists from different people, I found it necessary to inquire of Bert Kulic, asking for the official list of candidates. When I receive his reply, I will post it here!

The primary problem presented is that they must be independent thinkers and not be mesmerized by others with ties to previous policies. Sometimes we all get into a rut and take things for granted. I pray the upcoming Board will be objective and the beneficiaries will be the members of Unit 373!

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 9th, 2015 at 11:44 pm

For those of you who have been patiently awaiting the names of this coming year's UNIT 373 Board Nominations, in the absence of Bert Kulic who is on vacation, current Board Member Ed Matulis has kindly submitted the following for your perusal:
JUSTINE HANCOCK
BERT KULIC
BOB LaFLEUR
GARY McGOUGH
NELSON ORTH
JoANN SPRUNG
GEORGE VASILEVSKY
SUE WEINSTEIN
There are five incumbents and four vacancies to fill (with eight candidates).
Results of the vote will be announced at the annual Unit Holiday Party in late December.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 19th, 2015 at 1:59 am

I understand Hy Chansky has also been added as a candidate as I learned there were only four (not five) incumbents as originally believed. The meeting is in mid (not late) December as I originally stated .. To be hosted in Henderson.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 19th, 2015 at 11:58 pm

Don’t believe everything you read. I have just been advised Mr. Chansky has decided not to run.

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