Judy Kay-Wolff

Bugs Unlimited

For purposes of this frothing at the mouth, I have altered the name of our local exterminators which enticingly is named Bugs Limited (although I am told it was once called Bugs Unlimited).

As we grow older, more and more happenings seem to get on our nerves and sometimes I cannot control my tongue — of which I am not proud. When it comes to cheating (especially at bridge), I offer no apologies as subjects which at one time were considered taboo — are now the primary topics of the chatter on Internet sites and few stones are left unturned.

Before I get to our favorite pastime, I want to confess to a couple of my favorite annoyances in real life.

Perhaps it has to do with living in LV … where traffic regulations are quite differently interpreted. In New York … if you ran a yellow light, you might get a warning, a ticket or your life might be in danger. Here, it appears to be commonplace to pick up speed as YELLOW seems like an invitation to beat the RED. Most times, you get away with it .. but at your own risk.

That could be dangerous .. but my second grievance is simply nitpicking. In LV (and I suppose in most cities), it is allowable (and sensible after checking both ways — to make a right hand turn on a red light … if the coast is clear). If it is observed, it is a wonderful time saver .. especially if you are late or in a hurry. HOWEVER, an inordinate number of drivers are either ignorant of the regulation or just plain inconsiderate. Many times I have been fifth or sixth in line and the lead car is going straight and we must all sit patiently till the light turns green; but on second thought, it is even more annoying if you are car number two and wait and wait and wait. Enough bitching. There are worse things in life.

Now to our favorite subject: Certain players have an uncontrollable habit of butting into conversations not addressed to them. It is bad as an opponent .. but worse as an uninvited onlooker. I know of an incident where someone walked in mid-game and asked the partner of a rather well-known player if it would be alright to watch. The Brief Answer: “Only if you do not talk!” (as this person had a long rap sheet for blathering)!!! Clear enough?? I think so!! The pair he was kibitzing reached 5 of a minor — making! With no prompting, “big mouth” said authoritatively, “if you didn’t lead your king (from king/queen) .. they would have made a slam.” The person who had issued the ultimatum obviously to no avail) had to bite her lip .. and it still hurts.

My mother always told me … children should be seen but not heard! Smart woman!! If I had only listened!

C’mon .. don’t be shy .. let it all hang out (but shield your cards)!


SamAugust 7th, 2016 at 4:48 am

I think my favorite bridge bug is when a rank and file player nestles up to a top performer and tries to 'spot him or her" into partnering them. It used to happen frequently when I was playing actively. What's your take on it?

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 7th, 2016 at 5:19 am

Hi Sam,

In this day and age (with top players getting such lucrative fees for playing pro), I don’t think it happens nearly as much as in previous decades. When I came into Norman’s life in the early sixties, I remember his tactful advice that when an expert wants to play with me, he’ll find my number. I don’t have to seek him (or her) out! It is hard to make exceptions as it sets a precedent and then everyone wants to get into the act. Charity games (where the lesser player bids for the thrill of playing with an expert) resolves the icky situation.

Good question, Sam … but one that must be politely handled with kid gloves.

Jane AAugust 7th, 2016 at 1:56 pm

I personally see nothing wrong with someone asking a more experienced person to play with them if it is done in the right way. We have all been told to “play up to get better” but playing up can be extremely tough if you and partner are beginners and decide to jump into the shark tank. The more experienced player can alway decline in a polite manner. If it is a professional player, the person asking them should understand the pro gets paid to play as that is their way of earning a living, so if they are willing to pay a fee to learn, and I have in the past, that is a different matter.

One of our clubs just started a mentoring program. This is a great way for the novices and intermediates to have the opportunity to play with the more experienced players.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 7th, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Hi Jane,

“Mentoring” is fine .. but you and I are speaking of apples and oranges. I will send you an email, explaining the background for my post.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonAugust 8th, 2016 at 12:53 pm

HBJ : Hi there again. So much of what you say hammers home an unpalatable truth.
In the modern albeit bizarre world of bridge the annoyances are endless…..in more ways than one.
By whinging about whingers I’m guilty of another major annoyance : HYPOCRISY. Players criticising and condemning partners about mistakes that litter their game as well.
I could harp on for ages about what bugs me about the world of bridge with COMMITTEES and their shenanigans right there at the top.
Then comes the following :
CHEATS amoral result-motivated bastards
Cheats oblivious to their antics who are forever in denial
Slow players who take an excessive time over the most obvious choices to make
Smug , arrogant players who smirk over their successes and laugh about their unfortunate victims
Smart-arse gadget ridden players who revel in the idea of develop a complex bidding system only understandable to themselves ( in my view a form of subtle cheating )
Players who are consumed by their own deluded sense of self-importance
Butting in players taking over discussions, holding courting to audiences who have not invited or encouraged them to be part of the group
Inflexible zero tolerance fanatics who fail to grasp that different factors requires different outcomes.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 8th, 2016 at 8:36 pm

Hi HBJ, Your response justifies your continuing reference to bizarre happenings in the world of bridge. When I came upon the scene back in the fifties, civility and respect were the order of the day (with a few outspoken exceptions). Regarding open cheating. no doubt it had surfaced but people refused to believe such exalted players would take part in it. And yes, the beat continued .. though we are in the process of trying to clean up the mess and mete out punishment so it will not be attempted again!

Hats off to you HBJ! You did a great job of surveillance.

Jane AAugust 9th, 2016 at 4:55 pm

I entered the duplicate bridge world around 1970 in San Antonio, Texas. I found the attitude and behavior at the club I played at quite nice, but the tournament scene was awful in my opinion. Although many are not fans of the zero tolerance policy, this did not exist in 1970 and the behavior at the few tournaments I attended was atrocious. Many of the players at tournaments were rude, condescending to the newer players, and were often obnoxious and rude to their own partners. I remember the last tournament I attended in that time period was so bad I did not play in another one for over twenty years, and basically stopped playing bridge altogether for about the same length of time. When I returned to bridge twenty years later, it was like the difference between night and day.

I am not speaking of the cheating issue because I would not have been astute enough when I first started playing to recognize a cheat, especially a sophisticated one. I think now I might but I am not even sure of that since I don’t play much in tournaments at this point in my life. I suppose cheating occurs at the club level also, but honestly, I don’t look for it either. If it were blatant I would notice and inform the director of what i observed but would never call anyone a cheat. That is not for me to determine.

I feel that some of HBJ’s points are somewhat true but I do not believe the majority of players are like that. A few bad apples can sure spoil the barrel however. It seems like we tend to recall those few bad apples over the really nice people who play our great game. I have to say I have been fortunate to know many more nice players than obnoxious ones. I have been very fortunate to have wonderful partners along the way, and I have wonderful partners now. I am glad I came back to bridge and did not let my earlier tournament experiences keep me away from the game.

Just my opinion from the flight B peanut gallery. I am one of those “rank and file” players, but I enjoy my time at the bridge table.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 9th, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Hi Jane,

It is wonderful you ‘returned to the game.’ And .. sad indeed .. for your twenty year hiatus. Today (because we have ‘forced the issue’) and with the help of zero tolerance .. It is a much more pleasant atmosphere.

Don’t take a leave of absence again because people like you are such a credit to the game!

Robb GordonAugust 10th, 2016 at 9:42 pm

OK – you asked for it – (apologies to W. S. Gilbert)

As someday it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!
There’s the pestilential partner who points out all my gaffes —
All people who gloat and have irritating laughs —
The genius who analyzes each hand in nothing flat —
All persons who wear perfume that smells like a dead cat —
And all indecisive directors who won’t rule though you insist —
They’d none of ’em be missed — they’d none of ’em be missed!

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 11th, 2016 at 7:51 pm

Robb …

That’s called plagiarism — but oh so appropriate (and clever of you to align yourself with such a remarkably talented writer)!

Unfortunately that ‘little list’ to which you refer is increasing by the minute. I am really fed up with the goings on in the unit, district and those at the helm. And, as you so cleverly stated … “They’d none of ’em be missed — they’d none of ’em be missed!”

If bridge is to be saved … we need alliances … not egos, politics and me-firsters!



Robb GordonAugust 12th, 2016 at 12:56 am

Not plagiarism when I cite the author – fair use.
But the list does grow if we focus on that. I try to focus on the game we love so much.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 12th, 2016 at 2:19 pm


Sorry, I misjudged your sense of humor with my play on words.

I would amend your statement to read “the game we ONCE loved so much.” What is there left to love when bridge has been infiltrated with so many know-nothings who blather endlessly and much of the administration is deluged by cronyism and politics with much attention toward enriching their treasury and the flooding of masterpoints. Perhaps you are too young to remember the old timers who were committed to the improvement and betterment of the game — first, last and always. The more I read, the more of a farce it becomes. However, a few are very dedicated to restoring the majesty and dignity to our once-wonderful game. I just hope they are not too few and it is not too late.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 12th, 2016 at 3:26 pm


I neglected to mention the disappointment of so many when they learned that the ACBL is strongly considering not paying dues to the WBF, detaching itself from the universal bridge scene. Where then will the top players compete? Bear in mind … many expert bridge players gave up their day jobs and infiltrated the professional bridge world successfully. The overall issues are huge .. and may take a toll on our once-majestic game. With all the money raked in from the ‘special games’ (call them what you want) .. lots of lucre comes pouring in .. so not having money for WBF dues is hardly the problem. There is more to it than meets the eye.

These are the problems that should concern our governing bodies .. with the preservation of top-level bridge as a primary guiding force. Without our membership in the WBF, bridge has little chance of survival and, in the long run, will be reduced to “High Card Wins.”

Robb GordonAugust 12th, 2016 at 4:35 pm

There have been rumors to that effect for years. I don’t think that is going to happen. If it does I think you will see a schism in American Bridge. There are many who want to participate in world Bridge and they aren’t all pros.

I think the biggest problem is ineffective management flailing away uselessly and ineffectively at the wrong problems. There has been improvement of late – their grade is up to D+. Can’t we do better.

ps. You did not misjudge my sense of humor. But I fear that somebody will take you seriously. I hope my original post suggested a sense of humor!

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 12th, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Hi Robb:

Thanks for clarifying your original message! I certainly meant it to be humorous .. not insulting.

I think D+ is an overbid. More like E+



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