Judy Kay-Wolff

The Pains and Joys of Foreign Competition

Europe and Asia are much more attuned to sponsoring international competition just for the sake of publicizing the game and playing host to the many superstars worldwide.   There have been instances where some of the big guns (who wouldn’t be paid possibly anything but expenses) turned it down while others jumped at the honor and opportunity.  These are not official world championships but rather exciting team competitions graciously sponsored by individuals or organizations to promote the game

This year,  the Official 40th World Bridge Team Championship) celebrates the Bermuda Bowl, The Venice Cup and the Senior Bowl.   The U. S. is sending two senior teams (USA 1 and USA 2) while every other country will be restricted to one team.

Each nation received hard and fast rules – the main one being ANTI-DOPING which states:

From the day of the Opening Ceremony up to and including the day of the Closing Ceremony, individual competitors from the Bermuda Bowl and Venice Cup will, in accordance with the WBF Anti-Doping Regulations, be randomly selected for anti-doping testing.   It is OBLIGATORY for selected competitors to undergo such testing.  (Mention is made if a contestant is undergoing medical treatment for a condition which requires the taking of a substance on the Prohibited List, the competitor must get a dispensation from the WBF Medical Commission).

However, the dress code, I predict, will present a problem because of the significant costs (especially with the USA which has six players, a captain and in some instances a coach (potentially eight participants).  This is what the advisory had to say about dress code:

Dress Code:

NBOs are asked to take note of the recognition of Bridge as a Sport by the IOC and requests that players should, at all times, be dressed appropriately.

In the World Bridge Team Championships (Bermuda Bowl, Venice CUP, D’Orsi Senior Bowl), it is obligatory for all teams to adopt the following dress code:

Formal Occasions

The WBF has a policy which seeks to encourage Federations to provide Teams participating in World Championships, to be dressed in appropriate uniforms which incorporate a badge or emblem identifying the country which those players represent.

Playing Rooms

Everyone entering the playing rooms is obliged to wear the official identification badge provided by the organization.   In case of loss the organization will provide a duplicate badge at a cost of of  five Euros.

All players, captains and coaches of participating teams are required to wear T-shirts, polo shirts, shirts or blouses that are the same color and contain the Federation’s logo.

Team members must be supplied with sufficient changes of closing to ensure that they look smart and presentable at all times.

If sweaters. cardigans and sweatshirts are use, they must be the same color and carry the Federation’s logo.

All players are expected to be respectably dressed and are also required to follow the instructions given by the TD

Any player, captain or coach not respecting the dress code in the playing area will receive a warning on the first occasion and a subsequent breach will result in that team being fined 2 VP, plus a fine of 100 Euros.  This penalty is mandatory.   Failure to pay the fine will result in that person being prohibited from entering the playing area.


The team uniform must contain its Federation logo and may contain discreet sponsor logos.

We would be grateful to you if you would forward this information to the players, captains and coaches of your national teams and we thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Friendly greetings




A grandiose plan with the rightful intention of uniformity to satisfy the IOC –  but exactly who will be responsible for outlaying the cost for this fashion parade??????   In the case of the USA, who should be shelling out the big bucks for all the teams????   The ACBL?   The USBF?   The individual Playing Captain (most often a sponsor)? or  ridiculously – should those who won the right to represent the U.S (who don’t receive a big enough stipend to come close to covering their basic expenses of travel, room and food)??


BurtJuly 13th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

The monetary end of the uniformity does not sound like an easy project to solve but I can understand their desires to adhere to the IOC.

I know Bobby well remembers the days of the Dallas Aces where they wore their matchcing red jackets and one day at a hotel Jim Jacoby was mistaken for a bellman and asked to deliver a man’s bags to his room.

CPJuly 13th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Does anyone know how the other countries handle the money issue? Of course, the second team (eight more individuals) makes it more costly for the U.S.

Never a dull moment!

Steven GaynorJuly 13th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

It is nice that the USBF normally sends two teams in each segment of the competition – more chance for success – but the costs need to be addressed. Perhaps we cannot afford to send all these teams, or sponsors can be found to pay for some of the expenses like clothing (‘the team uniform…may contain discreet sponsor logos’)

The money for international play being spent by the ACBL is coming under greater scrutiny these days so I think it is important to address this issue soon.

John Howard GibsonJuly 13th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

HBJ : Hell, if I was picked to play for my country I’d be happy to shell out a few bucks on some fancy jacket and badge, but I would expect financial assistance in terms of travel and accommodation.

However, here in England the harsh reality for many sportsmen is that they are expected to provide their own kit, but in return they expect their club to lay on the transport for away games and to pay for all the other travelling overheads.

Having said all that …..if the governing body is rolling in cash…..then it would seem both proper and right for all expenses to be covered……especially when the players are representing their country.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 13th, 2011 at 3:33 pm


I agree with you, but who should be doing the so-called “adddressing.” Under whose province does it fall?

I would think the ACBL would be proud to see the Red, White and Blue on center stage.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 13th, 2011 at 3:59 pm


This is old hat to most of these contestants so being on center stage is not a novelty to them. But this “uniform” thing gives it a new twist. It involves jacket, trousers and several tee-shirts (as the tournament lasts fifteen days including opening and closing ceremonies). Not as easy or cheap as it appears.

Because of the economy, costs have skyrocketed. We see it here in Vegas each day. We visited our favorite restaurant which features scrumptious Dover Sole Almondine and noticed it just raised its price from $34 to $39.

Everyone is feeling the crunch and with business down — to stay alive –the finer dining places are raising their prices – come what may.

It is a definite problem and I can’t imagine a realistic solution as so many people are involved (especially for the U. S. with three different events and several teams). It really adds up.

Only time will tell.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 13th, 2011 at 7:28 pm


It wasn’t Jim Jacoby who was mistaken for a bellman. It was The Lone Wolff himself all bedecked in his red jacket!

Steven GaynorJuly 14th, 2011 at 7:28 am


From what I understand, the ACBL BOD will be talking about funding the WBF and international play at the Toronto board meeting. The ACBL sends the WBF $1.00 per member in dues. Ten years ago we sent a dime per member. We also spend a lot of money sending ACBL representatives and teams to the world championships, an estimated $500K per year.

While I am rooting hard for the ACBL teams to win, and the publicity and excitement over this competition is good for bridge, an accounting needs to be done. Maybe the USBF needs to be the entity that funds teams for international play from their membership dues and general treasury, rather than the ACBL. Talk to your BOD rep and see what he has to say about it. I predict you will find a lot of meat for a future blog topic.

Plus, I have a plan to help the USBF raise $$. On October 8-14, 2012, District 14 and specifically MN Units 103 & 178 will host the USBF regional in St. Paul, MN. I will be involved in planning that and it will NOT be just another regional. We have ideas for special events, like establishing USBF championships in pairs and teams (2 day, 4 session events) that should attract a lot of people and hopefully start a tradition, so that the annual USBF regional, wherever it may be held, will be on a lot of people’s calendars.

Bobby WolffJuly 14th, 2011 at 10:45 am

Hi Steve,

Judy has requested me to answer your somewhat passionate feelings regarding International bridge, the WBF, and the interweaving not only between the ACBL and the WBF, but, for my money and beliefs, the ultimate future of the game itself.

While the ACBL has been going on since 1936 (75 years) the WBF has only been an official entity since about 1958 (53 years). However the Bermuda Bowl, the calling card of International competition began in 1950, with official so-called World Championships since the days of Eli Culbertson and the real beginning of International competition dating back (like the ACBL) from about the mid 1930’s.

My reason for deciding on my first paragraph above is designed to distinguish the ordinary game of Contract Bridge (officially invented while on a cruise in 1927 by Harold Vanderbilt and his particular guests) and to take the place of its father, Auction Bridge, which had replaced the game of Whist, and then in turn could then be designated the grandfather of Contract.

Tournament bridge (aka duplicate bridge) was certainly the original reason why the ACBL was formed and developed as a bridge competition which embraced many different levels of play. Those levels began with beginners and novices and progressed all the way up to what has been aptly called world class, which usually symbolized being compared with the highest level of bridge which was being played around the world.

Not unlike tennis and golf wherein within North America, there are many various levels of play, usually described as club, intermediate, high, and finally international class in both of those physical sports.

Also like those two seriously competitive sports, while golf has its Ryder Cup (enjoying its most heightened interest via the European-USA cutthroat matches which determine its winner) and the older Davis Cup in tennis which has been going on for a much longer period, but still commands newspaper interest and TV coverage around the world and brings out highly enthusiastic and material financial sponsorship (usually both prize money and TV sponsorship) because of its interest.

Add the Annual WBF sponsored World Championships in bridge, held in venues around the world and BBO presented (instead of money rich TV), but nevertheless, just as highly coveted for the bridge aficionado as is tennis and golf.

And like tennis and golf the gulf between the week end tennis player and golf enthusiastic duffer as well as the so-called bridge social and kitchen player and the high level bridge expert represents almost precisely the same gap in ability.

If we assume the above is at least, fairly accurate in description, what would the games of tennis and golf be, without their international interest and therefore the many millions of fans who follow, not only the Davis and Ryder Cup competition, but also the weekly National golf tournaments and the very popular important major grand slam world wide tennis tournaments.

With the above as a backdrop, what about the electricity generated by the rating systems set up by the media to compare American players in both physical sports with other world wide competitors.

In bridge, the WBF in conjunction with the ACBL and the European bridge league (EBL) as well as other bridge federations around the world coordinate to send their best players to the WBF sponsored World Championship in order to determine both who the best World players, partnerships, and teams are as well as to bring home honor, glory and respect to the winning countries.

Should our national organization (the ACBL) shy away from not only being involved with selecting the team and providing a comfortable representation for our designated players, but rather instead distancing ourselves from even being in the process in favor of turning our attention and therefore our resources to merely hoping that the remaining game of basically, “high card wins” shall dominate our interest (please excuse what some will think is an insulting way of describing our basic game), but even though it undoubtedly is true that the remaining non world class players have many types of varied ability, the main thrust is far below world class and, at least to many of us, the average ability remaining, is hardly worth raving over.

On such a full sea are we now afloat, and if we opt to not take it from here and run with it, but instead run away from it, what will we have wrought for the future of our great game? Its future undoubtedly rests in the hands of our bridge administrators and I, for one, while only of concern to what this game has represented to me in the past while devoting so much time to its hoped for well-being, am not now in a position (because of my lack of hearing) to give it my best, can hope only that others will agree with me that, yes, bridge at a high-level (and therefore will always filter down to every other level) is not only proudly worth saving, but also will justify the WBF motto of “Bridge for Peace”, since it is far and away the best intellectual mind game ever invented, which can be so entertaining to all who play it, even novices, that the necessary reason for its perpetuation will always be known and advertised by its International reputation.

Professionalism in bridge has changed responsibility for its finances. The problem is that for all amateur teams (which we should encourage not discourage, since by definition there will not be a lesser talented person on the team [usually] who is required to play at least a certain percentage of time). Perhaps some provision, subjective though it might have to be, to compensate for that eventuality.

Yes International Fund games (IFG) are important vehicles for subsidy, but what about mega rich sponsors being basically required to help with the process in order to be ratified for inclusion when and if they win the right to be on the team.

We do need respected contributors like yourself to be involved with finding ways to overcome the problems associated with where we are now.

Probably our greatest problem is for our ACBL BODs to recognize the significant importance of not distancing ourselves from promoting and being involved with International representation, but I do not want to be ostrich-like and overlook other problems along the way.

Robb GordonJuly 14th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I don’t want to be a shill, but I have occasionally ordered logo merchandise for my business. For clothing I have found one company to be incredibly cheap with low (4) quantity minimums. They are at queensboro.com . Don’t expect Armani & Prada but the stuff is decent and would certainly be compliant. Feel free to censor the name if I am breaking a rule here.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 14th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

That’s interesting indeed, Robb. I shall pass it on. Thanks.

dannyJuly 14th, 2011 at 7:38 pm


I am not sure I understand your reasoning. When a mega rich sponsor does win, that team does not need extra help. So how would your proposal work? Mind you, without KNOWING for sure, it appears most if not all teams are sponsored this year, as they are in most years. I have personally been involved in 2 of the teams in the last 4 BB/VC/Seniors competition that were not sponsored. Are you suggesting some sponsor from some other team from that year (or other years) should have kicked in money for us? How do you determine who is mega rich? Or even who is a sponsor? Is it anyone’s business?

Bobby WolffJuly 14th, 2011 at 8:43 pm


A fairly strong case could be made for a sponsoring organization, before approving a team (and yes, maybe even before entering a trials) monitor the team as a whole before allowing a random group from entering. The reasons of course, might include the individual expertise of every member, determined by whatever the organizing group thinks appropriate. There are other qualifications, of course, good enough ethics, proper enough reputation, grooming, etc could be some of them.

Might not some groups such as the people in charge of selecting Olympic athletes be expected to not be subjective about the talent of some and pick lesser talent ahead of greater only because of political considerations. To me, if our Olympic committee ever stooped to that we would be no better off than a Banana Republic country doing business as usual.

In the bridge world it could be argued that money talks too loud and combined with the importance of winning makes the choice lean to either gutty partnership pickers or events such as pair trials to separate the wheat from the chaff in order for our picked group not to be corrupted.

Did you pay attention to what happened for Beijing and the mind sports event when 3 non sponsored pairs were picked? If this is news to you, and it apparently is, it proves that it can be done, living breathing people exercising their judgment without politics or probably bias rearing its oh so ugly head.

However if some of the better playing sponsors (and there are a plethora of them) or someone like Nick Nickell who, while being a sponsor, would, at least in my opinion, not hurt any team he played on, be eligible to be selected. I would, of course, vote yes.

However I, after due consideration, have decided that you are probably right about sponsors, but when in the world are they going to be asked to make it worth it to the sponsoring organization and contribute mightily to the teams chosen, whoever they happen to be, in order to begin to make up for being chosen to play in spite of their not being among the world class players that are needed to win.

My belief is that you are exactly opposite of what a member of the choosing organization should be. One who would allow a good club tennis player to represent us in the Davis Cup or a city champion of some smaller city being one of the ones chosen to play golf for us in the Ryder Cup.

Broker, Heal Thyself!

Robb GordonJuly 15th, 2011 at 5:48 am

One of the things that encourages sponsors of dubious ability to try to qualify for world teams championships is the low (I think 3/8 of the boards) playing requirement. If the WBF were to change the requirement to 50% (I actually prefer 60%) I think that the sponsors would be more circumspect about trying to compete.

Bobby WolffJuly 15th, 2011 at 6:56 am

Hi Robb,

As usual, you make a very simple, but at the same time a crucial point.

Through the years the WBF, at least when I have been on the spot, has discussed the advisability of why to and why not of changing the playing requirements for individual players within a NBO bridge team.

The discussion invariably turns to what, in all other forms of competition, both in national championships (called zonal in olympic parlance) and in world competition the teams (and individuals) selected are assumed to be, and is ALWAYS the case (except probably for unavoidable circumstances) the best players available, of course, considering their value as teammates in forming the team as to various necessities for teamsmanship within the scope of what is needed for maximum efficiency to have the very best chance for that team to do as well as is possible. No where has it ever been discussed, or at least made public, the financing of the project (paying the players) being the reason for selection.

I, of course, could never say in other competitions that this has never happened, but if so, the Olympic authorities could and would not be happy due to the definition of what Olympic (world) competition is and should be about.

Therefore as far as the WBF is concerned, since it is well nigh impossible to determine, they have stayed mostly 100% out of the loop in policing such a thing. Of course, the 2nd string quarterback of a Super Bowl champion rarely gets in the “big” game, nor does the weakest pitcher on the roster with a World Series winner, nor the 12th man (expanded to 15 and which 12 are to be eligible is not done until gametime) off the bench in the finals of NBA playoffs. (I’m sure hockey is in the same type of state during the Stanley Cup finals).

Sometimes, usually due to physical condition in Davis Cup and Ryder Cup a usually deserving tennis or golf player is left off the roster but, as far as I know, always for a cogent reason. And so it goes, leaving only bridge to progress at what could be called a bastardized form of selection.

Please, I do not, for one second, not understand why bridge, at this time and place, needs to include sponsors for current financial survival, but the reason, while as simple as Americanism and apple pie, does not go along with the spirit which engulfs the world’s best in any other form of competition (that I know of) and consequently should NOT be off limits to discuss, even though it sometimes sadly makes me wonder why I am the only one who discusses it in public.

If the truth be known, I, probably more than most, very much respect our current group of sponsors for their intelligence, compassion, success at what has made them successful, and their always optimistic outlooks, but having said all that, the subject is world bridge expertise and not anything else. I’ll leave the subject by saying that I have had the privilege of knowing both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates better than most of their billions of admirers the world over and their personalities and intentions for the world should provide beacons of hope for all of us, but because of neither of their bridge games being world class (at least at this moment in time) should that be a sensitive subject with them or us. Of course not, since it only serves to show what wonderful sports they are and how their individual egos do not also need to be among the top bridge players for them to continue to serve the world as well as any two people ever have.

Thanks Robb, for continuing what is now and has always been a very sensitive subject for many.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 15th, 2011 at 8:37 am

I just finished reading some of the ridiculous comments from Bridge Winners ‘Suit Up’ which is what I quoted in my opening paragraphs of the above blog of the other day (The Pains and Joys of Foreign Competition). MANY (not all) of their remarks were ad nauseum.

Since when does the player, pair, team, coach, captain OR organization call the shots. It is under the auspices of the WBF (in an attempt to have us included as an Olympic sport — a goal for which they have striven for years).

THEY are in command. Either follow their rules or get out of the event. It is not your prerogative to do what you damn please. WHATEVER DECISION THEY MAKE, YOU ABIDE BY! YOUR organization must decide how to handle it — comply or take the chances of penalties or explusion. Just who do these upstarts think they are???

dannyJuly 15th, 2011 at 10:20 am

Bobby wrote:

“Did you pay attention to what happened for Beijing and the mind sports event when 3 non sponsored pairs were picked? If this is news to you, and it apparently is, it proves that it can be done, living breathing people exercising their judgment without politics or probably bias rearing its oh so ugly head.”

To borrow your parlance, let me give you a little of my history re team selection.

I have been involved in the USBF selection process for about 8 years.

I consider myself, and perhaps one or 2 other members to be among the only ones with absolutely no axe to grind. I have no expectations of ever playing in the Bermuda Bowl. Most of the rest of the committee does have personal, or spousal interest in the selection process.

I was one of the few votes for a Pairs Trial in 2009 when the subject arose. We were vastly outvoted, so much so, that the subject is unlikely to even be raised this year.

I attended the meeting to determine a method for the Invitational tournament, and was in favor of a ‘selected’ team. I also actively participated in email discussions regarding the process.

I would like nothing more than to see a true ‘dream team’ of Americans in the Bermuda Bowl.

I have utmost respect for the top American sponsors. That being said, even the best ones do not improve the teams they play on. Nickell, Diamond and Fleisher, to name a few are excellent players. Their pairs are still not on a level with Meckwell, Levin/Weinstein or Greco/Hampson, once again to name a few.

Steven GaynorJuly 15th, 2011 at 10:53 am

Hi Bobby

Thanks for your thoughtful reply to my post. I appreciate your experienced insight.

I, too am concerned with the state of duplicate bridge. I love the game, the history, the players, and have been heavily involved for 40+ years, playing a lot, directing, serving on Unit and district boards, chairing tournaments, and have been a BOG member since the early ’90’s.

The excitement and exposure from national and international competitons is essential for the short and long term survival of this game. How best to maximize these programs, pay for them, etc., should be reviewed. We need a strong organization here to get our players excited about competing in major events and giving them a chance to grow so that talented players can develop into top experts.

On another subject mentioned in recent posts, I feel you cannot draw a line between a ‘sponsor’ who has enough money and a team that does not. If we award a stipend to the world championships for winning the international team trials, it has to go to whomever wins regardless of the financial standing of one or more members of that team.

You also bring up a good point about other sports that have many levels of competitors, just like bridge. There is a long way from those that come down to the club to be social and throw some cards around to those who have the talent to play and win world class events. Most fall somewhere in-between, and while you cannot declare everybody a winner, you can have multiple flights so that everyone has a chance. Look at the KO’s where there can be lots of brackets. KO’s are popular because everyone faces their peers; everyone has a fighting chance to win 4 matches in a row and win an event. This is why below open levels, I promote using masterpoint averaging for pair and team events. Just because someone has hit a certain MP amount, if they want to play with someone less experienced, they should flighted based on the pair or team as a whole. Now to those at the top of the game (or those who aspire to it) they think ‘Oh, but you should play with the best all the time.’ However, the VAST majority of the ACBL has a different opinion, and THEY are who make the top players well, on top. It is time the organization starts to cater to the whole league, not just the top 1/2 of 1%.

There sure are lots of things to talk about, but one thing we can agree on is the beauty of the game and the importance of playing it the right way. Thanks, again!

Bobby WolffJuly 15th, 2011 at 9:53 pm


Your follow-up comment is appreciated and without going much further, I just want to clear the air for what I mean to say.

No one, especially me, has doubted your sincerity in whatever you oversaw, who you championed, and the unbiased nature of your approach. Since you took the trouble to quote me in your latest comment, let me return the favor.

“I consider myself and perhaps one or 2 other members to be among the only ones (in the selection loop) with absolutely no axe to grind”. “…….most of the committee does have personal or spousal interest in the selection process”.

No doubt that is true, but if so, isn’t that a very bad thing, not a proper way to go about it. Why should such a large percentage of voters start out by likely being corrupted?

I never thought about you ever voting for some friend or influencing others to have your way, but apparently and, of course, most everyone knows the pitfalls of what the committees are being dealt.

To set up a common denominator, what if the players unions of both the NFL and the NBA made all the decisions or the converse of all those decisions being made by the owners, would anyone suggest that either of those two plans would have any chance to work?

I am here to confess to you that if my proposed encouragement of sponsors giving more to the process in order to justify the wonderful hand they have been dealt and it was voted on by the majority of the very top players (95+%) of them being professionals I might still be looking for a final total of 5 or 6 people who would vote my way. But wouldn’t the same be true if the NFL and NBA were voted on by the players, or even on the other hand by only the owners?

Just like the Middle East impossible struggles, until both sides, Israel and their Arab neighbors seek a plan which guarantees a lasting peace under the threat of the non-complier being severely dealt with, nothing good for either them or the rest of the world has ANY CHANCE OF HAPPENING.

The same is true for the subjects in bridge which I bring up, but the usual caveats apply:

1. No one gives up whatever positives he has without seeking another advantage.

2. All of us become spoiled on what we now seem to have and do not want to settle for anything less.

3. Sponsors and professionals have entered into what could be favorably described as a quid pro quo relationship which appears to work on the surface. However……. what about our administrators having to send below world class players to various World Championships and have the USA not represented by who everyone knows are not their 3 best partnerships? Furthermore how could the real Olympic committee, if they became interested in adding bridge ever stand for such a travesty?

Argue all one wants but the conclusion is that bridge teamliness depends on all three partnerships being among the best we have to offer, not the most friendly or the ones who get paid the most money or the ones we all want to go out with later and party into the night

The above descriptions are not genius like, they are merely the truth that anyone who says differently deserves to talk it over with Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, OJ Simpson and others who most of us have heard about and have our own opinions.

Bridge is not a make believe world, wanting to make as much money as can be made as quickly as one can, but rather a stimulating, unbelievable positive exercise which only exists when the world’s best play against each other.

That is what the Olympics want to sell and who can blame them. To my last breath that is what I’ll be fighting for and nothing less should be on the table, even if joining the Olympics turns into a pipe dream.

To repeat, I have no animosity toward you, I just think that during your being mentored years, you possibly got sidetracked by what is the real goal.

However, even in your somewhat naive state, I’d rather trust your views than many others whose bodies have already been snatched, never to regain the logic necessary for doing whatever is best for the future of our great game.

Bobby WolffJuly 16th, 2011 at 11:01 am

Hi Steve,

Your bridge resume, including the history of your up to date relationship with it, is indeed impressive.

Allow me to address some of the previously mentioned problems:

1. We agree that International bridge and its competition is critical to the rich history, which includes excitement and electricity generated from it. If, on the other hand, the average 70+ year old ACBL member and tournament bridge player who represents the norm, and continues to play a game closer to “high card wins” which then leads to the supposed 7+ million other bridge players currently in the USA (estimated), many of which are in retirement communites in Florida, California and Arizona who instead of duplicate bridge, play old fashioned rubber or party bridge the game gets even less sophisticated and, to say even the least, does not seem to represent a game worth even worrying about, much less moving heaven and earth in order to perpetuate.

2. Changing the scenario, to “Yes”, encouraging talented players into competition in major events within the ACBL is a major challenge but, as you say, gives us a chance to grow and, like the minor leagues in all organized sports serves as a breeding ground for our next great generation of players.

3. Regarding professional bridge, I’m not interested in spending a sponsor’s money for him, but rather trying to establish a quid pro quo theme, which, in turn, can help to establish sponsors as financial enablers for the bridge community in order for them to contribute back for the wonderful ego and learning experience which being a valued sponsor has wrought. At this time, let me make it clear that I think professional bridge offers a series of positive experiences for both high-level players and sponsors as long as it is kept firm at the club, sectional, regional and national level, but when it comes to International qualification that should require world class ability if only because that is the label given to all other forms of competition, always required at the Olympics and other well known world competitions such as the America’s Cup, Davis Cup and Ryder Cup to mention a few.

4. When the talk drifts to conditions of contest involving stratification and different level master point requirements required for the wide range of bridge events now offered by the ACBL, I can contribute very little in the way of new ideas or other helpful hints to make it better and more entertaining. However with your fertile and dedicated mind always working, I happily leave it up to you, and others like you, to continually search for ways to keep it topical and positive, and at the same time cater to the accepted condition of what you suggest, “players of today prefer to play against like players of ability, unlike what they (at least seemed to) prefer in days gone by, to continue to play up in order to improve at a faster rate”.

In closing I am glad that you, Steve, are as vitally interested in the future of the game as I am, and my exchange with you has reinforced my positive opinion that, while the game itself is certainly worth saving, that there are people like you who intend to make sure it happens and in No Trump, not just in “Spades”.

EllisJuly 19th, 2011 at 6:39 am

Lets not forget that the ACBL, is an organisation that also covers more than one nation.

It is booth proper and correct that there be a seperate organisation that has no connection to either Mexico Canada Or Bermuda, to organise our National teams. Itis also proper and Correct that the finances for our national teams as donated by the Acbl be from USplayers only.

Bobby WolffJuly 19th, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Hi Ellis,

Way back in the 1960’s carrying into the 1970’s, the team which entered the Bermuda Bowl competition was called North America which then, of course, allowed Canada (and also Mexico and Bermuda, but they never became a factor) to have players who qualified and played on Zone 2 teams. Eric Murray and Sami Kehela availed themselves a number of times and successfully won the trials (In 1974 in Venice Bob Hamman and I were fortunate to be playing with them, and, of course a 3rd pair, as their teammates).

However soon after that, Canada opted to resign from that arrangement so that Canada could have their own team and under their own flag. Since then it has remained the same until some years ago Bermuda left the tri-countries (Bermuda, Canada, and Mexico) to join the Caribbean zone and very recently, as we speak, Mexico is going to do the same. What that will eventually do to the Canadian situation remains to be seen, but it is no longer a problem or a factor for me since I am no longer officially an active member on the WBF Executive Council.

The arrangement which Canada had, before the breakup of Bermuda and now Mexico, was generally thought to be the most favorable arrangement for a smaller bridge country which existed in the whole WBF map, if qualifying to play in every Bermuda Bowl (held every other year) was a worthwhile goal.

Where we go from here is anybody’s guess so let the politics begin. Trying to achieve justice through a political process is similar to scratching one’s right ear with his left hand, but it doesn’t mean that many won’t try it.

BTW, all the above leads up to the history of the last 30+ years both the USA and the other tri-countries (now reduced to only Canada) operated their own international selection process with their own financial backing.

To further update what is happening is that several of Canada’s heretofore top players have migrated South to the USA, to become US citizens which then allows them to be sponsored by wealthy USA sponsors with the idea of eventually having the opportunity to playing internationally, where the paydays are the highest.

Now you are prepared to participate in the TV game of Jeopardy in case one of the categories becomes World Bridge.

EllisJuly 20th, 2011 at 1:05 am

I understand all of that, Ijust wanted to make the point that given the fact that a proportion of our membership are non US citizens , it would seem incorrect for the ACBL to be paying into the USBF or the WBF on their behalf.

If we give a dollar per member, thus number should cover UScitizens only.

Bobby WolffJuly 20th, 2011 at 9:47 am


The USBF does not financially support any entity but the USA and the other countries are on their own. The problem is that the USBF does not cotton to tampering with sponsor relations and duns professionals and sponsors alike (through dues and large entry fees for trials) instead of finding a way to transfer the majority of that burden to sponsors, who, at least at this point in time, have far the best of the bang for their bridge buck.

The result is that amateur teams (made up of way better than average players) get far the worst of the exchange of punts and together with normal costs of the tournament make it very discouraging for the amateurs to afford it which then reflects an even greater advantage for the sponsors and their baggage (not meant in a critical way, but in order to make a point), to win rights to play internationally. It should be pointed out that the sponsors are not to be blamed for this condition, but rather the professionals who, at least in my opinion, refuse to see the really BIG picture.

It seems that results in too much dog wagging by their respective tails. Of course, the pros, especially the best ones, like it just that way, contrary to what common sense, not to mention Olympic committees, would and should, dictate.

When the ultimatum cries out, “If someone doesn’t like it why not go out and find a high paying sponsor to pay one’s costs”, the easy and correct answer is that is not what world class, capable of being favorites in world team competition, should want for themselves, the chance to join the Olympics, or for our country itself.

And the beat goes on with way too many of our players having sold their souls for greenbacks instead of patriotism for the USA, but even much more than that, the obvious lesser game which results, at the International level.

Another name for this whole business could be called, The Bastardization of an Otherwise Great Idea, the Competing and Playing of Top-Level Bridge and its Legitimate Competition Around the World.