Judy Kay-Wolff


According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the above is a “frequent subject of complaint”   When it comes to bridge quirks, my ‘issue repertoire’ is plentiful.  First and foremost are cheats.  Who can argue with that? I don’t think there is a close second.  Next come gloaters and high-fivers.  Behind them in my book are huddlers who take their fair time but pass – while getting the message across to their partners in a non-forcing auction that there is safety in balancing.   And how about those who either fail to alert or offer extraneous information to help their partner?  I resent brazen young players without the years of experience who act like know-it alls and it irks me out of my mind when those who profess to be mavens, offer strong analytic expert opinions when half the time they are way off base.  I know it is a free country (or used to be), but it better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.


Jeff LehmanMarch 17th, 2012 at 6:06 pm

I don’t find the complaint about inaccurate and inappropriate immediate post-mortems to be the province of just the young and inexperienced.

Although I share some of the same concerns as you, I do think it is important to observe with a degree of tolerance. Too often violations I observe are due the distaste they receive, but, not infrequently, in the nonchampionship circles I frequent, violations are attributable to ignorance and not malice. Constructive notice of the violations is often the best tool, both because that is a measure consistent with the crime, and because it is less intimidating to the violator. The best directors seem to know how to impart the correct ruling (with cause) without turning someone away from our fine game; let’s be sure that the opponents of the violators are leaving to the director that task.

bobby wolffMarch 17th, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Hi Jeff,

I agree with what I consider your main theme and, not surprisingly, probably your pet peeve.

The problem occurs, or at the very least, is exacerbated by TD’s who are not properly trained in the necessity to not mince words with the protagonist(s).

First, the TD needs to know the significance of what happened, understand the game and, more importantly, the problem(s) created by errant behavior. No doubt the TD would be doing a better job to not get emotionally involved and thus not be overly severe, but the #1 objective is to make sure all at the table are 100% sure of what is being condemned, and what is not to ever happen again.

True, the above requires both good table side manner and thorough knowledge, without either or worse, neither, the TD presence will inevitably result in a total failure for all to become more responsible bridge players and worse, the game of bridge itself, together with its strict ethics requirements, to suffer.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 17th, 2012 at 7:34 pm


I agree with a lot of your remarks, but I find that the inexperienced director (especially one who does not want to antagonize new or unfamiliar players) lets lots slip by without explaining the no-nos of the game. It is not a free for all and bearing in mind, it is a sanctioned game (specifically the duplicate), master points are being issued to which the rules must be adhered. Ignorance or malice is not the issue. In any event, we must follow the rules and directors have a strong responsibility to set the players right.

To strengthen the game and make it fairer should be our primary objective whether it be at the club status or higher.

bobby wolffMarch 17th, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Hi again Jeff,

At the risk of having you feel exposed and subject to unjust criticism, which, of course, you are not, but only a messenger bringing a very popular humanitarian view to which you have expressed, please bear with me when I create a hypothetical bridge situation.

Suppose you deal and open 1 spade, holding, s. AKxxx, h. Axxx, d, Jxx, c. x and have your LHO overcall 2 clubs. It then goes two rapid passes, back to you. There is little doubt in my mind that you would reopen with a double, because of the bridge logic of this type of situation while playing the modern game (1960-present) especially when Al Roth invented and popularized negative doubles starting simply with Sputnik the original negative double, but since greatly expanded, (possibly the most frequent and best thought out convention ever invented and adopted universally among tournament players).

If the opening bidder instead decides to pass and finds partner with very little and no club stack (with the overcaller having a hand which, because of great strength, would cause many of us to first double, but he decided to merely overcall 2 clubs and RHO had a hand which might have bid something but decided not to), would we be right to call the TD, claiming that the person sitting over the 2 club overcaller made too rapid a pass over 2 clubs, therefore influencing his partner not to make a balancing double?

Unfortunately we would gain no redress, simply because such a thing is almost never done and even if it is, the TD would be unable to offer redress, because of insufficient evidence. While I cannot offer a better bridge rule on this type of subject, I can and will bring up the situation in order for all of us to ponder it.

Such is the necessity for all of us to realize that bridge, whether tournament or otherwise, is a so-called Gentlemen’s game, and Ladies, wherein all four of the players are supposed to use the honor system keeping in mind our own responsibilities, to bid in as perfect a tempo as possible and the corollary to never make use of unauthorized information made available to us from partner.

The above, at the very least, is needed to be known by all tournament directors (TDs) and sometimes, if he suspects it to be true, whether or not he penalizes or adjusts the score, he needs to make it known, on this hand, that if in fact, he suspects the opening bidder’s partner may have passed too rapidly (out of tempo, especially for that specific player) it needs to be mentioned.

Why?, someone may ask. Simply because we should all be reminded of our moral obligations to being proudly called a bridge player, but with that compliment creates our ethical responsibility to the game itself. TD’s need to always be thinking in that way, but in order for that to happen they first need to be taught it, feel it themselves, and with it, an obligation to make it happen in order to make our game better. Without doing such a thing our beloved game will remain in the shallows to which it could evolve to off-the-charts status.

ChuckMarch 18th, 2012 at 12:12 am

I agree with Bobby. Not all the faults are those of the players but from the failings of some of the directors to own up to the responsibilities of the game.

Jeff LehmanMarch 18th, 2012 at 5:16 am

I think we agree on several key matters:

1. I agree that fast passes are just as much a “break in tempo” as are slow passes. And I suspect the rules, if properly applied, would produce similar adjustments to the detriment of the pair that includes the partner who took an unclear action made more attractive by the UI produced by the fast pass. I recall that a BridgeWinners thread recently addressed this same issue.

2. I also agree that many, well, probably most, directors can do a much better job than they do at educating players about how the bridge rules require players to act when their partner breaks tempo or fails to fully explain a call, etc. And that a good job by directors of such educating of offenders need not be, ahem, offensive. Full explanations by the director of the cause for an adjustment should clarify that the adjustment is not akin to a charge of cheating but is rather an attempt to ensure that results are 100% caused by the calls that are made and not by any extraneous information imparted by partner, even when unintended.

I guess the point I was trying to make in my initial post is for players to avoid articulating in front of opponents the charge that violations are intentional. Experience in my circles, particularly club games, is that one partner is frequently oblivious to the tempo break of their partner; they are not taking advantage of something they did not even notice happened. That doesn’t necessarily alter the conclusion that an adjustment to the table result is appropriate, but it can/should alter the charge of some experienced players that the opponents are nefarious.

JSMarch 18th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

You neglected to mention a professional foreign contingent playing in the main NABC team games and then after winning (and even getting seeding points for the team) have to drop off and return to their native country and potentially play their former team (and their replacements) in the world championships! That is a real farce.

KatieMarch 19th, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Dear JS – seems to me that is an issue caused by using an OPEN (to all) event to give seeding points for US trials ….

bobby wolffMarch 19th, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Hi Katie,

Excuse me for intervening, but while you are right on in answering JS you, perhaps, did not go far enough.

If I was proposing to ask a multiple choice quesion on why O.J. Simpson was acquitted in his double murder case I might list the following choices:

1. Because of Judge Ito’s probable naive desire to at least be thought of as being the fairest judge ever to preside on this planet.

2. Because of the abominable behavior of the USA in their treatment of Blacks going back hundred’s of years, which, in turn, caused certain ethnic groups to seek revenge.

3. Because of a palpable difference of forcefulness, legal psychology, and debate talent between the attorneys representing each side.

4. All of the above

It is likely that many might answer #4.

Returning to your comment, in order for a means to be established to make our three main annual team events a stepping stone to being favorably placed in that year’s trials for International representation, the top foreign players direct involvement needed to either be completely overlooked or, at the very least, compromised in order to have done what our top professionals preferred.

In other words, to seek an end result, the explanatory rhetoric sometimes needs to be adjusted to desire, leaving logic and total fairness lacking, but what else is new?

Finally, if the above is basically agreed upon (which I think it should) who should bear the responsibility?

1. The ACBL

2. The professional players

3. Our most prominent adminstrators and so-called impartial bridge promoters.

4. All of the above

Again I would vote for #4.

Love to you and that slave driving Bridge Magazine Marks and Comments editor husband of yours.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 19th, 2012 at 7:18 pm

JS and Katie:

I think the simple answer is too many cooks spoil the broth and far too many individuals have got their finger in the pot — obviously all caused by professionalism and greed.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonMarch 20th, 2012 at 9:12 pm

HBJ : Hi there again…..been on holiday to get away from it all but hey this pet peeves topic is like stirring a hornet’s nest. What we tongue-biting players have to put up with ?
As for my pet peeves I put slow players at the top of the list because they are nothing more than selfish greedy thieving time bandits. Next come the ruthless unscrupulous cheating pairs, followed by individuals who use every soft cheating practice going hoping most nice players turn a blind eye. Also in the top four are the nasty sorts who have a real sadistic streak about them.
Mind you, I also have a top twenty such are the numerous but dreadful types which plague our bridge clubs, all having been analysed and diagnosed by Dr. John himself.
So yes, I endorse your observations 100%. So are we left with the conclusion that bridge does indeed bring out the devil in of so many bridge players ?

bobby wolffMarch 21st, 2012 at 5:31 am


Thanks for your overly optimistic view of humankind. Physical competition tends to bring out violence, hate, irrationality and torture. Mental competition is worse and tends to geometrically accent physical competition four fold.

Add to that, loss of willpower, morality, and all fairness and one begins to approach the firey gates of what we are (if you excuse the term) dealing with.

The devil you say, and the devil it is. But what fun it is to match pitchforks with others.

DOWN SIXTY SIX, fathoms that is.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 21st, 2012 at 1:35 pm


It gets more disgusting by the day, but no one really seems to care or do anything about it. As long as the card fees come in, why bother to rock the boat?

Howard Bigot-JohnsonMarch 22nd, 2012 at 2:40 pm

To you both….thanks for your replies. I guess the consequence of establishing the game as a sport brings the world of bridge into a whole new arena, where players are taught ( or are they brainwashed ?) to be mentally aggressive and tough. And as in most physical sports the pressure to win requires ” getting away with what you can “. Psyching opponents out isn’t necessarily confined to bridge ! Footballers and boxers do it all the time.
The sad thing of course is that in most sports the referee is up with the play, while at bridge the TDs sit huddled together in a corner somewhere until one of them is called out…..always AFTER the incident when it is too late.
What I would like to see is a second scorecard which is given to opponents at the end of each round , for them to enter up a courtesy and fair play score. Over time when these scorecards are handed in a league table can be produced on a regular basis , for all to see who occupies the bottom placings as the most discourteous and unethical players on the tournament circuit scene.

ReneMarch 22nd, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Maybe someone can explain one of my pet peeves. Often I check to see the real name of the non de plume commentating and it comes up with a name and the term world expert. Out of curiosity, I go to my encyclopedia and there is no sighting of the individual. Who gives them the designation or is it self appointed? I didn’t know the bridge world had so many extraordinary players I never heard of.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 23rd, 2012 at 11:58 pm

I often wonder how they arrive at that designation too. I am sure it is all gratis (volunteer) with no remuneration involved and they are given the liberty of self-ranking themselves. I used to know 90% of the top players and now it seems I know only a smidgeon (even the American ones). I miss the days of yesteryear’s vugraph with Edgar Kaplan, Ron Anderson, Mike Ledeen, Bobby, et. al. but there is no going back.

PaulMarch 24th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

When the teams seeded #47 and #54 are in the quarter-finals of the Vanderbilt, I think it is fair to say that there are a lot of experts who you will not have heard of, especially if they are not from your neck of the woods.

All the BBO commentators give their time freely. The only remuneration is abuse from some viewers and the occasional thanks from others.

Who cares what they call themselves. If you do not like their commentary make them an enemy (and you won’t see it) or move to the other table. If you really don’t like it then let Roland Wald know.

BTW, worth checking out the voice commentary.