Judy Kay-Wolff

Setting the record straight

I  had tried with multiple lack of success to follow up on Bridge Winners but I have had password problems.   You may remember the flood of suggestions of individuals for Brent Manley’s Monthly Bridge Bulletin editorial about the 52 most INFLUENTIAL people in the last 75 years of the ACBL’S existence.  This is my post originally intended for Bridge Winners:

I was stunned by the soft memories of the ‘experts’ and the unfamiliarity of the newbies with the career of my husband, Bobby Wolff, in the category of influential individuals ala Brent’s article.

He is most widely celebrated for winning eleven world championships and being the only one to win in five different categories.    Also his column, Aces on Bridge, appears in over 100 newspapers worldwide.   That’s just for starters.

He started playing tournament bridge in the very late 1940’s (at the age of 16) and was active politically in his Unit and District.  He represented District 16 (Most of Texas and Mexico) on the ACBL BOD in 1963 as an Alternate filling in for the elected District 16 Representative who (because he was President that year) at that time had Bobby take his place on the BOD.    He was then elected back to the BOD in 1981 and served through 1992 after having been President in 1987 and Chairman in 1988, but resigned in 1992 when he became President of the World Bridge Federation through 1994 because he perceived a possible conflict of interest.  He served officially on the WBF Executive Council and WBF Management Committee from the late 1980’s up until recently but only attends  while at World Championships when he has been qualified to play in an official event.

He was elected (68 votes out of 68 ballots the world over, the only time that ever happened) to the WBF’s distinguished Committee of Honour in 1994 and to the ACBL Hall-of-Fame in 1995  He was appointed  President Emeritus of the WBF Appeals Committee in 2009, served on the ACBL Laws Commission for many years, created the ACBL National Recorder and acted as its first Recorder in 1985 through the late 1990’s when  he turned it over to his successor, Bob Rosen, but not before spending an average of at least two hours per day at every NABC getting its job done.  He created the concept and title of Active Ethics during his 1987 ACBL Presidency and authored its slogan, Always Disclose, Don’t Abuse, Never Intimidate, Practice Active Ethics which has been on all ACBL convention cards since 1987.  He was elected ACBL Honorary Member of the year and also currently does the official scoring for the Bidding Box in the monthly ACBL Bulletin.  He served as the first President of the Hall-of-Fame committee which was recreated from the original Bridge World Magazine beginning in the early 1960’s and restarted in 1995 by  the then-CEO of the ACBL,  Roy Green.   He is still on the staff of the Bridge World Magazine and was the longest running Master Solver’s Bridge Director ever when doing so from the 1970’s through the mid 1990’s.  He is also on the English Bridge Magazines bidding panel and has served stints on both the Australian Bridge bidding panel and the Turkish Bridge bidding panel.  He has also been honored by being selected to the Italian Bridge Federation’s honorary organization because of his contributions to European and World bridge.

He created and developed Wolff sign-off (a method of signing off over a constructive 2NT), and also designed and named the Rule of Coincidence which has to do with unusual bridge leads, plays and bids which might and possibly tend to indicate some illegal activity in the playing of the game. He contributes and authors “The Aces of Bridge” a world wide bridge column currently in over 100 world wide newspapers on a 7 day a week time period.  He is  very active with Bridge Blogging.com which features his column on a two week delayed basis, answering daily questions sent in by readers usually pertaining to bridge problems originating from the bridge column.  He  has recently been an active member on the internet bridge organization called Bridge Winners and has tried to be innovative in several critical subjects pertaining to the future and hoped-for betterment of world-wide bridge.  He authored an autobiography of his life in bridge called “The Lone Wolff” where, rather than like most bridge books concentrating on teaching, was a chronology of about 55+ years of being active in many important bridge activities which he hopes have been much more positive than negative.  He can say without fear of contradiction that  he has been involved in solving  many bridge cheating scandals in both the ACBL and the WBF.  Also he has been very vocal and  constructive in not allowing certain conventions and treatments including destructive ones, and of  course, controlled psychics which otherwise lessen the game itself by acting as a form of what he refers to as “ poison gas” to their opponents.  He has also been a champion of fairness in Conditions of Contest and Appeals procedures (both the ACBL and the WBF) in not favoring the elite players and especially their undeserved advantages over lesser lights.

I am leaving for last his impressive playing accomplishments such as winning over twenty combined Spingolds, Vanderbilts and Reisingers along with a large number of National Men’s Teams (with many different teammates) as well as a Blue Ribbon Pair and a World Open Pair.   His record, along with his teammates, of winning 33 straight Spingold matches from 1993-1997 is likely never to be equaled.  Incidentally, Bobby is  one of only six Americans to win The World Team Olympiad (1988) held every four years while representing the USA.  Although in semi-retirement and reaching an advanced age,  he has (along with partner Dan Morse) won three of the last four Senior Trials with his one loser being in the finals while playing four-handed — and every one of the four with different teammates.  Summing up his record  he has enjoyed seven victories, four second places and one third place in the twelve Bermuda Bowls in which he has represented the U. S . — (and probably being the most proud of his team’s performance for finishing third in Monte Carlo in 2003).

His six decades of overall outstanding victories, achievements and contributions are incomparable to any other individual in the game!

How quickly we forget!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


CPDecember 25th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I have gotten to know Bobby pretty well in the six years you have been here, but I had no idea of the diversification of his contributions to the game. I am astounded.

ChuckDecember 26th, 2011 at 1:43 am

The classification of “influential” people in bridge ranges from infinitesimal to tremendous. The first three I would think of would be Vanderbilt, the creator of the game and then Culbertson and Goren for their promotion. Without them, who knows if there would be a game today.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 26th, 2011 at 1:54 am


I would make a guess they probably would be the first three choices of most experienced bridge players (certainly mine). You are speaking of invention and promotion and there are so many more individuals who made great contributions to the game. What bothered me was some of the inane ones suggested on Bridge Winners and inspired the above blog.

Georgiana GatesDecember 26th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I notice you’re not making a case for Norman Kay. I think we can reasonably rate the two as being on the same level of bridge skill. Because Norman played against the Blue Team, his international record was inferior to Bobby’s. And I’m assuming that because he was not a full-time player, that he did not contribute as much in the way of administrative work as did Bobby.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 26th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Dear Georgiana:

You warm the cockles of my heart by mentioning Norman. Yes, I think he was as outstanding a player as Bobby, but of course he had a full time job as a VP of Merrill Lynch and took as little time off as possible.

Norman’s attriubutes were as a gentleman (as fine as they come) and a scholar and all the top players recognized his incredible talent. (He was named the most successful player of the double decade from 1957 to 1977). Of course, if the list was just of ‘great players’ — I think he would make the first 52.

What provoked me to write “Setting the Record Straight” was some of the informal nominations on Bridge Winners which were pale in comparison to those real contributors who over an extended period of time gave much to the bridge world.

And, yes, it is easy to read between the lines about the Blue Team although Bobby too had to jostle with them until they retired.

Thanks for remembering Norman. It softens the blow of the obvious exclusion of Bobby from the list by many but most people had no clue how much (outside of his earthshattering playing records) the contributions he made in every other field for the betterment of the game.

I appreciate your comment more than you know.

RKDecember 26th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Shame on you, Judy. You forgot Bobby’s part in the formation of the Dallas Aces!

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 26th, 2011 at 5:11 pm

You’re absolutely right. However, there was so much to cover but it was such a cogent error, I do apologize.

Back in the late sixties Ira Corn, wealthy Dallas businessman, came up with the idea (and the money) to organize a real professional team. It was Ira’s creation but it was Bobby (with Dorothy Moore’s help) who got the project off the ground. It became obvious to all that the results were below par and the reason was apparent — IRA! If you read “The Lone Wolff” you will remember the sobering opening Chapter I entitled “FIRING IRA.” Things changed after that — for the better — but they came in second in the world championship four times in a row until the Blue Team retired. You can read between the lines.

RK, thanks for reminding me. Organizing the Aces was a huge part of bridge history as it was the first true professional bridge team and others followed suit.

JodyDecember 28th, 2011 at 4:24 am

I go on BW, but dont you think it is a blog for “young guns” in a way. Perhaps it’s my imagination but whenever there is the slightest comment about what the YG write, all kinds of people jump in to protect them and slam the posters. One wrote about playing down in team games and having a good time later trashing the stupid opps. when poster thot that was childish and “tacky” {my words}, all manner of piling on occurred.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 28th, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Dear Jody:

It was good hearing from you again and I wholeheartedly agree with your slant on “young guns.” Some people just like to see their names in print!

I researched Bridge Winners out of curiosity to learn who was behind it and was very pleased to read the followining:

Bridge Winners has been in the works for a
while. Our dream is to create an online bridge community to share news, tools, articles, and problems. Our first tool, the ACBL Convention Card Editor, is a sign of things to come. The modern era has propelled bridge onto the Internet, with Bridge Base Online quickly becoming a central place for bridge players worldwide to meet to play the game we all love. Our site will strive to be your Web-based haven for everything bridge. We encourage our users to write up any interesting bridge hands in their Bridge Winners Blog or post it as a problem in our poll forum. We are always interested in your ideas and feedback, so please don’t hesitate to let us know if there is something missing in your online bridge life. If you have problems or questions about the site please email support@bridgewinners.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Gavin@bridgewinners.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Gavin is a full-time professional bridge player and instructor. Gavin was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and now resides in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida with his wife Jenny and daughter Dani. Gavin is an ACBL Grand Life Master and his other bridge accomplishments include:
2011 Silodor Open Pairs 1st Place
2009 NABC+ Open Swiss 1st Place
2005 Blue Ribbon Pairs 1st Place
2005 World Youth Team Championships Bronze
2004 Spingold Master Knockout Teams 2nd Place
2004 Keohane NABC Swiss Teams 1st Place
2003 36th Bermuda Bowl 9th Place
2003 Canadian National Championships 1st Place

Jason@bridgewinners.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Jason is an immigration attorney and part-time professional bridge player. Jason grew up in Champaign, Illinois and now resides in San Diego, California with his wife Erin and golden retriever Casey. When not playing bridge he loves to surf and travel. Jason’s bridge accomplishments include:
2010 Mixed BAM Teams 3rd Place
2008 NABC+ Open Swiss 1st Place
2007 Grand National Teams Super Flight 3rd Place
2007 South American Open Pairs
1st Place
2006 World Youth Team Championships Gold
2006 World University Team Championships Silver

STEVE WEINSTEIN (the only one I know)
Steve@bridgewinners.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Steve is a professional bridge and poker player. He grew up in Accord, New York and now resides in Andes, New York, with his wife Liz, dog Luther, and Archie the cat. Steve is the reigning World Open Pairs Champion, holds the record for the youngest-ever winner of an NABC event, and has more Cavendish wins than anyone else. Steve’s impressive resume includes:
2010 World Open Pairs Champion 1st Place
2010 US Team Trials Champion 1st Place
2010 and 2006 Buffett Cup 1st Place
13 National Wins 1st Place
7 Cavendish Pairs Wins 1st Place
3 Cavendish Team Wins 1st Place

Eugene@bridgewinners.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Eugene is a Senior Software Engineer at IBM and avid amateur bridge player. Eugene grew up in San Diego, California and now resides in Palo Alto, California with his fiancee Helen. He is also a former Jeopardy! contestant and the co-founder of a popular Bay Area board-gaming group. Eugene is one of the core developers for Bridge Winners and his bridge accomplishments include:
2002 World University Bridge Championships 10th Place
2001 North American Collegiate Championships 1st Place
1999 North American Collegiate Championships 1st Place

Here are four solid citizens offfering a venue for avid bridge players. Unfortunately, some young whippersnappers just like the publicity. However, for the most part the blogs (especially recently on the trials and qualifications) are informative and stimulating and written by people in the know.

So much for the “young guns.” And, yes Jody, they are quite protective of each other. It is very apparent.

Georgiana GatesJanuary 4th, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I’ve just received my January Bulletin. The cover is headlined “The Top 52” and Bobby’s picture is included. So it looks like you don’t have to worry.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 5th, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Thanks, Geoegiana. I have not received mine yet. I was not worried in the least. What irked me was that so many uninformed people (especially the arrogant young ones) had no idea Bobby did more for bridge over a longer period of time than anyone in its history — bar none. It makes me sad not to be appreciated especially since just about every effort was pro bona.

But thanks for the advance tip! I will be looking forward to seeing the cover with bated breath.

Georgiana GatesJanuary 6th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I should clarify a little. Bobby is one of ten pictures, but you’ll be happy with the company he’s keeping there. And the bottom 13, 40-52 are announced in the article, and he’s not there. Which is good news, since it means that he’s in the top 39.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 8th, 2012 at 6:45 am

Hi Georgiana:

It is an unusual project Brent has taken on. I don’t think it was clearly presented on the cover. Vanderbilt (or was it Eli C?) was the first picture listed (I’m too young to be sure), but it is obvious from some of the others, that they are not in numerical order and I believe it was clearly a subjective project. I am anxious to see the rest of them. I think it can end up being a hoot.

Don BrownMarch 11th, 2012 at 10:44 pm

What a pleasure, as a rookie to play against BW. Not having a point to my name it was an intimidating factor in my play. Bobby was so kind to me, pointing out little things that were elemenrty. He and Bobby Goldman were my kind of people. Always gthere for a person with helps along the way. In my 1st tourney (The Ambassadoe Regional in Los Angeles, I tried to remember what BW told me justa few months before. It paid off whern we got a section tro and my first points. I had the pleasure of playing in the section against Charles Gorwen and BillGooden. I did not know who they were but we got two top boards from the; and that made me a bridge plater for life, though I have missed overfifty years of playing since that 1st time. Every so often I see “the great one” at a tourney and it does warm my heart.