Judy Kay-Wolff

SECRET MEETING – not for publication!!!!

As you will recall, I posted a blog “Do you Fit the Bill?” about the upcoming vacancy of the position of the CEO in July of 2012 — over thirteen months from now.  That is an inordinate amount of time to select and train someone.   We’re not talking about a Navy Seal.

I later caught wind of the fact an unpublicized meeting was being held by the Search Committee selected by President Craig Robinson and was coincidentally being held prior to the luxurious Cavendish Invitational at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, NV. 

Days after my blog I was reprimanded for letting the cat out of the bag as even the BOD of the ACBL was unaware of this clandestine gathering.  What was the big secret?  I should think this should be public knowledge since 165,000 people are involved — unless there was some underhanded business being conducted or predetermination that they did not want the outside world to know about.   The Committee Meeting, no doubt with all expenses paid by the ACBL at the exciting time of the Cavendish Auction and party, had the following present:  Bruce Blakely, chairman; Sharon Anderson, Steve Beatty, Bob Blanchard, Joan Gerard, Dan Morse, Rand Pinsky and perhaps others.  I got hell for making it public on my blogsite because it was supposed to be hushed up.   WHY THE STEALTH?   WHY NOT MAKE IT PUBLIC?   WHAT’S TO HIDE?   Perhaps there was more to it than meets the eye.

It recently came to the fore that about a dozen applicants were invited to attend the Henderson meeting and as a result it was narrowed down to four or five and the leaning now is that ONE will be presented to the Board for their approval – rather than be given a choice after interviewing all.   How can this be!  The search committee are not professionals and certainly more than one person should be interviewed and then one selected by the BOD.

On another very related subject …… after reading about the search on my blog, I received an inquiry from someone who would certainly fill the bill and wanted to throw his hat in the ring.   I called Bonnie Bagley, my District 17 dynamic rep, and she contacted Mr. Blakely who instructed her to tell the ‘potential’’ candidate to send in his resume which he emailed THE FOLLOWING DAY and the applicant received this email dated MAY 12th: 

Dear ______________:

Thank you for your letter in application for the position of CEO, which we have received.   I am the Chair of the CEO Search Committee and will forward your application to the entire committee for  review.

/s/ Yours truly, Bruce Blakely. 

Yesterday the applicant received a follow-up dated MAY 20TH  which reads as follows

Dear ______________:

We are not accepting any new applications at this time.  If we reopen our search, we will contact you then.  Thank you for taking the time and interest to apply.

/s/ Bruce W. Blakely

MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MINDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don’t quite understand the inconsistency.    The applicant did so immediately.  I SAW THE SIX PAGE RESUME.   It was quite impressive.  How could it hurt, after promising that it would be sent to the Committee for consideration (unless a replacement CEO was favored from the start???).  The new applicant is dynamic and to exclude him as a candidate is absurd!  WHERE IS THE FIRE?????.  Besides, a chair person has certain inalienable rights AND above all – that is to change his mind if he realizes there are better options available.   This “one candidate” offering to the BOD is outrageous?   Besides, how would he or she feel if rejected.   It is much more level-headed and fair to present a small group to the BOD for their consideration and it is they who will be responsible for the choice to the membership.

If this is the position of this bunch of randomly selected ‘searchers’, then the ACBL deserves what they get.   The search committees have made several faux pas in the past (and I don’t have to name them; they are self evident) and not to consider this recent application of a phenomenal candidate could be the biggest to date and may live to haunt them!  The selection of the CEO should be made top priority and the committee should honor their responsibilities to the game as well as the ACBL – with revocable deadlines since time is not of the essence.


jack mendelsohnMay 21st, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Judy, I love your blog. You take no prisoners and you tell it like it is. Thanks for your courage and honesty

John Howard GibsonMay 21st, 2011 at 2:15 pm

It takes a low darn rat to smell another….and even from across the water, the smell wafting in from the ACBL makes me feel right at home. Yours HBJ

Judy Kay-WolffMay 21st, 2011 at 3:27 pm


It is always a nice feeling to be appreciated — regardless of one’s views. Yes, you know me longer than we both care to admit — and I have always told it like it was.

Perhaps that was one of my attractions to Bobby. He’s a no nonsense person as aptly demonstrated in the candid “The Lone Wolff.”

This recent ACBL episode with the CEO selection I found offensive as a dues paying member. Where they get off with secret meetings I do not understand. It has constantly bothered me that the CEO has always been controlled by 25 sets of shackles and does not have more discretion.

And, speaking of shackles, you’ll enjoy this one!!!

Bobby tossed the sports section of the paper on my computer which bore the names of the horses running in the Preakness. He added, “Pick a name and we’ll have some small rooting interest across the board.” To get him off my case and get back to this blog, I zipped through it and said, “O.K. — bet on Shackleford.” We are still hysterical as you can imagine who beat out the Kentucky Derby winner from last week.

You got it! SHACKLEFORD.



Judy Kay-WolffMay 21st, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Dear HBJ:

Yes, every continent has its bridge problems — some more serious than others.

The only way to curb them is by speaking up — and by the way, you will be hearing much more about the Peter Pender bequest unless some satisfadtory affirmative action is taken by those in charge. I consider misappropriation of a dead man’s bequest inexcusable and something must be done about it — come hell or high water. I don’t care whose fault it is — the EF or ACBL but someone is responsible for using money (about $11,000) eight years after the last sighting of the Pendergraph.

Somebody has to protect the picking of a dead man’s pocket and knowing Peter long and well, I became self-appointed. He is entitled to many years of commemoration for his $50,000 bequest.

John Howard GibsonMay 21st, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Dear Judy, the reality is that committee members change over the years and that new committees do not hold themselves accountable for the sins and mistakes of past committees.

However, the present committtee is in my opinion accountable for (1) restoring the reputation of the body it represents (2) making an apology on behalf of the ACBL and (3) correcting the situation.

To wash their hands of this dreadful affair is cruel, cowardly and disgraceful. Therefore, you are right that these Pontius Pilates should get off their high horses and DO WHAT IS RIGHT. Yours HBJ

charles PageMay 22nd, 2011 at 4:18 am

Is there a positive out of the secret meeting ?

That BOD of 25 could agree to appoint a search committee is a start.

Maybe the search committee took their remit, (presumably find suitable person(s) for the role) and used it to select a singular candidate for the 25 to grill /greet with warmth. Otherwise the 25 would be split over selecting from two or three or four which would mean votes and lobbying.

If as a selection committee you have your singular choice rejected by the BOD then you should resign and those of the BOD who appointed the selection committee must consider their position on the BOD as the persons they appointed have not proved capable of executing an instruction. That there are many suitable candidates is a given but how many good candidates do you need to interview.

Why do 160,000 shareholders need a BOD of 25 ? What should the right size of a BOD be ?

It is a great blog that you have !

Judy Kay-WolffMay 22nd, 2011 at 7:18 am

Dear HBJ;

I assume your reference is to the Pendergraph debacle. The ACBL would be getting off scot-free if they returned the wrongly used 2005-06 withdrawals (about $11,400)from the fund (because the Pendergraph ended around 1998) and add it to the $10,700 that remains. I would say that solution is giving them by far the best of it and we can continue to honor Peter and perpetuate his name in a manner I suggested to them months ago – naming the opening event at the 3 NABCs “The Peter Pender International Fund Pairs.” Look at all the other people who have events named for them and I guarantee you they didn’t donate $50,000.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 22nd, 2011 at 7:31 am


Remember, all this is hearsay — one great big secret. I have gleaned information here and there and these are their considerations at the moment. I pray they change their alleged minds. Besides, how can they have such closed minds and not consider an outstanding candidate who was told one day to send in his resume and then received an email they were not taking any more applications (from the same person — the chairman of the committee). A bit confusing! If this is the way a search committee operates, it is a disgrace and maybe the wrong people were selected. Anyway — eventually the mystery will all come out into the open but I certainly would not want to be one of those serving! What a way to conduct business — especially to select the highest officical in ACBL Land.

And, yes, with 160,000 or 165,000 members, why do we need 25 districts? For more trips, meetings, perks and outlay of the organization’s dues and allied intake.

Thanks for writing and spilling your thoughts to us.

CPMay 22nd, 2011 at 7:39 am

I certainly hope it is all rumor that the SC is not thinking of narrowing it down to one individual and have him or her interviewed by the board. In bridge — rumors are notorious for getting started and snowballing like Whisper Down the Lane played when we were kids. I sure hope more than one potential candidate will appear before the Board and the late applicant will be given an opportunity as well.

EllisMay 22nd, 2011 at 3:49 pm

The districts were originally organised according to the size of the duplicate playing population. Much water has passed under the bridge since that original organisation. Variious changes have happened and bridge playing populations have moved, however due to political problems the districts themselves have not changed very much.

A prime example is District 23 which represents Los Angeles. This is a small island in the claifornia district 22, it represents about 5% of the players in the greater california district and could esily be swallowed up whole by District 22 with almost no one other the D23 officials being effectesd.

Another interesting example is Bermuda, which is part of D2 , that is the same D2that covers Ontario /canada. There is obviously a reason for this, possibly the Acbl wanted to group all former crown colonies together.

D21 San Francisco, and Sacremento. and parts of Nevada.

Of course all of the above means that California players get to play in more than there fair share of regionals and sectionals.

But to be honest the whole area from Nevada to California could quite easily be covered by 2 Regions and not 4, Getting the incumbents to agree about this is a political nightmare.

EllisMay 22nd, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Ohyes and who can ever foget that at least according to the Acbl Texas has annexed Mexico. Not that I believe otherwise but it obviously makes a lot of sense for the Houston People to have a Regional in Peurto Vallarta .

KevinMay 22nd, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Many of Ellis’ comments are correct, but as I’m from District 23 I do want to correct his misstatements about our district.

District 23 is one of the smaller districts at 3500 members, but it is 50% of the size of district 22 (not 5%). Source, for those interested:


Also, while population is one way to dissect the districts, there is also quality of play (and many other facets), and district 23 and district 12 -Michigan (both small districts) have the 5th and 3rd best performances across all GNT flights from 2001-2009.




Judy Kay-WolffMay 23rd, 2011 at 6:57 am


Much of what you say makes sense. I did not discuss redistricting as I know very little about the requirements. However, I might add it is gonna be a cold day in hell when two-thirds of the BOD fire themselves as they would be the ones to decide on redistricting. Don’t hold your breath till it happens.

My concern was the secrecy of the whole process and the rumor that they were going to present just one finalist to the BOD. Absurd. Why not present four to six and let each one speak for himself/herself, then make a decision and present the potential finalists to the board for their vote of approval. Otherwise, it is like ramming a person down their throat. In some cases it has not worked out so well.