Judy Kay-Wolff


New York Journalist, Barry Rigal, a good friend of Bobby’s and mine met in the lobby of the WBF Site, The Transamerica, a plush hotel where many of the players are staying.   I asked if he heard of anything unusual, to share it with me as I doubted if we would be leaving the hotel.   This Is what I just received from Barry:

“Sao Paulo is an industrial city and we are on the very outskirts. I’m staying a few km away and take a shuttle to get there. It takes 2 minutes to get back –down a motorway and 15 minutes to get there down back streets, since its a giant ring road and crossing over to go the other way is not convenient given the two locations.

Some friends went into town on Wednesday and while there saw a pickpocket being chased by both the victim and a policeman who produced a gun and a ‘Stop or I’ll shoot’ command.

On the way back they were not sure if they were on the right bus; a policeman escorted them to  a taxi and made them call him to make sure they had got home safe.

But PO and I walked happily around town yesterday so it is hard to know whom to believe about danger.

A giant Carrefour supermarket IS within walking distance for us; loaded up the fridge so I can eat in my room; there are cheap and cheerful restaurants on the street too. Not tried one yet.

Bobby and I were lucky enough to have reservations made for us on the Concierge Floor of The Transamerica and at 6 a.m. were there to meet the gentleman who opened the Golden Lounge.   It was a modest buffet but trying to get a cup of coffee (decaffeinated) was a mammoth chore.   In fact, we are facing the same problem everywhere we turn in the hotel.   NO ONE, with few (very few) exceptions speak English of any kind.   Portuguese is the native tongue and it is quite difficult to make ourselves understood.   Right after we arrived, we were followed by the D’Orsi’s (Ernesto being the host honcho here) and when they heard we were going to have to replace Bobby’s electric razor which disappeared from our suitcase sometimes during our customs inspection, graciously offered one of their WBF cars (with driver) who could take us on a short shopping expedition to replace the missing razor and other items needed for the seventeen day stay.  We were impressed when the limo appeared with driver — only to learn he spoke no English either.   He took us to a lovely shopping mall which was so immense, I needed the assistance of a wheelchair as I could not navigate the distances.   The only shop we could find was some electronic store which carried TVs, computers and electrical paraphernalia.   This must be the most expensive razor in South America (don’t ask!) but tonight is the opening Banquet and Bobby didn’t want to disgrace the American Delegation.   Have a feeling that had I contacted Barry earlier I could have saved a three hour outing and over a hundred dollars — but I timed the hand badly.

As far as the hotel’s dining facilities, they are very overpriced and no great shakes.  While the diamond studded razor was being charged, we proceeded to the Piano Bar for a bite of lunch.   Bobby and I enjoyed bowls of soup and shared a sandwich, each having a beverage.   Adequate but not exceptional.  The bill came to about $44.00.   We learned that was a bargain as the other part of the room had a separate buffet and everyone was raving about it –$77.00 per head (Portuguese currency) –a bit too pricey for me.   There are many unsponsored teams here and it is unfathomable to me how they can afford both the hotel rates and the cuisine.   Here I am bitching, and the bridge hasn’t even begun.

This is the fourth or fifth world championship I have attended with Bobby and we are all anxiously awaiting tonight’s kickoff — a traditional Jose Damiani Special.   His forte is PR and every succeeding Opening leaves the audience in awe.    Tonight’s extravaganza will be held in the Alfa Theater, adjacent to the hotel and the event itself within the hotel on the first floor.   We haven’t had a chance to explore much else but are raring to go as the actual world championship starts tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Till Sunday,



Luise LeeAugust 30th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

After reading your blogs about the day of travel that you have had, Judy, I believe you are probably entitled to bitch a little bit!

Just remember: If you ever DO go out sight-seeing in Sao Paulo, make sure that you put aside in a handy pocket that is easily accessible a small amount of money, so that if you ever do get held up, you can quickly hand over the cash before the mugger has a chance to get nervous or frightened.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 31st, 2009 at 2:44 am

Linda, there have already been a couple of incidents reported. I intend to say close to the nest. I am not much of a sightseer. I’ve been there, done that. Just happy to sit at Bobby’s side and glean as much as possible. It has been a wonderful manner of learning for me so I’ll leave the sightseeing for others. See you soon.


Chris HasneyAugust 31st, 2009 at 5:16 am

Interesting. My sister and my niece went to Rio to see a Stones concert a couple of years ago and raved at how nice everything was. Must be the venue.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 31st, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Luise: I apologize. I looked at your message hurriedly and my jet lag assumed it was Linda. The site itself is apparently safe, accommodating and extremely lovely, but once you’ve said that — you’ve said it all.

The eating facilities between sessions (one hour) are jammed and expensive — placing one between a rock and a hard place. For the majority of guests (who did not drive or know how to navigate a car in this industrial area and there are no walking distance stores or restaurants) — cab is the only alternative means of transportation or you are a prisoner of the restaurant setup here — costly and what appears to me as beyond outrageous. A snack bar near the site would save a lot of time — let alone money — but alas there is none.

For the second night in a row we ate at the hotel’s luxury Verbana which was still open after the third session. Believe me, it was nothing special. Without drinks and ordering routine food like soup, fish or pasta dishes, and including two simple deserts, the average bill each for the Morses and the Wolves was well over $100 U. S. dollars. Your other choice — salad or sandwich for your main entree.

However, this would not affect half of the American teams as they are sponsored. In fact sitting closeby was the Nickell party, including Captain Donna Compton beside Nick, Eric Rodwell (minus his wife Donna whom we have not seen yet), Martha and Ralph Katz (Dickie Freeman’s replacement), Jeff Meckstroth and his bride (or bride to be) and the Bob Hamman’s. For

someone like Nick who is kind and generous, that is chump change — but to the average bridge player — far more than one can afford.

Believe me, we are not about to go on ‘relief,” but I find the food pricing preposterous. I feel like the second coming of Louella Parsons (for those of you who are old enough to remember the famous tell-all movie reporter forty or fifty years ago in the States) but I feel it only right to let you know what we are witnessing here. Three matches down, 18 to go (six full days in the qualifying rounds of the Senior’s). Ugh!

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 1st, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Chris: I am not sure what you mean by “the venue.” This hotel is far removed from the crime scene. To be quite truthful, it is far removed from EVERYTHING — but a beautiful locale for the

tournament if you never have a need to leave the hotel. Not like the old days where (even in

China) we could walk across the street to the Golden Arches. I kid you not.