Judy Kay-Wolff

more on The Bastardization of Bridge

Because of the normal laws of attrition of our wonderful bridgeblogging.com site, the newer blogs replace the earlier ones and eventually as you near the bottom of the list, your blog drifts off into oblivion (though it is retained on your individual site).  Since this is such a current and topical subject (the incident that occurred at our Swiss Team Regional in Vegas this past Friday), I have taken the liberty of carrying on the commentary by relisting it.   To see the original and the 19 comments that ensued in the past five days, please go back to my original blog, dated October 23rd and read the story in living color.

I have never seen my husband so outraged about a situation since our marriage seven years ago that I have taken the liberty of reposting his opinion dated October 27th as I am momentarily expecting my original blog to disappear after blogging on Remembering Julius Rosenblum a few moments ago.

Bobby Wolff October 27th, 2010 at 10:13 am

Not much to consider but only the following:

1. The DIC is in charge and should not, in the absence of a very unusual or, of course, a life threatening situation, be away from the site, especially at the conclusion of the event.

2. Since the wrong #2 finisher was declared, how can it not be possible to now list the rightful 2nd place winner together with a profound apology?

3. I am a firm believer of giving vast leeway to the DIC, but with his performance last week, it would now be under question and certainly subject to future close scrutiny.

4. He may be a wonderful person and have the potential to be good, if not great in his job, but if last week was an example, HE IS NOT!

5. When incompetence is accepted, it becomes the rule rather than the exception.

6. Consistent professionalism in performance is expected in every ACBL tournament and last week was indeed only an ACBL tournament.

7. I will be waiting for a change in who finished 2nd in the Friday Swiss Team and an official apology from the DIC, without which it would be impossible for me to accept what happened. If none is forthcoming it would, in my opinion, be randomly proper for all players at the next tournament to question every move, of almost any magnitude, made by the directing staff, up to and possibly including even rebellious behavior.

NOTE: the preceding sentence is an automatic legacy of what was allowed to happen.

8. After due consideration, what happened during the last day of that tournament, was the worst I have ever experienced in over 60 years of vigorously attending ACBL events.


LindaOctober 27th, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I think we have probably all had are share of bad rulings. It can be especially bad when it happens at the end of a tournament and all have gone home so it is hard to sort things out.

I agree that problems like these do need to be addressed or incompetence will increase.

I think we all remember when we are treated unfairly and/or get bad rulings vividly.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 27th, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Hi Linda:

Yes, we have all had our share of bad rulings (and pleasantly good ones too). Nobody’s perfect — neither thee nor me. And, yes it must be addressed or further incompetence will be the wave of the future. However, the fact you reflect upon — that “everybody’s gone home” should be immaterial. No one found out what had happened until the directors dashed out. It is not a 9-5 job and besides, somewhere along the line, the DIC should have known the situation — NOT AFTER THE FACT.

I think it is a subject well worth reviewing by the ACBL tournament department and arrive at a format whereas every director and player are informed of the Conditions of Contest to avoid another situation like this. No more surprises.

Closing one’s eyes (which you are not suggesting) is not the solution.

Because of the number of boards played (one added but no extra time allowance considered) and all the other chores mentioned, I think the starting times (say after the lunch break for instance) for an eight board match should be 2:00; 3:15; 4:30. Or, they can start at 9:30 and use the above format, starting the after-lunch session 30 minutes later. People should be flexible enough to make their dinner engagements without working on a close time schedule.

As they say — S#@! Happens — but let’s try to prevent it in the future and not keep the COC a secret.

Thanks for writing.


Bobby WolffOctober 27th, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Hi Linda,

Thanks for your input.

Perhaps, if anyone does read this or any other blog concerning that ill fated event, my main point is that at the table at which I was sitting my partner (Judy) and I had very few cards and even fewer problems and I would estimate that we took a maximum of 20 minutes (out of the 53) to play them. Our opponents had all the problems and took the balance, which because of the difficulty of their hands, was not unreasonable.

Without a monitor even close to our table, the TD’s (or whoever) proclaimed us the guilty parties, awarded 3 IMPs to our opponents. I doubt if there was a closed circuit TV monitoring us, but if so, it would only verify what I am saying.

The penalty did not affect our 1st place finish, only changing the 2nd place finishers, moving our opponents ahead of the rightful 2nd place finishers who were playing at other tables. While, IMHO, our opponents did not deserve any sort of a penalty either, but they certainly, according to the hallowed (but super flawed) rules should not have received a bonus.

Perhaps now the readers can understand why that was the day which should never be remembered and a black day for the people who caused it.

Ulf NilssonOctober 29th, 2010 at 4:31 am

Regarding taking time: The other week I played against Hans-Olof Hallén, legendary Swedish TD, in a local imp game and he told me a story from the 1970 WC in Stockholm. Hamman-Wolff had finished one particular 16 board set rather quickly; the other table were still on board number 5. Since the match was on vugraph Bobby entered the theatre, sat down at the commentators table, got a mic and went on to commentate on his teammates ongoing performance for the rest of the set!

A good story, I hope it’s true 😉

Bobby WolffOctober 29th, 2010 at 6:11 am

Hi Ulf,

Yes! With only a technical modification, since I was then playing with Jim Jacoby, not Bob Hamman.

First, Hans-Olaf Hallen of Sweden was a marvelous director and a real credit to the game. His every action honored the game itself and all the players who played it, especially the ones, like he did as a sometimes player, who played it well.

As an aside, a player who I met and formed a life long friendship during that

Championship, Patrick Huang of Taiwan, and who is very much alive, still plays World Class bridge and, together with his beautiful wife Grace, helps Mr. Chen Yeh put on probably the best invitational tournaments ever staged, especially for the players attending.

My life in bridge has been varied, many ups and downs, very exciting, but perhaps the biggest upside has been the wonderful friends and great actively ethical players I have had the privilege to meet and get to know. Of those who have not gotten the proper press they have so rightfully earned, Patrick and Tim Seres of Sydney, Australia are probably the two I remember most. It is hard for me to imagine anyone offering more to the game than those two with their superior abilities and general contributions.

Thanks, Ulf, you have struck a chord while recounting memory lane.


Bernard SchneiderOctober 29th, 2010 at 11:05 am

Hi Folks,

One question that nobody has yet addressed is what actions will the ACBL, or the Unit/ District take to supervise directors both in a sanctioning capacity and to provide, if not insure, that this situation does not occur again.

1- Did the DIC approach the particular directors an/or speak with the directing staff generally to adopt proper procedures that laws and regulations regarding timing issues be consistently and fairly applied. I have referred various sports and referees are talking among each other all the time as to particular situations that have arisen.

2- Can a letter of reprimand be inserted in their files,since the ACBL is always awarding and promoting directors? If there are numerous “awkward” situation which reflect poorly on the District/Unit, can a Unit refuse to continue hiring a particular director ( unless he gets with the program).

3- Now that I think of it, maybe it’s time for some direct intervention by the ACBL itself, to develop guidelines, if not regulations, to support consistency and fairness.

The past cannot be undone, but we can definitely improve the future,

Bernard Schneider

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 30th, 2010 at 3:37 am

Provocative questions and comments, Bernard:

We started our inquiry last Friday (now 9 days later and everything is hearsay from a third party),

The only official word I received (and the first of any kind) was that that the DIC in charge was speaking to someone at ACBL Headquarters. BFD! Unless there is a language barrier, I would have thought answers would have been forthcoming in a few days at the latest.

Understand, what makes this case so unusual, is that we are uncontested winners but are investigating why second and third place were reversed after the board (FOR NO GOOD REASON) was pulled from our table resulting in plus 3 IMPS for our guilty (SLOWER) opponents. Bobby estimated we took much less time as we did not have many problems. However, the opponents did have some difficult hands to play (particularly a slam which took 5 minutes before he touched a card).

The other issues are: How can you increase from 7 board to 8 and not increase the time allowed? How can you expect 50 minutes to cover making EIGHT boards, bidding, defending and declaring them, comparing scores at the end, checking them with your teammates and then reporting to the director. They must be living in a dreamworld if they expect all of those chores to be honored and have the next match start on the hour. Besides, it was the last match and the only rush seemed to be that the staff was dashing off to a dinner date.

Why was the increased number of board formula (or lack of it) such a deep dark secret? No announcements or postings. It was catch as catch can. In this case, 2nd place was caught because of the stupid ruling and moved down to third –allowwing an unwarranted third place team to move up to second.

To be more specific, they stopped play at 53 minutes after the hour. The directors must been starving and anxious to get the show on the road.

Yes, Bernard, it was a debacle — never to happen again we pray. Incidentally, when Paul Ivaska, our teammate, approached Bill Michael, the DIC in charge, he admitted the pulling of boards was wrong (one at Paul’s table and one at our) when it was explained by THE DIC, the pokies must be the same pair.

I have all sorts of calls into the ACBL and hopefully justice wlll triumph and they will rightfully reverse the score AND SEE THAT THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN — regardless of what it requIres to restore sanity to the game.

Also, perhaps because it was the last match BETWEEN THE CONTENDERS and no one seemed to be time pressured, there’s a question why all the rushing out by the floor director, who started ‘pulling the boards.’ Who authorized her and why? Certainly, no documentation at our table, no cameras or monitors to testify who was slow (and if anyone, we were not the guilty parties). But to pull a board with seven minutes to go is going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Where was the DIC all this time? What did he have to say — or was he even aware of this ‘steal board eight’ policy. We know of five other incidents of this pilferage — and god knows how many more.

Then we were introduced to the policy of not removing points from our score but tacking on a three IMP AWARD TO OUR OPPONENTS WHO SLIPPED INTO 2ND.

From all accounts, the DIC was in the dark and by the time it was reported to him IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE GAME, THE TWO FLOOR PEOPLE INVOLVED HAD RUSHED OUT TO DINNER AND HE DID NOT WANT TO ACT ALONE.

A full scale investigation was started that Friday, involving the co-chairs and the Unit President. That is not how these incredibly devoted Unit Workers want their group to be branded. They work hard and deserve better.

The incompetence must be traced to the one giving the orders or passing the buck and I will not stop until justice is served or the whole gory mess is brought before the public big time.

These are the inicdents that give the game a bad name. NO WONDER!


CURIOUSOctober 30th, 2010 at 10:00 pm

What is the status? I assume it has not yet been resolved or you would have reported back.

I admire your pursuing it because you were not affected at all. but it is a precedent that must not recur.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 31st, 2010 at 5:08 am

Dear Curious:

I have recently learned that there has been a shakeup in MS (formerly Memphis, TN) where several people were released. I have none of the background or the reasons for such drastic moves especially since some are long-time workers (Like the lovely Jean Patterson with whom I have worked for years and she could not be warmer or more gracious) and Julie Greenberg (widow of Steve Greenberg) who worked for the League in many capacities as a Jack of All Trades since she was 18. Maybe they just haven’t gotten their act back in shape yet — whatever that means. I don’t know the whole list but I hear there was a shakeup also in the tournament directing area which conerns me more as the key to the job is the imperative qualifications of a good, very experienced bridge player at high levels and one who is knowledgeable and familiar in all areas of misdemeanors. Years of working in the area and openmindedness should be mandatory to possess the keys to the kingdom.

However, I intend to follow this up. What happened Friday should never recur. It was a blight on the game and an insult to the contestants.