Judy Kay-Wolff


Hailing from Houston, Texas, Little Bobby Nail (who hovered a bit below the five-foot mark) was one of the most beloved giants of our game.   He was respected not only for his bridge prowess — but for his magnetic personality and adorable manner as well!

Norman was friendly with many Texan players and it was not surprising to receive a personal invitation from the President of the Houston Bridge Unit to attend a celebration honoring Bobby Nail in February of 1995. Had we not been committed for that weekend, we would have flown down to surprise Bobby — but had to beg off.  Again, I was called into active duty to respond — but the following tribute (which appeared in The Lone Star’s Regional February 11th Daily Bulletin) was a no-brainer as I had such great material with which to work!


Hear Ye!! Hear Ye!! — Bobby Nail

  The subject of — some more fan mail

Can think of no one – in the hobby

  More deserving – than our Bobby

Kind and modest – ever able

  Delightful, gracious – at the table

Witty, charming, warm and caring

  Funny stories – always sharing

Loved by partners – foes as well

  Never heard him – scream or yell

The worst thing said – of Bobby Nail

  His feats produced – a bloody trail

Opponents slain – they’re left to die-eth

  Just like Samson – and Goliath!!



     Norman & Judy Kay


The evening before this blog was written, my husband Bobby and I had dinner with Ron von der Porten, an old friend — renown bridge star of the sixties and seventies who had lived abroad for a couple decades.    He commented to me earlier that Ron reminded him of the Portrait of Dorian Gray as he has retained his handsome boyishness for forty years.   About a month ago, I looked to my right during a blackjack session and spotted Ron as my tablemate.   He is living in Vegas while his house is being readied in the Boston area and over cocktails we enjoyed exchanging old bridge tales with this ageless wonder.  Ron regaled us with entertaining stories of the past and this one was so apropos, I held the presses to include it ……  

Bobby Nail was playing in some prestigious event with a partner (who shall remain nameless) — and  he hadn’t touched a right card throughout the session.  Bobby casually called him away from the table and in a frustrated tone with poker face — uttered these words:   “I don’t mind that you bet on our opponents — but couldn’t you at least have offered me part of the action?”   That was loveable Bobby Nail!

Another cute Bobby Nail incident from the lips of Claire Tornay:   “Many years ago, while playing with Kathie Walvick (Cappelletti) in the Cavendish Invitational – I was dealt the singleton 2 of trumps and of course, Bobby was the declarer.  Kathie rightfully tried to give me a ruff, but I couldn’t over-ruff Bobby’s ruff with the 3.  He commented that I had been ‘nailed’ by my short trump holding.” 

1 Comment

pimoNovember 22nd, 2008 at 3:57 am

I spent many a day at Bobby’s rubber bridge club where I meet a managerie of folks…the “Little Giant ” and his wonderful wife Betty were always the most gracious hosts. It was always a thrill to be invited by them for a drink or few after a long day of bridge. We would sit and talk while Bobby patted his knee. I loved to make him laugh and he in turn always had a tale to tell. He was the gentlest of souls and there was not a mean bone anywhere in that poor broken body. The greatest honors Bobby ever bestowed upon me were all the times he would offered me his little delicate hand to shake. It’s for the best that we must remember this giant, as we then have a measuring stick to compare those after him and we can let go all those who were never as worthy. Today, a player being selected to the Bridge Hall of Fame needs to pass the test for that elusive quality known as class. When the league recognizes that class is the first and perhaps the only true qualification, then they can remove the thrash that was never worthy. As a start, just compare any such nominee to Bobby and others ( ask Judy or just keep reading her blogs ) and see where their shadow falls. Most would fall very, very short of these men and women….