Judy Kay-Wolff


What a difference the years make — especially for someone who hardly missed an NABC since 1960 and then put them to rest about five years ago — with the exception of San Francisco which was only a hop, skip and a jump from Vegas.   That doesn’t mean I have given up on the game.  I still enjoy its stimulation and am delighted to play with Bobby play twice a week at the local club and all ‘Strip’ Sectionals and Regionals — although I recently discovered that the host hotel’s upcoming Sectional room rates (even reduced bridge ones) despite the chair people’s continuing efforts to reduce them, are quite high (as compared to earlier bargains to attract attendees).  However, we have upgraded from The Riviera to the much more modern and comfortable Bally’s in the heart of everything.   Incidentally, The Rubins (co-chairs Jane and Bruce) have achieved a good sized reduction for the upcoming January Regional (which has had dates switched because of the LV Nationals being held here next summer).

Even if you say it quickly, the NABCs involve endless packing, mail and newspapers which must be put on hold, exorbitant airfares, exhausting security challenges, cab rides, hotel check-in lines following a sometimes long flight, entry fees, master point duels but happiness at the end of the rainbow while sightseeing and getting to spend time with old friends.   However, the shocker is — that I did not know the Atlanta Nationals were already in progress until today when I read one of the bridge columns on this blog site mentioning the events had kicked off — starting with the Grand Nationals.  When I came upon the scene, there was no such thing as a GN — just ordinary, routine events which were intriguing to all in attendance.    By the way, as a newbie, I used to actually (yes, truly) count the hours until the Kays’ plane took off as I was captivated by the Nationals themselves and exposure to new cities I had only read about but never visited in the past.  I suppose that earlier I led a rather sheltered life with the exception of frequent Metroliners from Philadelphia to the New York Broadway shows and back.  For the record — a  ten day stay at the Nationals would end too soon for me and the wait for the ensuing one was far too long.  I guess that says it all.

The NABC’s incredible expansion is revolutionary.  I recall the starting times of 1 o’clock and (either 7:00 or 7:30 — or even 8:00) plus midnight games for the young and energetic who could still keep their eyes open and preferred playing to partying after the evening session.  I believe I just read now they are something like ten, three, seven-thirty and eleven thirty.    Also, there is a different game (of all gradations — A, B and C) in every nook and cranny of the site hotel at all times of morning, afternoon and evening.  Just pay your card fees and name your poison.   Incidentally, when I checked with Bobby as to his recollection of NABC card fees in the 60’s, he agreed with me — it was four or five bucks.  He reminded me of the bridge club he started in his birth city of San Antonio in the late fifties when duplicate entry fees were $1.25.   Today, you’re lucky if you can purchase a cup of coffee or coke for that paltry sum.

I was surprised by the Atlanta card fees if I read it correctly.  In all North American championships with no master point limitation, it would be $20.  Other North American championships, it is $17.  In neither of the above are non ACBL members are ineligible.   In the Regional competition ($18 per session for ACBL members and $20 for those who chose not to be a dues paying ACBL member).  In all other events, it is $15/$17).

Today bridge is big business but allure of the game (and understandably so) has not only attracted the younger breed but still fascinates the old timers who are well enough to travel and are able to afford the escalating costs.  The featured stars from the 60’s and 70’s, who were idolized and revered the world over, have gone the way of all flesh.  Few of them are still alive.  You had to have been there and witnessed with your own eyes the spectacular talents of these individuals.  Systems were not as good back then and the game has been mightily overhauled with new and complicated systems, methods of signaling, "different’ leading methods, etc. — all  happily pointing upward toward the improvement of the game.  The early birds had less to work with — but overcame the hurdles and some of their records are still unbelievable.   They are deserving of recognition and admiration and though most have faded into oblivion, it does not detract from their immense number of victories and contributions to the game.  You  can’t ignore success!

I could go on and on — but this gives some of the newcomers an idea of what transpired earlier on the bridge scene before they themselves appeared on the radar screen.  They don’t know what they missed!    I pray our game is here to stay — and hopefully won’t be compromised or tarnished!   With the growing trends and new horizons, that is much to ask for!


SamAugust 2nd, 2013 at 1:24 am


What a fascinating and provocative blog. I started playing long after you and might not know all of the great earlier players, but I would love to learn for my own edification who they were deemed to be.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 2nd, 2013 at 1:49 am

Hi Sam:

Obviously, this may not be an all inclusive list (which only includes deceased players), but we are rushing off to dinner and I listed them hurriedly, though I think it covers most of the waterfront. However, there may be an omission or two.

Other than presenting them in special order or even randomly, I have alphabetized them for you. They are among America’s all time greats of the fifties, sixties and seventies which many did not know. I was just arriving on the scene and many were “at the end” of their long successful careers. I had the pleasure of knowing the majority of them personally but others were merely “casual passing waves” or “friendly hellos.”

Here they are — a total of twenty:


BobAugust 2nd, 2013 at 4:29 am


You really are going back to the dark ages for me. I recognize the names (and partnerships for that matter). When I came upon the scene, most of them were either retired or dead. I see Philadelphia was well represented with Johnny, Sidney, Norman and Peter. All but Norman were before my time. I think Johnny had remarried and moved to the Carolinas and Peter migrated to the West Coast and owned a ski resort.

Your blogs are always unto themselves. This one I found very educational.

KevinAugust 3rd, 2013 at 3:10 am

I suggest you mean Meyer Schleifer

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 3rd, 2013 at 5:14 am

Thanks, Kevin. Mark it up to plain old fashioned carelessness!

Patricia JayAugust 7th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Hi Judy,

Thanks for the blog…do you happen to know how much the rooms will be at the regional and the national in Las Vegas next year (I think both will be at Bally’s)?


Steven GaynorAugust 7th, 2013 at 9:40 pm

The regional will be at Bally’s, rates have not yet been posted. Card fees are $11, which is definitely low for a regional.
The NABC will be at the LVH (Las Vegas Hotel) which used to be the Hilton. The last couple NABC’s in Vegas were at the same place. No room rates posted there, either.
If you want the best room rates get a players card for the hotel (Bally’s is part of Harrah’s ‘Total Rewards’). You DO NOT have to gamble, but use the card every time you purchase anything from them. It all counts toward comps and better room rates. There are over 40 properties across the country that are part of the Total Rewards program.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 8th, 2013 at 12:10 am

Hi Steve:

I have been checking around and although we appear at the BJ tables at Bally’s and both have Rewards cards, we could secure nothing lower than the $99 bridge rate although last time it was somewhere around forty or fifty bucks. My friends Bruce and Jane Rubin who devote their lives’ effort into their newly designated co-chairmanship have been super. However, though they tried, they could not get this coming tournament’s rate reduced. I checked it out myself an learned there were three huge conventions during our stay and believe it or not, were not as low as Bally’s.

However, Jane told me they are trying to renegotiate the rates already in place for January and have met with relative success for the Regional but are trying to do better.

Your Rewards Card tip was terrific. I am sure that many readers would not have known to accumulate points as you suggest and would not have been eligible for some perks.

Thanks for your contribution!!



Judy Kay-WolffAugust 13th, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Hi Paddy:

Somehow I overlooked your email but I see that my ever-efficient friend Steve gave you lots of information. If you need more specifics, write to Jane Rubin (co-chair) at janee1212@aol.com.

If you do attend, please come say hello. It is usually a very well run tournament that draws people from all over.