Judy Kay-Wolff


A few months ago, I sent an email to both new and old bridge buddies, in an attempt to introduce them to the fun and ease of bridge bloggging.  I began by sharing the shock and horror of my indoctrination to the game in 1955 and whisked them through my courtship and marriage to the late Norman Kay — bringing them up to date with my current mate, Bobby Wolff.   Since I started blogging some humorous bridge tales from the crypt, I have been requested to post that old email to my blog site.   If you have seen it already, forgive me;  if not, please read on …..

My earliest exposure to the game seems like just yesterday.   That’s what happens as you grow older.   Everything seems to run together!  I was graduating with a Business Degree from Temple University the following February and had a free summer and a little money in the bank, so why not spend it in New York.   Besides, I had a boyfriend who lived in Manhattan — all the more incentive to visit The Big Apple.   I convinced (perhaps conned is more accurate) my parents into thinking it would be a wonderful opportunity for me to enroll in an Abnormal Psychology course at Columbia University, unsuspecting of just how much it would prepare me for the next fifty-some years of my life.

En route to my classroom the first day, I noticed four fellows sitting at a round table under a huge beach umbrella. screaming, cussing and throwing cards at each other.   I thought to myself — this must be one helluva game — and my instincts were right on target!    Things haven’t changed much — except the tables are now square and zero tolerance makes you control your temper for fear of banishment.   It was a very educational experience — bridge, that is!  I never attended a single session of class until the penultimate day of reckoning (the final exam).   It was then I learned the title of the text I should have been reading, bought a beat up second hand copy, burned the midnight oil and passed the course.   My parents were none the wiser until many years later when I confessed.   Need I tell you — I was about to get hooked!

I graduated in 1956, got a job as a legal secretary but spent every available moment playing at friends’ homes during the weeknights and on weekends attending nearby tournaments whenever one could be found.   ‘Nearby‘ meant any place that was reachable by car, boat or horseback within one hundred fifty miles!   It was a ritual and I was savoring every moment. Being ambitious, enthusiastic, young and svelte (hard to envision), I was invited to play by some very good male players.   However, my obsession with the game (to the exclusion of all else) caused people to embarrass my mother with the same rhetorical question:   “Your Judy, she’s such a nice girl — why doesn’t she get married?”   In frustration, she would reply:  “Married?   How can she ever meet anyone normal?  She travels ‘with that circus’ every weekend.”  (See what she thought of you guys)!   However,when I finally met Norman (and Charles Goren attended our wedding), my mother’s inquiring bridge cronies hung their heads in shame.  She became the queen of their Tuesday Night Games.   And — the ‘girls’ all got to meet Mr. Bridge himself as well as the lesser members of the ‘circus’ on that Sunday evening in the summer of ’63.

Lots of water has passed under the bridge since then.   Every day I reflect upon my nearly four decades with Norman — until his death in January, 2002.   I was resigned to spending my remaining years near my children, close family and friends — content with cherished memories — never entertaining for one moment the possibility of finding another person, at that juncture in time, as perfect for me as my incredible Norman.   Wrong!   Enter Bobby Wolff!   Three months after our initial three-day cartridge romance on the computer, we were wed.  If you read The Lone Wolff — you are familiar with the saga.   Just goes to prove that one should never say never!  Our fifth anniversary is coming up this Sunday, December 7th (Pearl Harbor Day) which I always refer to as another date that will live in infamy.


Ray LeeDecember 5th, 2008 at 9:14 pm

I resisted bridge for many years. As a teenager and college student, I was a very serious chess player, and I’d noticed that my friends who learned bridge stopped playing chess. So it wasn’t until I was pretty well ready to leave the chess world that I allowed some friends to rope me into their bridge game. I read and reread Reese’s little Penguin ‘Bridge’, and that was the start. When I got to graduate school, my thesis advisor happened to be a keen player, and we formed a partnership — for 3 years we terrorized the University bridge club, and had fun at local tournaments. Then I moved to Toronto, and fell in with a really bad crowd — a bunch of people whose lives basically revolved around bridge, and who seemed to live at the local bridge club (one of two or them really did sleep there, I think). I won’t mention names, but the group did include my future wife 🙂 There were some seriously good players among them, as well as no shortage of mentors to compete against and look up to — Murray, Kehela, Bruce Gowdy, Don Cowan, Shorty Sheardown, and Bruce Elliott among others — who could fail to improve playing against these guys, and listening to them talk about the game? Now 30-40 years later, many of those young people have gone on to play for Canada and win WBF medals and national titles. Most of us managed to have real lives too, I should add — but that probably doesn’t stop any of us thinking nostalgically about those salad days when we first got hooked on this incredible game — a game which I, for one, am still trying to learn.

Peg KDecember 7th, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Judy – happy anniversary to you & Bobby. What a great story – and evidence that, whether at the bridge table or elsewhere – we should NEVER give up!

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