Judy Kay-Wolff


As a child, I seem to remember an old adage … The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.  To me that is reminiscent of Zero Tolerance.  In my eyes, ZT is when one oversteps his bounds via cheating, nasty conversation, gloating, rude behavior, talking to your partner about the opponents bidding or play as if the opponents were not at the table and lastly to volunteer information UNSOLICITED!   Every facet of ACBL (FROM CLUBS TO NATIONALS AND TRIALS) SHOULD BE FORCED TO ABIDE BY THIS PRINCIPLE.

I had an incident which I considered ZT that happened at the club two weeks ago and we got a good result as vulnerable I didn’t open 2S with a J109XXX six bagger with QXX of hearts and an outside card.   You could not put a gun to my head (V. v NV) for me to open a two bagger with the suit consistency.   That is just not my style and I am entitled to use judgment.  

The SOB on my left as soon as dummy came down (realizing we were getting a good result)  turned to Bobby (OBVIOUSLY TRYING TO MAKE ME LOOK BAD) and said “wouldn’t YOU open 2S with that hand?” and the answer is YES — NV)   What the hell is it his business anyway?    That to me is ZT and directors should announce to ghouls like this creep that he should keep his mouth shut when NOT SPOKEN TO)!!!

ZT should apply to ALL LEVELS OF BRIDGE ‘cause ZT is gonna catch up with you eventually so you might as well back down now at the club level and do the right thing.

Is the ACBL Zero Tolerance working effectively? Please take a few moments to provide your feedback to Paul Cronin, one of the Zero Tolerance policy’s co-founders, by taking his thought provoking poll at   http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XGSQM3Z


EllisAugust 17th, 2011 at 10:16 am

Rude behaviour is unnaceptable period. I understand why it happens,I Understand why it is difficult not to talk about a hand in the immediatte aftermath( even though this is patently not a good idea for either partners or opponents) but it is still unacceptable and should be dealt with.

John Howard GibsonAugust 17th, 2011 at 11:01 am

HBJ : The problem as I see it is that it takes two to tango and two to cause an incident. Often a rude comment by A has been in retaliation to provocation by B ( such as slow play, unethical behaviour and childish/ ignorant behaviour ).

I do believe that mitigating circumstances and compassion need to be considered before judging another’s behaviour. In such circmstances where both parties share the blame for a sour or deteriorating relationship, then zero tolerance needs to operate AGAINST BOTH OF THEM….not just one.

Where zero tolerance should crack down on an individual is when his/her behaviour is based not on provocation but pure malice, an inability to take defeat, ingrained nastiness, sadistic tendencies and a sick desire to upset and hurt people… without ever showing a shred of remorse.

Yes, bridge needs to rid itself of those who make other people’s experience of the game a misery or a nightmare. They need to be identified , yellow carded, and then dismissed for good. Yet those who succumb to the Human Condition of over-reacting in a negative way to incidents, which would make even the blood of a reasonable man boil, then some tolerance and leeway has to be given.

Having said all that the creep in the story had no justification whatsoever to say and do the things he did ( no provocation whatsoever on your part ) and he should have the ZT book thrown at him. In good class competition, players must expect opponents to bid boldly, take risks, and pre-empt on almost nothing. Putting players under pressure, making life difficult for them are all legitimate tactics.

Yours HBJ

EllisAugust 17th, 2011 at 11:45 am

i dunno HBJ, some of my very best results have come from allowing opps to dig their own holes.

Steven GaynorAugust 17th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

A major league baseball player averaging .200 may not be long for the bigs, but that means he gets a hit 1 out of 5 at bats. If you are the pitcher against whom he got a hit all you can do is take it like an adult. The same goes at the bridge table and it is one of the beautiful things about the game. It does not matter who you are or against whom you are playing – if you play good bridge you win, if you play bad, you lose. Those who react badly when someone has taken an action that works needs to deal with it in a mature fashion or find something else to do with their time.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 17th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Perhaps my reaction was from my own personal background. For forty years I was a disciple of Edgar and the KS system. Our guidelines were very stringent for weak two bids (especially vulnerable). Things have changed since Bobby came upon the scene but I have not gone to extremes and I do resent when a grossly unpopular player butts his nose into my system, baiting Bobby to agree with him. That is Double Zero Tolerance to me.

No doubt a flagrant effort to make me look bad in the eyes of an expert, but Bobby didn’t bite.

People have enough to worry about with their own system than to get involved in those of others unless there were some shenanigans going on — which obviously was not the case. I had free will and Pass was my choice.

HBJAugust 18th, 2011 at 12:28 am

HBJ : Hi there again….you’re so right about free will, because what I forget to say was that players are entitled to use their judgement and pass where others might choose to bid. Moreover players are entitled if the circumstances seem right to make trap passes, to pass on hands they don’t like ( usually hands which offer awkward rebids ) and anti-system bids. Freedom of choice , intuition, and gut instinct are the main things that make bridge such a great game…..a battle of wits….where one has to match cunning with cunning.

Haven’t these whinging creeps ever heard of ” swinging for tops ” where one has to risk an unorthodox bid or play to get a good result. Wooden bridge is for wooden tops….I like you no doubt believe that beauty of bridge is that it allows for creativity, imagination, with a healthy dollop of magic and mystery thrown in for good measure. Yours HBJ.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 18th, 2011 at 6:05 am


Your assessment is right on target and I agree whole heartedly. However, we must be in the minority. I believe the old expression — if the shoe fits!


Steven GaynorAugust 18th, 2011 at 8:33 am

While directing about 10 years ago I heard a blood-curdling scream for the director. The caller, a veteran player said that her opponents, a couple of pleasant gentlemen who were newcomers to our club had mis-led her about their signalling system, saying it was ‘standard’ and caused her to mis-play the hand. Well, in their neck of the woods, the first discard is the suit they want led. Everybody at their club plays it that way so to them it is standard! Maybe I was wrong but I followed a rule another director had taught me – when in doubt, rule for the nicer player, so I let the result stand and then educated the guys on the facts of life in the big city.

Sure enough, a couple years later I started playing with the sweet and lovely gal who later became my wife. She also played ‘standard’ discards, so when I would discard a deuce she would fire that suit back at her first chance. Apparently this treatment is more widespread than I thought. Anyway, we got that cleared up after a couple of soft results and some scowls from my seat, and fortunately we laugh about it now.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 18th, 2011 at 10:05 am

Steve — very cute story with an especially blissful ending.

At the table, everything seems to be in the eyes of the beholder but some beholders have poor vision and bad judgment.

Getting back to Paul Cronin’s original blog, he obviously feels everyone (and I agree) should be playing by the identical set of rules. We play with the same thirteen cards, bid clockwise and have the same scoring methods — then why should we make allowances for people who do not act in the manner prescribed by ZT.

We shouldn’t! What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. It is the ONLY way to play and gradations of sites (clubs, sectionals, regionals, etc.) should matter not. The game is still BRIDGE and if we keep heading in the direction with no leadeship, bridge will disappear off the face of the earth.

If you want to play kitchen bridge, go to it and let the hostess dictate the rules. She is offering lunch not masterpoints. That is the difference. Let’s all straighten up and fly right for the sake of the majesty of our beautiful game!

KevinAugust 18th, 2011 at 10:45 am

Call me old school, but I think the more important issue is that he shouldn’t be making any comments good or bad about the dummy at all.

The appropriate time to discuss hands is after you’re done with that round IF you have time. And do it quietly.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 18th, 2011 at 12:40 pm


His remarks were with malice aforethought — trying to rile me up and cause dissension within my partnership. I don’t think any time was appropriate for him to question our methods. It was an issue of style and I didn’t need him imposing his bidding leanings upon us. In his case (knowing the player), no time would be appropriate because it was not intended as constructive — just trouble making. Sometimes it makes a difference knowing your customer.

However, I do agree with your first remark.



Robb GordonAugust 18th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I wonder if there is a bit of misogyny at play. Many times when vulnerable I will pass a hand that “everybody” would open a weak 2, ie: AQxxxx xxx xx xx and nobody ever says anything to me.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 18th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I don’t know whom you consider “everybody” — but Bobby, Edgar and Norman are in your corner. Adventurers seek the challenge of getting away with something untoward. It may work for some but I am not going to find out in a vulnerable state.

Misogyny? You know me better than that! Sticks and stones …..

I just resent busybodies trying to cause trouble.

Robb GordonAugust 19th, 2011 at 6:09 am

Well I did put “everybody” in quotes to suggest it wasn’t quite everybody. As to the misogyny, I was suggesting something directed AT you, not coming FROM you.

John Portwood (UK)August 19th, 2011 at 7:17 am

Players should have the right to make any bid that they chose free from interference.

At the least opponents should realise that bidding styles, if not conventions or treatment vary. For instance my partner and I have an agreement that a weak 2 should show 5 playing tricks in the suit or 4 playing tricks and an outside Ace or King. So I wouldn’t open “AQXXXX XX XXX XX” with 2 Spades. (Give me “AQJXXX” and I would), let alone JXXXXX XX QXX XX!

My partner and I have an agreement not to talk bridge when opponents arrive at the table as a) it is rude and b) there is no point in discussing a technical point of the system as it won’t happen again that session (we make a note to sort it out later).

The EBU have instigated guidelines about being rude or abusive (based on ACBL). I hope never to have to make use of them – but they are there – directors have the power to disqualify rude or abusive players.

“If a player at the table behaves in an unacceptable manner the director should

be called immediately. Annoying behaviour, embarrassing remarks, or any other conduct which might interfere with the enjoyment of the game is specifically prohibited by Law 74A. Law 91A gives the director the authority to assess disciplinary penalties. This can include immediate disciplinary board penalties, and if a future violation is incurred at the same event,

disqualification from future competition in that event. Any further violations may result in a disciplinary hearing where the player(s) future participation in tournaments will be considered”

Danny KleinmanAugust 19th, 2011 at 9:52 am

Nothing wrong about asking an opponent about his side’s bidding if done in the right way. Which is to ask a player about his own reasons for making or not making a particular call, not to ask his partner. And the right answer is, “I’ll be glad to tell you why I bid as I did after the round if we have time.”

HBJAugust 19th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

HBJ : I once got rounded on by my opponents who couldn’t get over the fact I passed a 2NT rebid from my partner, when they felt I had sufficient values to raise to three.

The score sheet revealed a top for use with 3NT failing all over the place. Eventually, I composed myself and gave them my reason : ” I took the view the contract was going to be tight, but given your reputation for sharp and accurate defence, I fancied you to take a trick more than anyone else. ”

Even this indirect compliment to two grandmasters still didn’t go down well at all……especially when my partner and I went on to lift the pairs trophy.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 19th, 2011 at 7:30 pm


I read you perfectly.


Judy Kay-WolffAugust 19th, 2011 at 7:35 pm


The EBU seems to have a good grip on the situation and assert leadership which we lack here in the US especially at the club level.

Thanks for writing.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 19th, 2011 at 7:42 pm


I don’t want to have another to-do with you but this issue has background and the asker was trying to get Bobby to agree with him (no way VUL).

He always comes to our table with a chip on his shoulder and I don’t feel I am accountable to him for my style of bidding (especially when we have no private understandings). It was simply a question of my style and I resented his questioning my partner as if it was automatic to open a WTB. To each his own. It boils down to personal vendettas.


Judy Kay-WolffAugust 19th, 2011 at 7:50 pm


I don’t care if they are ‘grandmasters’ or beginners. I don’t think anyone is accountable to an opponent for his judgment (good or bad). In your case, it is known as sour grapes or “toughies.” It has happened to us all time and time again. I wouldn’t have given them the satisfaction or respect you exhibited. Judgment is in the eyes of the beholder.