Judy Kay-Wolff


Back in fifty-six, I had just graduated from college but was caught up in this

overpowering obsession called bridge.   Not unlike the local scenery of today, the

duplicate clubs were flooded with middle-age or retired people — looking for something to

pass the time.  Television was in its infancy, computers were a far-off vision and

Monday Night Football did not embrace our lives until 1970.

In an outlying suburban area of Philadelphia, there stood a restaurant called

Maxwell Fried’s.   It was known not so much for its fine cuisine and banquet

hall, but more notorious for hosting the  popular jam-packed Monday Evening

Duplicate in its back room.   Most girls my age were happily relaxing at home in

a non-competitive atmosphere — strengthening their marriages and raising their brood,

while I was footloose and raring to play.   I had just taken a Beginner’s Bridge Course at

Philly’s legendary Junto School and it wasn’t hard for the Monday Nighters to

spot an eager beaver looking to set the world on fire and expand her horizons.

Besides, I was young, perky, petite and wore a size 9 — and several kind, respectable

men took me under their wing.

Of course my zeal for the game, rather than the customary search for the perfect

mate, didn’t sit well with my mother, as even back then I had a mind of my own and

a fetish for the game!  But, they say ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’  and if

you check my track record — you’ll agree that  I didn’t do too badly after all!

Many of the regulars politely tolerated my rather unseasoned style and

unfamiliarity with the protocol of the game which was overlooked because of the

lusty ebullience which totally consumed me.  Eventually I learned the finer points

and the etiquette befitting a cordial opponent.   Before the days of Zero Tolerance,

there was prevalent gloating, hotdogging, high-fives, name-calling, nasty innuendos

and other offensive behavior commonly associated with poor sportsmanship.   I truly

believe the game was still in its infancy and even recall a fistfight that erupted between

two men (over a woman — rather than a board).

Rifling through two boxes of memorabilia which bulge at the seams, I discovered

this poem I had penned.   Bear in mind, I was a novice, thrilled every time I got a ‘plus

score,’ proudly owned about ten hard-earned masterpoints and really hadn’t a clue about

anything.   I was nothing more than a starry-eyed beginner!  However, fifty years later

I realize that  my childish behavior poetically cited below could have found me before

a Committee today and censured for failure to control my laughter in the presence of mine

enemies.   What did I know???

Also remember — the auctions were pretty primitive back then and Strong Two Bids were

the “in thing.”  (Until I re-read the poem today, I had totally forgotten that the forcing two-bid

in vogue in the Fifties was called a “Demand Bid.”)

Scribbled atop the rhyme was a one-word caption:


“Two Diamonds!,” said North —  to open the hand

Upon which East snapped — “Is that a demand?”

“Yes,” I replied —  as quick as a wink

She then bid Three Clubs — before I could think

My eight points were scanned — with quizzical eye

Someone at the table — was  telling a lie

But just who it was — I was not quite sure

So I bid Three Hearts — and listened for more

A booming “Threes Spades” — near punctured my ear

But when partner passed — it soon became clear

A rebid of clubs — was heard on my right

And the sound of three passes —  a shocking delight

Four Clubs bought the hand — and the lead was all mine

The dummy unveiled — was simply divine

As diamonds were led  — (won by board’s queen)

Declarer’s complexion — turned sickly to green

The contract was played — at a breathtaking clip

I thought that she surely — was going to flip

For Seven was cold — it was easy to see

But stopping at Four — was as bad as down Three

Now I want you to note — I sat like a clam

My behavior was meek — as that of a lamb

But being descended — from Adam and Eve

And blessed with the power – – to laugh and to grieve

My good self-control — and my prior restraint

Went only so far — as I was no Saint

My giggles erupted — without any warning

And the grin on my face — disappeared (just this morning)

But funnier far — than the psyche (unexposed)

Was the fact I caught on — and kept my mouth closed!

(Note:   This was written fifty-two years ago and as Bobby quickly

picked up on it — one card for every year!)


jack mendelsohnFebruary 17th, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Judy, This blog is a masterpiece. Send it to the Bridge Bulletin.

More players should have the opportunity to enjoy it.

Bob YellenFebruary 24th, 2009 at 12:37 am

Whence first I came to play bridge at Brush St and I was told that you and Bobby Wolff were NS at table 3 ,(me with my 50 mp.s) prayed for a skip round ; fortunately, for me, it wasn’t. Your blogs really show your personalities, I love them and so does my wife and they should be published