Judy Kay-Wolff


When I first spotted “My Favorite 52,” I did a double take at the cover. It really brought back some warm, funny memories. Was this the same handsome, boyish looking Larry Cohen I met in Atlanta some twenty-three ago? Indeed it was. He reminded me of the Picture of Dorian Gray — minus the shoulder length curly hair.

The first time I heard his name was from my daughter who had just graduated UVA and majored in Bridge (so went the rumor — but we never told her daddy). In fact one of my favorite bridge stories concerns a casual afternoon rubber bridge game between classes. Though she was a relative novice, her enthusiasm attracted fellow addicts. One day after lunch she and three others enjoyed a few hours playing and as she was about to head home to settle down to her studies, her host asked her to hang on a moment. Within seconds he returned with a tattered bridge book and commented, “I think you have the makings of a good bridge player — why don’t you read this. Robin looked down straight faced, cuddled the book in her arms and thanked him for the lovely compliment. That night she called home and confessed he had lent her “The Complete Book of Duplicate Bridge” by Silodor, Kay and Karpin. The next day in class (before she had a chance to figure out how to wiggle out of the situation), her young host accosted her, stating, ” Robin, excuse me while I remove my foot from my mouth. I just learned your last name was Kay as in Norman Kay”. Embarrassing moments — but it titillated us for months as we recalled the incident.

After graduation, she moved to New York and was lucky enough to become a rent-free tenant on Edgar’s fourth floor. She met a lot of bridge players in the Big Apple and when they learned she was driving down to the Fall Nationals, she became exceedingly popular. Once her crew arrived in Atlanta, she played in some random two-day session. As she was walking through the deserted garage after the game she bumped into a nice young man who warned her she should not be alone late at night. They started chatting and he asked how she did. Proudly, she beamed, “We are going in second.” “Oh, he replied, “we are in third place.” Having raised a very polite daughter, she knew it was incorrect to challenge him, because she knew who was right behind her. However, he indeed proved to be telling the truth. She was playing in the beginner’s event. Her new ‘garage chum’ was playing in Flight ‘A’ or something comparable. I wanted to meet the nice fella who kindly escorted Robin to safety. Sometime later in the week she introduced me to Sir Galahad and I expressed my appreciation for his courtesy.

That was my first exposure to Larry Cohen, author of the most popular bridge book of all times, “The Law of Total Tricks.” Norman and I fell in love with him when we first met. On the other hand, he came into Bobby’s life much later and admires him as a player, writer, analyst, administrator, teacher, cruise director and an all-around-good guy — spreading himself thin — availing himself in every bridge venue imaginable. I must confess the last few weeks have been time consuming (with the sectional, Trials, Brazil visa arrangements, etc.)) and I am behind schedule. Thus I have been trying to catch up –and though only halfway through, it’s quite apparent if “My Favorite 52” is half as delightful as Larry’s array of old time pictures, this guy’s got another winner.

To be continued.


PegAugust 6th, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Larry is a super combination of high talent, keen competition, fine writer and teacher – plus, as you stress, Judy, gentleman. I hope his “retirement” from elite bridge is only sporadic! In any case, the bridge world is far greater for all his contributions.

I look forward to reading the book!

JUDY KAY WOLFFAugust 6th, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Dear Peg:

I am half way through and loving the book, but I have to confess I get distracted by the pictures. It looks like an advertisement for The Beatles — though it is serious stuff and very well presented. Amazing the things I have learned already and I’ve been on the scene as long as Methuselah.

BobbieAugust 7th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I couldn’t agree more Judy. I too have had the pleasure to know Larry Cohen on a personal level. He is a great author, a great player and an all around 5 star guy. Can’t wait to get a copy of his latest offering.

Al TushmanAugust 10th, 2009 at 12:17 am

I bought the book in Washington at the Nationals and just started reading it. Larry Cohen is not only a great player but a great teacher. His style of showing his thought process as the hand is bid and played is terrific. When I have time to kibbitz a good pair at an event, I always look for Larry Cohen and David Berkowitz first. Unfortunately, its hard to get a seat at their table. Aside from being first-rate players they each have a great sense of humor and are fun to watch. It’s good news that Larry will be writing and teaching full-time. But the game will be lessened to some extent by his not being there to play.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 19th, 2009 at 3:38 pm


It appears you will be missed at the table — but not for the reasons the animalistic opponents want to play against you … but rather because you are such a good sport and are a delight against which to play. Your future sounds good (and I am sure Maria is looking forward to having more of her Larry at her side) — but it has often been said, “You can take the boy out of the country, but not the country out of the boy.” For your sake, I hope the quote is just an old wives tale — proven wrong.