Judy Kay-Wolff


The original  biblical term included wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.   

The administrators and players of The Dallas Aces attempted to make the team toe the line with a stringent list of unacceptable practices.  For a detailed recap of the Aces formation, history, participants, etc. you can find it all delineated in the April 7, 2006 issue of the NABC Bulletin –coincidentally held in Dallas).

Most bridge players (IMHO) overrate their ability, but we each live by our own standards.   When the Dallas Aces were in their early years,  they made an effort to list what they considered The Seven Deadly Bridge Sins  — what we peons would consider no-nos!  After this decision was reached, following each event and practice session, they would sit down for several hours at a time and go over card by card and hand by hand, impartially assessing blame if applicable (and double dummying did not enter the picture).

As they depicted them:

1.  No-win declarer plays.
2.  No-win defensive plays.
3.  Bidding without values.
4.  System violations.
5.  Unilateral actions.
6.  Mechanical mistakes.
7.  Impulsive actions.

(Nos. 1 and 2 were judged not by the result, but whether the play made couldn’t have been right.   Perhaps much of their success was attributable to strict adherence to these principles!)

The next time you sit down to play, keep them in mind and after the game — evaluate your performance.


John Howard GibsonJanuary 23rd, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Hi there, Yes I remember reading about these seven principles which any aspiring player should take on board….but also how difficult it is to adhere to them when you lack discipline, common sense and calm analysis of the information put before you.
I am forever falling victim to magical thinking, impetuous plays, forgetfulness, chancing my arm, not trusting partner, laziness and lapses of concentration. And that’s is why I have never really achieved in this game of bridge.

bobbywolffJanuary 24th, 2013 at 12:23 am


Never, Never, Never, Ever give up, “Jim Valvano” (former basketball coach at North Carolina State, who died a young man after leading his team to a great championship) and besides, with your description including only 6 sins to improve, you’ve already begun to reduce the number.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 24th, 2013 at 12:28 am

Dear HBJ:

I think most players couldn’t be bothered to take their game that seriously and who likes to scrutinize their own mistakes? Few!!!



Bill CubleyJanuary 24th, 2013 at 12:34 am

I tell newer players who I play with, “Your only mistake today is your partner selection.” let’s work on your bidding and there are lots of books and articles for play. Play is the only part of bridge you can do for yourself.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 24th, 2013 at 3:23 am


No one ever said this was an easy game.
The more you learn, the more confusing it might get to be — especially changing bidding systems and partners. It must have some compensating values as we are all still hanging in!

Gary MugfordJanuary 24th, 2013 at 10:20 pm


5.Unilateral Actions (with special partner-ignoring factors). NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET! Denies the need (desire?) for a partner. Had a semi-regular tournament game with one guy who spent most of his time doing good work, teaching newcomers to the game. But he got SOOOOO used to playing by himself, that he just sort of fell into masterminding, even when playing with, let’s call them, better players. He would famously start a rationale for some partner-ignoring play with, “Well, I had to put the hand together…”

He said that to me ONE time too many. I suddenly developed a tummyache and went home. Right then and there. And never played with him again.

Can’t say I’ve NEVER masterminded, myself. But since almost all such episodes ended up with me apologizing profusely, I learned to stifle the urge. Groveling is SOOO undignified.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 25th, 2013 at 5:46 am


It is very demeaning to have a partner assume the responsibility or fate for the partnership. I have kibitzed countless top twosomes and notice the better they are, the less they make unilateral decisions.

I must admit in the last nine plus years that Bobby and I have been married, to my knowledge he has never commandeered the ship to become declarer. I am flattered that he is not a hand-hog but by some quirk of fate, he seems to make one (or two) more than the field. It is such a nice feeling to relax as dummy although I am certain that the opponents prefer my being the declarer!

Steven GaynorJanuary 25th, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Hi Judy

Many years ago a fine player told me that I could be successful if I followed two rules:
1. Take your tricks
2. Avoid Unilateral decisions

See you at Glitter Gulch in a month!

John WoodJanuary 30th, 2013 at 8:57 pm

The number one deadly sin isn’t mentioned. Not trusting partner! There are many cases when a unilateral decision is made – usually after partner has limited their hand. (1NT 15 – 17, you hold a 4=3=3=3 12 count. Most players will bid 3NT ‘in sleep’ having weighed up the likelihood of 4S being the correct contract as remote and deciding that telling opponents the distribution in the major suits as being too great a penalty. Of course sometimes partner has 4=4=3=2 and 5 club tricks get cashed. If so c’est la guerre’.)

The great advantage of avoiding this sin is that you win the post mortem!

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 31st, 2013 at 5:34 am

Dear Steve:

I have been having computer problems and
did respond to your comment though for some reason it does not appear above.

Looking forward to seeing you at GG as well.



Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 31st, 2013 at 6:26 am

Dear John:

I think the sin you are referring to is possibly No. 5 expressed in a different manner — (Unilateral Decisions). Being married to two world class players, I did as they said — not as I learned earlier — and now since I play so little (and only with Bobby), the student obeys the master). I changed my style completely since marrying Bobby in 2003. I used to play KS because my first husband, Norman Kay, partnered Edgar Kaplan (co-founder of the system), but now I have converted to loose-as-a-goose Bobby Wolff style. it only hurt for a little while but now I am used to it (and besides, how do you argue with someone who has won eleven world championships?). He also believes in not using Stayman with 4-3-3-3.

This past week I made what Bobby considered the proper opening call in 3rd seat with AKQX QJXX XXX XX. I opened 1S (which is what he confessed he would have opened as well). He bid 1NT (not forcing) and when the opponents balanced, he bid 2NT. After the smoke cleared, they had taken the first five diamond tricks and the heart ace as well.

He said the sensible call with my hand would have been 1D and pass his response. Of course, you can figure out he had 2/4/2/5 and instead of making some number of hearts, we lost five diamonds and the heart ace for down 1 in 2NT.

After the so-called post mortem, my action turned out poorly but his rationale made sense. He is never double dummy and even confessed he would have probably opened 1S himself but upon reflection 1D would have prevented the disaster.

No one ever said this was an easy game!!!

Bob BambrickJanuary 31st, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Thank you very much Judy for that timely reminder of the 7 deadly sins as we once again enter a new year. Happy New Year and all the best for 2013

John WoodFebruary 5th, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Yes 3rd in hand does give some leeway and hands that are balanced in distribution but not in strength can be awkward to bid for obvious reasons. (I like to have strength in 3 suits for a weak 1NT bid on the basis that the contract can stand one suit being run off but not two. This also has the benefit that there is likely to be honour combinations in at least one suit that can help promotion of long cards.)

The bid is ingenious – and logical when you think of it (I assume 2C can’t be bid as I don’t know KS or RSW-JKW) – however it does risk partner finding the wrong lead in defence.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 12th, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Dear Bob:

I am a believer in the Seven Deadly Sins and if something goes amiss, I can always blame it on the system. Seriously, it has worked for me and made me a more disciplined player.

And — a healthy and prosperous New Year to you and yours.


Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 12th, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Dear John:

We play weak NT (11-13) non vulnerable only and sometimes are forced to employ it even without the perfect hand as often the rebid presents a problem which is even worse.

In respsonse to Weak NT, we use 2C as NF Stayman and 2D as forcing to game — often allowing us to find the right strain.

Bridge is not a perfect game and sometimes you are forced to make a decision so as not to misdescribe your hand and lead partner astray.

Damned if you do or damned if you don’t.

Jim BottomMay 28th, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Judy, thank you for this information. My partner and I plan to become more systematic with our practice and the 7 deadly sins is a proven method that resulted in world championship bridge. Of course we cannot have such lofty goals but this will serve us well in our attempt at improvement.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 28th, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Hi Jim:

Everywhere you look (or don’t look), people (qualified or unqualified) will give you advice. I have been blessed with many wonderful bridge personalities in my life with countless great tips. However, they can’t get much better than The Seven Deadly Sins.