Judy Kay-Wolff


I have been reading with amazement the comments of the controversial handling of the Nickell-Freeman situation — not showing up for mandatory play in the finals — though for damn good reason.   Nick and Dick are a popular, ethical pair in the bridge world — but that does not negate the issue that neither played in the finals.  No one can challenge Dickie’s forced withdrawal for severe illness but it should have been an anticipated condition more equitably predicted and handled long before it became a reality which was going to eventually happen.  I read some of the blogs which sound like broken records from those involved in the administration, protective of the lack of insight of the COC.

I became involved in this headline making event when “Juanita” wrote a belated June 1st remark on my “Earthquake” blog site — which I reopened and transferred to my June 16th article (USBF OPEN TRIALS 2009) which elicited dozens of remarks.  For those of you who have access to the comments (positive and negative) on a habitual  basis from members of the ITTC (International Teams Trials Committee) and the USBF (United States Bridge Federation) who made the final decision — be sure to read them.  They’re a crock! 

The only constructive suggestion is to examine and rewrite the COC — just a bit late!  The USBF granted their blessing (upon advice of some inappropriate C&E COMMITTEE) that Dick and Nick are still eligible to play in Sao Paulo though neither one played in the mandatory final sessions.  With Dick in transit to Atlanta for hospital care, Nick did not choose to play with Bob Hamman though they were an old partnership and not strangers to sitting across from each other.  According to the questionable rules – COULD or SHOULD HAVE NICK ASSURED HIS ELIGIBILITY AS A SPONSOR by jumping in and playing with Bob — participating in the necessary last half.  Of course, it would have sidelined Zia –no doubt a poor move not keeping the two great partnerships in tact.  Also, as an expert (v. sponsor) Dickie would have been reinstated if he was recovered by Sao Paulo. Apparently, the switching of partnerships cannot be forced or controlled by anyone, but one must admit the Fleisher group was the only team in the entire event that never had the advantage of playing some of the final segment with the sponsor at the table.   Rules — or no rules — there is a fly in the ointment to allow such nonsense to occur.

Now — here is the infuriating ridiculous quote on the USBF SITE originally (apparently from the Conditions of Contest), stating: “….The partner of a player who is unable to play for health reasons is also treated as being unable to play for health reasons ….” as well. 

Would the brain surgeon/s responsible for such nonsensical rationale please stand up and be recognized.  In a similar situation (when Larry Cohen’s mother died suddenly), David Berkowitz filled in and played with WHOMEVER it was necessary — so the team would be eligible when Larry returned.   However, it was brutal (almost barbarous) to force the disadvantaged Fleisher team to keep playing against Meckwell (the best partnership in the world today as alleged by some) and against ZIA MAHMOOD and BOB HAMMAN (although a new partnership) — who were certainly not considered chopped liver!

By the way — in the annals of bridge history in 1981 (about which few may remember) — a somewhat analogous situation happened in Rye, New York at the world championship.    The Reinhold team consisted of Bud Reinhold (sponsor) and John Solodar; Russ Arnold and upcoming star Bobby Levin; and Eric Rodwell and Jeff Meckstroth.   Hall of Famer, Tommy Sanders, was the Captain.   Reinhold started playing in the preliminaries, but apparently, not up to his best standards and Meckwell threatened to withdraw from the team if the sponsor played one board in the finals.    Though Sanders was not in favor of the idea, the team succumbed to Meckwell’s ultimatum, Reinhold watched from the sidelines, the team reigned victorious but Reinhold never received credit from the WBF for being on the winning team.   Sad but true.

My next blog revisits another alternative.  Stay tuned.


JUDY KAY-WOLFFJune 27th, 2009 at 1:18 am

For many years, Norman, Bobby and I have been friends and fans of Carol and Tommy Sanders. I personally witnessed the joy of their induction to the Hall of Fame and their being honored by the ACBL Goodwill Committee. It was upsetting to learn that the details of Bud’s withdrawal as I related them were not exactly accurate as Tommy has just sent me the following email to keep the record straight. I telephoned him for permission to quote it. I would like you to hear it in Tommy’s gentlemanly words. With regard to the highlighted blue paragraph ….. he responded:

“Reinhold not only played in the preliminaries but played his required time all the way through the semis (vs a good Polish team).

Bud was playing to the best of his ability.

Meckwell was on the precipice of a professional world class bridge career. They did not issue an ultimatum to me. Had they done so, I would have said fine, go ahead and quit. Had Meckwell done such a thing, I suspect their career would have been in jeopardy for most sponsors.

If there was such an ultimatum, it was to the team or by the team without my knowledge. If that happened and Bud succumbed to pressure, it is indeed sad.

Maybe something did go on behind my back because Bud did come to me saying that he didn’t wish to play in the finals. You are correct that I was certainly not in favor of that and tried to dissuade him.

I tried to talk him into playing when the match was out of reach. No luck.

I have never been sad about the situation. I had a couple of convesations with Bud after the fact and he was alright with it. He was a World Champion to almost everyone. Even now he is listed as such in the The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge by the ACBL. I don’t really know where the WBF has denied him. His name may even be engraved on the Bermuda Bowl. He died believing he had won the World Championship…..that’s good enough for me.”

Regards, best wishes, and blessings to you both,



Thank you, Tommy. I apppreciate an accounting from someone who was on the scene at the time.



Chris HasneyJune 27th, 2009 at 3:15 am

That was very nice, and a great example of what can be done with new technology. Btw, just noticed the pun title to this thread. Very Good One, Judy!

M BlumenthalJune 29th, 2009 at 10:43 pm


I played with Bud as well as against him. He was a very nice guy. Even among top sponsors he was probably below average as a player, but he knew it.