Judy Kay-Wolff

The Bridge World Interview with Sidney Lazard

I was elated and amused when I turned to page 26 of the July Issue of The Bridge World and noted the Interview with Sidney Lazard, an old dear friend of Bobby, Norman, Edgar and yours truly.  I will never forget how kind and caring Sidney was when both Edgar and Norman were on their way out.  I remember in 1997 Sidney calling me and telling me he intended to fly to New York via Philly and drive up to see Edgar with Norman and me.   I strongly urged him to move it up a week (which he did) and just as well, as Edgar did not make it through the week.

If you are not a subscriber, sign up or borrow a copy.   Sidney’s Interview is very entertaining and informative reading.  It covers the subject of “Bridge Development,” “Early Tournaments,” “Self-Observation,” “Table Presence,” “Bridge Personalities,” and “The Sportsmanship Award” named for his son. 

”In 1999, my only child, Sidney Jr. died of cancer at the age of 41.  He was the nicest guy in the whole world, and he was a great sportsman.   By “sportsman,” I mean someone who plays hard but fair and holds no grudges.   I designed the Sportsmanship Award as a way to honor his memory by recognizing top bridge players who  emulate the ideal that I saw in my son, and to encourage all players to aspire to that standard.”

Two stories I’ve heard before appeared in the interview.   One involved Roth and Stone.  Sidney, by his own admission, kept self-destructing in a match playing with Byron Greenberg against Al and Stoney. 

“After the third such round, Roth rubbed it in by chastising Stone for not bidding a grand slam needing an onside king, saying, “he [meaning Sidney] had to have it for his weak two bid.”   Stone responded:  “Had to have it?   This guy can’t read or write.”  So, I grabbed a full ashtray (note that most players smoked in those days) and dumped it in Stone’s lap, saying “and I’m also very sloppy.”  (The version I heard was –he dumped it on his head and added, “I’m sloppy too.”  However, I’ll cede to Sidney’s version).

Under Bridge Personalities, Sidney admits to Johnny Crawford being his toughest opponent.   He never beat him but he always beat Schenken,  he added.   In the 1959 Vanderbilt, there was some unpleasant banter before the match.   He was playing with John Fisher against Crawford and Stone.   Before they started, in the presence of Chief Director, Al Sobel, Sidney tried to ‘preempt” Crawford by announcing “no talking.”   Crawford countered by challenging Sidney by “Wanna bet (on the match)?”   Sobel (a bit of a S.D. himself) was unbothered by this technically barred behavior)   Sidney had to preserve face and partnership confidence by saying “Yes.”   The remainder of the story is in Sidney’s own words:

“Then Crawford, who had recently married well, threw a big stack of money on the table and said ‘Match that!’  I’ve been known to carry a few big stacks myself, but that was too big even for me, so I countered by grabbing Sobel’s lighter and setting the money on fire.   Crawford singed his fingers putting the fire out.  (P.S.:  We lost anyway.)”

There are more titillating “Sidney” stories and names from the past you will thoroughly enjoy perusing.  Remember, the green copy of this month’s “The Bridge World.”  (This is not a paid advertisement.  JKW)


CPJuly 4th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Very cute blog. I did read the issue. In fact, I recall the story about Goren, Fishbein and the soap which you once related.

Ah, for the good old days!

BurtJuly 4th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I liked one of the Jacoby stories best. Easier to quote than relate:

“In 1962, I was walking with Ozzie down Park Avenue in New York. A man appproaches, and he and Jacoby spot each other. The man asks: “How’d you do?” Jacoby says: “Down one.” We continue walking and I ask for an explanation. Jacoby says the man was kibitzing him in a grand slam on December 7th, 1941, when the word came that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. The kibitzer jumped up and left. As soon as the deal was over, Jacoby (on his way to enlist) did the same. They hadn’t seen each other since.”

Now, that is truly one for the annals of bridge lore!

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 4th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

True, they are funny stories. However, I think of Sidney as a quiet, reserved, polite Southern gentleman and hard to believe an interview like this coming from him. Still water runs deep.

John Howard GibsonJuly 5th, 2011 at 1:28 am

HBJ : Amazing incidents at the table, and to think one guy I know got slung out of the club based on a complaint that he moved a bridgemate in an inappropriate way across the table. Is this world of bridge bizarre or what ?

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 5th, 2011 at 5:30 am

Bizarre? No doubt !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Didn’t The Lone Wolff prove it?

But that is the first time I ever heard about a miscoddling of a Bridgemate. I guess one learns something new each day.

tommy sandersJuly 18th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

About 25 years ago we found ourselves in New Orleans for New Year’s. It was the 4th or 5th day of January, the bridge tournament was over, when I called up Sidney and we decided to go to the racetrack at the Fairgrounds. There are a few notables, past and present, in the bridge world when one doesn’t even have to mention last names, like: Norman, Edgar, Zia and Sidney, because you know to whom I’m referring. After a few races, I noticed Sidney hadn’t made a bet. Upon inquiring about it, he said, “I just made a $10,000 do or don’t New Year’s bet with a friend that neither of us would gamble all year.”

“That being the case, why did we come here today?”

He said, “I love it out here. These are my people – the characters, the touts, the smells, the atmosphere – I love ‘em all. And your companionship, I wouldn’t want to be any place else.”

By about the 7th race I see him pouring over the racing form. So, I said, “Sidney, though I’m not doing that great, I know how to read the racing form. What are you doing that for?”

He said, “I’m looking for a $10,000 horse.”