Judy Kay-Wolff


Following up my blog on Grant Baze with the death of Jim Linhart makes me feel like the Queen of Lugubria — but I wanted to share with you a humorous incident about the Linharts which goes back to the late Sixties. Jim’s adorable and loving wife, June was a regular at the three nationals each year — not as a bridge junkie — but rather as a vendor who rented tables at the tournament.   If my memory serves me correctly, because of June’s job with one of the airways, she often crossed the ocean and made super wholesale contacts — enabling her import her ‘finds’ to be displayed at her popular booth– enticing a flood of female shoppers to eagerly await her newest goodies.   June’s merchandise was unique, quite appealing — and affordably priced, and it was fun buying lots of chatchkas (definition: a wide variety of novel items) from her.  Norman challenged anyone to deny I was June’s best customer — and there was good reason for it  .. my undying gratitude to her husband, Jim!

Jim was a terrific and talented player, partnered often by clients.   One day back in1967, Edgar and I faced him in the finals of the Mixed Pairs.  I don’t recall the auction, but I do remember Jim doubling me in 2S after Edgar belatedly raised me.   When dummy was tabled, I didn’t know where to begin (a frequent feeling with which I am still plagued).   I remember holding AXXX of  trump opposite KXXX and suspected the suit was breaking badly.   I was pretty much of a novice but had recalled having read in one of my Bridge Bibles that if you suspect losing control of the hand, that you should try to develop extra winners early, by setting up a side suit first, if possible.   Holding AXXX opposite KXX in a minor, I played ace, king and another one.   The suit broke and eventually, to everyone’s surprise — including Edgar, I scurried home with eight tricks — squeaking past the second place finishers to win the event — known as The Miracle of Montreal.   I have no doubt that Jim didn’t have many doubles tossed back in his lap —  but it was an unintentional act of benevolence for which I will always be grateful.   Jim was a great sport and we laughed about it for years.

Whenever Norman would see me at June’s table buying up a storm, he would encourage me to go on my usual spending spree — giving the Linharts all the business I could — as a debt of +470 could never really be repaid and enabled me to enjoy the thrill of a lifetime.


Gary M. MugfordJanuary 18th, 2009 at 6:21 am

My Jim Linhart story …

I ended up at an NABC in Vegas sans any partners and any set-up games. I’d escaped from a crushing workload and looked to enjoy a few mid-week days pushing pasteboards. I played with pick-up partners the first two days, then ran into Jim in the halls. He had that ‘look.’ He was prowling for a ‘friend’ who would get him out of a jam. He’d double-booked. He offered me the choice of his clients, a life master and a bridge newbie. No fool I, I went with the LM. Turns out, the LOL from Hawaii had played long enough that in her 80th year on the planet (and 50th year of playing Bridge), she’d just been minted a LM the day before. A very nice charming lady.

We stood fifth in the afternoon session of the Saturday Open pairs with two boards to go when I made a horrible, horrible mistake. I told her I needed her at full concentration for these last two boards. I knew we were having a good game. We went zero-half for those two boards and I took a loooooong walk in the desert outside of the Hilton to cool off in the 110 degree warmth. Got back in time to sit down and tell her about the OTHER request I had. I asked for the first two boards of the evening while everybody else was thinking about the break and then the last two boards when night-time follies beckoned. We started one-half for the two boards and I lost interest after that.

I went hunting for Jim immediately after and he was playing with a pretty young thing who apparently, while new to the game, knew enough about the game to do well. I was, to put it mildly, a tad disconcerted, even though I’d had my (rigged) pick. Jim was anything but remorseful, but offered me a play sometime in the future as a sop. That play came up in Cincinnati and we naturally won the morning game we played. In fact, we could have zeroed the last three hands and still won by a half board. Hard to stay mad at a guy who can get up early and still play the spots off the cards.

The Bridge world is a poorer place for his passing.

Ray LeeJanuary 20th, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Somewhere in my archives there is a very funny picture of Linda standing on a chair looking up at Jim Linhart. We’ll miss him.