Judy Kay-Wolff

Bridge in The Magic Kingdom

The selection of Orlando (the home of universally celebrated Disneyworld) for the 2013 Trials (which featured the Open Teams earlier and presently the Women’s and Seniors) is a far cry from any other locale that has housed a bridge tournament.  This city attracts primarily youngsters and parents to the unparalleled mecca of this fun-filled clown town.  However, it is most appropriate since unlike other organizations, the USBF boasts of a circus of its own choosing.

Because Bobby and I have not been to a National in five years (excepting a hop, skip and a jump to San Francisco recently), it was delightful to see a host of friends I have made over the decades (many of whom I met when I first started playing – longer ago than I care to admit).   The hotel itself is one of the older ones but more than adequate.   Fair bridge rates were negotiated and the playing area is tremendous and perfect for security purposes as everything is so spread out.   However, the playing rooms seem like (and are) a world away from the convention center which necessitates changing from one bank of elevators to another and then hiking down long corridors a ways to the escalator to the Trials Site a level below.  Great for people who like daily indoor exercise, but for the oldsters (the required qualification of the Senior Trials), it is quite a trek.

Although the staff of the hotel is lovely and very accommodating, it is hard to get accustomed to seeing a cute little salamander in the bathroom in the evening meandering through our toilet articles.  You know what they say about two’s company – three’s a crowd!  Since the lil’ fella seemed to be so comfortable sharing our room (apparently being content to stay put and not intending to go a callin’ on our neighbors), I called downstairs politely asking that an exterminator be sent to our room.  The operator’s reaction seemed so matter of fact that I suppose I am not the first one to make that request.

There are a few nice dining spots within the hotel (reasonably to higher priced) but the USBF has provided the players with some discount coupons which always makes it neat.  A terrific Hospitality Room is open to the players with Lisa Berkowitz and her friend Molly O’Neill hosting the guests for a lovely breakfast spread.  Of course, Peggy Kaplan is clicking away and the fruits of her labor you’ll be seeing in living color in one of the bulletins.  Naturally, Jan Martel is busy as a bee – but when isn’t she?  The tournament has been well directed under the experienced watchful eye of Solly Weinstein  and his warm and friendly staff. 

So far we have remained in the hotel although shuttle buses are available to transport guests to local eateries for a change of scenery.  I have never been to either Disneyland or Disneyworld and will probably keep my record in tact since the matches allow no rest for the weary (either players or kibitzers).  We have been on the go since the moment we touched down at The Buena Vista Hotel and Spa but it is a nice change of scenery although I am ready for a much needed vacation after three days.

Later ….


ReneJuly 14th, 2013 at 2:25 am

I’m not sure I would be laughing about having a companion sharing your room. but I think that is commonplace for Florida. Have you gotten outside the hotel yet or too busy with the matches?

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 14th, 2013 at 3:11 am

Hi Rene:

As a matter of fact, Dan, Bobby and I were going stir crazy and since they had a session off, we thought we would go out and relax at a nice restaurant. Originally, the cabbie told us he would take us to one five minutes away, but they were filled to capacity so he suggested we leave it to him– like fifteen minutes further and a $40 tab without tip. We finally arrived at this elegant restaurant. It was mobbed so we figured it must be exceptionally good. We immediately learned it specializes in cuisine for the rich and famous and they presented me with a long stemmed rose — just what I needed. When I took one look at the menu, I was speechless (which, as you know, is rare).

I excused myself before ordering to go to the powder room and a waiter escorted me arm in arm — like I couldn’t find it on my own. Then, there was a real shocker. I got an education when I entered the stall and found a button that you push and the toilet seat rotates with fresh covering. It was unreal.

I opened the menu and we each settled for veal parmigiana. Most of the entrees were “market price” so you know what that means. I ordered my favorite beverage (iced tea) with the dinner and it proved to be more than enough. I couldn’t even finish mine. However, I was told that the owner does not think iced tea is appropriate and only serves hot tea — but I could order a pot and they would give me a glass with ice. Sounded reasonable. However, it was so diluted, I sent it back and settled for water. Then Dan and I shared a tiramisu while we waited for Bobby to woof away the rest of his entree. The bottom line, with our two meals, the tip and Bobby paying the round trip cab fare — our outlay was so enormous, I am too embarrassed to admit what the evening cost. However, I will add — without a doubt — it was the most expensive (and overpriced) dinner I ever had. Tomorrow I will be happy to go to the little coffee shop here on the lake and watch the blue herons perform for us. Time to go beddy bye and relieved to get this evening off my chest. Nevermore!!!

PAULJuly 14th, 2013 at 3:03 pm

My sympathies. Sounds like you got the “dumb tourist” treatment by the original cabbie. No (and I am not frugal) — but have never spent that kind of money on dinner. Can’t blame you for being annoyed. But, it all goes with the territory and vacationers are subjected to gyp joints like last evening. It is a terrible feeling to have been taken advantage of, but in this economy it is every man for himself.

Meanwhile, are you still sharing your quarters with the salamander?

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 14th, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Hi Paul:

I feel like I have been on the go since I left home in the wee hours of Thursday morning and we have been going non-stop. I even missed the hospitality room breakfast as I couldn’t find the energy to make it there in time this morning. However, I suppose it is worth all the wear and tear on this old body as I just love kibitzing Bobby and the way he magically performs at the table. There is always something to be gleaned after every session.
I envy god-given talent with which so few of us are endowed. It has been a real learning experience these last ten years and I love kibitzing (perhaps even more than playing).

As far as our early companionship with the salamander, I am happy to report he is no longer with us (either by virtue of the exterminator or his own free will). Alas, Bobby and I are once again enjoying our privacy.

Off to the playing room!



AlanJuly 15th, 2013 at 6:36 pm


What’s happening on the Southern front? Have you been enjoying the trials (kibitzing, shopping or sightseeing)?

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 15th, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Hi Alan:

It has been an unusual few days. After our excursion to the outer space restaurant, we have been eating at the hotel. The Hospitality Room provides a marvelous breakfast — everything you can think of — and starting today they are also open for lunch. They didn’t spare the horses. It is like watching the passing parade. Everyone (or almost everyone) drops in for a quick bite and then is back on the run. The matches are exhausting. Three fifteen board segments today and the final one tomorrow in the loser’s bracket. It is like a never ending marathon, but it has been a terrific experience (space, comfort, directors, etc). I don’t expect to get out of the hotel as it is very hot (not that I am not accustomed to it in Vegas) — but much more comfortable inside. Besides when I am not kibitzing, I am loving my Ipad which my daughter Robin gave me as a surprise out of nowhere. I am still a novice at operating it but getting help from many of the players and their wives. I have been playing word games incessantly although I can’t take it into the playing room. It is treated just like a cell phone and for security reasons, you must check it at the desk.

Time to run down to the convention center to learn the results of 16-30 and then Bobby and Dan will begin the second quarter.