Judy Kay-Wolff


All bridge players can probably look back (usually with grinning faces) to what (when first introduced to the game) they thought was ‘BRIDGE.”  I am not poking fun at our initiation (heavens, no!) but rather demonstrating how both the game and our reflections upon it have changed over the years. 

We all had varying opening exposures – through our grandparents, parents, school buddies, college friends – a myriad of people who were fascinated by the concept of the game and resultantly caused us to turn our heads.

Today, the catch phrase is CONVENTIONS.  They are only as good as the players employing them, using them when appropriate and not forgetting either the nuances or recognizing them when they arise.  I can speak from personal experience, tracing my heritage over many decades.   Most of us started out as starry-eyed beginners completely captivated by this new attraction.   As most, I progressed from home games to duplicates and then through the cycle.   By 1965 I was a dyed-in-the wool disciple of Kaplan-Sheinwold because of Norman’s alliance with Edgar Kaplan, its co-designer.

As most bridge players, I loved what is sarcastically referred to by Bobby as “comfort zones.”   They are methods which cause people to be secure in their auctions, knowing exactly what each bid means   It did not necessarily guarantee to be the most advantageous method of handling certain situations, but it gave solace to its users that they were secure in their understanding.  One of my favorites was the popular Forcing No Trump without which I felt I could not survive (and I did put up some mild resistance at the beginning – but soon faltered because of the success we enjoyed adapting the NF treatment). 

As the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end – and so did my beloved Forcing No Trump.  I never thought the day would arrive when I would not have my security blanket (by an unpassed hand) of being able to respond with 1NT (5 to a bad 12) and then make an invitational jump to the three level with three card support.   However, over the last six years sitting across the table from Bobby, I have witnessed (with unyielding conviction) how important it is to not go beyond 1NT which so often is the best contract in a matchpoint venue.  Of course, as a passed hand, we use three and four card Drury, but how, pray tell, do you show a limit raise by a NPH with only three trumps if you fear that 1NT might be your first and last call?   Easy!   You muster up all the moxy with which your years of experience have blessed you and unperturbed, boldly jump to three of the major.  Partner assumes it is four but would not have a seizure if only three appeared as dummy was tabled.

The reason we employ 1NT as a non-forcing tactic is that it allows partner who opened with a balanced modicum of points (11+ to a bad 14) to be able to pass with some humdrum 5-3-3-2 or 3-5-2-3 distribution.  No guarantees – but it has served us well. 

To select a topic such as this departs from my normal blogging repertoire, but I was reading a commentary on other treatments of support (such as Bergen Raises, etc.) and the spirit moved me to share this with you.  It is frightfully out of character for me, I confess, as I am still very much a humble student of the game and  preaching about system modifications is hardly my long suit or area of expertise!!  Forgive my fall from grace.


ChuckAugust 22nd, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Thanks, Judy:

That’s a lot of food for thought and, though not a treatment in the mainstream, makes sense to me. You are so advantaged to be partnered by (and married to) such a world class bridge icon. You probably learned more from Bobby in your rather short span of married years than reading a hundred bridge books.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 22nd, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Hi Chuck:

You got that one right.

However, the adjustment has been quite overwhelming (though rewarding) for me but I am going to find out very soon what a price I will have to pay for my newly found knowledge and reincarnation at the reunion in Philadelphia with my old friend and partner, Jane Segal, whom I played with off and on for twenty-five years, mainly in the Women’s Events. We have not played since the Las Vegas NABC IN 2008 since Bobby and I have been doing very little tournament hopping.

I laugh as I recall Jane sitting with Edgar (and Norman) in the Eighties up in Edgar’s suite at the NABCs learning all the basic nuances of Kaplan-Sheinwold and after getting them down pat, then listening to Bobby in 2003 tell her better ways (in his opinion) for us to handle many of our about-to-become ‘former” treatments. He is not a proponent of Inverted Minors, Astro, Support Doubles, FNT, Roman Keycard Blackwood (all the things we loved) — and I could go on and on.

However, Jane is extremely bright and very flexible and come October (I pray) will be ready for our Convention Card Reformation — or else we are in a lot of trouble. Bobby is a “natural” and prefers as few conventions as possible and it is hard to argue with the winner of eleven world championships. Of course, his partnerships and teams were nothing to be sneezed at — to say the least!

So after many telephone calls and emails, I will be headed for the ACBL CC Editor to formally establish and print out our up-to-date Convention Card (which hopefully we will both remember).

Bridge will never cease to be an adventure for me.

LarryAugust 27th, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Yes, I hate the forcing 1NT also! Double raise with only 3 trumps? Oh my.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 27th, 2010 at 8:55 pm


It is not so much that I hate the FNT — but rather that there is a great advantage to stay at the one level if partner opened some balanced dogmeat hand which he felt for some purpose (maybe lead directing) could not be passed.

The older I get, the more I realize how many nuances there are that I never thought about before. It is great being married to a marvelous theorist .. and when you put it altogether, it makes so much sense.



Burt RosenSeptember 10th, 2010 at 7:56 am

Hi there,Judy,

Just coming back to the game I was told that you must in corporate 1NTF. I hated giving up my security blanket of 1NTF, but guess what, I may retank and put it back