Judy Kay-Wolff


Sedona Elks Lodge 2291


It all began about six weeks ago with an email from our good friend Robb Gordon (formerly from Chicago, NY and now Arizona) asking if we’d consider driving up (no commercial air transportation other than the private Sedona airport) for their little Sectional in early March to play with Linda and him and Brian Schoenfeld.   Being brain-dead and non-anticipatory of my fear of heights, I happily accepted as I had heard so much about Sedona.  Little did I know that the AAA directions took us through the unforgettable scenic route (every imaginable winding road through the canyons, gorges and mountain tops till we finally arrived at our destination – the charming Sky Ranch Lodge traversing a narrow winding guardrailed road – which seemed halfway to heaven.   It was about a mile or two above the lovely Sedona Elks Club Lodge so the convenience was perfect.   However, Robb immediately gave this scaredy cat an alternate return route which was on straight, flat terrain which took half an hour longer – but much more relaxing minus the cavernous highs and lows.   (However, Bobby and I  both agreed if we return to this Nirvana of a bridge setting, we’d stay at Best Western off the main flat highway on 89A and take the low road)!

Once my motor trauma was behind us, we had a ball, winning the opening day K/O followed by another K/O (3/4) and a 3rd in the Swiss.  Though we thought there would not be any world beaters in the crowd, we were in for a surprise.   We played against half a dozen tough, experienced players who knew exactly what they were doing and could hold their own at higher level events, including Nationals.   Not such duck soup as we expected.

Let me tell you about our delightful three days – but I don’t know where to begin the plaudits.   The nearby restaurants (a super N.Y. style deli we frequented for breakfast every day and dinners at a sensational Italian Restaurant called Dahl & DiLuca and an unusual Szechuan/Sushi dining spot were our choices) – could not have been improved upon.   One night we dined together with the Gordons, and our fifth (Brian) and his non-playing bridge wife – the lovely Renee Schoenfeld (who happens to be a psychiatrist) and well equipped to contribute a lot to our bridge conversation though we were careful not to ‘talk bridge” – just about the unusual groups that bridge attracts.   Renee added a lot to the discussion because maybe she understands our participants better than we we do.   We also had a treat seeing the Gordon’s magnificent Southwest decor home with the highlight getting to meet the famous “Lola” their priceless, adorable puppy (a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) whom they treasure (and we loved too).

The site, The Sedona Elks Club on some godforsaken off-the-road site like a trailer park, was elegant.  Between a beautiful bar room, there were good sized playing rooms on either side.   The lighting was good, the floor director was on top of everything and the people were paragons of good manners and ethics.  It really left nothing to be desired.

As we walked in the door (before we reached where the entries were being sold), we were greeted by Elks volunteers (Jim Hutchins, Manager) who offered us a sheet to select our lunch (prepared by the members) for $8.00 when we took a short lunch break.   It consisted of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chili dogs, salads, etc. plus a variety of chips, an apple, veggies and unlimited beverages, including iced tea.   Avoiding the hustle bustle of leaving the premises was a godsend and you could eat on the terrace or at your table.  Could not have been more convenient – and the cuisine was excellent beside the price being right!

Also they have a table with coffee, water, tea (hot or cold), nosh on the sidelines if you couldn’t wait till the lunch break.   A sight to behold and a marvelous, considerate addition to the tiring three sessions (unless you got knocked out earlier).   They had bracketed pair games, two K/Os and a two session Swiss so we finished early on the last night as many from out of town (Phoenix, Sun City, Scottsdale, many California cities and other locales, etc.) had ventured a long way to this beautiful event.   I can sincerely say I have never been to a tournament in over fifty-five years where the amenities were superb, the people were warm, gracious, friendly, outgoing and so overwhelmed to welcome a celebrity like Bobby.

Incidentally, On Friday Bobby participated in the recognition and presentation of awards to the Mini-McKinney Winners (by points categories) plus the Aces of Clubs winners.   The presentation and the real stars of the show were the Emcee Marsha Helton (named ACBL Goodwill Winner of the year) and her handsome. charming husband Darryl who is President, Unit Tournament Coordinator and Membership Chair.  By the way, Marsha not only organized beginners and novices a couple years ago but had worked with them to bring more players  into the fold.   She is also Committee Member, Clubs News Reporter, Electronic Chair and handles tournament publicity.   The Heltons are the pillars of the bridge community (plus help from dozens and dozens of other enthusiastic volunteers).   It is truly an inspirational unit and district.  They are all a credit to the game.


Dave memphis mojo SmithMarch 7th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

My favorite Brian Schoenfeld story: We were playing as teammates (maybe with Dar Afdahl or Jim Murphy?) and he opened 1NT with 7-2-2-2 (seven clubs) and 14 points. His partner checked on aces and kings and invited seven. Brian accepted and it was right. Anybody can count points, but Brian counted tricks.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 7th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Like Marty says – points schmoints!

Lola J. PoochMarch 7th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Dear Bobby & Judy:

I thought you were pretty cool too!

Luv & Kisses,


PS – I tried to put my picture here but it didn’t work. I guess I am just too beeeutiful!!!

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 7th, 2011 at 7:00 pm


I saw you in person and I will vouch that you are something special — picture or no picture.

CPMarch 8th, 2011 at 7:30 am


It was refreshing to read your blog about such a positive experience on the Sedona bridge scene. It sounds like the people were pouring out of the woodwork and the hosts and hostesses of The Elks Club were so gracious. I was particularly impressed (especially coming from you) about the ethics and manners. Perhaps it is the difference about big community bridge v. small towns — but that is no excuse. Bridge protocol should be the same the world over (or at least in the States) where the inmates are not running the asylum.

Good to hear something so uplifting.


Judy Kay-WolffMarch 8th, 2011 at 4:55 pm


Cute story and great sixth sense on Brian’s part. He just doesn’t seem like the type but looks can be so deceiving. It was a delight to meet both Brian and Renee. I couldn’t believe they came so far (from Virginia Beach, VA) where my friend Gloria Brown (Bookbinder) lives. Small world!

ChuckMarch 8th, 2011 at 5:19 pm


Seems like more isolated suburban bridge club settings differ from those in the big city surrounding with all the hot shots. Never been to Sedona but now you’ve intrigued me to think about it — more for the scenery (looking up not travelling through)!

Glad you are back safely.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 8th, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Hi Chuck:

Yes, the scenery was as riveting as they say it is. That and the Grand Canyon are two “musts” — but I prefer to view them from the bleachers — not up close and personal.

The whole aura of bridge seemed to be different. I suppose it is a close knit community and everyone appears to know and love each other. The tournament was fairly large for the area and everyone was ‘taken’ with the fact that Bobby Wolff would venture that far for a mere sectional. They were so cordial that when we arrived, we were each presented with gold faced magnetic tags with our names printed in black. Below was ‘Sedona Bridge Center’. A lovely and most appreciated gesture with a touch of class.

A bridge experience we’ll always remember!

Marsha HeltonMarch 9th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Hello Judy & Bobby,

It was our pleasure to host you at our

tournament in Sedona. Darryl and I moved to Sedona almost ten years ago. It was apparent to me from the beginning that a high standard of friendliness was the norm at this club. As we stepped into key leadership positions, we have strived to keep up this level of a friendly, yet competitive environment. We accept no less. More credit should be given to our members, who have always risen to the occasion to do whatever we need. As most of us are volunteers, and given our large turnout, we sure needed everyone at the club to pitch in and they really delivered – big time.

Thanks again for coming. We were thrilled to play 24 boards against you in the 2nd round knockout. We also appreciate the kind words you have written about our club. We are very proud of the Sedona Bridge Center.

Darryl HeltonMarch 9th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Hello Judy & Bobby,

Every day, I read Bobby’s bridge column in the Arizona Republic. I never thought that one day, I would be sitting at the same table playing 24 boards against you in our tournament knockout. Even though you thoroughly trounced us, we enjoyed the moment. Thanks for the support you have given Northern Arizona bridge. We have 330 members and stretch from Lake Havasu to Show Lo in the upper half of our state. And thanks for recognizing that we do have some good competition. We hope you come back to enjoy our hospitality again.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 9th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Dear Marsha and Darryl:

No need for a thank you. Both you (and your comrades) deserved every bit of praise. It was truly a delightful, relaxing, warm environment. We rarely drive that far for a tournament but it was well worth the experience.

Keep up the great work. You are genuine pace setters and bridge is so desperately in need of fine devotees such as yourselves.


Judy and Bobby

Bill CubleyMarch 10th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Annie and I were in Sedona and she let me have time for a session at the Sedona club. Tjis was when they were redoing the road and it took me 45 mins to do the 15 minute drive. The club set me up with a partner who intorduced me to everyone includiing Robb and Linda Gordon plus a centenarian playe! I really enjoyed the game.

Judy did you and Bobby try a balloon or a helicopter ride through the red rocks? The helicopter was just up the road to at the mesa top airport from the club.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 10th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

No Bill, we admired the red rocks from the terra firma of the roads below from our automobile. I am not a fan of heights but no one can dispute it is one of the most breathtaking sights in the universe.