Judy Kay-Wolff


Whether it be in the world news media or in comparable bridge-related situations, people in high places seem to be taking advantage of their unique power of leverage  — ensconcing the truth and promoting their own personal biases and prejudices.   It happens in government with patronage obligations to fulfill —  as well as in bridge to gain favor with those in positions to help their cause in the form of lucrative sponsorship recommendations,  higher professional status, more conducive conditions of play or simply the old ‘you scratch my back — I’ll scratch yours’ ploy.   It is not hard to spot cliquey bridge favoritism and petty jealousies in some prominent newspaper and magazine editorial positions in popular venues — and though it is not a new trend, it seems to be gaining momentum — more brazenly — with no fear of retaliation or accountability.  Like they  say — Go Fight City Hall.  It is insidious, at least to me, when these power brokers of the press use their venue to personally color the truth, make decisions of inclusion or omission and are accountable to no one.   In my day, it was known as posturing from the podium — surely a no-no in honorable circles.

On the brighter side of responsible reporting,  a New York Times article of December 12, 2008 (by George Vecsey) covered the much publicized Lance Armstrong/Bob Hamman court battle involving drug usage during the Tour de France.  Vecsey revisited another Hamman interview from the Times in 1987, where Hamman alluded to the fierceness of the competition at the bridge table.   It caused the writer to state, “The Aces outlasted the world power, Italian Blue, which was abruptly disbanded after suspicions of dishonesty.”

‘The Italian Blue’ translated to the exalted Italian Blue Team which won a remarkable string of victories in European and World Championships and were never again to reappear in tact as a team in a WBF related event after 1976.

The shots were being called back then by the powerful Godfather of the World Bridge Federation, Jamie Ortiz-Patino, serving as President.   He shocked the bridge world by simply proclaiming their credentials would not be acceptable and they were unwelcome to participate at the next world competition. It was a daring decision that put to rest the reign of the ever-victorious Italian Blue Team.   Their unprecedented streak was acknowledged with marked whispers and even today, forty years later, is still very much remembered by their victims and loved ones .. and others in-the-know.


LindaDecember 14th, 2008 at 6:36 am

One of the great things about blogging is that you are the media now. Power to the people. No longer can a small group of newspaper editors or journalist control the dialogue. Its exciting and enpowering.

M BlumenthalDecember 16th, 2008 at 9:43 pm

Judy – Years ago I was taught the best form of government is enlighted monarchy. The problem, of course, is how to determine a monarch will be enlightened, and what can be done if that person changes as he/she ages. As you know, if the ACBL tried to do something like that there would be lawsuits which would drag on for years and cost the ACBL(and us a fortune. Not only that, proving cheating to a jury of laymen has turned out to be nigh impossible.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 17th, 2008 at 1:41 am

Mark: Perhaps if the powers on high had taken stronger stances in the Sixties, we would not be in the position we are today. I am sure you know that there were some high-powered partnerships who were asked to stop playing together with threat of exposure if they refused. They went quietly and soon the talk (which was hardly speculation) died down.

However, not surprisingly, others took their places. The insurmountable problem is that a lay jury would not be qualified — and unfortunately it could not be adjudicated from within our own ranks as there are too many personal agendas and conflicts of interest which would influence the outcome — depending upon whose heads were on the chopping block. Sad bridge has come to this — but to say it doesn’t exist — is being in denial.

The appointment of designated monitors (when the suspicions warrant their use), the introduction of Recorder Slips and the employment of cameras and videos has raised public consciousness and act somewhat as a deterrent. It is not the perfect solution — but is better than closing one’s eyes and hoping it vanishes on its own.