Judy Kay-Wolff


Things have changed radically since the last time we went to an NABC.   First — about the hotel site (The Marriott Marquis). We just returned to our room (4:35 p.m.) as Bobby had played the first three matches and was sitting off the fourth one.   To our shock, when we opened our door, it was obvious it had not yet been cleaned.   So we called the desk downstairs and reported it,  went to dinner and after 6:30 when we returned (two hours later) — there was a knock on our door that they were ready to clean it.  Hallelujah!

It is obvious from our experiences here, the whole hotel is short staffed.  The coffee shop (buffet) which is the only tolerable and reasonably priced cuisine has lots of empty tables with a shortage of help.  Time-wise, it was not set up for the convenience of the bridge players (after the sessions are over) although they are swarming all over the place in full regalia.   Between sessions, some snooze on the cozy sofas on the second floor, take off their shoes and snore away.   By the way,  the average breakfast buffet is $19 (reduced for the bridge players) but hardly anything to write home about  — and surprisingly no “omelet man”  The dinner buffet costs substantially more – and nothing special.   The ala carte items vs. the buffet were out of sight!

Let’s move on to the personalities in attendance.   It was wonderful to see old friends again with Bobby being greeted with hearty handshakes and I got tons of hugs and kisses from some players I’ve known for fifty years.  Though it’s been almost a five year hiatus for us, it was nice not to be forgotten and genuinely welcomed with open arms.  We saw so many employees of the ABCL we haven’t been in contact with for a long, long time.  We got to meet someone who frequents both of our blog sites == Bill Cubley who kibitzed us for a few rounds.  Many admirers of Bobby accosted him to tell him how much they love his column and blog site.  I was shocked to learn lots of bridge players read and enjoy mine also, because so few people bother to comment!  It was good to see some longtime loyal employees of the ACBL like Directors Charlie McClerkin and Mike Flader, Administrator Jim Miller, Bulletin Editor Brent Manley and the Oshlags who have been with the League for eons. 

However, there was one incident on Thursday I had with a director with whom we have had ugly problems before.  Because I have a bad back, I always request a stationary entry (NS).   The Mixed Pairs yesterday was no exception.  However, the tables yesterday were too far apart so that I couldn’t reach the person in back of me to pass the boards.  Incidentally, the day before — the tables were so close people had problems getting through the aisles.  Because it was now so spread out, I got reprimanded by this despicable director who complained I should not be tossing the boards on the floor.   I explained I could not get up from my chair every round and requested that he get me a chair on which to place them, telling of my back problem.   Before he got the chair for me (showing his annoyance and with sarcasm in his voice), he vehemently let me know … “I have a bad back too!”    I wanted to add “and an obnoxious personality to boot.”   However,  the chair did solve the problem.   Most of the other directors were accommodating, but this buzzard was unfortunately assigned to my section.   Just my luck!

The hotel itself is fine.  The rooms are more than adequate (though expensive — which goes with the territory these days).   The elevator service is good. Most of the playing rooms are downstairs on B2 (but there are two sets of escalators going both ways).  The events are pretty spread out and on different floors but the Daily Bulletin carefully directs you to the right place. The only problem is that it is chilly and raining outside so it is not enticing to leave the hotel and more convenient and comfortable to remain in the building – so most players are just grinning and bearing it.  (And by the way – Room Service is unto itself).   One lady told me her breakfast bill was $40.00 — because of taxes, service charge and tips which accounted for ten bucks –- one quarter of her bill!  If you missed this National, don’t fret.  However, for me, it was nice to play with Bobby in the Senior Mixed Pairs and was nostalgic for both of us recalling memories of days past!


JaneDecember 1st, 2012 at 5:44 pm


Glad to read you finally got back to an NABC. I enjoyed going and playing with you for over twenty years, but times and conditions change as we get older. I haven’t been to one in five years either. However, I must admit I do miss them and all the friends I acquired over the years.

I see you scored in the overalls in the Mixed with Bobby but that doesn’t shock me. Have fun and give everyone my regards.


Bill CubleyDecember 1st, 2012 at 5:50 pm


Thanks for the mention. It’s been fun meeting friends from all over the US, UK, Poland.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 1st, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Hi Jane:

It was good hearing from you. I do miss playing with you too. I can still remember back in the eighties when we first started to play and by some miracle won a silly two-session Women’s Pair back in Portland. Seems like a century ago.

We didn’t arrive until Tuesday night (a short flight) so I only played Wednesday and Thursday with Bobby and am content to kibitz him for the next two days and not strain my brain. I cannot tell you how many people made it a point to come over and ask for you, sending their regards. Will talk to you when I return home.



Judy Kay-WolffDecember 1st, 2012 at 7:12 pm


I agree with you about meeting players from all over. However, I was happy to not play in the event Bobby’s team is involved in because there were so many excellent foreign players with very intricate systems. In the first match I was surprised they finished on time as it took almost ten minutes to go over their carding, conventions, defenses, etc. They played very few natural approaches and I didn’t envy Bobby’s team having to adjust to their style. I guess that is what separates the men from the boys.


ChuckDecember 1st, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Your story about that woman’s $40 room service breakfast is unbelievable. I suppose they already add in the tip to make sure the server does not get stiffed. What a ripoff!

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 1st, 2012 at 8:35 pm


My face is red! Our game ended in the wee hours of the next day and did not get to sleep before 1 a.m. We woke up late and succumbed to the room service splurge. However, compared to the lady who told me the story, we got a bargain. Ours was only 68 bucks. The food was decent but if you went to a ‘normal restaurant’ — it would have been $35 at most, including tip. What is this world coming to?

Incidentally, learned many of the players are staying at nearby hotels (some within walking distance) to avoid the scalping at the host hotel. We got a bargain special rate of $149 plus taxes — whatever that turns out to be. It is convenient and we were only here six evenings, compared to those who are here eleven or twelve nights.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 1st, 2012 at 11:55 pm

I just returned to the room and almost keeled over when I overheard someone on the elevator talking that they drove in and intended to park their car in the hotel garage for the tournament. I never heard the end of the conversation as the door opened at my floor but I did catch them saying the cost was $60 per night. That’s even worse than Room Service!

It is wonderful that the tournament is packed with foreign players (mostly excellent ones who have been hired professionally) and they certainly enhance the quality of the field, but for the rank and file players who choose to play in the Keohane National Swiss Team which used to be an ordinary Swiss Team, it is very intimidating. Everything seems to be artificial. The suit they bid never seems to be the one they have and their defenses are like long laundry lists. Sometimes they start to play ten minutes late as it is time consuming to understand what they are trying to convey as many of us are not accustomed to foreign accents. It does present a problem but I cannot suggest a solution. Maybe someone can suggest a way of separating the social part of the game from the serious blood thirsty side.

CPDecember 2nd, 2012 at 1:05 am

I used go to all the tournaments but the prices have become prohibitive so I settle to see the results on my computer. Things have changed so much and it is not as relaxing as it was when I first starting attending them, but time marches on.

Judy kay-WolffDecember 2nd, 2012 at 1:22 am

Hello CP:

You are so right! However, I finally found a place with good food (a little late as we are departing Monday morning). As I was leaving Salon 10 where Bobby’s team was playing, I noticed a rectangular table where they were offering a tremendous variety of sandwiches and wraps (at reasonable prices). I bought a delicious smoked turkey wrap and Pepsi to bring to the room while Bobby had a session off and was watching his Longhorns FB game. I took a bite, left it on the bed and went to my computer (offering Bobby a couple bites as it was rather large — but expecting to finish it). Wrong! He thought I had given it to him to devour — so he did! Win some — lose some!

Jane ADecember 2nd, 2012 at 4:48 pm

How about win some, lose a lot (of sandwich!) You lost a meal, and the Longhorns lost the game. My spouse watched it also, being a Texas grad, but have to admit he placed a small wager on K State. Turned out to be a good bet.

Everything you have discussed about nationals is the reason I no longer attend any of them. To me, it is pay more to get less, both at the card table and the hotels and restaurants. No doubt the quality of bridge is wonderful, but the advanced systems being used, and all the pros who attend, foreign and not, make it a challenge for us peons. I can see how a language barrier would add to the mix. Hard enough for me to understand some of the advanced systems in English!

Perhaps if the nationals were played in cities less expensive, that would help. I realize the cities chosen have to be of certain size to accommodate the large attendance and also have good access for transportation, but there are certainly less expensive sites than San Francisco. It sounds like the hotel was not prepared either, but they certainly knew in advance that the crowd would be large and additional services would be needed.

What is Bobby’s opinion on the use of all the advanced systems? I am not asking about the legality, just the necessity. As you mentioned earlier, so many of the bids are artificial. Granted, it can take the opps out of the auction. Is this one of the reasons? Seems to me some of these systems are designed for hands that rarely come up and can be bid with less complexity. Is it intended to be a test of the ability to try and remember a card so full of conventions that there is not a space left for even a period?

Have a safe trip home. I saw on the weather channel that SF is getting a lot of rain and there is flooding as well. Hope you don’t lose power.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 2nd, 2012 at 9:57 pm


You are far from a peon, but I understand your viewpoint and totally agree. As far as the question to Bobby. I will let him answer for himself.

See you soon!


Georgiana GatesDecember 13th, 2012 at 2:17 am

It’s supposed to be cold in San Francisco. Be glad the tournament wasn’t held in August! When I lived there, the landlord always had the heat turned on in the summer (at his expense).

I stayed with a friend and paid $3.30 roundtrip to take Bart. We drove in two days. We were told that the parking at the Marriott was $65. However, my friend has a handicapped sticker, so she got a discount to a mere $40 plus tip.

Finally, there were plenty of restaurants around. I played 11 days and never had to eat at the hotel. The Target Center (on Mission) has a good food court, and immediately across the street was the second-best food court I’ve ever seen. And yes, Philadelphia has a better one.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 13th, 2012 at 3:33 am

Hi Georgiana:

It’s been so long since I was in SF, I think the last time was when I lived in Philly and was probably prepared with warm outer clothing when I left the East Coast. This time I was a dunderhead. Took lots of jackets but unfortunately they coordinated with my tops and slacks — nothing of any warm consequence. In fact, it is very chilly in Vegas right now and necessitates lined or leather jackets.

That’s interesting about your friend with a handicapped sticker getting a $25 break. There are many handicapped parking spaces in Vegas probably because of the old (or near dead) people who have retired here. For the most part, it is like the elephant’s graveyard — but lots of stuff to do to entertain yourself until the time comes. It is amazing how many canes, walkers, crutches and wheelchairs adorn the casinos.

As far as the restaurants, we really didn’t get out of the hotel (not only because of the rain and chill factor) but since we felt we were on a merry-go-round and no sooner than we got up from the first session, it was time to take our seats for the next one. I remember in my youth playing three sessions a day — but those days are long since gone.

You were lucky you avoided eating at the hotel. Next time (if there is one), I’ll remember to bring a leather jacket and raincoat!

Good hearing from you. Stay well!