Judy Kay-Wolff

Reporting from Bally’s

Here it is — midweek at the LV Regional — with attendance much better than expected (a deterrent being the upcoming Sectional at The Flamingo in exactly two months and of course, the Summer NABC).   There is only so much bridge the area can handle and with the state of the economy, the early anticipation of attendance was bleak.   However, it seems to be a rather packed house with many local and traveling dignitaries here and an abundance of pros and sponsors.  The playing room is sensational — huge, brightly lit and up to the standards of a top National.  The site itself is a healthy hike from the main thrust but it is a straight walk and hard to get lost because of all the directional signs.  The Directing Staff appears to be top notch and the games have been running smoothly.  Food is not cheap — but nowadays it is usually intolerable in most casinos.  There are oodles of eateries in the walkway between Bally’s and Paris and endless high end shops on either side with unceasing hawking of customers who are making their way to feed the belly.  I hate being preyed upon and they are soooo insistent and undaunted, you actually have to ward them off by ignoring or pushing off on them.  The casino attendance in the early part of the day is almost non-existent with few dealers (going hand in hand with few gamblers).  In the evening, things seem to perk up but the exhaustion from the long walk to the playing space and the intensity caused by the very competitive bridge atmosphere is a deterrent to find one’s way back to the gambling area after the evening session.  I, for one, make a bee-line to our lovely room just happy to go beddy bye.  I remember the lure and excitement of the midnight games of yore but those times are alas no more.   Kudos to the head honchos and their volunteers for a well run event (with marvelous mouth satisfying goodies after the night sessions).  Last evening we enjoyed chocolate covered popsicles sprinkled with luscious nut chunks.  A great way to end the day, though not good for the diet, but beats going to bed on an empty stomach.  Looking forward to the rest of the week with hugs, kisses and handshakes from old friends.

What’s happening in Bridge Cyberspace?

Someone recently called to my attention an article by Allan Stauber which appeared on a popular bridge site concerning goings-on at a tournament. There followed a series of varied replies (a mixture of sarcasm and skepticism). I read and re-read both the post and the comments and had difficulty deciphering what actually occurred. Was this written in jest or did it actually take place? If true, it makes a sham of the game. It is hard to believe that the writer could create such an absurd series of actions without some credibility. Can anyone clarify?

For Better or for Worse?

Ask different people .. you’ll get different answers. Reflecting on the days of Vanderbilt, Culbertson, Goren and others, I salute them as bridge icons who introduced the game and pursued its beauty and majesty above all else. I recall a gentleman from the Fifties by the name of Lee Hazen, one time counsel for the League — but first and foremost .. the administrator who promoted and sustained the game and frequently (unknown to many) lightened his own pocket until the ACBL could financially stand on its own two feet. Bridge was still in its embryonic stages and personal motivation and politics had not reared their ugly heads. All those involved. including the dedicated bridge playing/working staff at Greenwich (Nat Cohen, Peggy Adams, Tommy Harris. et al — whom I can still envision) labored tirelessly assisting with the formation of what is recognized today as the ACBL.

It is hardly the same game to which I was introduced in 1957. Zone 2 was in the limelight with its sensational players continually making their mark in international play. You may remember the names Johnny Crawford, Johnny Gerber, Oswald Jacoby, Boris Koychou, Harold Ogust, Al Roth, Howard Schenken, Sidney Silodor, Tobias Stone … for starters. Money was not a factor. They participated without remuneration .. just for the love and glory of this rapidly developing fascination. Many had daytime jobs and were not dependent upon bridge to support themselves and their families. The Board of Directors was honored by the participation of top level representatives like Sidney Silodor, Tommy Sanders, Don Oakie, Eric Murray and Edgar Kaplan and in 1963 was joined by an up-and-coming newbie named Bobby Wolff. They shared a common goal — the furtherance and improvement of the bridge venues which were beginning to come upon the scene. They voluntarily (without pay) dedicated their minds and time to promoting our game to take it to another level and have it recognized as the greatest mind sport in the world. Today, the direction is not the same. In lieu of striving to elevate bridge to the highest strata .. in some bridge environs .. it equates to High Card Wins.

On another subject, other continents (such as Asia and Europe) have introduced a curriculum into the schools for teaching bridge (some starting back in the nineties). Bridge zeroes in on mathematics, logic, understanding, concentration, problem solving and even more — which will serve the students in greater and more practical areas as they mature. There are millions, yes millions, of children abroad who have been blessed to have bridge already on their rosters. We are light years behind, despite the continuing efforts of many energetic individuals who have been (and still are) giving their all to enlighten the public that we are missing a chip (or a card) by not giving serious consideration to such an upgrade. Easier said than done.

Playing bridge at clubs and tournaments was a popular source of enjoyment, learning and accomplishment. Seeing oneself improve and achieve was the focal point. Aside from rubber bridge games, monetary gains were not in the picture. Master points were issued for winning — an incidental means of recognition for topping one’s rivals. It was awarded for scoring higher than one’s competitors and was an intriguing incentive. Today they are often awarded to players in different classifications (especially the lower ones like ‘C’) — even for coming in below average. Why should we settle for mediocrity or worse? To what depths are we sinking? The original McKenney Trophy (renamed for Barry Crane) saluted those at the helm in the master point race. Master points were much harder to garner .. unlike today — when in many cases they are jestingly equated to an attendance record. Their attraction may ‘up the ante’ in the way of ACBL membership and club attendance, but does not say much for furthering the importance and unequalled electricity of the game.

Directing (in most cases) is a far cry from the standards exhibited by such legends as Harry Goldwater, Maury Braunstein and their peers as well as more current standard bearers like Solly Weinstein and Chris Patrias (and others I have overlooked). They knew the game inside and out and had the courage of their convictions, not being subjected to outside influences. Same is true of some Appeals Committees. Too many other distractions and home invasions have tainted the thinking of some at the helm. There is no denying other enormous stumbling blocks .. distance of venues, cost of travel, availability and willingness of qualified experts to serve, the resorting to telephone committees and more. I have no answer .. but it must be addressed.

Back to participation at the table. What are the reasons for playing? They are manifold. To some it serves to pass idle time, socialize, see old friends and meet new ones, chat, entertain oneself, etc. Great — whatever floats your boat! However, organized bridge which includes sanctioned clubs, tournaments and NABCs has the responsibility to hire, educate and dutifully train their directing staff to respectfully guide the players from veering off the straight and narrow. It is understandable that people new on the scene get caught up in the exuberance of their new found toy. I often suspect that individuals go astray by not being groomed and educated how to conduct themselves at ‘Lesson One.’ The ethics and manners of the participants go a long way toward making it enjoyable for all and assuring the game is conducted on a level playing field. Being a beginner or a ‘social player’ are poor excuses. No one is beyond teaching or above learning.

Now to professionalism and sponsorship.

Few people know that though Charlie Goren, who undisputedly was responsible for putting bridge on the map, was a “sponsor.” Charlie was a superb promoter and without him — who knows if I would have met Norman or Bobby .. or even be here now typing away. He was a popular personality and revered by the general public as an expert .. but not judged so by his peers. Fifty years ago this year, Charlie appeared at my wedding to Norman. Most of my guests were bridge players and when he came into view, traffic stopped. It was like the Pope or President of the United States was making an unscheduled guest appearance. Charlie earned his reputation in spades .. but not in the field of expertise! Sponsors are not to be knocked, but recognized for what they represent. In some special cases, though thought of as playing sponsors, a couple current players more than hold their own and in certain instances are as good as some of their teammates. Two of the most high profile players who come to mind are Nick Nickell and Marty Fleisher .. experts in their own right.

Now on to professionalism which has enveloped the world in which we live. Few of these pros have ‘real’ nine to five jobs .. and who can blame them? Certainly not I! Nothing beats getting paid to play the game you adore. When the economy was booming, there was no limit to what some of the very top pros were receiving. No doubt the very best still are. However, now in 2013, many paychecks have been reduced considerably and oft-seen sponsors have disappeared .. making some of the lesser known pros scratch and claw for business. Understandable! I find no fault with paying to learn from, and play with, a top bridge star, but feel strongly it should be kept in its proper perspective. If you can afford it .. go for it. That’s what money is for.

However, at some point, I believe the powers-that-be must draw a line. How??? The answer to me is obvious .. by not allowing mediocre playing sponsors to buy a berth on an international team to represent one’s country. I think the buck should stop there. World competition should be about sending the very best a country or zone has to offer! From recent performances by Zone 2, the results are disappointing. Our stature in world bridge is on the decline and I find it sad since I remember the good old days when, though we didn’t always win, we were in contention and never far behind.

I had intended to address another matter in detail (the social aspects of bridge as opposed to the serious side) .. but I got caught up in this rant and will save my original thoughts for another time. Enuf!!!

WORLD MIND BRIDGE OLYMPIAD in China — now in progress!

Some years ago, Jose Damiani, President of the World Bridge Federation for sixteen years (the longest running span of time for anyone at the helm of the WBF), concentrated on and eventually enabled our wonderful game of bridge to be included as a mind sport with the hope that one day it will be accepted into the ‘regular’ World Olympic Games. Frankly, I had lost touch (and interest) but by some quirk of fate spotted that the events are taking place as I write. The results were quite disappointing, to say the least, in the early (but telltale) contests as we do have a plethora of both young as well as established bridge players in our Zone from whom to choose. This is no reflection or discredit to the USBF (especially Jan Martel who works non-stop to accomplish miracles on a minute to minute basis). I have seen countless talented worker bees .. but Jan takes the cake as was witnessed by her recent induction into the ACBL Hall of Fame). What I would like to know ….. 1. Who is the Committee who has the responsibility to choose the contestants — and are they of public record? And, are they volunteers or selected individuals? 2. Is there a general guideline for the eligibility of those players who are chosen to represent the USA? 3. Were the players who presently compose both the Open Team as well as the Women’s Team their original choices? 4. Are there money prizes? 5. Are all expenses paid? I assume so. 6. Why are so few of the very top players (with some exceptions, of course) not in China now as it is taking place? This is all a conundrum to me. Can anyone clarify? Thanks.


I have received so many calls from old friends and acquaintances advising they plan on attending our January Regional at Bally’s.  The tournament is not regularly held at this time of year, but because of the upcoming NABC scheduled for Summer 2014, the District rearranged the date, moving it up to January 20th to the 26th. Bobby and I have only been playing locally for the last five years (with the exception of the San Francisco National in 2012) so we look forward to seeing both new and long lost friends with whom we have lost touch except for the internet.

The return to Bally’s has seen the emergence of some radical changes .. but all for the better.  Mainly due to the non-stop efforts of Co-Chairs Jane and Bruce Rubin and their fantastic staff, the bridge rate has been reduced (Monday -Thursday $69.00 and on the weekend $109.00).  Also available are upscale rooms ($119 – $159 respectively).   Though the upgrades are enticing, it isn’t worth it to us since the majority of our stay will be devoted to playing bridge mornings, afternoons and evenings, testing our fortune at the casino and enjoying countless close by eateries.  An added feature is the proximity of other hotels without the necessity of venturing outside.  Bally’s is conveniently attached to The Paris and offers a multitude of restaurants throughout the huge complex.  Bally’s Steakhouse is the signature attraction — a bit pricy — but cannot be beat for their cuisine and elegance .. and always packed .. so a reservation is suggested.  We celebrated our tenth anniversary there Saturday evening and it was truly a night to remember.

A short walk from the main lobby to the escalator will offer more casual dining (ala Johnny Rockets, et al) and a comprehensive Sports Book.  Regarding those who enjoy gambling, we found that unlike the majority of other hotels/casinos — Bally’s offers a unique Blackjack variety called "Switch" which is our personal favorite.  Tons of fun, much intrigue and lots of action.  Just don’t check your brains at the door!

If you have not already booked a reservation, be sure to call 1-800-358-8777 and give them the ACBL Bridge Code (SBACB4).   It will enable you to take advantage of the bridge rate (a huge savings) and avoid the Resort Fee.  However, this special accommodation to bridge players will only be available until January 6th  –  so don’t miss the cutoff date.

We eagerly await our trip to Bally’s.   Yes, despite a short daily commute of twenty minutes from our suburban homestead, we have opted for the high road and booked ourselves into the hotel for the entire week.  Growing old has its rewards and nothing beats pampering.  You only live once.


When Bobby and I moved to Vegas from Dallas eight years ago, we were looking forward to enjoying our golden years amongst new friends as we knew very few people here .. excluding someone like Marc Jacobus who was able to recommend a realtor to us.  Fortunately,  it turned out to be our newfound friend Martha Beecher (who had been at the helm of countless enormously successful bridge happenings here in Sin City a few decades earlier).

We have enjoyed the warmth of our many new acquaintances, especially at our local duplicate bridge gathering site on Flamingo Road — The Las Vegas Bridge World.  One day we awakened to the realization that a huge flock of our longtime fellow bridge lovers had also descended upon Vegas and now call it home.  What caused me to reflect upon this subject was while my friends and I were having our weekly Monday noontime tete-a-tete at a nearby Panera Bread location,  I looked up and gave a double take as I spotted a familiar bridge face which I had not seen in a while since we stopped frequenting NABCs some years back.   I am embarrassed by my own admission that though I recognized him immediately  — his name was on the tip of my tongue but my mind went blank.    When I passed his table to say hello, I learned that Roger Bates had moved here in March.  My experience only proves that remembering cards and conventions are not the only faculties of the mind that are affected when you approach senility.  It takes its toll on associating names and faces as well — but it had a happy ending as we had a chance to chat.

What you are about to read was inspired by seeing Roger.  As Bobby and I were having dinner last night at The Suncoast,  I told him about my lunchtime reunion.  It led us down a path —  struggling  to name all the well known Las Vegan bridge refugees (both newbies and veterans) who consider our city their homestead.  Their identities are well known in national bridge circles for their contributions to the game in one way or another.   With apologies in advance for any oversights, here goes ………. Karen Allison, Jack Blair, Drew and Teri Casen, Curtis Cheek, Joshua Dunn, Keith and Florine (Atkins) Garber, Fred Gitelman and his wife Sheri Weinstock, Joe Grue, Barbara Hamman, Geoff Hampson, Fred Hamilton (now living in CA), Mary Hardy, Proctor Hawkins, Paul Ivaska, Marc and Brenda Jacobus, Marinessa Letizia, Bobby and Jill Levin, Billy Miller, Mike and Nancy Passell, Carol Pincus, Becky Rogers, Ron Rubin, Nancy Schwantes, Ron Smith, JoAnn and Danny Sprung, Ron von der Porten and Sue and Jerry Weinstein.  An impressive list, I must say!

Bridge Idiosyncrasies

This blog may be tantamount to ‘opening a can of worms,’ but I think it is a necessary Wake Up Call to realize what is transpiring around us.

Universally, all who grace our game have some form of hang ups.  It is human nature — especially if the untoward action causes a poor result for the non-offenders.  I truly believe the great majority of ‘top players’ do not dwell on these issues — but prefer to concentrate on their chore at hand –  the auction, the play or the defense.   They avoid allowing themselves to be absorbed by what they may consider minutia, thereby thwarting their attempt to focus on success without distraction.

Let us look at a multitude of pet peeves (PP) which are reminiscent of the proverbial laundry list:  How about considering the following (regarding one’s guilt or innocence):   Off the top of my head (and in no special order except No. 1 which, at least TO ME, is first and foremost as it is a no-brainer) …. 

1.   Deliberately cheating (with well developed, pre-ordained methods) or casually ‘helping’ one’s partner.  Although many other appropriate issues are encompassed herein — few are nearly as ugly and IMHO — enables this one to  win top prize in uncontested fashion!!!

2.   ‘Gloating’ (whether deliberately with evil intent or out of ignorance) is most offensive!

3.   Offering and insisting upon unsolicited lessons whether to  partner or opponents.   If I want instruction, I will pay for it (or marry an expert who fits the bill).

4.   Failing to alert (either intentionally or without malice aforethought).  It not only fouls up an auction but misleads the opponents — causing them to either stay out of the bidding or misdefend if the bad guys buy the contract.  Convenient ‘forgets’ are devastating to the opponents — but often achieve the targeted result!

5.   Confusing the methods of one’s own system (when a partnership is not on the same wave length).  Frequently, it results in damaging one’s opponents rather than oneself.

6.   Balancing or making a call without justification which is suggested by partner’s flagrant huddle. 

7.   "Coffee housing" (going into a deliberate ‘brownstone’ without reason … followed by a pass) — intent on misleading the opponents.  Let me break tempo for a moment by repeating a classic story involving Al Roth which I’ve told before.  Opponent had a two way guess for a queen (with all the necessary spot cards).  Declarer led the jack of a suit from his own hand, followed by a fairly long hitch and it held the trick.   Success!  When the hand was over, it turned out that Roth, the fourth seat player had ducked with the queen.  When the ruse was discovered, the hesitator lambasted Al for not winning the trick.  Calmly, Al replied, "How could I? I thought you had it." 

8.  "Casing the joint" by walking up and down the aisles wide-eyed with neck outstretched and ears open (as if you were on a field trip) .. scouting the hands you are about to play.  I have seen it in living color — a habit employed by a few that are mistakenly considered top level players.  If they genuinely could lay claim to that title, it would be unnecessary for convenient restroom visits (or other strolls) to try and gain an edge.

9.   Peekers.  They are those who crane their necks, sit back in their chair (with elevated body position) to take a gander at one (or both) of their opponents’ hands.    It surely must help and certainly can’t lose.          

10.  Clockers.    This breed operates in two ways  (a) by watching from where an opponent dislodges a card (hoping to determine how many he or she holds); and (b) by glancing at open score cards to gain advance knowledge of a hand they have yet to play.

11.  Holding post mortems spontaneously at hand’s end and wasting time by not awaiting the session conclusion.

12.  Trumping up expendable director calls, creating an unpleasant aura (which I have observed even at the highest levels)!  Check out some of the ‘bigtime’ appeals.

13.  Always looking for an edge, trying to appeal to a director’s lack of knowledge (especially at the club level).

14.  Alerting unnecessarily.   This is a PP of some — to which I plead guilty.   Because the ACBL rules and laws keep changing, it has reached the point (at least for me) of not knowing what is an alert and what is not.  Since I know my system, I would rather depart from the recommended procedure and alert to protect the opponents.  Go sue me!

15.  Allowing the use of a confusing system which is destructive (rather than constructive) to deliberately force the opponents off course as they have no ‘advance’ knowledge of how to cope with such methods (especially on the spur of the moment).  I allude to "overly" Weak NTs and controlled psyches.  The easiest prey are newbies but it takes its toll even on decent players who are given the opportunity to discuss and prepare methods to combat the occasion.

16.  Regarding PP#15, some (certainly not all) club Owners/Directors have fallen from grace — refusing to enforce their right to bar or allow systems which are unfair to the less adept players.  Why?  Isn’t that obvious?  They want to avoid losing regular customers (especially decent players) who frequent the club and don’t want them switching allegiance to a nearby competitor.

17.  Last, but hardly least .. attempting ‘intimidation’ to gain advantage!!!

Have you had enough?  Probably!  I invite you to add to my list what gets your dander up.  Please speak up as everyone suffers his or her own personal demons.  Sometimes it is good to vent one’s spleen — or else it may burst!

As this was about to go to press, I had lunch with three knowledgeable current and/or former Directors who have witnessed the above scenarios.    One was my daughter, who was a former teacher/director/administrator in The Big Apple several years ago.  Another was her friend — a retired bridge player who (along with her husband) now resides in LV and who served as Tournament Chairman/Certified Director/Teacher as well as holding several major official positions in the NY Unit and District.  Rounding out the trio was a good friend who is a part Owner and sometime-Director of the popular local LVBW (as well as an ACBL Certified Teacher and Director who charms her audiences with her entertaining lectures on cruise ships).  Here is what they had to add:

18. The ‘snapping of cards’ (which makes some people’s blood run cold).  I liken it to scraping one’s nails on a blackboard which gives me the shivers!!!  I think in most cases, it is not deliberate or intended to offend .. perhaps just a nervous habit — but annoying nevertheless.

19.  When moving pairs (EWs) reach the next appointed table and find their opponents discussing the previous hand.  It is not only time consuming — but it may be a hand you are scheduled to play before the session is over.

20.  When asking for an explanation about a lead or bid, you receive such sarcastic, matter-of-fact responses as:  "It’s just bridge!!!!"  Don’t you just love that one?  Or, "It could be anything" (of course, not  defining "anything.")  Another frequent question and response — especially against a NT contract (when a jack is led):  "It could be from anything .. (AJ10X  KJ10XX or J10xx)."   Unless playing Rusinow leads, a simpler, more direct, to-the-point explanation would be "denies the queen".

21.  When foreign players/guests who are perfectly capable of speaking proper (and even articulate) English (though using bidding boxes) — resort to (after the hand is over) speaking to partner in their native tongue — whatever it may be.   Many find it offensive as they may be making fun of the opponents, suggesting a way their contract could have been doomed by another defense, gloating that opponents were shut out of the auction, etc.  Regardless of the conversation, though it may very well be perfectly innocent, it does not bade well and is frowned upon as being in poor taste.

22.  When a partnership does not have identical convention cards or only one card is available to their opponents.  In conjunction with the convention card violation, some place theirs directly in front of themselves so they can (illegally) consult it during the auction. That’s a no-no!

That sums it up from the combined perspective of moi and my qualified luncheon entourage — but my guess is that some of you can still enhance the list.  Please do!  I had no idea how lengthy this would be when I began .. so I thank for your endurance.

Geza Who???

Age, on occasion, has its rewards  — but not this morning.   In the world I have been engulfed in for over half a century, I always prided myself for remembering the names and (sometimes) faces of those players I met or heard about (via word of mouth or through endless bridge annals).                              .

Today I had a rude awakening.  I had just arisen, came into the den and relaxed as Bobby was responding on his computer to his AOB daily comments.  He turned to me and nonchalantly asked –  how do you spelled Ottlik?  I thought he was jesting.   I replied, "I give up. What did I miss?"  He quizzically responded, "You know — Geza Ottlik!!!"  Dumb me — I had no idea to what or whom he was referring!  I later became intrigued by Bobby’s recollection of this (apparently) world renown bridge genius from Budapest, Hungary who passed away in 1990 — without my ever hearing his name.  I was soon informed he was a revered novelist, author, mathematician, bridge writer and theorist.  Ottlik was the ultimate expert on Hungarian prose — but more known in the bridge circles for the introduction and development of … Entry Squeezes, Backwash Squeezes, Elopement, Elbow-room, Entry Shifting Plays,  Non Material Plays, Rio Finesses and KO Squeezes.  I checked him out in Wikipedia and he was described as a passionate bridge player and advanced theoretician, and his 1979 book "Adventures in Card Play" (coauthored with Hugh Kelsey) introduced and developed many new concepts.  It was reported that not too long ago the great majority of accomplished players placed the book third on a list of their all-time favorites, nearly thirty years after its first publication.

I inquired how Bobby came to meet him and surprisingly, with a smile on his face, he muttered "I didn’t!"  He recalled that one day during a world championship, a lanky kibitzer seated himself beside him and he hadn’t the foggiest idea who he was.   In fact, he recalled to me the gentleman was a standout as he had to be at least six foot tall and couldn’t have weighed more than 160 pounds.  Later in the session Bobby learned it was Geza Ottlik — a  recognized wizard of whom he had heard — but never met.  In bridge, Geza Ottlik specialized not in performance — but rather in concepts. 

Amazing what one remembers — or never knew (both at and away from the bridge table)!

‘ Sami ’ Has Not Lost His Sense of Humor

One of my favorite bridge personalities (whom I met in the mid-Sixties while playing on teams with Norman and Edgar) is soft spoken, never confrontational and has a very pleasing manner.  I found him on the reserved side, but when he did speak, it was worth while listening – as he usually produced a ‘gem.’  He hasn’t played in NABC competition for eons but I understand he is enjoying his golden years in Toronto.  I really miss the good old days of Eric and Sami.  They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.  These Canadian Superstars were a credit to their country and well respected by their peers.  In this month’s ACBL Bulletin, in the Letters to the Editor Section, he contributes:

Not so good

“With respect to the appeals committee’s ruling that decided the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams quarterfinal match (June, page 27), I have heard many complaints that it was the worse ruling ever.  I disagree.  In my long career, I have come across at least one – perhaps two – that were just as bad.


Glad to see the old boy hasn’t fallen from grace!

THE CAVENDISH … And Where It All Began

I always wondered about the origin of the name Cavendish.   After some research, I learned it was the pseudonym of a famous London Whist authority, Henry Jones, who employed it when he published his first book under the non de plume of ‘Cavendish.’  He got the idea from the name of the Club where he played Whist back in the 1800’s.   In 1925, Wilbur Whitehead (together with a couple of other gentlemen) took license and adopted its name .. resulting in the introduction of The Cavendish Club to New York City.  For the first eight years, its home was The Mayfair Club and then moved to the Ambassador, The Ritz Tower, premises on Central Park South, The Carlton House, a brief stop at on 48th Street ..  and eventually to a town house on 73rd Street.  However, because of monetary problems, no doubt caused by escalation of rent and dwindling membership, the club was forced to cease operations in 1991.

In 1975 the Club began hosting the prestigious Cavendish Invitational Pairs and though forced to close its doors in ’91, it continued to be held in The Big Apple.  In 1997 World Bridge Productions took over the Invitational Pairs (adding The Open Pairs to the format) and moved it to Las Vegas.  Along the way, some secondary events have been put on the roster, enticing others to attend.   This change of venue from  East to West enhanced its popularity and the purse size increased substantially because of greater attendance.  I believe it stayed in LV until 2011 when, in conjunction with the Monaco Bridge Federation, they migrated to Monaco in 2012.  It was held there a second time, finishing a few weeks ago.  Originally, it was an annual ritual ending on Mother’s Day Weekend, but recently was moved to October.  Of course, the dramatic new location in the principality of Monaco lured many European players to join the party, substantially hoisting the booty to the eventual winners.  However, there is now talk of the CI rotating sites (with Las Vegas hosting it in even years and Monaco in the odd ones).

In the late 90s Norman was invited to serve on the Appeals Committee after it moved to Vegas.  Naturally, I adhered to the old Biblical quote … "Wither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge" and soon I was tripping the light fantastic at a plush hotel in Vegas.  Not sure, but it could have been the former Desert Inn which shut its doors in 2000.  From the opening event (with the auctioneers in formal dress) till the closing ceremonies, each day and night exuded with luscious food and great drinks in luxurious surroundings.  It was one of the most exciting bridge venues I had ever set foot upon.  However, what amazed me most was the preponderance of celebrities (both guests from abroad and stateside).  I don’t recall how many tables were in play, but it attracted an enormous amount of players and investors.  The Cavendish Invitationals were unquestionably the largest money bridge tournaments in history.  The U. S. was well represented and could have served as a Bridge Who’s Who with anybody and everybody in attendance.

Looking through the Internet reports and Bridge Bulletins from this month’s CI, I was shocked to learn that only a shade over a dozen individuals’ names from the States appeared on the entry forms.  What could provide a more enchanting setting than Monaco?  Is it the cost of the entries?  Or .. the cost of the flights and rooms?   Or .. the state of the economy?  Has the prize money lessened?  Or .. something that never occurred to me?  Why is this once-magnetic bridge happening not attended by more Americans who once flocked to these annual New York and Vegas events?   It evades me!  Any ideas?  I’d love to know!