Judy Kay-Wolff

Never Lose Your Sense of Humor

…especially when it comes to our unique game.This appropriately pertains to the huge realm of bridge players’ leanings from all parts of the world. I was fascinated by the post below which doesn’t make any effort by the author to restrain this individual’s strong views on recent changes to ACBL policies.The writer’s solution is quite humorous but I must confess the game has been so desecrated by so many recent happenings, I would not attempt to disagree. See for yourself!!

What Are We Buying?

Defending the indefensible, David Sievers writes to the ACBL Bridge Bulletin (“Pay Up”, July 2016 letters) in support of the ACBL’s new policy to charge five-member teams 25% more and six-member teams 50% more than four-member teams at national tournaments, on the grounds that everyone should “pay the same the same amount per masterpoint earned.” Of course, the ACBL could achieve the same kind of equity by awarding masterpoints to teams, for apportionment among teams members according to number of boards each plays. To adopt this view is to claim (I would say, confess) that the ACBL is in the business of selling masterpoints. I demur. In my view, the ACBL is in the business of providing fair sporting competition.

Saturday summers when I was a kid, I would go to the park and play ball (well, actually, spend most of my time out in right field watching the dandelions grow) with the other boys. Then everybody grew up and spent time studying, working, and raising families. Now I’m an old boy, and decades after the demise of the last rubber bridge club in town, I go to a local duplicate bridge club, or an ACBL-run tournament, to play with other (mostly old) boys and girls. What I buy are an abundance of playmates, playing cards and other equipment, interesting deals with hand records afterwards for further study, umpires to call balls and strikes (well, actually, rule on revokes and insufficient bids) impartially, and some recognition when luck and the performances of partners and teammates (well, actually, errors by my opponents, for without them I could never win) favor me with success.

To accommodate those with the views expressed by David Sievers, I suggest that the ACBL set up kiosks where kibitzers and surplus sitting-out members of teams can purchase masterpoints for cash, preferably at a discount, as the cost to the ACBL is lower than for players who actually participate. My roommate kibitzes but does not play bridge. She sure would like a plaque honoring her to hang alongside the ten stuffed heads in our trophy room right now; perhaps it could be inscribed with her name and a new category of Life Master, Cubic Zirconium, that I now modestly propose for those who acquire their masterpoints the simple way, by direct purchase.

Jonathan Slow


AlanSeptember 16th, 2016 at 12:52 am

Very amusing conclusion but at this time in bridge, we must take everything with a grain of salt.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 16th, 2016 at 1:04 am

Yes, Alan, so much has happened .. especially this past year… with all the scandals. However, masterpoints have always been the butt of recent jokes and deservedly so. When I first started playing (umpteen years ego), being rewarded for a good performance was a source of pride. Today's masterpoints explosion is reminiscent of the old expression "that and a dime will get you a cup of coffee."

CPSeptember 17th, 2016 at 5:47 pm

To me the most incomprehensible issue is awarding masterpoints for pairs way below average. That has always bugged me as it is a pure unadulterated joke. I think that is no incentive to improve.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 17th, 2016 at 6:03 pm


No doubt bridge is a very tough game. As a beginner I recall going to the last Monday night game of each month which awarded one whole masterpoint to each of the winners in both directions. It was the highlight of the month! Reflecting upon it sixty-some-years later, it was really a ploy to gather the troups and double one’s attendance as well as the card fees.

Perhaps that is why I found Mr. Slow’s contribution so appropriate. Things haven’t changed much. You could call it ‘Same old, Same old”!!!

Bigot-JohnsonSeptember 19th, 2016 at 7:14 pm

HBJ : When attendance alone allows mediocre players to climb up the rankings by simply going to every event on the calendar circuit , the criticism that masterpoints can be bought for cash rather than earned on merit is one that can be challenged.
The whole ranking system needs to be looked at reviewed. Over here in the UK it is an absolute joke, but money rules and governs everything, Sadly, mediocre players are only willing to attend events if master points are on offer no matter how far down the results list they inevitably find themselves.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 20th, 2016 at 1:10 am

HBJ: Yes, it has become a joke. But Marty Bergen deserves credit for describing it best with two words. … POINTS, SCHMOINTS!!!!

Mac KennedySeptember 21st, 2016 at 3:03 pm


Yes but Marty was talking about bidding.
When I started and became a LM in 2 years in the early ’70s there were no brackets or gold rush events you played everybody. But I guess the ACBL realized to keep interest and participants something had to be done. So they created these events and then to distinguish “levels of expertise?” they added colors of LM. However , they forgot in the old days to keep track of red, gold, platinum so to be fair they removed color restrictions for the levels. They also have made LM 500 points with twice as many red/gold

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 22nd, 2016 at 1:33 am

Hi Mac,

Yes, most people know Marty's reference alluded to the old realistic concept that points (in and of themselves) DON'T TAKE TRICKS. They have to be opposite the right holding. The mention of points in general never really mesmerized me. However, with all the recent hullabaloo about piling up masterpoints and special games at higher costs to lasso in the point seekers, it has really made me more aware than ever .. is that they are just pieces of paper. It also becomes a joke regarding sponsors who often get dragged to the finish line on a dogsled by the pros. Thus, masterpoints have never impressed me.

Learning to improve (and make less mistakes) is my primary desire. No one ever said it was an easy game!! Sadly, as you alluded to, it has become a business to lure people to the clubs and tournaments. The only issue that really disturbs me is the confirmation of cheating (at all levels and in many countries) for many decades. My late husband, Norman (and Bobby, to be sure) knew about it for many years .. what seems like an eternity .. before the recent accusations, proof and expulsions.

Many have been known to say, "It is only a game!" However, to others .. It is a matter of life and death! Take your choice.

Jonathan SlowOctober 6th, 2016 at 8:54 pm


As currently organized, the ACBL Bridge Bulletin contains only three sections offering advice to the bridgelorn: one for “Newer,” one for “Intermediate,” one for “Advanced” players. That neglects an entire class of members who fall into a fourth category: clients playing with pros.
Fortunately, though perhaps inadvertently, National Tournament Director Matt Smith, writing a “Ruling the Game” column in the August 2016 issue, provides sage advice to this class of members, advice that can also serve a related class of members, weak or inattentive declarers partnered by alert dummies. I refer to the permission Director Smith gives to dummy to play a club when declarer points to a club in dummy but says, “Spade.”
At my local club, Sharon Sharphead often plays with her boyfriend, Danny Dumbkopf. I really don’t know what she sees in him; if her judgment about men were as good as her judgment about cards, she would have chosen me. For better or worse, Sharon sometimes allows Danny to play the notrumps; perhaps it’s unavoidable when he has a flat 17 high-card-point hand as dealer and opens one notrump.
On several occasions, I’ve seen Danny reach an ending with the lead in dummy and two cards remaining. If the cards are in the same suit, he invariably just names the suit, and dummy is required to play the lower (but doesn’t always oblige). If the cards are in different suits, he invariably calls for the higher. For example, if dummy has the ♥6 and the ♣J, he says “club,” even when a defender still has the ♣Q but the ♥6 is a thirteener. Except when he plays with Sharon. Then he points to dummy, and Sharon, who has been paying better attention, plays the ♥6.
Once I was playing with Fastidious Fran, a rude player who objected and called the director, alleging that Danny pointed to the club.
“I pointedly did not,” said Danny, and the director, whom Danny sometimes hires when Sharon plays with a client, turned to Fran and explained, “Surely Danny knows his own intentions. We have to take his word that he was pointing to the heart.”
Fran persisted in her objection. “Are you calling Danny a liar?” asked the director. Fran, who is seldom at a loss for words, fell silent. “I’ll take that as a yes,” said the director, who then imposed a “Zero Tolerance” penalty, dropping us from second to third in our section. Since then, Fran has not voiced any more objections to Danny’s practice (but only when playing with Sharon) of pointing to cards in dummy.
Perhaps Danny is not so dumb after all. His clever use of his right index finger could be a lesson to all clients playing with pros, and in general to weak declarers partnered by strong. Director Smith’s article is not enough. I encourage the ACBL Bridge Bulletin to print more articles serving this much-neglected class of bridge players, who may not be Intermediate or Advanced but are certainly not Newer.
—Jonathan Slow

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 7th, 2016 at 4:47 am

Dear Mr. Slow,

You certainly don’t mince any words. I admire your tenacity in attempting to steer the ship in the right direction .. but it is a slow uphill battle with waves coming from all sides.

We need pure, non self-serving, objective, qualified people to step up to the plate. Sadly my dear departed Edgar is gone nearly twenty years and Bobby is semi-retired, but I couldn’t think of two more competent individuals to educate the decision makers as to the harm their lethargy has done to our game!

Just Judgmental Judy

CPOctober 8th, 2016 at 12:21 am

Reading on the Internet about the immense number of bridge issues being challenged, it is reminiscent of the proverbial can of worms and just waiting for the next shoe to drop. Hopefully we will soon be heading toward brighter times.

Considerably confused and concerned, Carol

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 8th, 2016 at 12:43 am

Hi CP,

In all my decades of exposure to this exciting and pleasurable game, recent developments have caused me to step back and try to examine the grievances which we are facing. I believe the greatest problem is it is difficult to satisfy so many different levels of players and everyone seems to have their own goals and methods of solving the problems and easing the tensions.

Reading what the various experts (mostly well-intended) have to say about the current boondoggles is frightening ’cause many are miles apart on the fair and practical solutions.

It won’t be easy to make everyone happy!

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