Judy Kay-Wolff


In these terrible times in the world today with so many countries at odds, the USBF once again has made a stalwart effort to avoid any ugly situations at the world bridge championship in the Netherlands this October.  EACH MEMBER AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE USBF MUST SIGN THE FOLLOWING to avoid another Shanghai Witches Incident which occurred at the Closing ceremony a few years ago.  All participants are to sign and date and send to Jan Martel.

As a condition of USBF qualification  to represent the United States, I agree to abide by all regulations of the USBF, ACBL, WBF and other sponsoring organizations regarding international competition, including the Olympic Rules adopted by the WBF.  I recognize that it is a privilege to represent my country as a member of both the USBF and the ACBL.  For the duration of the competition I will adhere to the regulations of proper dress and deportment at all times including tournament play and any related events and ceremonies.

International bridge events are not the time or place for any type of planned or spontaneous personal statements, demonstrations or public displays.   I agree that they are intended as a respite from politics, with all nations welcome to participate.   Without permission from the USBF, only the winners and their official captain and coach are to appear on the podium to receive medals at the award ceremonies where full respect is to be given to the US and the USBF through absence of all non-bridge related activity.

I understand that the USBF reserves the right to sanction any participant who violates the Code of Conduct.

I hereby agree to these conditions, as a representative of the USBF.

Name (printed): ________________________

Signature:  ____________________________                                                                                                 

Date: ________________________________


John Howard GibsonJune 29th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

HBJ again : As much as I believe in duty, integrity and respect with regards to governing bodies to whom you owe so much, I still feel uncomfortable about gagging orders.

Sometimes issues crop up which create a conflict of interests, or should I say a conflict of loyalties.

For instance, I will always put my club first….but that doesn’t mean I will endorse the nonsense and stupid decisions of its committee.

I will always support my country but not necessarily the government in power, which could be driving us towards economic ruin or pointless overseas wars.

Free speech in my view is an imperative right we must never lose or be asked to sacrifice. So when it is used for constructive or valid criticism, I backing the critics every time irrrespective of whether or not their have signed up to silence and/or secrecy.

But if criticism errs towards mischief, or personal insults, full of subjective bias….all based on ignorance and falsehood, then such people have denied themselves the defence of free speech. This makes them guilty of any wilful, or careless, breach of an agreed code of conduct.

Sadly, the vast grey area inbetween these two positions is full of philosophical, ethical, moral, contractual and political complexities.

I guess the Shanghai Witches were more naive than mischievous. Still proud to be American but definitely not republicans. Standing up for what makes America a great country…..but not prepared to endorse the decisions of the president.

What they did certainly raised some very difficult and awkward questions.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 30th, 2011 at 6:12 am

Dear HBJ:

We usually think quite similarly but this is one issue on which we definitely part ways.

I, too, believe ever so much in freedom of speech. However, once you leave U.S. soil, I believe it is in bad taste (to put it mildly) to criticize your country and president PUBLICLY! The awards stage was neither the time nor place to hold up that ugly sign about President Bush (who at least was a patriot). I have my doubts about our present big-wigs. The S.W. may have been high or giddy and mischievous, but whatever the reason — the sign was in disgusting taste as far as I am concerned.

That is why I feel it is mandatory to restrict every player, captain or coach to mind his or her manners and remind themselves they are on foreign soil which is not where to air one’s grievances about one’s president.

We agree to disagree.


JaneJune 30th, 2011 at 6:38 am

Hi Judy,

I am with you on this issue also. I don’t know any of the women involved, and while I do believe in, am grateful for, and enjoy the freedoms we all have as citizens of this wonderful country, it was in extremely poor taste to air their political views in such a way, in a foreign country, no less, at a non- political function. All I can say is- what were they thinking? I don’t believe they were thinking at all. I would not call their actions mischievous. It showed tremendous disrespect in my opinion. There are other, more rational ways to get one’s point across. Voting is one of them.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 30th, 2011 at 7:21 am

Dear Jane:

Thanks for your back-up. Believe it or not, though it is at least a few years since the indiscreet display of the sign “We did not vote for Bush.” but it is as offensive today to me as it was then. You are right. What were they thinking? To criticize one’s nation especially in front of many of their non-allies at a public ceremony is disrespectful to your nation and arrogant on your part. If you feel so inclined, rally in front of the White House about your grievances — not an a WBF Awards Ceremony – unsolicited and disgraceful.

That is why the CODE OF CONDUCT is so vital. They can’t say they had no warning to prevent a recurrence!

Thanks for writing.


Bobby WolffJune 30th, 2011 at 1:29 pm


Trying to cast a slightly different light on the above subject let me throw in my two or, in this case, possibly three cents worth.

While I agree precisely with your thoughts on free speech and its advantages, especially while living in a country which prides itself on being able to allow it, I think I need to sally forth in the following explanation.

Through the years and being at so many of the final victory celebrations honoring the winning teams at the WBF World Championships as well as being directly in the administration of such tournaments, please consider the following thoughts.

Bridge and its world politics has had to endure the China/Taiwan significant dispute on who is in control of what and how those two countries should continue their heretofore strained relationship. Also South Africa (SA) and its apartheid practices was quite a thorn to some countries who suffered because of it, so much so, that many of them claimed that they wouldn’t participate in any world championship when SA was also included. Finally we are all familiar, disgustingly so, with the Arab/Israeli disputes that had various Arab countries deny their team the right to play (head to head) against Israel during the long round robins which always were held at the beginning of the tournament in order to determine the qualifiers for the final groupings.

For thirty plus years I was involved dealing with these non-bridge problems which were entirely politically oriented. As a matter of fact in both the Chinese confrontations as well as the Middle East hatred, the actual players on all of those teams were, without fear of contradiction, the best of friends, sharing many special social moments together and showing each other the respect which all of them loved and deserved.

At the final victory celebration all countries (90+) come together to honor the victors, whomever they happened to be and applauded them loudly with no bias and a genuine love for their achievement playing the highly intellectual game of bridge. All country prejudice appeared to be either totally non-existent or at least forgotten during those special moments.

With that as a backdrop, perhaps we can all see the need to not venture off into a political statement which everyone would agree is the wrong place at the wrong time.

I hope I do not have to further explain except to say the motto of the WBF is “Bridge for Peace” which on the surface is right on.

What happened in Shanghai, 2007, left a dull thud on the audience and I, as a patriotic American, felt as bad as a person can feel when I realized that it was my own country which was causing it.

Whether it was legal or illegal is not the point, but rather the horrible manners of ruining the moment for the hundreds of people who were honoring bridge and its winners who were present.

Thanks for listening!

John Howard GibsonJune 30th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Dear Judy and Bobby, Tx for putting me right on a few points. I understand exactly where you are coming from.

At times I like to be the devil’s advocate…..not necessarily defending what they did……but defending certain principles . One being the right to freedom of speech, and the other the right to challenge any thing ( or any one ) considered to be morally or legally corrupt.

Over here the British press never rated or regarded Bush as a decent president…. his questionable narrow victory over Gore in the election, and his oh so cosy relationship with Blair over the Iraq invasion made many us over here feel very uncomfortable indeed . We found ourselves being lied to by Blair at every turn. Even a decent chap like Dr.Kelly felt the need to expose the lies, and criticise the government…..and he ended up dead…… supposedly having committed suicide !!

In 2007, at the time of the incident, I had some sympathy with the Shanghai Witches, but I was not aware of how their actions were interpreted back home in the USA. Yet after reading your comments I am more in a quandary now than I was before, when I first replied to Judy’s article.

But somehow I have this gut feeling that these ladies were only defending themselves and many other Americans, by laying blame for perceived mistakes in foreigh policy solely on George Bush ? Because sadly, the reality is this : for many americans on foreign soil, they may well be subjected to a barrage of political questions and criticisms…..such is the anti-USA feeling, especially prevalent in the middle and far East.

Under such hostile questioning, do you speak out honestly ? Do you remain ambiguously silent ( as sporting protocol demands ) ? Or do you lie ? Knowing what to do under such conditions is never going to be easy.

Anyway, these are my sincere and honest reflections on this very sensitive issue. Part of me agrees with what you both say…..but part of me still feels it may be very wrong to judge them as unpatriotic and traitorous.

Thanks for responding.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 30th, 2011 at 5:10 pm


I understand your quandry. Private conversations are one thing but employing a public theatre is another thing — espectially since these strictures were in effect and allegedly supposed to have been signed prior to their participation. It was tantamount to breaking a contract and humiliating one’s country. If you don’t like what you must endure, you always have the option of changing your locale — not criticize your elected official (the president) –whether you like him or not — in a public venue across the ocean. He might not be a rocket scientist or a top bridge player, but I do think Bush was a patriot.

Let’s not get into Obama!


Bobby WolffJuly 1st, 2011 at 6:08 am


Just in conclusion, at least for me, I NEVER thought that the American Shanghai ladies, meant to be either unpatriotic or traitorous.

Their act however was a mood destroyer and ugly reminder of world politics which in another place, another time, would be wrong by Western standards to criticize because of free speech allowed by all citizens which, in turn helps characterize what freedom is supposed to be about.

My point is that when all the world’s countries come together to show respect and cheer loudly for winners, regardless of their race, creed, religion or nationality, but only because of their hard won intellectual victory, and always symbolized by the playing of the winning country’s national anthem, it is a moment to be cherished, not to be torched. Other daily worries are lost, at least for that moment, and the whole world stands tall and together in recognizing excellence. It is not to be tampered with!

John Howard GibsonJuly 1st, 2011 at 11:08 am

Bobby, I agree with you entirely. Your final point is indeed one that cannot be challenged. On reflection if sportsman are chosen to represent a country it is both a rare honour and an immense privilege to do so. And so utmost respect must be given to the nation that is clearly backing them all the way. Therefore tact, diplomacy and common sense should always prevail, requiring these ladies to focus on the celebration of the event,,,,,and keeping their political views on hold until the next election.

This little discussion is what blogging should be about, and it is a shame that others have not entered into the debate. Yours HBJ

Bobby WolffJuly 2nd, 2011 at 3:55 am


And I agree with you. For what it seems to me, you have indeed hit the pulse again, for perhaps the 100th time out of 100 attempts (at least it seems so to me).

The perhaps unwritten advantage in blogging with comments is to exchange ideas with the idea of making ourselves as clear as possible, to add the important details as well as the whereas’ (lawyer’s province) which often offers our views in a more understandable way.

However, the ability to see, feel and positively respond to another person’s reasons and therefore emotions, is the building block which separates civilized from argumentative and often hard headedness. If only other intelligent people (and all nationalities are eligible and included) would practice the above, horrible world disasters, symbolized by mass killings and worse, not just relatively unimportant world bridge protocol, could be seriously reduced to the point of elimination.

“When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn?”

Thanks for your comment, which I will always cherish.

EllisJuly 2nd, 2011 at 5:39 am

You salute the rank not the officer.

Bobby WolffJuly 2nd, 2011 at 7:22 am

Hi Ellis,

Exactly, and also briefly and perfectly illustrated.

Thank you!

Let us form our own league of nations. Hopefully we will hear from others. The more people, countries, different backgrounds and descriptions represented, the more accurate the sample.

But please keep your comment civil and deserving of respect.