Judy Kay-Wolff


Over a year ago the long time owner of LVBC, Loretta Brown, passed away and was bought out by Dixie Perkinson, who took on two partners.   Dixie has given 200% of herself to the club, its members and above all has dedicated herself to run the game as a legitimate, clean club game should be run as long as master points are being sanctioned by the ACBL.

If you want to play by your own rules, get a foursome. go to the pool, your condo clubroom or someone’s kitchen.   If you want to win master points, be prepared to play by the rules of the game.  Many clubs, including LVBC, give special lessons to beginners and at the same time try to explain to them the rights and wrongs of protocol at the table.  A great many of the populace at LVBC are good, solid players who know right from wrong.   Others try to play some cockapitzy systems (which confuse the opponents and which cause mix-ups between the the players themselves).   So be it.  

Sit back, have a drink, and turn on some soft music.  After you have heard the full nightmare, you may need a sedative or  blood pressure pill.   Ready?   Are you sure?   O.K.   Here goes.

Two lovely, innocent, unknowledgeable, inexperienced ladies approach our table and sit down.  The auction, WITH BOTH SIDES VULNERABLE,  proceeds:

P   P   2S  P(*)


THINKING HE WAS JOKING, I SAID ‘YOU MUST BE KIDDING’.   She misplayed it (making 5) when a slam was cold.

Oh, yes, the partner of the huddler/passer (VULNERABLE) DARED TO BALANCE  WITH    X   KXXXXX   Q   JXXXX .   How does that grab ya?   Sure, good players might take a shot and balance with 3H BUT NEVER AFTER PARTNER HAS TAKEN SO LONG TO PASS.   It’s unconscionable for a knowledgeable honorable person.

It is hard to believe that any player (or director) playing over a year does not understand that when partner bids out of tempo (and you are not in a forcing auction), THE POTENTIAL BALANCER MUST GO OUT OF HIS OR HER WAY NOT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE HUDDLE. It is known in the vernacular as UNAUTHORIZED INFORMATION.


Bobby had to leave immediately after the game so I arranged a ride home with someone else and I insisted on staying until it was resolved.   I was castigated with  INSIPID WORDS FROM A DESPICABLE AND DISLIKED PLAYER WHO CRITICIZED ME FOR PICKING ON SOME NICE LADIES WHO JUST COME FOR THE ENJOYMENT AND TRIED TO CRUCIFY ME FOR WANTING EVERYONE TO PLAY BY THE PROPER RULES OF THE GAME (how awful!!!).   THEN ONE OF HIS PARTNERS (HUSBAND OF ONE OF THE OWNER’S) TRIED TO CONVINCE EVERYONE THAT PEOPLE CAN BID WHATEVER THEY WANT WITH A 1/6/1/5 HAND (SURE THEY CAN – IF PARTNER HAD NOT HUDDLED FOR OVER A MINUTE) AND EVEN POINTED OUT THEY WERE COLD FOR 6H (like it really mattered).     It only goes to show that people who really don’t understand the protocol of the game should shut their bleeping mouths.  As Abraham Lincoln once said: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.   This is the same director who was directing a game a while back one afternoon and when I asked for a ruling, he said he’ll think about it that night.   Perfect timing.

However, I am proud to say Director BILL JOHNSON (at the risk of being lynched when he left the club) had the gumption to resist listening to the peddling of the hand and did give us –500 (rather than the absurd –650) which the idiots were trying to sell.   The fact that the opponents are cold for a slam is immaterial!!!!!   That argument does not hold any water in this particular case .   (Incidentally, several people came over to me and  thanked me for fighting for what is right – in the interest of the game and the club as well).

LVBW is trying everything within their power to try to get the few people with these kind of problems to straighten up and fly right.   They have an early Monday lesson and game for beginners with local bridge pro Rick Price and experienced director, terrific player and administrator, Becky Rogers, after hearing the story offered (following the Lexington NABCs) to come down one day and try to explain the reasoning behind the situations such as happened today.



Nick KrnjevicFebruary 22nd, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Must confess to not following your objection to the opps bidding.

Surely you agree that a at matchpoints the 1-6-1-5 hand had an *automatic* balance had her partner passed in tempo.

Are you really suggesting that the 1-6-1-5 hand should have done something other than the *automatic* action because her partner did not pass in tempo?

I’d understand your argument if the balance was not automatic. But it seems to me it was. So I don’t.

Bobby WolffFebruary 22nd, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Hi Nick,

Yes, I agree that West, as most good players, would balance with 3 hearts on the hand in question.

However, instead of sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich, please consider what a very long huddle followed by a pass does to the game in general. Bridge ceases to be a game worth playing in spite of what I think, that played ethically, it is head and shoulders above any other intellectual game ever attempted.

Yes, I and others who read these blogs now know that you think like an expert, but like so many other ventures, without the ethical strictures which are the very heart and soul of our game, we might as well take turns with trying to throw cards in a hat placed 6 feet away.


You, Nick, are, of course, free to make your own decisions, but if you would do what you would imply that you would, please stay out of games played by players who understand their responsibilities to the game itself.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 12:50 am


Different strokes for different folks. Where I come from (and I’ve had some pretty good role models), your partner’s antics precludes you from even considering entering the auction.

Don’t you think it is time that consistent huddlers should know the danger of the consequences of agonizing and then passing? The huddler couldn’t wait to get the 4H bid out of her mouth. She almost fell off her seat. No wonder!!!! She got her message across loud and clear without uttering a word and her partner was well versed reading body braille.

CPFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 12:57 am


I wasn’t at the game today but heard all about the fuss. Perhaps if more experienced people like you had the guts to rise to the occasion, these huddles and unwarranted bids would cease and desist and we could go back to the game of bridge as it was intended to be played. Good for you. I would not have tolerated it either.

EllisFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 2:26 am

After having been through similar situations 500 or so times at the local club, both on appeals and conduct and ethics I have learned a few things about these situations.

1. the huddlers never fully understand the consequences of their actions. And the non offending side cannot tell time properly.( it takes ten seconds to sing Happy Birthday)

2. the A players normally never want to get involved and over half the time never bother to call the director, because they simply don’t want to alienate the c players from coming back.

3 the management is always looking at the bottom line, 3 plays a week for a particular pair adds up to often time a grand a year in card fees.

4. there will always be players that defend a position even if the position is so wrong or eggregious as to beggar belief.

5. On appeal you have to decide what would normally happen in the passout seat,and whether pass was a logical alternative I am a bidder with the above hand, but pass is a logical alternative.

BogdanFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 3:44 am

I do not think that pass in the passout seat is a logical auction. I don’t think that’s even understandable.

Why would you want to force your opponnent to make an illogical thing because their partner passed ? How do you think your sort of view impacts the game of bridge in general, when technicalities are more important than common sense?

PaulFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 5:47 am


I also hope that expert players would pass in this situation, although I’m sure we all know that this would not be the case. But we can live in hope.

However I also find your own actions inappropriate.

Firstly, in your own words, the opponents are “two lovely, innocent, unknowledgeable, inexperienced ladies”. Given that many experienced professionals do not understand the Laws, it is understandable that they will hesitate with strong hands and make calls almost certainly based on UI. Their education is lacking, but being publically outed in this way is not that the way to improve that.

Then you insult the director when he makes the only decision possible to let play continue. “You must be kidding”, is insulting to both the director and your opponents. You chastise the opponents for their lack of knowledge about UI and then demonstrate your own lack of knowledge on the laws by insulting the director. Definitely deserving of a ZT penalty.

Reading this post it would appear that you are more concerned about your own score than educating the beginners about proper ethics. This is not a case where a knowing pair is trying to cheat its way to a good score. Staying to the end to ensure that ‘justice is done’ on the scoresheet was not necessary.

The key point is the education. I DO know that this is what you are really trying to do, but public humiliation of beginners is not the way to go.


MarthaFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 5:54 am

Your blog again points out that the newer players don’t understand the rules involved in Duplicate Bridge. Handouts should be distributed to all new players explaining the rules of the game concerning partnership understandings and bidding and play in a timely manner.

Bobby WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 8:11 am

Hi Bogdan,

With all due respect, the good news is that you are probably a good player who contributes to the game, the bad news is that you are like the 1,000 pound gorilla who is taught to play golf with 400 yard drives which land 3 feet from the flag. However, his next shot on the green is another 400 yard shot headed to wherever it is headed.

Bridge MUST be a game wherein supposedly slow witted players (only supposedly) continually help partner to the point where they always have an insurance policy before acting since they are total tells at the table, without having to risk a positive bid which, depending on what partner is dealt, will determine the kind of result it will be.

The above is why the ACBL should not only suggest, but rather DEMAND that their players understand the unusual ethical restrictions which are ever present, though vitally necessary, in the game itself.

If you were czar you would allow anything and everything that you thought was “common sense” even though there is a huge risk that everyone else has bought the bridge (pun intended). In and with education we have a chance; without which, we are born dead.

Whether you intend to or not you are like the innocent Typhoid Mary, infecting people as she lived, but not knowing what she was doing.

We need intelligent people, like you (who possibly love bridge) to join the crusade to make bridge as good as it can be rather than to cater to the foxes who are currently lining up at the henhouse with their entry passes gleaming.

The ACBL currently has a rule which Ellis (a very well directed bridge enthusiast who has commented above) has stated concerning that a player such as the partner who had that huge hand, but after a long study passed over the 2 spade opening on her right.

Her partner is now subject to that rule, the Logical Alternative rule of “Before bidding after partner has contributed unauthorized information (UI) if there is an alternate choice which can be deemed a logical alternative which doesn’t mean that anyone would necessarily choose that bid, but if they did it would be considered a possible alternative then the recipient of the UI must make that bid instead of choosing one which is suggested by the UI. Nothing more, nothing less.

A perfect law? far from it, but one which an intelligent and bridge loving committee (or, of course tournament director) can apply.

Basically the end of the story, but until our education reaches out and most everyone realizes that bridge must demand such compliance or else render the game not worth playing, we will always be subject to foxes who are only interested at winning at all costs, and usually without the talent to effect such a thing, if left entirely to their own devices.

Luise LeeFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 8:21 am

Everyone who knows me knows that my bridge knowledge is limited. But I do know that, when unauthorized information is available, it is my duty to proceed as best as I can as though it never happened. I am to proceed to make the call that I would have made anyway had the unauthorized information not been available.

You seem to be suggesting that when partner errs and gives unauthorized information, that I am REQUIRED to shoot myself in the foot in an attempt to put the game right.

Why should I do that? If I was going to balance anyway in that situation, pause or no pause, then why should my action change because my partner screwed up and thought about his options for a minute?

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 8:22 am


You really got down to the nitty-gritty — not wanting to lose customers and money (rather than caring about the protocol and future of our once-wonderful game).

Perhaps if the powers that be paid less attention to the old open book tests for directors and spent more time directing their efforts to educating them about judgment, we would all be better off. Any moron can read from their Bible (the law book) but few even know how to begin to make rulings where understanding of the game and expert judgment is involved. Sad but true (of course with certain exceptions).

You hit the nail on the head!


Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 8:32 am


The answer is easy. After a long huddle (and with good reason — holding 21 high card points — does give you pause), YOU ARE TO BEND OVER BACKWARDS N-O-T TO MAKE THE BID UNLESS IT IS AUTOMATIC. VULNERABLE, WITH THIS PIECE OF GARBAGE, it becomes less than a logical alternative but offers that tempting and comforting insurance policy.

I have a fifty-five year head start on you, but I must confess forty-five years ago, it would not have occurred to me to balance after my partner went into her brownstone.

Read Bobby’s comments for a more sophisticated but realistic explanation. I’d give up the game before I would balance after all the shenanigans by partner. I never have and I never will.



SteveFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 9:04 am


The identical experience happened to me 2 years ago at the local bridge studio. I was playing against a pair of newbies, and the “huddle” occurred again. I called the director who explained why this was inappropriate and the hand continued as if nothing happened. The director allowed the huddle and I said nothing else.

Well, surprise, surprise. I was used to playing on our usual Sunday Night Swiss Teams with an expert pair. She informed me that we would no longer be playing with them on Sunday nights because I made these newbies cry!! Just calling the director was enough to get them upset.

I never like having the director called on me, and I can see that it might upset the inexperienced persons. So how are the these players supposed to learn the rules of the game?

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 9:05 am


Let me further clarify. My description of the elderly women ….”two innocent …. ladies” omitted that they have been playing bridge since Broadway was a prairie. Don’t you think it is time the ACBL and the clubs made a concerted effort to stop this crap! Somewhere along the way, SOMEONE (ACBL, DIRECTORS, OWNER OR MANAGER) SHOULD HAVE MADE A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN THE AMENITIES OF THE GAME. The balancer, a normally timid, quiet woman, who minds her p’s and q’s couldn’t wait to get her 3H CARD on the table VULNERABLE. C’MON. Get with it. There is no way in hell if her partner passed in tempo that she would not have routinely pulled out her green card or tapped the table. You have to know your customer and believe me, I do.

However, in all fairness, the normal games at LVBW’S new quarters run somewhere in the vicinity of 18-20 tables and I am proud to say Dixie Perkinson has made announcement after announcement about this sort of thing and I’d say that this type of maneuvering has been lessened by bounds and leaps.

Perhaps only three or four people adapt that tactic after a huddle if they feel they can get away with it. Obviously, it was attempted against the wrong pair. This sort of thing was much, much more prevalent until Dixie made a definitive (but gentle) announcement one day … “if you take a long time studying your action, you may as well bid, as you probably will be barring your partner.” You cannot imagine the changes in tempo for the better. You may consider that intimidation, but it worked well for the good of the game. No one calls cops if the person had a normal balance, even after the hesitation. The people are pretty sharp and the ethics and deportment at the club have improved immeasureby because of Dixie. It has become a pleasure to play there because someone tactfully went out on a limb.

You are way off base about humiliating the opponents. Bobby and I explained what had happened and they explained they had no idea that was not cricket. They offered to go back to 2s (which eventually happened) but I explained the director had to be called. WHEN THE 21 POINT DUMMY HIT THE TABLE, WHO WOULDN’T GO BESERK. Rather ample support, I’d say.

And as far as my ‘own score’, you couldn’t be more wrong. I would fight with my dying breath if this happened to someone else and would hope if the director did not come to his senses (which he did) that appeals committees should be formed. Most directors are not qualified to make judgmental decisions. This one was a piece of cake — but perhaps you are used to this type of infractions being allowed without any justified repercussions. I am not and I never will be.

P.S. This director has been involved in other terrrible rulings and I was happy to see he had the guts to rule the only way possible under the circumstances. Had he ruled otherwise, I would have taken this one to the Supreme Court as it was so egregious.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 9:26 am


Your suggestion is too practical!! It wouldn’t be in the best interest of the directors/owners/managers to

PRINT OUT RESTRICTIONS and insult their paying customers.

Dixie’s way of handling it has gone a long way — although your suggestion would be more all encompassing but treading on too many toes (and wallets).

Your idea is great but it just ain’t gonna happen.

I know with all your experience and success how much you love the game. No wonder you play so rarely now.



Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 9:38 am


I think those ‘newbies’ need either a shrink or anger management counselling — not a director and should look for some other form of recreation.

Seriously, the manner in which the message was conveyed may have caused the reaction. There are ways of saying things and WAYS OF SAYING THINGS. Not all directors have the savoir faire to explain indiscretions in a pleasant, non-insulting way. I have always been a believer that after a pair has been ‘put down’, the director (after the game) privately explain why what they did was improper. Sometimes kind reasoning wins the one-upmanship prize as opposed to just ruling against people who are not capable of understanding how they have violated the ethics of the game.

Anyone who resorts to tears (unless the wording was so harsh and inappropriate) may consideer seeking out a new hobby. And, whomever your teammates were, need some help in human relaltionships. Sounds like good riddance to bad rubbish. What have you done wrong other than try to protect your own rights — the laws of the land and the bridge jungle!

markFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 11:23 am


I have a lot of sympathy with the Director asking that play continue. It is much more helpful for her/him and for the general atmosphere if the players can continue while he/she takes a minute to consider the situation.

I’m not a director but I think this would be almost universal in NZ, at the end of the play the director would then say in an even way to everyone “The issue here is that West received unauthorised information because East had a difficult choice and hesitated longer than the 10 seconds you must pause after a skip bid. I rule that the bid of 2S stand and that contract would have failed by 5 tricks (or I rule that the bid of 3H was a clear cut decision and 4H +1 stands). I invite either party to appeal if you feel you have been disadvantaged, you have until the end of the session to let me know if you want to appeal. Please move to the next table …”

At the end of the day there need not be any unpleasantness about this we can all slip up from time to time, drop a card, huddle (and here Judy I think the actual length of the huddle is largely irrelevant) whatever. You have directors to make rulings. So long as they know the rules and impose them equitably, that is what matters. BTW no director should feel affronted if the ruling is appealed (but they do, I know they do.)

John Howard GibsonFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 11:29 am

HBJ: Yes the preceding 2S bid would have taken the puff out of anyone’s sails. Real newcomers wouldn’t know what to do for the best. But once the minute huddle has taken place, any subsequent bidding becomes blighted. Her partner is well and truly surely compromised, and in no circumstances must she bid or be allowed to have her bid stand ( let alone raised to game ). The way beginners learn that huddles have to be avoied is for directors to politely say that players cannot bid opposite passes that are clearly ” not passes “. If no one in the room would have bid 3H ” off their own bat ” on that tat, then revokes any licence even for newcomers to make that bid.

I can’t think of any sport where concessions should be given to rank bad players or beginners. They like the rest of us are expected to learn by our hesitation mistakes but never to profit by them.

oleg_rFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 11:57 am

1. Player has 6 points. One opponent passed, second preempted. Partner must have opening hand. But she did not bid. Why? Her hand is not suitable for any bid. This information is completely authorized. Is there additional unauthorized information she can conclude from her partner hesitation? I do not think so. “C” player with opening hand and no good bid available will hesitate. Would 1 minute hesitation suggest additional points compare to 14 expected from AI? And 2 minutes even more popints? It does not sound right for me. I am afraid this was the rare case than all UI was duplicated by AI and opponents with 6 points and 6-5 hand was more or less free to bid even after partner’s hesitation.

2.As far as I know there is no law that ask player to pass if his or her partner hesitated. Law ask player to avoid take profit of unauthorized information, meaning do not take action suggested by it. Double here by that opponent after partners’ hesitation would be a bad bid, but 3 hearts looks straightforward and innocent. I see no LA to that bid, but poll could prove me be wrong.

Summarizing: I think it was a very close call and would agree with any director’s decision.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 12:45 pm


I would agree with you if the following assumption of yours was on target:

“You have directors to make rulings. So long as they know the rules and impose them equitably, that is what matters.’


The local directors are not the likes of Sol Weinstein and Chris Patrias. Anyone can read from a bridge Bible, but few can interpret when judgment is involved.

Considering the length of time of the huddler (over a minute), I believe it is open and shut that partner is duty-bound to pass regardless of the 1/6/1/5 — VULNERABLE ESPECIALLY. To Bobby and me, it was clear that the balancer took advantage (unintentionally) of the huddle — but that matters not. It should have been rolled back to 2S (-500) which finally happened — but a federal case it should not have been. The matter should have been closed and moved on to the next board.

P.S. We don’t have local club appeal committees as I am told the directors don’t want to “go against” each other if they disagree. How does that hit you?

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 1:43 pm


You sure have a way with words (as I have often told you prior to this comment).

No one seems to want to acknowledge that the problem lies with the directors/ACBL who have not educated their representatives well enough to adjudicate the problems and to do it in a sensitive, kind manner. These ‘beginners’ or ‘newcomers’ or ‘oldtimers’ MUST be taught the protocol of the game. If they can’t learn it, they should not be playing,

As you say — no other sport caters to rank bad players or beginners so why should the majestic game of bridge make exceptions. Duplicates are authorized games with master points up for grabs and thus the rules must be abided by — or find another hobby.

Thanks for your words of wisdom!


Bobby WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Hi Oleg,

Just to set the record straight, let us delve into what is bridge logic against what can be construed as bridge logic, but in reality is poppycock.

It goes pass by my RHO. He can easily possess a balanced 11 or 12 HCP’s, I pass with my 6, LHO opens a third seat weak 2 spade bid (could have up to 13 HCP’s, especially if his distribution is balanced and his high cards are mostly quacks (queens and jacks). That leaves a possible 9 HCP’s for partner (assuming it is a normal deck and not pinochle). Since there is no nor hardly any UI from my partner’s 1 minute wait before passing, it, at least up to you, might have been him just thinking about wine and roses and not that it was her turn to bid.

Get real, if you expect to be respected for your views. When a player studies 1 minute before acting it is a real problem which could only come from a very good hand (like she had) or from blindness or from a sudden attack of something strong.

We do (even bridge players) live in a real world with human values and being competitive would like to round everything off in our favor, if allowed.

How can anyone, even in jest, suggest that UI was not passed and if by some phenomenon it wasn’t then pay the price and pass anyway just to let partner know that she has some responsibility to keep her mind at the table?

Furthermore, instead of getting one’s feathers ruffled chalk it up to our own competitiveness and vow to do bridge a service and play by the rules, or if not, what they should be.

Steve GaynorFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Technically you are right and at a tournament or even a major game at the club these rules must be followed, but if we want to grow the game we HAVE to make some concessions to beginners who have just come down to test the waters of duplicate. After all, they will continue to drop 70% of the matchpoints in your bucket. Every once in a while they may do something bad like this and land on their feet. Really, with that kind of hand most beginners not being attuned to the whole BIT thing would not pass, and if you wanted to take a poll my guess is they all bid regardless. Would that exclude pass as a LA?

Anyway, while I sympathize with you, I really believe you have to handle the situation with major kid gloves or it will not be long before all you can muster up at your club are Howell movements.

markFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 3:27 pm

We don’t have local club appeal committees as I am told the directors don’t want to “go against” each other if they disagree. How does that hit you?

– well I think that is part of the problem. It puts all the burden on the director at the table. Happily in this case both parties agree there was a hesitation – in many they do not, and it drives people nuts.

Quite often the fracas at the table holds things up, so you get a sort of ripple effect – the aggrieved party moves on to their next opponents denouncing the process “the dumb director always believes x & y, we didn’t get our say, and there’s no appeal”.

So much better for the director to be able to say – “I invite you to appeal” – which means some senior players can take it over. Once people get used to this it means the director shouldn’t feel defensive if the appeal overturns his decision.

Actually it is because local directors may not be experienced or even gifted in making interpretations that the appeals committee is useful.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 6:22 pm


Bridge as it was yesterday WAS NOT BRIDGE. I, personally am spoiled, and cannot bear to see such sacrilege at the table. As I have said before, to follow the rules is not a hardship. You are not asking someone to go barefoot on tacks or walk on hot coals. It is not painful or an imposition. I am sick and tired of hearing excuses for poor directorships. I do think if a club has enough good players (and we certainly do), the appeals process would be much more advantageous.

By the way, your reference about Howell movements calls to mind my gut feelings for a long time that BBO or some other computer outlet will replace the local duplicates. More and more people like the convenience of playing on line vs. the sociabillity. Of course, on line bridge is not free from the obvious problems.


Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 6:35 pm


A lot of the problem concerning director v. appeals is that people are reluctant to cede power to a ‘higher’ authority which is understandable However, the sooner they realize that two heads are better than one, we will be making some progress (and those two/or three heads have to be well experienced and versed in the area of bridge expertise — with which very few are armed). No one said

it is an easy situation but a good place to start is with beginners’ lessons where their guru explains some of the basic ground rules of bridge (manners, protocol, etc.)

Bridge is a many splendored thing — with lots of allied problems to be overcome.

Robb GordonFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 9:46 pm

To those who think that X KXXXXX Q JXXXX is an automatic balance:

Understand that “logical alternative” applies to THAT PLAYER’s PEERS, not a group of experts. If you were to poll 100 players with less than 100 masterpoints, I would wager that fewer than half of them would balance.

According to the late Edgar Kaplan this is the standard for logical alternative: ” Would it have been obviously foolish, an egregious error, absurd, or would it be right quite often? If the last, it is a logical alternative.”

Realize also that if these newbies want to progress in bridge, they need to know their ethical obligations as well as they know their point count. It is part of the game.

None of this means that they should be verbally excoriated. A positive, constructive attitude on the part of the director or committee chair will make this a “teachable moment” rather than one where we lose another novice.

Finally, it is generally not a good idea to berate the director when you don’t like the ruling (although you may and should indicate disagreement). First, it gets his back up to the point where a logical argument won’t carry its proper weight and second it sacrifices the opportunity to help the director improve his skill by quietly taking him aside and urging him to ask somebody more knowledgeable.

Linda LeeFebruary 24th, 2011 at 8:02 am

By and large it seems most people agree that a lot of people at matchpoints would balance with the 6-5 hand but I am on the side of those who think it is not automatic for anybody.

When newer players are playing in an open duplicate the rules should be followed. If they are not ready for that they should play in a beginner game.

But I think we should try as hard as we can to explain things nicely but respect the fact that these players may not be aware that they were doing anything wrong.

I remember the one time my mom would play duplicate with me. She has played bridge for 40 years.

She trembled the entire time. She had no idea about hesitations. She wouldn’t even have noticed a long pause. We were (with permission) playing in a novice game and our score didn’t count but I am very glad that nobody complained about anything she did. Any pause she made was probably in trying to calm down enough to do something. After that experience despite the fact that there were no director calls, that nothing bad happened, that we had a 89% game if it had counted and that everybody was nice she would never go back.

The whole experience was just too overwhelming. I am sure these ladies were much more experienced than my mom. We have to teach newcomers the rules but we have to do it in a non-intimidating way. It’s not about clubs making money. It’s about making bridge a game that new players will enjoy.

I am not disagreeing with anything anybody just said. I am just pointing out that being nice to new players is our responsibility too.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 24th, 2011 at 1:52 pm


I agree with all your comments until the last paragraph. I know my customer better than you and protesting preposterous judgment is the only way to get action since the other directors are not much better (with one exception and she is rarely present when we play). Besides, we have been screwed recently (the latest time — three weeks ago) because of lack of sophisticated knowledge of the significance of non-alerts so we took a zero rather than a top. I am sick and tired of being pushed around by incorrect rulings. Better yet, there should be appeals committees at clubs so as not to have to deal with individuals whose expertise ends when they read from the rule book. This is true of the majority of club directors.

I know it is a tough job being a director and can understand it being disruptive to the director when he has to fill in to make a full table and be interrupted for Bridgemate adjustments or merely director calls, then worry about getting the scores out on time.

However, I blame the ACBL for not taking better measures to train them. No one said it was easy.



Bobby WolffFebruary 25th, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Many vital (at least to my thinking) truisms have not been said, and therefore, in order for clarity and justice to prevail (at the very least) and put directly on the table, chaos in the present form of awful Middle Eastern type politics will prevail where the loudest, most violent views (though not necessarily correct nor moral) unequivocally will win the day.

In order to create a loving manner I will intersperse my rhetoric around a love song’s lyrics trying to make my sometimes overly positive manner more palatable.

‘Sometimes you think you’ve lived before, all that you live today.’  Alluding to the possible unethical behavior at bridge tournaments and how to determine please: I am directly talking to the players who DO NOT want to be deprived of how they would describe making the right bridge bid, even when their partner’s huddle can be determined to be delivering unauthorized information (UI). There are considerations which many have possibly never considered.  What if, on the subject hand when holding, x, Kxxxxx, Q, Jxxxx, and electing not to open a weak 2 heart bid in 2nd seat while vulnerable, hears it go a (stop card presented) 2 weak spades by LHO, then after a 4 or 5 second pause by an apparently unconcerned partner, a green pass card presented, followed, of course, by a pass card from RHO. “Things you do, come back to you as though they knew the way.” Oh, the tricks your mind can play.

I suspect, particularly since Nick, Bogdan and Oleg have unabashedly stated that not only they, but all excellent (top or superior) players the world over, would make the slam dunk bid of 3 hearts — what could be done administratively to possibly others of those players who may elect to go quietly and merely pass it out.  Surely Nick, Bogdan and Oleg would agree that those players would need to go see a C&D committee immediately and be prepared to expect discipline by taking advantage of unauthorized information of partner having a normal (or possibly sub-normal mediocre hand) because if our informed bloggers are correct, every one of them would normally bid the obvious 3 hearts. ” It seems we stood and talked like this before, we looked at each other in the same way then, but I can’t remember where or when.”

If I am at least possibly correct in my crime and punishment opinion, what is the status of where we (the high-level bridge community) stands at this moment in time.  My guess is that even Nick, Bogdan and Oleg will agree that it would be highly unusual (probably NEVER done before with this little evidence present) that players were taken to a committee for being unethical when all they did was pass again rather than balance vulnerable at the 3 level and with, at least, ostensibly, nothing unethical had even remotely happened.

“The clothes you are wearing are the clothes you wore.  The smile you are smiling you were smiling then, but I can’t remember where or when.”  Are we not left with a game (our beloved contract bridge) which is really totally dependent on the individual ethics of all players, especially the top ones, who should and definitely know better to:

1. Either strongly diminish or better yet, totally eliminate, giving tells to partner which may affect his judgment and hence bid or,

2. If failing for whatever reason to so accomplish, then expect partner to at the very least, lean over backwards, to overtly not take advantage, if for no other reason than to show a great respect and honor for the special game we are playing.  “Some things that happened for the first time, seem to be happening again.”

I certainly want to say that I am not at all interested in winning battles here and there, but rather to influence generally honest folk among the world class players to join with me in my crusade to make bridge the best game it can be, in spite of its unusual rules regarding partnership and UI.  There will always be foxes in any endeavor man can take up, but they can be overcome if the rest of us, Wolves and all, join forces to make it happen.  “And so it seems that we have met before and laughed before and loved before, But who knows where or when.”

If this can be done — the war can be won!

jack mendelsohnFebruary 26th, 2011 at 6:50 am

The question is: Should a top pair call the director in a CLUB game against INNOCENT,UNKNOWLEDGEABLE,INEXPERIENCED ladies after a long huddle and bid by huddlers partner?

My answer would be a resounding NO

How was I injured? Most pairs would easily get to 4 hearts making 6.

Why make everyone uncompfotable.

After the hand would be the time to gently explain the problems with bidding after a long hesitation

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 26th, 2011 at 10:09 am

To JACK MENDELSOHN: I quote you verbatim:

The question is: Should a top pair call the director in a CLUB game against INNOCENT, ,UNKNOWLEDGEABLE,

INEXPERIENCED ladies after a long huddle and bid by huddlers partner?

My answer would be a resounding NO

How was I injured? Most pairs would easily get to 4 hearts making 6.

Why make everyone uncompfotable.

After the hand would be the time to gently explain the problems with bidding after a long hesitation


Before I respond to your ridiculous rationale, is it just by chance that your comment followed Bobby’s?

It it obvious you have always harbored deep resentment because he always responded to the hands (through me) of some of your panel’s preposterous answers and tried to set them on the straight and narrow rather than let their erroneous thinking be “the last word.” Your attitude became abundantly clear with your latest rendering. I suggest a course in reading comprehension as you just don’t get it!

Your lead off question “Should a top pair call the director in a CLUB game against INNOCENT, UNKNOWLEDGEABLE, INEXPERIENCED ladies after a long huddle and bid by huddler(‘)s partner?

My answer would be a resounding NO.”

Perhaps your reading deficit causes you to fail to understand the following:

(1) These ladies (though not stellar players) have been playing for at least thirty years, but time has no bearing on ethics and protocol. At one point they have to be taught these things are no-nos!

(2) “How were you injured?” You must be kidding!!!! You just don’t get IT!!!!!

The hand was not good enough to open 2H, so here she comes trotting in with 3H VULNERABLE after her partner went into a minute plus brownstone — thereby providing an insurance policy (as Norman used to call it). He would be ashamed of you for not understanding “injury” has nothing to do with it — although, in true life, I should have been allowed to play 2S (down -500). (And for your information, most got to 6H making, except my RHO who only made 5). However, that has nothing to do with the price of tomatoes.

Bridge rulings are supposed to be based on the facts and the laws of equity. Sure, with no huddle an experienced player may have taken a shot (vulnerable) and balanced but the same player would have most likely opened 2H at the outset. But the offender is the type who would not open a hand which by others would be considered automatic. All of a sudden this pussycat becomes a fearless tiger (because of obvious, blatant help from her partner).

It is totally inconsequential where the field ends up (4H, 5H, 6H). You should know that! It is what happened at the table. Shame on you for not taking that into consideration. They could be cold for thirteen watermelons and it would not affect the fact that one huddled and the normally timid L.O.L. now gathered up her justified nerve to balance. Surprise! Surprise!

(3) “Why make everyone uncompfotable (uncomfortable?). There was nothing but good manners, soft spoken words, apologies by the women understanding what had happened. NO ILL WILL. They offered to take back their bids (which of course) I am not permitted to accept. There was no uncomfortable scene until the DIRECTOR was called, looked at the hands and was told they should continue. Then he turned to me and said “you would not want to play 2S” (a far from brilliant analysis and not within his province to suggest — though totally fallacious). I SURE WOULD (which was actually the final ruling) as I was down five (-500) as opposed to a misplayed cold slam for -650).


Of course in this case there would have been a police tribunal when the innocent 3H caller found the luxury of a 21 point dummy with four card trump support. My contention is even in club games where we often have 16 or more tables (with lots of fine pairs), there should be possible appeals committees standing by if needed to avoid the very situation that occurred. In most cases, few directors are qualified to make judgmental rulings. Anyone can read from a book.

(4) “After the hand would be the time to gently explain the problems with bidding after a long hesitation.”

No, Jack, your timing is way off. AND, it is the director who should vehemently — leaving no doubt (but in a kind manner) explain that you cannot take advantage of partner’s overly long hesitating pass and now re-enter the auction (based on unauthorized information).

You also emphasized CLUB GAMES. These people usually rise through the ranks from clubs to C to B to A and eventually attend Sectionals, Regionals and even Nationals. The question is with behavior like that, how long it will take before they are summoned before an Appeals Committee. THE TIME IS NOW FOR THE CLUBS TO EXPLAIN THE RULES OF HUDDLES, TAKING ADVANTAGE, ALERTS, FAILURES TO ALERT, PRIVATE UNDERSTANDINGS, ETC. It will avoid a lot of embarrassment in the future.

Let me add, if your comments represent the thinking of the Philadelphia directorial staff, things have sadly changed. I always was impressed with our crew and respected directors like Marc Labovitz, John Marks and Jane Segal and I cannot imagine they would have allowed things to go that far and would have been fair and firm in their final adjudication — not the fracas here in LV.

Judy Kay-Wolff

Bobby WolffFebruary 26th, 2011 at 1:28 pm

After wrestling with some of the problems recently tackled, or at least attempted to, I am about to come to the following conclusion:

Bridge is at the very least, a game played by several levels of players; but unlike golf, bowling, tennis, poker, chess and certainly many others not named, the disparity, not only among the skill levels, but among the motives for playing, expectations, reasons for killing time, social implications, resiliency, desire to compete, learning capacity, and the different forces of personality are all so different, and perhaps stands alone, (or at least very close) to the only competitive game where all these forces of nature combine to compete at games all over the world often and attempt to get along together in spite of the vast differences of all of the above.

Perhaps the ACBL exists, not with the expectation of doing anything constructive about the competition involved, but rather, because they, too, feel totally frustrated in trying to please the various factions, have just adopted the expectations, demeanor, and rules enforcement of a grandmother type which only encourages everyone to play together, but has no intention to take sides, to prevent cheating, to enforce logical, necessary, inviolate laws while at the same time protect their tournament directors and administrative officials the same way babysitters are viewed — take care of the children or we will get someone else who will. On the plus side, under the leadership of Jose Damiani of France for the last 16 years and now Gianarrigo Rona of Italy at the helm, the WBF very much still looks out for the positive development of our game itself and does everything that is possible to give us a chance to increase its popularity.

While the above is possibly a stepping stone to understanding where we are, it certainly doesn’t suggest a solution, far from it. Rather it almost admits to having no answer and so in the meantime, lets take it as far as it (we) can go and let others worry about it, that is, if there is anything left to worry about.

My discussions in my last comment were with Nick, Ellis, Bogdan, Linda, Luise, John Howard, Jane, Oleg, Robb and a few others, but not intended to deal with the care and nurture of the contestants but rather to discuss the proper way to play our game and when it is not played that way, the chaos which will always develop and never fail to grow larger.

To do otherwise (and as some suggest) seems to be a similar exercise to placing bridge in a hospice and allowing it to die a loving death. It is indeed ironic, that the above downward spiralling is the exact opposite of what Judy and I had always intended to accomplish for our heretofore glorious game.

Nick KrnjevicFebruary 26th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Hi Bobby;

I appreciate your objective-advancement of the game we both enjoy and would very much like future generations to enjoy as we did.

Having said that, it’s important to differentiate between the rules as they are, and your personal views as to what the rules should be.

The Laws and the Proprieties both clearly state that if a player faces logical alternatives then he cannot choose one suggested by unauthorized information.

So while I’ll cheerfully concede Robb’s point that the hand in issue may not be an automatic bid to the peers of certain groups, I am a bit surprised that the Wolffs’ seem to be advocating that one should always pass in the given sequence, even if one has an automatic balance.

While this may be your personal views, it does not reflect the Laws or the Proprieties.

And while you are certainly entitled to your view on what the Laws should say (but don’t), it is surprising that the integrity of those who act entirely within the Law has been so quickly called into question.

On this last point, it’s unfortunate that those who disagree with the Wolffs are frequently the object of ad hominem attack.

Surely those who express differing views are entitled to the same courtesy and respect that the Wolffs expect from others.

Bobby WolffFebruary 26th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Hi Nick,

Whether you have gleaned it or not we are basically on the same page.

I would have opened the bidding 2 hearts with the subject hand, but lacking that I would balance with 3 hearts. However, if my partner made even a slight tell (slow pass) I would accept that some people would pass with my hand and therefore I would also now pass and privately later tell my partner, “Please do not do that to me any more, and if you break tempo, please learn to bid something so that both we (as a partnership) and bridge in general do not suffer”.

I am interested in what you have to say about my recent comment that if one of us (or at least one who shares our view about balancing) hears his partner make a relatively fast pass (5 or 6 seconds) and also looks unconcerned after the skip bid warning, and then the opening passer decides to pass it out (and happens to be right in passing), should he be brought before a C&E committee (Conduct and Ethics) for being unethical in possibly using his partner’s “tell” (UI) to change his normal habit?

At least to me, this should be an interesting subject and one which should be discussed, if only because it is rarely brought up and almost never (at least what I have heard), prosecuted.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 26th, 2011 at 4:53 pm


I have been on the bridge scene for over fifty-five years and privileged to be wedded to two of the most ethical and best bridge players to ever grace the tables — the late Norman Kay and of course, Bobby.

I could write my own book from what I saw (up close and personal) in the old days — not only with foreign thieves but some with American soil on their soles as well. I was not in the bleachers but right down on the field and saw it with my own eyes (though far from experienced at the time — but smart enough to know what was happening).

Perhaps that is why it gets my dander up when I see what is allowed by directors and owners who don’t give a whit about what happens at their games for fear of losing both customers and the almighty dollar. “Keeping everyone happy” is not the answer. Doing the right thing IS!

I have been taught to go out of my way to share my knowledge of unusual treatments we use with my opponents — with no exceptions and believe in the golden rule — what our partnership knows — your partnership is entitled to know as well. No secrets.

For instance, because we play Flannery, when the auction proceeds 1H P 1N, we volunteeer that partner could have four spades. We also play the K/S treatment of 1S P 2H has ‘special’ responses as partner’s rebid of 2S, 2NT or 3H shows a minimum and can be passed. We also play the so-called Forcing NT over a major is nowhere near 100% forcing because we open light and can pass with a 5/3/3/2 (or similar) minimum opening. It is engrained in my brain to share and share alike — perhaps to a fault.

That is why I am hell bent on NOT having people take advantage of me as in the subject case. I will give you a real example of the humiliation I suffered which Bobby alluded to above. The auction was opened by Bobby with 1H. It proceeded 1S 2H 2S and then Bobby came in with a random 3C call (a game invitation). The overcaller bid 3S and I took time to consider my options and finally passed followed by two other green cards. I almost fell off the chair. How, with XX AKQXXXX QX AX (knowing we had at least ten hearts) could Bobby defend against 3S? He couldn’t — but he decided to teach me a lesson I never forgot. If you break tempo – BID — BID SOMETHING or else you are punishing your partner.

Apparently our 3H ‘heroine’ never heard such of such nonsense — and I say it facetiously, of course. I understand your point about good players bidding 3H — but this LOL couldn’t spell Shinola and would never have ventured a 3H call without encouragement when her passing partner went into the tank for over a minute.

Perhaps you now understand why I am adamant about people playing the game as it should be played and finding more qualified administrators and directors who will get off their fannies and do something about all the shenanigans (including rule and law changes) that have denegrated our once majestic game deluding its elegance.



EllisFebruary 26th, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Dear Bobby,

In general we have a problem in the disparity of the field,which to a certain but limited extent is dealt with by stratification. However that same system of stratifed and stratiflightedevents also creates many of the issues.

I learned to play bridge in open events, I picked up my table habits in general from good players, in this day and age where one can become a Life Master without playing against one , it is not suprising that it may take a player becoming SLM to learn these same habits.

You touched very lightly on what I consider to be two problems which will follow the ACBL and bridge in General for many years, one the disparity in reasons for playing and two the attitude of the parent organisation to its members.

The league needs to define its reason d`etre in all of the areas in which it touches and then proceded to develop those areas in a meaningful way. These are all subjects for discussion, Goodwill, entertainment at varying levels, non destructive bidding systems( I include multi, because I beleive it is non destructive if played properly-not just weak 2`s in either major) Ongoing education in the clubs, to name but a few.

The league with its multiple districts needs to make sure that its desires trickle down to the districts and sections in a practical way, all of this takes time, however the one thing that is in the hands of the players and can only come from the players is the absolute faith in ethical deportment at all times, once we lose this ( and this is somewhat of a societal woe) we lose all meaning and all the above discussions become moot.


ChuckFebruary 27th, 2011 at 9:20 am

Judy and Bobby:

I find this entire discussion spellbinding. There are so many considerations — ego, desire, the determination not to be outdone, the will to win, self-imposed restrictions or the devil may care attitude, etc. However, to me, the only thing that would matter is that I could make the call and live with myself. Everyone has different standards and self-respect is at the top of my list.

ReneFebruary 27th, 2011 at 9:37 am


You express yourself quite well but you casually passed over what I consider the real culprit: the TOTAL LACK of education at the club level. People playing their own styles for years have no interest in being educated. It is beneath them. Perhaps the ACBL should spend more time bringing before the public some unacceptable practices. It sure couldn’t hurt. You refer to it as “continuing education at the clubs.” In most duplicates that is taboo — a subject avoided like the plague.

Bobby WolffFebruary 27th, 2011 at 11:17 am

Hi again Nick,

There is at least one issue that you initiated which should (I think) be addressed by me, if for no other reason than to clear up a possible misunderstanding.

There is absolutely no doubt that the rules as written and since interpreted have total priority over what I, or anyone else, possibly thinks that they should be and to otherwise vocally think or argue is unacceptable.

However, my claim is that, at least with me, none of that exists or has ever existed. I certainly agree to your statement that the Laws and Proprieties imply and state that if a player faces logical alternatives than he cannot choose one suggested by unauthorized information (UI).

What an individual actually does, in the face of either knowing or not knowing about the above, is totally up to him and you and anyone else who may face a similar conundrum is entitled to do (bid or play) what he, at least thinks, he would always do. Any other understanding of anything I may have said before was always meant to both encourage everyone to follow his conscience and never to feel guilty or any other belittling feeling about his integrity. That has NEVER been an issue to me and, of course, never will be.

If anything, your original comment seemed to emphasize that you thought it would be bad bridge and not even worth considering to again pass holding the 1-6-1-5 hand which has been discussed. Since I agree, although my preference is to open a somewhat (at least according to some) dangerous vulnerable weak two bid, but if not, to then balance when next it is my turn. Most of the above is meaningless in our discussion except, perhaps to clear up this point which has led you to go on to say that I (and Judy) would then engage in ad hominem attacks on others who think differently.

Delving just a little deeper, since my life has engaged in chairing a huge number of WBF Appeals committees (perhaps more than anyone else has ever done) my experience has shown, at least to me, that a 2nd pass by the subject player (weaker hand) after partner has studied long and passed would be, almost by definition, a clear example of a valid logical alternative. Please always remember that one of the virtues of our great game, the world over, is the significant different thinking which is involved among countries, cultures, or for that matter closely allied same type theorists. If there is any doubt just examine closely various bidding panels throughout the world for a sample.

If you would honor me and ask me what I thought of some of those differences, my considered response would be, that the longer I play and administrate the game (those administrative days are about over because of my deafness) I begin to realize that heretofore way out views in my mind are no longer so way out.

In conclusion, you, as a player, have the right to do any and everything you want to, but all we, or perhaps only I, am doing is guessing what the result of a high-level committee hearing would be.

Sure I think the laws, at all levels, can be written much better, and I was around and active and very close to Edgar Kaplan, who contributed mightily with the writing, but why they came out the way they did is another story, worth being told, but way too long for this already tome.

Yes, you and all others are entitled to the courtesy of your opinions and if I have violated them in the past I apologize.

I sincerely do wish however, that you and perhaps other excellent bridge players who care about the future of the high-level game would reply to my question about what they think would happen if, after a very slight tell by partner that he may hold nothing special, if then a 2nd pass by the 1-6-1-5 hand should be legally questioned.

EllisFebruary 27th, 2011 at 12:01 pm


Idont believe Imissed lack of education, the problem is that real education about such things is done in the field, If novice players only play in novice games, it is unsuprising that when they progress to open games the habits they aquirred in the learning process transfer with them.

The ACBL, basically has nothing to do with the clubs as far as conduct and ethics is concerned, everything is in house, this may need to change but as it stands, the clubs themselves have to deal with these problems as they arise.

EllisFebruary 27th, 2011 at 12:13 pm


Quick story regarding your question, setting Blue Ribbon Pairs, Auction 1h by me 2nt(minors lho) 3h by Partner, right hand now puts a stop card on the table, extracts the 5cl from the box and waives it over the table for a full ten seconds, after he placed it on the table I felt duty bound to bid 5h immediately as Ihad already had at least 10 seconds if not more to think. Rho claimed Ihadnt waited and beleived my (fast?) bid showed a hand with no problems.

this went to comittee would you believe, fortunately Iwon basically because the comittee knew of this players antics, However what if they had not, Imay have then been punished for making an entirely ethical decision.


Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 27th, 2011 at 1:55 pm


The composition of committees has a lot to do with the outcomes as most have their own agendas — like it or not.

Take it from one who knows.


Nick KrnjevicFebruary 27th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Hi Bobby;

Thank you for your follow-up comments.

Your gracious apology is appreciated-I had been somewhat surprised by the closing comment of your first reply to my iniitial post.

And I quite agree that players who have an automatic balance should be taken to task when they don’t balance after partner has made a brisk pass. The same treatment should be extended to the player who tanks in a high-level competitive auction when he has no problem, but wants to bar his partner from making what is very likely to be an unsuccessful advance (or double).

The difficulty, of course, is one of proof: the innnocent side is rarely aware of the extent to which a seasoned partnerships may be sensitive to quite minor variations in tempo. So a minor change in tempo will often be meaningful for the offending pair, but not sufficiently significant to attract a director call.

Bobby WolffFebruary 27th, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Hi Ellis,

In bridge clubs all over North America and for that matter, in Sectionals, Regionals and even Nationals, anyone who goes to committee or merely just accepts a TD’s ruling is basically rolling the dice.

Why that is, at least in my opinion, is in most ways no one’s fault, but merely the result of policies laid down by the ACBL many years ago and unfortunately still tenaciously held.

Tournament bridge, unlike other major competitions (look at what has happened with poker), has greatly suffered from a lack of money being on the table, therefore not luring some visionary from appearing and leading all its players to the promised land. Perhaps the closest analogy that I can recall were the Jack Kramer tennis tours in the middle 1940’s which barnstormed many cities, with the top players of the day participating, but because of the shoestring required because of lack of big money, certainly no TV in that day, local ball boys or prominent citizens volunteered to work the lines and perform necessary tasks resulting in the obvious large number of errors made. But, since the fans watching were primarily just interested in seeing the top players perform, no one seemed to mind. Later tennis, of course as well as golf went big time because of the influx of major money from willing sponsors.

The ACBL is not to be blamed as much as they are, since they have had to dumb down their training, required dedication and consequently evolved to a laissez faire position (as you have said) and let the locals decide everything. In that way they cut expenses, do not risk law suits (major reason for the scandalous numbers of cheating cases which have not been prosecuted, and even when they are, because of their time and money consumption, result in the worst possible way, especially in bridge, to deal with crime and punishment), nor do anything really positive to truly professionalize our staffs as well as leaving many of our bridge laws and doctrines (alerts and ethics come to mind) ambiguous or even worse, not even dealt with. At times, even I bite my tongue, deciding to accept the ACBL for what they probably have had to be. After all, waiting for a bridge visionary with all the time requirements necessary and, of course, the speculation for success, at least, up to now, has not been fruitful.

At least to me, this bridge history lesson might be the only way for a miracle to happen and have a wealthy bridge Pied Piper take over and trump all obstacles.

MichaelFebruary 28th, 2011 at 1:55 am

I think the comment of ‘YOU MUST BE KIDDING’ is out of line and verging on a ZT penalty. The correct procedure is to play out the hand at the table and, if necessary, apply rectification later.

And on this hand there certainly should have been rectification. But the way to determine that is to poll peers of the players and see if there was a LA that was less suggested then the table action which would lead to a better result for the non-offending side. Here the pause suggests action, so acting over pass would be not the legitimate action *if* pass is a LA. Is pass a LA? I’d say yes, but you’d need to poll to be sure. I polled the hand on bridge base forums (the beginner/intermediate forum intentionally trying to be closer to peers of the lol playing). Not only was pass a LA, it was the favored call (majority pass, a minority bids 2nt unusual). See the thread at http://www.bridgebase.com/forums/topic/44624-your-call-in-the-pass-out-seat/page__mode__show.

So after the hand was played the director should have been called back and then should have figured out what would have happened in 2 spades (more or less the most favorable result that was at all likely in 2 spades for non-offending side) and as long as it was better than the table result, that should have been what happened.

There also likely could/should have been procedural penalties (which can, and often would in situations like this, just be warnings) to the bidders who didn’t carefully consider the LA not suggested by the break in tempo and also to the player at the table who registered disgust with the opponents and director who may well have been hampering the enjoyment of the game of those players.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 28th, 2011 at 7:50 am


In case you didn’ get it, this issue is not about “enjoyment of the game.” It is about the declining ethics and protocol which would have caused revolutions fifty years ago. No other game has rules that are not observed and viewed humorously as so wishy-washy.

My only concern is that the game reverts back to the way it once was — one played by ladies and gentlemen.

You have the zero tolerance backwards. Perhaps it was the huddler, the one taking advantage of the hitch and the director who didn’t realize the infraction IMMEDIATELY. THEY ARE THE ONES TO WHICH ZERO TOLERANCE IS ATTRIBUTABLE — not the innocent victims who played by the rules.

The ACBL is guilty for not going all out to stop these continuing huddle/balance partnerhips. Everyone is sick of it — but not to lose the poor innocent LOLs, it is tolerated. Aren’t the ethical players entitled to fair play????????????

It’s time that even LOLs are taken aside and explained the propriety of the game in sweet, ginger-peachy language. This cannot go on if the game is to continue!

It is clear to most experts that the auction should have reverted back to 2S (-500) which eventually did happen. It was the indecisiveness of the director and the fact he was a playing director that day and the interruption at his own table was a nuisance. IMO, it was a no brainer.

The director technically may have been right in having the hand played according to the rules, but it was just a futile waste of time under the specific circumstances, as it was a slam dunk with the characters involved that the score would revert back to 2S. To top it off, the director inanely muttered to me: “You wouldn’t want to be in 2S.” What an analysis! Shows you the caliber and judgment of those at the helm.

Not only is it necessary to educate the players as to this issue but head the directors in the right direction as well.


Judi WeissingerFebruary 28th, 2011 at 9:01 am

I am a relatively new duplicate player and joined ACBL two years ago. The second time I went to LVBW with a friend, I bid my usual style (which was not the convention, I later found out). After I made my second bid, because my partner took too long to bid (less than 1 minute), I was told by Judy Kaye Wolff that I was technically barred from bidding. The director was called, and affirmed that my bid was not allowed, and also offered what I should have bid the first time with a hand like mine. I argued that it is not how my partner and I bid, and he let me play the hand in 3 spades, as I had bid. I made the three spades, but was told that the hand would go to Judy and Bobby because it should have been played in 3 hearts by their side. I, of course, was put out, but also realized I learned two important things that day. How to double and then bid a suit, rather than bidding the suit twice with a 17 point hand, and that if you hesitate, you must bid or your partner is barred from bidding. While I have never used the latter in duplicate play to bar someone from bidding, I am aware that when I hesitate, I must bid or our bidding is over.

It did not sour me on the game, the duplicate club, or anything else. I resolved to make myself better at the game absorbing all the rules I hear. I have since learned many pointers at the club and from the Wolffs.

I still try to play at LVBW each week.

Bobby WolffFebruary 28th, 2011 at 9:51 am


You are as close to 100% correct in everything you say and for that matter, in the way you say it and for also giving an opinion which could be construed as an honest justification for what you consider as somewhat boorish behavior.

HOWEVER, in order to be as valuable as you certainly could be do not be like the 1,000 pound gorilla who while learning to play golf and mastering 400 yard drives, continues to use only that one shot and so shoots infinity instead of a 2 digit score.

Judy represents emotion and passion, especially for the game itself, which like my sometimes considerable temper, often tends to be misunderstood. She also represents honesty, a super work ethic, and above all, working every street corner to make bridge a presentable game for all and helping achieve it to be the absolute best game it can be.

For the above to even have a chance to succeed, all the players playing it (or at least the vast majority) MUST learn the unique ethical strictures present which separates it from almost all other competitive games ever invented.

When an event such as the latest occurs, there is no real way to be sure whether the hesitator and then partner colluded to shame the game or whether one or both knew very well what was happening, but got goosed (tempted, probably not unlike Tiger Woods) to follow the wrong ethical path, a path that has been selected an infinitesimal number of times in this very old world, but rarely caught so red-handed in front of so many world observers.

Enforcing Zero Tolerance like Active Ethics should always be interpreted to be in the best interests of the game itself, rather than an isolated instance where some learned, but nerd type legal minded person can suggest that, even though what is being said might be considered in the best interest of bridge, perhaps it wasn’t done in the gentlest possible way.

We do not live in a perfect world and especially at the bridge table where the competitive nature of the game sometimes gets the best of almost all bridge veterans, among whom, normally are major positive givers to the game itself.

Tournament directors, as paid employees, rather than just bridge players have an obligation to, at least try, to make the game enjoyable to all who they deal with. That does not mean an obligation to side with any one person, but rather a duty to not make unnecessary inflammatory remarks or deeds. If a TD has had trouble with a particular player it is more HIS DUTY than anyone else to offer an olive branch or at least try to pass it over without incident.

Every now and then it is advisable to be reminded for all of us to take note of our responsibilities involved, in what we are doing.

However for off the chart, unbelievable crusaders who endure much wrath, consternation, and other negative feelings and emotions, while on their way to bring the truth, resulting in improvement for others also involved, should be cherished, but, at the very least, not admonished.

There are almost always two sides to every confrontation, and the crusader is often targeted to prove his method in every way possible to almost any worth while suggestion

So be it, but in the end we should all be thankful to those well-meaning leaders who are leading the charge for across the board improvements.

EllisMarch 1st, 2011 at 12:53 am

This hand intrigued me, so Igave it to 2 people without the bit, just 1sp -2sp

Player 1, roughly 2500 masterpoints looked at the hand and passed

player 2 roughly 11,000 masterpoints looked at it and said cant quite make up my mind between 2nt and 3h but will probably bid 3h t the table.

Obviously this is not very scientific, but it does show that different levels of player will take different actions according to their experience..

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 1st, 2011 at 5:46 am


Did you include the minute plus huddle? If so, that only goes to prove that everyone lives by a different ethical code No one is questioning a call witout any theatrics by partner — but with the entertaining side show, it changes the picture.

KPMarch 1st, 2011 at 7:43 am

I absolutely agree with Paul. These two ladies are not beginners, they just don’t have the experience or years of yourself. Your antics at the table were completely unnecessary. In fact, your whole article was unnecessary – more of “expert” beating up on the little guy. Also, it would appear that you woud know better than to give your opinions of other bridge players on a general format. Keep them to yourself and if you can’t see that you were completely wrong with your antics, perhaps you should read the rules on ethics with players less experienced than yourself.

Art KorthMarch 1st, 2011 at 8:14 am

Dear Judy and Bobby:

I rarely play in club games anymore. One reason is the club games are largely populated by novice players and they resent having “experts” come into “their” games.

One thing I have learned is that if I play in these club games I have to put up with a lot of behavior that would never be countenanced in any tournament. There are many instances of huddles and other improper behavior that have to be ignored in order to get through a session.

The TDs at these games cater to their regular clientele. Calling for the TD is always considered to be an insult, and the TDs treat it that way.

None of this is as it should be, but that doesn’t change the facts.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 1st, 2011 at 10:59 am

Dear Art:

I have fond memories of you from the Philadelphia area (unless there are two Art Korths which I doubt)!

I totally agree with your “”disgusting” (but on point) analysis of what has happened to club bridge but when there are no nearby tournaments and you don’t play on line — are you supposed to sit home and twiddle your thumbs.

Are you too young to remember the early days of Rhoda Grahn’s and Bob Miller’s in Center City? Those were the good old days of paradise bridge — a relaxing, wonderful carefree atmostphere.. Alas they are just memories!



EllisMarch 1st, 2011 at 11:47 am

No I did not include the huddle, I was interested in seeing exactly how normal bidding or balancing or pre balancing was with the hand in question.

In order to ascertain wether a bid is normal or not , one needs to first see if people would make it without knowledge of the huddle, if 5 people of a particular level would all make the same bid then that bid would be deemed to be normal in that peer group. Now you have to decide if another call may be a logical alternative, if a certain percentage make the other call then it is logical, if no one makes the other call it is not.

The Problem with UI and BIT cases , is not that it is wrong to bid, but that a problem only arises when the bid looks abnormal. In my own peer group everyone bids with this hand, there are no exceptions, you have 6/5 and the opps havent exactly been over enamoured with their holdings partner rates to have an opener or better. However Iam sure in the peer group of the players described this would be far from the case.

And this as with all cases needs to be based on opinions of players within the peer group of the alleged offender, not the peer group of the non offender.

EllisMarch 1st, 2011 at 11:52 am

Hey Art,

Havent heard from you since the lord knows when, sometime before the demise of e-bridge I would imagine.

Art KorthMarch 1st, 2011 at 12:39 pm


The world could not stand having two Art Korths. 🙂

I did not play in the Center City club back then. I started playing serious bridge at the old South Jersey Bridge Center when it was located on Ormond Avenue in Cherry Hill. This was in 1973-1974. There were a number of strong players at that club – Arnie Fisher, Jim Lambert, Paul Zebrowski, Vince Civale. Brian Trent was a year younger than me, and he and I played there quite a bit. We were both in high school at the time.

I don’t play that much anymore. I prefer poker to bridge now. I am on a Solomon Team with Jane Segal, John Marks, Daisy Goecker, Meyer and Ethan Kotkin. We play against many of the old crowd (including Craig Robinson). The old crowd is getting older. Of course, we lost Dave Treadwell a little over a year ago. I played quite a bit with Dave between 2005 and 2009. Even made it to the national GNT finals in Chicago. I never thought I would say this, but I miss his jokes.

Ellis – I am still around. I see your postings on the facebook bridge club. Have not bothered to participate yet.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 1st, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Dear Art:

I think you made a profound statement … WE ALL MISS DAVE’S JOKES AND THE EXPRESSION ON HIS FACE! Whatta guy.

I’m rooting for your Solomon team. Take good care of my old partner Jane. We started playing in the early eighties but Bobby and I haven’t been to a National in three years. You have a popular team. Hope you win it all.



Judy Kay-WolffMarch 1st, 2011 at 5:33 pm

TO KP (Whatever that stands for — may be Kitchen Police).

When I last looked this was still a free country and people are entitled to protect their rights. You are existing on another planet. Blog sites are venues for people to express their opinions and your views don’t crack any ice with me. It’s laissez faire people like you that encourage inappropriate action so you stick to your standards and I will do the same.

I don’t go for this LOL crap You can’t be a LOL forever. At one point you gotta learn the rules and play by them. If they can’t stand the heat, get outta the kitchen. I don’t believe in double standards. I never have and never will — and I will do everything within my power till my dying breath to stop this sort of garbage of which you obviously approve. Don’t kid yourself — lots (not all) of these LOLs have Lots of Larceny in their souls. IT IS TIME WE PLAY ON A LEVEL FIELD.

von WittelsbachMarch 2nd, 2011 at 1:14 am

Judie Weissinger, you wrote: “I was told by Judy Kaye Wolff that I was technically barred from bidding.”

This is incorrect. You may bid what you like; if you had your bid, you had your bid! It is correct that a player should bend over backwards in doubtful situations, however to say you are technically barred from bidding is plain wrong and it is not up to Ms Wolff to make up her own rules, but rather the director to make a ruling. Frankly it is this sort of behavior that drives people away from the game. I would have assigned a ZT penalty in both your case and in the original case for rudeness. It is a shame that a good player needs to beat up on weak players this way.

Bobby WolffMarch 2nd, 2011 at 5:10 am

To Mr. or Ms. von Wittelsbach,

Somehow your comment seems ironic, and for my taste it is 99% against the best interests of bridge and its overall positive development.

First, describing the other 1%, I would say that from a narrow view you are legally correct in what you say, but like many other things in life, your attitude toward important necessary precise bridge education is now and has always been, off the charts impractical.

Since I was there at the table, and what was exactly said between Judy, my on the spot, well-intended wife and Judi, an extremely bright, attractive, young, talented, but basically brand new enthusiastic bridge novice, was somewhat different than described, but carried the EXACTLY correct ethical meaning as applied to playing bridge.

True, my opponent Judi can bid anything she wants, but she MUST be aware of her ethical responsibilities which will (should) be scrutinized with any judgment doubt, because of the break in tempo and then pass, to be determined and thus ruled, against her partnership.

Yes, my lifemate Judy should use tact and diplomacy in what she says, especially considering that Judi (as well as her lovely partner, Rose) were new players and this, at least to me, was very evident at the table. Second, from a friendship and social standpoint there is NO question that saying anything is sometimes a very difficult task, but my Judy was equal to it and gets nothing less that an “A” grade from me with both what was said and the way it was handled.

Also, my opponents, Judi and Rose evidently (by Judi’s topical letter, which is a comment related above) took what was said in the tone it was meant, and my long term bridge experience shouts out to me that our opponents have passed their first class in Legal Bridge Ethics 101 in flying colors and will grow to become pillars of Active Bridge Ethics and lead us in a positive way instead of resorting to poor Typhoid Mary’s symbolic past of unfortunately being responsible in creating a dangerous and debilitating disease to grow to epidemic proportions, at least at that point in time.

From my perspective there is not much more to say except that if more of Judy Wolff tact and gumption had been present for a much greater part of contract bridge’s 80+ years of existence, perhaps our game would be geometrically that much better off and at all levels, since once the basic core of bridge ethics, that is obviously an integral part of what MUST be present in ALL aspects of what bridge is about, is corrupted by some, our present history ensures that it would have been so much better for the game if it would not have been.

Thanks to Mr. or Ms. von Wittelsbach (him or her) for taking the time to comment. Perhaps, together with my view, it will hopefully serve bridge positively in trying to curb a possible relatively new epidemic of what has been going on for way too long, “doing anything and everything possible to win, but sadly crossing the line in a negative way, particularly as it applies to playing our otherwise marvelous game”.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 2nd, 2011 at 6:53 am

Let me preface my remarks by addressing Judi, Bobby plus those other readers who were not on the scene at the time and misinterpretted Judi’s words.

I also want to add that Rose and Judi are two of my closest friends in LV and we meet every two weeks for lunch when we are all available. Bridge (mostly the ethical side of the coin) are the main subjects of discussion.

To further correct the wrong assumption .. Rose has been playing social bridge for many decades (and not an LOL) with her friends and adorable husband Jerry with whom we all had dinner last month. She was mostly a rubber or social bridge player and far more experienced than Judi; When they met at their beautiful Siena complex, the girls fell in love Though both happily married, they became inseparable (when Rose is not busy with her brood and Judi is not absorbed in a very successful business from which she has been trying to retire).

When the incident happened, I called the director and he allowed Judi to bid 3S but explained that after Rose’s long huddle (and pass), Judi should play it out but then rightfully rolled it back to 3H by our side. NO to-do, NO hard feelings — just an education for the girls and an apology from Judi who did not realize she had done something out of line.

The point of Judi’s comment was it was a very enriching experience and part of her new introductory bridge education (playing the beginning of serious duplicate with her favorite partner Rose — of two years standing) and trying desperately to improve (and no doubt she has).

No harsh words were ever exchanged. Readers certainly had a way of reading into it what they wanted and couldn’t wait to pounce.

Judi’s last words (disputing being ruled against drives people away) was to the absolute contrary:

“It did not sour me on the game, the duplicate club, or anything else. I also resolved to make myself better at the game absorbing all the rules I hear. I have since learned many pointers at the club and from the Wolffs.”

She is so enthusiastic that she and husband Bob are taking “C’ lessons from Rick Price at the LVBW and loving it.

So, those of you who have reading comprehension problems can now understand what Judi Weisinger was trying to say — but failed to reach the critical animals. There were no unpleasantries. I called the director at the appropriate time and even that was done in a ladylike manner.

Bridge is not about the social setting of the game and making ‘nice-nice” to your opponents — but about playing by the rules — an education for which Judi is very grateful!

Ruprecht von WittelsbachMarch 2nd, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Dear Mr Wolff,

You posted: “but she MUST be aware of her ethical responsibilities which will (should) be scrutinized with any judgment doubt, because of the break in tempo and then pass”

I don’t disagree with any of these comments. What I take objection to is the fact that Ms Kay-Wolff took it upon herself to inform the opponents of “the law”. It is not her right, nor responsibility to do so. As she appears to be a stickler for the laws, she should not have done this. Correct?

By the way Ms Kay-Wolff, if “critical animals” was directed at me, then this is a very crude and rude remark to make. I hope it wasn’t but it is hard to interpret otherwise. You do appear to like calling people who hold opposing views to yours names.

EllisMarch 3rd, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Hmm Ruprecht Von Wittelsbach? the german king who deposed the good king WenceslaUs? Either this is an alias, or your parents had a wondeful sense of humour.

Ruprecht von WittelsbachMarch 3rd, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Germans have no sense of humor as you probably know. This is an old family name.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 4th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Mr (?) von Wittelsbach

I think it is rude to call the “director” (whomever is running the asylum) without telling your RHO why. The version of the story is greatly exaggerated and was made into an “incident of ranting and raving” by an outside individual whose name is always on everyone else’s tongue plus another “know-nothing” who deludes himself by thinking he is a ‘mavin” as they peddled the hand which was a slam dunk. The only good outcome was the balancer learned she could not take advantage of partner’s tanking pass. Until directors get better educated and informed, these situations are here to stay.

Georgiana GatesMarch 5th, 2011 at 9:14 am

Does the title of your post mean that you will no longer be blogging? I’d like to see you continue.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMarch 5th, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Hell, no Georgiana. They’d have to take me away kicking and screaming. Thanks for the concern.