Judy Kay-Wolff

A Milestone — With Continual Surprises!

Much against my better judgment (as Bobby deliberately shuns the limelight), I arranged a double Birthday celebration at the Las Vegas Bridge World for my dear friend, Carol Pincus (let’s say — her 39th), and Bobby's 85th! The Birthday Greetings were memorable and the delicious cake fattening.

On the following day (October 14th), Bobby received a touching flow of good wishes and tributes on his Aces on Bridge daily bridgeblogging site for his incomparable accomplishments at the table, his administrative role as Chairman of both the ACBL and WBF… but most importantly to him… from his friends and followers who lauded him… for his unselfish dedication to his readers and to the incredible game in which he has been involved since he was a wee lad.

However, the icing on the cake and one more shocker was a hand from Steve Becker's bridge column which coincidentally appeared in two hundred newspapers on October 16th… which was reported by one of his regular ‘commenters’. We had no clue! It was included in a classification christened “Great Hands”. Bobby was surprised and overwhelmed that his performance from 1985 was resurrected under the captioned category. You can read it below.

 
E-W
North
N
Bob Hamman
AQ984
A1065
AQ
A7
 
W
West
J1065
J9
J75
KQ106
5
E
East
K732
8743
1083
42
 
S
Bobby Wolff
KQ2
K9642
J9853
 
W
West
N
North
E
East
S
South
1
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
4
Pass
4
Pass
4
Pass
6
All Pass
 

One of the marks of a great player is that he occasionally brings in a contract that seems impossible to make. Consider this deal from the 1985 world team championship between Austria and the United States.

North-South were the many-times world champions Bob Hamman and Bobby Wolff of the U.S. After a strong and artificial one-club opening by Hamman and a one-diamond response showing a fair hand, the Americans took six more round of bidding to reach six diamonds, a seemingly hopeless assignment. Even if diamonds and hearts divided favourably, Wolff appeared to have only 11 tricks — five diamonds, four hearts and the two black aces.

But Wolff proceeded to demonstrate that this analysis left something to be desired. He won the opening trump lead with the ace, ruffed a spade, led a trump to the queen and ruffed a second spade. he then cashed the king of diamonds — his last trump — discarding a low club from dummy as both opponents followed.

Next came the K-Q of hearts, and when the jack fell, declarer continued with the ace and 10. At this point, dummy held the A-Q-9 of spades and the ace of clubs, so Wolff simply played the ace and another spade. After East took the king, he had to return a club to the ace, and dummy's queen of spades took the last trick to give South his slam.

Although the final contract was unquestionably a very poor one, Wolff did what all successful players do in such situations — he assumed a lie of the cards that would allow him to make his contract. He then proceeded on that assumption by ruffing two spades early in the play, and Dame Fortune took care of the rest.


13 Comments

LisaOctober 18th, 2017 at 5:19 am

Dear Judy,

I scanned his Sunday Aces on Bridge site and it was indeed touching. Bobby’s love of the game is so apparent. A perfect example of “receiving” and “giving back.”

So rare in this day and age!

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 18th, 2017 at 5:45 am

Yes, Lisa .. you are so on point!

I have been in the bridge arena many decades and sadly I believe I have seen it all! When I first appeared, my peers played for the love of the experience and appreciated the unique majesty of the world’s greatest and most challenging mind-exercising game. Today, it seems to be all about money .. sadly even sponsorship rearing its head in world competition.

Perhaps that is why Bobby has earned so much acclaim from his followers. His unparalleled love for the game is so apparent from his pro bono renderings. I suppose that should not be shocking when one’s life has been so richly enhanced by what some consider .. just another card game!

JayOctober 19th, 2017 at 1:18 am

Judy,
Please pass along my sincere birthday wishes to Bobby from Kathy and me.Hope you are both healthy and happy.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 19th, 2017 at 1:49 am

Hi Jay:

You made my day! I often reflect upon you and Kathy and the good times we shared. Bobby and I have always considered and appreciated YOU as one of the most pleasant and honorable administrators with which the ACBL has been blessed!!

Stay well!

Our best to the Baums,

Judy

ANWOctober 19th, 2017 at 9:19 pm

I think Bobby will have some Christmas reading… the wheels are in motion.

Bill CubleyOctober 19th, 2017 at 9:27 pm

Hmm is this the same match where Hugh Ross made 7 Spades? Hugh and Peter Pender bid spades one time – when Hugh bid 7 spades rather than 7 hearts, the ostensible trump suit. He made it on double squeeze helped by the bidding.

1H 1NT [comic] X P
3H [ good hand] P 4NT
P 5C X [showing long clubs] 5D X [showing long diamonds
6D P 7S all pass

I hope I remember the auction right, but this is close. A club was lead to Hugh’s AJT with East splitting his honors.

Hugh said he would run his solid spades and force the opponents to unguard diamonds, in the West, to protect hearts or unblock clubs by East to protect hearts. The play was East to keep hearts and toss the high club for trick 13 being the now high Jack of Clubs.

The DB gave Hugh front page coverage for being the only one to make AND bein the Grand Slam.

I was still writing the column so I, by the fortunate scheduling of deadlines, scooped the US bridge press – The Bulletin, The Bridge World, and all the newspaper columns. I was just asking Hugh for a story from the Brazilian World Championships and got really lucky. Ken Monzingo put the story in the Contract Bridge Forum on the front page of ALL the district edition.

That was a great team – Bobby-Bob, Hugh-Peter, Chip-Lew.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 20th, 2017 at 12:25 am

Thanks, ANW,

GOTCHA!

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 20th, 2017 at 12:46 am

Hi Bill,

Unfamiliar with the hand, but honored to know one of the combatants quite well. Peter Pender lived in Philadelphia when I married Norman Kay. Many a night after a lovely dinner together with Bob Jordan and Peter, we would return to Bobby’s center city apartment, .. discussing challenging bridge situations, past and coming events, playing all sorts of games. I was like a fly on the wall when it came to bridge discussions .. but quickly descended when the riddles and quiz games were about to get into full swing.

Yes, Bill, it was a great team. But, of more importance, each and every one was a gentleman who played with honor and superb ethics!

Frank StewartOctober 20th, 2017 at 1:13 am

Bobby, sincerest congratulations and best 85th birthday wishes. You are a legend and a treasure of the game, and I am honored to be your friend and colleague.
Frank Stewart

Paul CroninOctober 24th, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Happy 85th. BD, Bobby – and many more to come!
The 6D hand Judy gave reminded me of two old “sayings”: (i) what do you call an 8 card suit …….trumps (ii) what do you call a 5 card side suit……a source of tricks. Since you can’t make more than 1 club, 5 diamonds, and 4 heart tricks you have to make ………2 spade tricks. A wonderfully played hand, and a wonderfully lived life!

All the best,

Paul

BobbyOctober 24th, 2017 at 6:37 pm

Frank,

Between your long stints of being the world’s greatest bridge ghostwriter and, after earning your well-deserved byline (and only getting better), your family devotion and charitable contributions .. you are MY HERO!

Bobby WolffOctober 26th, 2017 at 4:21 pm

Hi Paul,

Just returned from the current LV Sectional and was victim to being blasted out of the KO along with my team, by 1 IMP. Although I should be used to such things, it still hurts.

However, you soothed my bad feelings immediately with your beautiful note to me that I will always remember.

Although we have never met personally
(to my chagrin), you have a certain quality to cherish, courtesy of your enviable ability to describe.

By so doing with your mesmerizing post, you have made my day, week, month and year, not to mention, forgetting the disappointment of yesterday.

Much gratitude to you and I wish for you what you so wonderfully transmitted to me. Without people like you, this “old world” would not be nearly as loving as all of us would prefer.

Paul CroninNovember 2nd, 2017 at 3:08 am

Hi Bobby,

Ever since you took the time to find me at a Las Vegas NABC ages ago when you were the ACBL REcorder and so graciously explain to me how something I had done at the table could be misinterpreted, you have been my hero. Ever since, I have tried to model my behaviour as a player and Unit and District Recorder on you, and, although I could never live up to what you represent, the effort to do so has made my contributions far more effective than they would have been otherwise.
You are still, and will remain, my hero!

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