Judy Kay-Wolff


BBO and the Women’s Trials were the subjects of chatter at one of the local duplicates today.  My good friend, John Scibelli, who holds his own quite well, inspired me to share with you a titillating quotation he recently heard.   Apparently, there are judged to be FIFTY TOP FLIGHT BRIDGE EXPERTS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD and 500 of them play on BBO.  I mean no disrespect for BBO or Fred Gitelman as, in my opinion, both he and his company have done as much for our game as Charles Goren’s great promotions did to introduce bridge and stimulate interest among the public fifty or sixty years ago.

My first exposure to BBO was in China when Bobby’s room barred kibitzers and there was no vugraph.   Thus — I hustled to my own room and rooted via BBO.  I guess I was spoiled as I usually sat alongside of either Norman or Bobby in living color but I certainly understand the rules and restrictions.   This week I became intrigued watching many of my female friends playing in the Trials.  I usually zero in on the hands, plays, results and scores — paying little attention to the gibberish below as the initials and monikers meant nothing to me.   It brought to mind the captivating commentary of the old vu-graph sessions with Bobby, Edgar, Ron Anderson — and probably (according to Bobby) the best of them all –  Mike Ledeen (whom you will remember for his part in the Omar Sharif Bridge Circus).  

By accident, not being adept at navigating around the BBO screen, my finger must have attacked something that presented hundreds of initials and partial names or nicknames with a blue background.   I eventually figured out how to discover the identity of some of the live commentators.   The gradations of expertise was almost better than the original telecast I was viewing.    In fact, I think I spotted one country where every player was a world expert.    Check it yourself sometime and you will be amazed to discover how many of the "500" above whose names you will be reading for the first time.    They say Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.    It appears "expertise" fits into the same category.


MarthaMay 30th, 2009 at 12:38 am

Amen to that..remember an expert is an unknown quantity that drips!!!

Chris HasneyMay 30th, 2009 at 2:37 am

ROFL. (That’s rolling on floor laughing, Judy). OK Bridge once had a chart for folks to judge their level of bridge expertise. To be Advanced you had to be able to pull off coups and squeezes on a routine basis. To be Expert you had to be able to foil same as a defender. A lot of the BBO “Experts” wouldn’t know a squeeze after one had been made against them. I consider myself Intermediate +, and I’m almost a Bronze LM and have no fear of playing in the big games like the real Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs (not that nonsense mini stuff).

PaulMay 30th, 2009 at 7:56 pm

The BBO self-rating system is nothing to really get bothered about. If you play regularly on the site you soon find a group of players who you are comfortable playing with, although you may uncover some ‘interesting’ experts along the way.

Commentating is really tough on BBO – just read Ray Lee’s post yesterday. Being the best analyst in the world is no use if you cannot type quickly. And God forbid if you have to commentate with David Burn (who is very good AND funny) or Michael Rosenberg (who is the best at looking at the hand from the declarer’s or defender’s perspective).

PegMay 31st, 2009 at 6:42 pm

While watching Fred G himself practice online a day or two ago, I noticed that Fred described himself at “intermediate” level. I sent him a private message: “If you’re an intermediate player, then how DID you get a star?” – with a pile of smiley faces, of course!

People are left to their own devices to describe their level of expertise (or lack thereof). I’m afraid that no matter what personal conquests I achieve in the future, as long as there are folks like Bobby & Bob H, Meckwell, several Italians, Helgemo, etc., etc., I cannot ever fathom putting “world class” on my stats. Sometimes I think even “expert” is a serious overberry for yours truly!

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMay 31st, 2009 at 11:17 pm


What I’ve almost loved most about you (maybe tied with your photographic talent) is your candor. You are probably too young to remember a wonderful comedian by the name of Myron Cohen who spoke with inflections in his voice and often used his hands to humorously make a point. I am reminded he would say there are RICH PEOPLE with his hands held high above his head and rich people with the same hands way below his waist. He really made his point!

That is why I found it so hilarious to see these self-brainwashed so-called experts consider themselves anywhere in an accelerated category. I know everyone has bad days but I would have been personally embarrassed if I had made some of the bids or plays I witnessed on BBO during the recent trials with thousands of kibizers watching. Bobby was aghast as well.

I play strictly for the enjoyment and never had great aspirations so these categorizations only served as a source of amusement to me. It was interesting to note that Chip (and there is only one “Chip”) was self-styled as private while some of the other Amercan experts’ names were totally unknown to me. Maybe I am just behind the times.

And, by the way, Fred is probably the most humble bridge player I have ever met. His BBO accomplishments, in my mind, far outweigh the combined hundreds of impressive victories of his peers. Humility is a beautiful quality but far too rare among us mortals!



PegJune 2nd, 2009 at 3:21 am

Judy – you are sweet.

Yes, if we had more top players like Fred – in every way – the world would be a better place 🙂