Judy Kay-Wolff


It manifests itself in many sizes and shapes and in a multitude of sports and games, including bridge.  Aside from cheating, which is worse than abominable, my next least favorite cardinal sin is poor sportsmanship which comes through in many veins.

In sports, there is nothing more despicable and nauseating to yours truly than "hot dogging."  Hot dogging is a slang term defined as the act of one who hot-dogs — the performance of intricate, daring, or flamboyant stunts.  In sports it is similar to chest thumping — especially in football where one professes to the world how wonderful he is by a sensational catch or tackle or interception.   It is a contagious form of showing off and I find it most distasteful.  

When an individual displays exceptionally good performance, he does not have to pat himself on the back.   Let the audience applaud.  Don’t be haughty.

Similar occurrences are witnessed at the bridge table.   Probably the worst is the high five!  However, others are close behind.   If you reach a great slam or game hard to bid — or make an unusual lead or switch that beats the contract, let the opponents admire your brilliance.  It is not for you or your partner to laud it over them.  

Yesterday, I took a save at 6H that went for too many (both sides vulnerable) which was my poor judgment (and trumps broke 4/0)  Had they been 3/1, -500 would have been a good board.   The opponents were not happy enough to get +800, but as if we were not at the table, were discussing they couldn’t make 5S which was an erroneous analysis for all they had to do was play it right.  It was one of those freakish distributional hands for both sides.   My judgment was bad but their analysis (and gloating) was even worse.

Sometimes opponents are like little children.   They should be seen but not heard.   In my mind, the only thing opponents should say (and Bobby and I are prone to do it at the appropriate time) is "Nice Lead" or "Good Stop." etc. intended with admiration — not disdain to the well-scoring opponents.

This, among many other things, is something that teachers should be concentrating on.  As I’ve said before, when I taught at the country clubs in suburban Philadelphia which had six bridge leagues, I spent the first lesson not on bid and play — but on ethics and showing the opponents respect.   You know competitive women can  be the worst but I took the time to emphasize the niceties of the game and what is expected of them.  Reveling in glory and speaking as if their opponents are not at the table are contemptible and it would escalate the dignity of the game if more people minded their manners.   It is fine to be inwardly delighted, but hold your exuberance until they leave the table and are not within earshot.


Bobby WolffJanuary 1st, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Well done, but Judy and I differ only slightly, wherein I think it OK for one to say “Well done” to either the opponents or to partner if the recipient solves a challenging bridge dilemma, as long as the congratulator moderates his tone to fit.

However, I do think there is a litmus test for all of us to take, which basically sums up where we are on this subject. Hypothetically let’s assume that an opponent, as declarer, has played a hand well, in that he has avoided taking a finesse, by figuring out a way to throw the non-danger hand (to him) in the lead so that whether the finesse is off or on he will take maximum tricks. How I would like everyone to act would be for those opponents to slide their hands back into the board, if the finesse was always on side (meaning declarer only broke even on his gambit) but if the declarer gained a trick by his play for his opponents to congratulate him by showing that the finesse was offside.

I’ll show my controversial self by saying to not so do, by doing the opposite, speaks to who he or she is rather than his or her knowledge of the game and personal habits. In other words to try and make the opponents feel bad (to compensate for how that board has made you feel by his good play), is exactly the wrong thing to do and, at least to me, I would rather get hit by a right cross smack in the kisser than contemplate the poor soul that needs to do such a thing.

CPJanuary 1st, 2011 at 10:24 pm


I agree with you 100% about chest-thumping and patting yourself on the back in front of the opponents. It is very rude, especially after giving someone a bad board either by ‘fixing” them or earning it legitimately. Rubbing their noses in it is inexcusable.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 1st, 2011 at 10:41 pm


I neglected to mention in the original blog, these grossly poor manners usually don’t occur at the higher levels of the game — with few exceptions.

It is usually at the club level and many do it unintentionally (though rude nevertheless).

As far as interaction with one’s partner, Norman always taught me to put the cards back in the board and go on to the next one (unless there is an irregularity and then the director should be called). Anything you want to discuss with partner can be handled after the game in privacy — either in person, over a drink or via telephone. Public criticism of one’s partner only makes for more bad boards down the road. Best to save your dissertations until after the game.

Georgiana GatesJanuary 2nd, 2011 at 6:44 am

I’ve noticed that when weaker opponents make a doubled contract against me, that they ostentatiously look at the back of the bidding card to see what the score is. They don’t do that when I make a doubled contract.

Now that we have BridgeMate, I tell them that the computer can be trusted to get the scores right.

dannyJanuary 2nd, 2011 at 7:38 am

I still recall a hand I played in my first LM pairs. It was the second day,and we were playing against a top seed, 2 World Champions. I held something like AKQJxx xx QJ KJx. I opened 1S. The auction continued 2N-3S-P to me. I felt I had duplication in Spades, and my minor honors looked bad. So, I passed in spite of my 17 points. After I made exactly 3, My LHO snatched my cards from the board, without asking, stared at them for a while and said ‘that was some pass young man’. I was a lad of 21, so, while I felt I was being accused of cheating, I just let it go. Still bitter? You bet. Things like that stay with one for a while. Lesson to be learned? If you think opponents have cheated, don’t make a veiled accusation. If you are accused as I felt I was, politely call for the director.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 2nd, 2011 at 10:11 am


That is EXACTLY the kind of thing I am alluding to. But I blame the ACBL for not better instructing directors, managers and owners to explain such rudeness to all of their customers. They claim they don’t know any better. WELL, IT’S ABOUT TIME SOMEONE TAUGHT THEM.

Wonderful example!

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 2nd, 2011 at 10:22 am


I would consider your opponent’s remark as bitterness and frustration — not necessarily inferring you were cheating. I think your evaluation of your cards (especially at 21) was amazing. I probably, out of insult, would have told the person to call the director if they think they’ve been damaged. That would shut him up.

I don’t think any remarks should be initiated to the opponents unless they are in the form of a compliment. I’ve been around too long to get intimiated by nasty opponents or huddling opponents. I just call the director at my first opportunity to prevent an about-to-be infraction before it happens. It is amazing how the appearance of a director can ward off those evil spirits of balancing on nothing (but the huddle, of course).



BurtJanuary 2nd, 2011 at 10:34 am

Forgive my instrusion into SPORTSMANSHIP, but what ever happened in the Peter Pender matter? Have heard nothing about it recently.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 2nd, 2011 at 10:41 am

Good question, Burt!

After constantly passing the buck between the ACBL and the EF, Linda Mamula (new Secretary of the EF as of 1/1/11) has agreed to speak with Jay Baum and the ACBL and try to rectify the gaffe.

There is no doubt once Peter’s name stopped beind used (and perpetuated), all expenditures should have been stopped. I am hopeful that Linda will be able to resolve the problem and retrieve some of the wrongly spent monies turning them toward an important tribute to Peter to make up for the goof up. Time will tell, but believe me, I haven’t given up. Peter deserved more. They have a lot of catching up on their plate.

Thanks for asking.


Robb GordonJanuary 3rd, 2011 at 11:30 am

There is no question that people should be taught ethics and sportsmanship in any competitive endeavor, and I admire those like Judy who do so. I try to do so myself in my limited teaching.

But in doing so realize that just because folks are taught doesn’t mean they learn (just look at the ones taking beginner lessons for 20 years) so one need not infer that if a person behaves poorly he is poorly taught. Some people just behave badly (sadly).

Also, I personally am more forgiving (not that I endorse it) of a person who is irritated by a poor result. That irritation is human nature and requires a certain discipline to overcome. Not all of us have trained our better angels so well!

But any form of gloating is intolerable and unnecessary. There is a penalty in football for “excessive celebration” and I wouldn’t mind seeing the same thing in bridge.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 4th, 2011 at 5:33 am


As far as your suggestion about “excessive celebration,” I second the motion!

AND, the sooner the better. It is really an ugly and distaseful part of the game.


DanaJanuary 4th, 2011 at 10:08 am


I think you should have a talk regarding this subject with DeSean Jackson.


All NY Giants Fans

BogdanJanuary 5th, 2011 at 3:51 am

How about being a world class pair that has extensively used and advocated the 2d multi convention for 20+ years and calling the director (and winning the board) for the opponents not having the written defense?

Does that qualify for this discussion?

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 5th, 2011 at 5:54 am


I don’t care if the offenders play for God’s Angels! Open self-aggrandizement I personally consider very offensive and distasteful. Robb’s suggestion is great! Punishment for ANY excess celebration — IN ANY GAME OR SPORT. It is unbecoming and especially in sports, a bad example for children. I’m with you. It is inexcusable!

Bobby WolffJanuary 5th, 2011 at 7:39 am

Hi Bogdan,

Judy asked me to respond to you, so here goes.

ANYTIME an individual or a pair seeks official redress on a technical issue, when and if that pair is well prepared to handle the problem itself without rancor, it violates human issues in NO TRUMP and would always get the worst from me in my ruling.

Bridge has always been thought of as a GENTLEMANS GAME and at least to me, that moniker implies that the majesty of the game itself requires oneself to not sink to petty depths in going all out to demand penalties on others or unnecessary conveniences for ourselves.

To do otherwise would be similar to preferring rowdy coffee houses (the often venue for bridge in Europe in the 1930’s) instead of elegant carpet laden castles in different time periods.

If all of us demand (or desperately want) high-level active ethics from our opponents we must offer it to them in return. To do otherwise, violates human intercourse to its very core.

“Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” needs to be followed in bridge more than in any other form of competitive sport and to not do so disgraces the ones who do not conform.

Yes, multi users should carry both often used defenses with them when they play multi. However if the opponents do not need that defense and know it by heart, they should proceed onward without comment. To do otherwise is wrong.

However multi users (I think that multi is a minus convention when played ethically and against opponents who are well versed in it) should NOT play a convention that loses more than it wins, on the hope that many relative novice opponents will trip over their own feet because of their lack of knowledge with it. To do so for that reason, also violates active ethics as it pertains to bridge choices.

If we all feel responsible to keep bridge on a very high ethical level in all possible areas, we will win in our desire to make bridge the best game it can be, and eventually we will all be able to dance in the streets with even the prospect of being able to play it.

Good luck!

PaulJanuary 6th, 2011 at 4:52 am


The pair in question were using the ACBL Multi defence in Philadelphia last October. Despite their familiarity with the opening itself, I have no doubt that they do rely on the ACBL defence even in WBF events.

Of course there may be other aspects of the case you might consider distasteful.