Judy Kay-Wolff


I too shared the thrill of the Canadian HOF induction of Eric and Sami (along with other revered Maple Leaf players whom I did not know nearly as well).  It brought back touching memories of July 19, 2001 in Toronto — to another Hall of Fame Celebration — this one sponsored by the American Contract Bridge League.

In fact, I remember overhearing a telephone interlude with Sami.   Norman was serving on the HOF Committee and was assigned to call his close former teammates Eric and Sami to receive permission to honor them in the Summer Nationals by presenting them with the Von Zedtwitz Award (usually given to deceased players or otherwise deserving overlooked players).  

Sami, in his inimitable soft, quiet way (fully aware that most of those voted into the VZ category were six feet under), immediately replied to Norman something to the effect “Yes, but only in the LIVING category.”   Terms accepted!  By the way, don’t be shocked by the word “permission” as Mike Lawrence (for his own personal reasons) refused to allow his name to be placed on the ballot.  

Meanwhile — back to my Canadian friends.   The earlier omissions of Murray and Kehela were obviously EGREGIOUSLY OUTRAGEOUS as their exceptional individual talents and high moral ethics were of towering caliber — and in the opinion of many, a disgrace to keep passing them over in favor of many much less talented U. S. candidates and recipients.   It was one of the most embarrassing oversights in ACBL HOF history and many (including yours truly) will never forget it!!!   However, you cannot blame the ACBL — but rather the process which seemed to have had great flaws (and still does).   Meanwhile, back to 2001. The very long overdue night had finally arrived. 

I remember that Montreal evening nine years ago and Sami and Eric (in their own individual ways) stole the show.   No one wanted the program to end as their routines were as good as any stage show ever witnessed.  It was indeed a love-in and the roaring laughter continued to bring down the house.   It brought to mind Linda’s closing in her beautiful tribute, “The Canadian Hall of Fame Love-In”

“This was an audience of peers and each of us was acknowledging the great contribution made by these historic players. It wasn’t even the kind of standing ovation you sometimes give in the theater for an exceptional performance. This was more than that. It was a feeling that all of us in that room were comrades.”

I assure you, there was no less enthusiasm in 2001 by their American brethren who loved and revered Murray and Kehela.  It was not about Nationalism or Comrades — but epitomized the highest esteem in which these two were held (and utter shame for the disgusting oversight of earlier years) as evidenced by their American fans in the audience who came out in droves to honor their overdue recognition.  Truly a time to celebrate.

What is even nicer – they have been acknowledged by two great countries!


Cam FrenchJune 2nd, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Nice to see such fine players and people get the recognition they deserve.

If I may, it was (as you noted) not about Canada nor the USA nor any country. It was about two icons in the game we love.

The recognition came from the global bridge community. The site – moot to some but on ERM’s terre natale – Canada.

Congratualtions to the CBF and ACBL and President Hanna and all the behind-the-scenes workers who made the event worthy of remembrance.


Judy Kay-WolffJune 2nd, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Yes, Hall of Fame Ceremonies rank up there majestically with the Best of the Best! I recall Edgar’s back in 1995 (along with Alvin Roth and some guy named Wolff — whom I really didn’t know all that well). The next year was Norman’s (in 1996 — the second year of the event’s reincarnation after a thirty-some year hiatus). He was inducted along side of Alfie Sheinwold and Eddie Kantar, two old dear friends). I can remember the delightfully festive celebration as if it was just the other night and have attended every one of the ensuing ones up until the last two years.

I enjoyed perusing Linda’s highlights of the special occasion — especially Sami’s remark of regret — that he (Sami) had never won a world championship, coming in second many times to the Italians. As he put it: “When we played, for one reason or another the Blue Team were unbeatable.”

“Well said,” added Linda, “we all understood the hidden meaning.”

Ditto for Norman and Edgar!

It was not such a surprisingly tactful excerpt — Sami being so politically correct!

Jude GoodwinJune 3rd, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Hey Judy, may I use this blog entry on the CBF website?