Judy Kay-Wolff


Ozzie Jacoby was undoubtedly one of the most colorful and fascinating individuals to ever grace the game.  He was adept in so many areas.   I often recall  him whizzing through the Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle — ‘working it’  horizontally (using the Across clues) without necessitating reference to the Down column.   Absolutely awesome — but ego-deflating to the gallery.

He had a lightning fast mind and a terrific sense of humor — although not appreciated by everyone.  Bobby recalls an incident which occurred when Ozzie had taken him under his wing in the role of mentor.  Apparently, Bobby made an ill-fated play and tried to justify it by saying, “I had a reason for it…”   Ozzie cut him off, stating,”If you didn’t have a reason for it, you would be in a mental institution.”  In retrospect (some fifty years later), Bobby laughs about it — but didn’t find it so humorous as an ambitious young fledgling.

Bobby reminded me of another Ozzie tale when he received a midnight call arousing him from a deep sleep.  Apparently, he had been dreaming about the battles of the Pacific during World War II.   The voice on the other end jubilantly proclaimed, “We are advancing on the Solomons!”  Not being fully awake, Bobby immediately attributed it to the portion of the war involving the Solomon Islands.   However, it was merely Ozzie reporting in that he and his wife Mary Zita had just won a big event and now were only a total of 100 master points behind the leading Mixed Pair in the country — Peggy and Charlie Solomon.  So much for history!

I often reflect on another late night call — this one from Texas.  It was Ozzie inviting Norman to journey to Washington, D.C. the following Sunday evening to form a team with him and his son Jimmy, and to bring his local partner, expert Bobby Jordan.   Norman knew Jordan was not available but before he had a chance to suggest someone else, Ozzie blew him off, instructing “If you can’t — just get someone good” and in his usual blustery manner, impatiently slammed down the receiver.

On the appointed Sunday, Ozzie appeared in the lobby of the Shoreham Hotel and asked Norman the name of his recruit.  Norman proudly replied, “Ozzie, I want you to meet Bobby Goldman — to which he screamed loud enough to be heard by sightseers at the Washington Monument  …. “BOBBY WHO?????????”  Bobby had just been christened!   That endearing reference became associated with Goldman’s first audience before The Wizard of Oz — and from that moment on he was known as Bobby Who.   Though young and new on the scene, Norman had immediately recognized him as a star in the making.   Norman was an amazingly good judge of talent as Bobby Goldman went on to become a Dallas Ace, the team’s computer program guru for hand analyses and practice regimens and won a couple of world championships, to boot.

P. S.  Ozzie and Company did triumph in Washington as well.


M BlumenthalNovember 8th, 2008 at 10:27 pm

Judy – That was when Ozzie was making a run to win his last McKenney. According to sources on the web the date was 1963. Bobby would have been in his mid-twenties and had not won anything significant at that point though those in Philadelphia knew it.

M BlumenthalNovember 8th, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Something else about Ozzie. I had arranged to teach backgammon at Hall’s Crown Center in Kansas City. Ozzie and I knew each other casually, but before I left Dallas Ozzie wanted to see if I was good enough at backgammon to teach it so he invited me to his house. He soon concluded I was so we spent most of the time discussing bridge and the top players and their strength compared to those then in the ’70’s

Pink PigNovember 12th, 2008 at 6:05 am

I only remember one encounter with Jake (as he preferred). I rode up in an elevator with him at a Pittsburgh Nationals some time in the early 70s or maybe late 60s. He was completely open to anyone, and we had just played his team in the last round of the board-a-match teams (Rosenberg?). He thought I had made a brilliant bid of some sort, which is possible if you remove the word “brilliant”. Anyway, I remember playing my heart out in some strange 2D contract and winning the board because the contract was 1NT at the other table. As “sophisticated” as I was, to be recognized by one of the legends of the game made me feel very good. He was one of the good guys, which we should all keep in mind.

pimoNovember 15th, 2008 at 12:53 am

I played many a board against Jake, and I played with Goldie, who had more class in his little finger than I did in my whole body…may all of us continue to reach for that level of excellence and demeanor that he represented time and time again.

Janet RobertsonNovember 16th, 2008 at 2:26 pm

What a pleasure to read this and have Bobby Goldman’s name mentioned again in the same breath as Norman’s. I don’t remember them ever playing together; guess it was before my time. Hi, Mark, by the way. Judy, thanks for the memories!