Judy Kay-Wolff

Marital Partnerships

Marital Partnerships

To the average individual, the caption above alludes to ‘normal’ husband/wife real life relationships — supposedly a loving twosome who marry, raise children, educate them and delight in the ensuing joys that are associated with family ties. However, that is a far cry from the interpretation applied to our own Bizarre World of Bridge (coined from HBJ’s amusing column).

Marital partnerships in our cockeyed game’s sense of the word means a married couple (or even Significant Others) who frequently played together. Eli and Josephine Culbertson were the first of the lot, going back to the late Twenties. It got to be a common practice and, if not divorced or deceased, still partner one another. It is questionable whether better partnerships result when close in ability or represent extremes (as is in my own personal case/s). To me, the answer depends upon whether you play for the casual fun of it, merely to pass time, for lack of something better to do or seriously want to learn and improve.

It is not easy to sit opposite (and be emotionally involved with) world class players like Norman and Bobby although my survivorship vouches for my strength, stamina and determination. No doubt, I have improved immeasurably in the last ten years as Bobby has dedicated a lot of time to our partnership and I have garnered much from his discussions, explanations, theories and treatments which are not akin to most experts. However my mind is slowing down and it takes a bit more composure, effort and concentration to rise to the occasion. There is no denying that it has been tough sledding on occasion which leads me to the real topic of my blog.

I have shared the same unintentionally down putting experience as my dear friend Betty Kaplan when she played with my beloved partner-in-law Edgar (as he referred to himself when addressing me). Betty was an accomplished musician, had great organizational skills and was exceptionally bright, clever — but not a ‘natural’ bridge player which for years created dismay and anxiety when she was criticized. Edgar’s frustration with her caused unhappiness though she wouldn’t have traded him in for the world (just another bridge partner) — and the feeling was mutual. However, like Bobby, Edgar enjoyed playing with his wife. Just chalk it up to two gluttons for punishment.

Edgar finally proposed a very workable solution. His commentary and view of her performance on a particular hand (which I blogged about in detail a few years ago) was conveyed with four letters: R A T S. It was an amusing approach to let off steam in a manner not to upset her. His laughable non-confrontational appraisal of her actions were: REASONABLE, ATTRACTIVE, THOUGHTFUL and SCINTILLATING. Edgar’s humorous brainchild made life at their table happier, relaxing, tolerable and enjoyable.

When I reminded Bobby of Edgar’s adaptation of RATS, he soon appeared at my computer and handed me a torn scrap of paper with his own version scribbled on it. It read ……



We are about to go to our Friday Duplicate and I will bear that all in mind.


No matter your age, sex, gender or interests, surprises are always on the horizon!

I thought I had heard just about everything on the subject of (shall we say?) gaining advantage at the table.  Wrong again!!  In my eager ‘novicy’ days, I did nothing but kibitz Norman and Edgar at the top level in New York tournaments and the Nationals.  Unrealistically, though I proudly professed to be somewhat of a ‘bridge player,’ I did not have a clue what I was watching (or playing), and it was not until many years later did I recognize that I and my cronies were in a totally different stratosphere.  It was a rude awakening (and quite demoralizing), but it served a great purpose!  I learned that many things are not what meets the eye.  It pointed me to the whys and wherefores and all the negative nuances that glorify the game.   Back in the sixties and seventies, Edgar was the most prominent bridge personality who knew the rules and laws backward and forward and was involved in never-ending ethical issues — a beloved guru in countless ways.  It was a shocking revelation to me what was going on from beginners’ status to world class experts!  Norman was too busy with his ML daily routine and bridge was merely a hobby to him — leaving the administration to others.  Then along came Bobby who had devoted over sixty years to the game and his diversification in so many directions is unbelievable.  Thus, I couldn’t wait to discuss my revelation with Bobby and (as Edgar would have said) .. "Indeed" .. I  got more than I bargained for.

I questioned him about some of the scandals that terrorized our game and how they were handled in the old days .. before I told him the story that knocked me for a loop.  I must confess I did view it as pretty funny as I couldn’t believe the perpetrators could actually get away with it.  Most of the famous world bridge horror tales are old news.  No sense beating .. for the most part ..  dead horses.  We’ll let them rest in peace.   The variety of bridge tools and techniques created for passing unauthorized information is also ‘old hat.’    At the risk of boring you, lest we forget some of the more easily detected sins .. using pencil directions to depart ‘extra’ information, kicking under the table before the famous Foot Soldiers were put out of commission by the implementation of foot boards, placing a card face up on a board already played (with a terrible result) before sending it on to the other table in a team game so it would not count, coughing at the appropriate times, holding your hand at different levels depending on your strength for bidding purposes and/or telling your partner what to lead, etc.  Had enough?  To add insult to injury, many violators were celebrated players.   But, now to my tale …

I was distressed to hear the following (and certainly am not suggesting or encouraging you to adapt the same modus operandi)!  In the olden days, tempos and soft and loud voice tones were in vogue for sleazy players or those who knew no better.   Nowadays, bidding boxes are practically universal which, for the most part, do away with intonations and inflections of telltale voices.  The bidding box burden falls upon North whose responsibility is to key in the contract, the declarer’s direction and the result, with all players inserting their ACBL number.  More work for the players and less for the directors — but very innovative.  I was amused to hear of a ‘new’ (at least to me) method of relaying information via the Bridgemates (actually the bidding cards themselves).  It can be done as an opener, responder, and overcaller … whatever! 

As one type of example … opener initiates a bid (other than pass) at the inception of the auction. It is placed in a normal horizontal position; partner responds and there are three types of rebids (or perhaps even more I have not learned about) by opener.    The position of the opener’s response to partner varies.   If again it is placed horizontally — it is a ‘normal hand;’  if placed vertically (or what you would consider perpendicular) it shows a very sound hand and better than average opening; and the worst hand you can communicate to your partner is by placing it on a slant as a minimum opener (or raise).  Obviously, it can occur at any point in the auction as long as you have your system down pat.   I find it disheartening in this day and age (though really laughable) but people have witnessed it.  (Incidentally, it reminds me of my early days of social bridge.  We opened 1C with a four card suit or longer — but ‘a’ club with a three bagger.  Everybody did the same thing, so it was standard operating procedure.  Until it was pointed out to us how unethical it was, we ‘kneweth’ not what we were doing.  We were innocent culprits — unaware of our wrongdoings and responsibilities).  I can’t resist Bobby’s story about his mother’s ladies game.   When Blackwood was used to learn the number of aces partner held, she responded by holding up her fingers in response.  It does save time!

Back to 2013.  Where have I been???  Perhaps I am just naive (though hard to fathom with all my experience) but I welcome one upsmanship if you can better the above operation.  Pretty cute?  Of course it wouldn’t survive a minute in high level bridge but in the lower strata, it might go undetected for a bit.  As to Bobby’s incredible tale which goes back decades, I have asked him to present it in his own words because it’s an incident known to a miniscule audience — so watch for it. 

Winning isn’t everything – or is it???

Pilfering — With Permission!

Bridge Blogging comes in many sizes and shapes.   This site offers such a variety of topics, views, opinions, suggestions, questions, theories, mathematical approaches, accounts of sectionals, regionals, NABCs, etc. The diversity of subject matter never ceases to amaze me and I read as many as time allows.  I mostly resort to our main site as it is all-encompassing (including photos – which is not my best suit).  When I allude to “main site” – I point out those contributors whose names appear directly below the primary site to the far left.   If you check it out, you will also spot a list of others whose efforts are quite noteworthy, educational and informative and I highly recommend them if you are not already a fan.  However, one stands out like a sore thumb .. and that is Howard Bigot-Johnson’s Bizarre World of Bridge – and he proves it in spades .. although no one challenges how different we are from “normal folks.”  I take bridge very seriously (although sometimes my results don’t testify to that fact) and in today’s world and especially the state of our economy, many situations are in a downward spiral.   That is why it is always refreshing for me to take time out to relax while reading HBJ’s extremely clever and original presentations.   I have been following them for years and Bobby and I correspond with him often.  I usually think the last one I read was the best – but the ensuing one usually changes my mind.   He really should compile them in book form as all bridge lovers would appreciate his humor and plays on words.  (I am not HBJ’s agent – and some day I might wish I were). 

I wanted to share with you one of his latest contributions which I thought was so clever and on point. No doubt after reading it, you will trace back to previous postings  – so here goes!


( This highly competitive and addictive game has often caused quiet mild mannered people to turn into dangerous psychopaths , as evidenced by the following bridge terms which all relate to those who have turned their thoughts towards revenge, violence and murder . )

Bad break : the injury caused to a player’s arm or leg bone by an irate partner wielding a hammer
Progressive squeeze : Once an inept partner has been grabbed by the throat , it is the process by which one strangles the life out of him
Shooting : a popular pastime with members with a score to settle
Lead : the type of pellets most players like to have inside their shotgun cartridges , so as minmise the risk of missing their intended targets
Duck : an perfect target for a shotgun owner, especially when found in a sitting position 
Nasty split : what can happen to a player’s skull when an irate partner buries a machete into it
Axe : a heavy, more effective alternative to the much lighter machete
Cut : the smallest of injuries one can suffer at the hands of a knife-wielding partner
Clubs : useful objects to carry on your person , ideally suited for knocking some sense into bonehead partners
Spades : handy implements to have around to help dispose of any lifeless bodies
Uppercut : the penetration of skin about the shoulders, neck or head
2 club opener : a quick softening up process before the real beating takes place
Small slam : what one should do to close a door in order to cause a substantial injury to partner,  who is known to be following close behind
Grand slam : the maximum force used to close a door in partner’s face ,  as a way of showing just how pissed off you really are with his naff bids and inept play         

Signs of the Times!

I have been enjoying the Spingold on BBO (still, to me, the most amazing contribution to our game).  Thank you Fred Gitelman and Co.  (Incidentally, I must depart from the topic a moment – to comment on the continuing fabulous updates on the site as it seems to gets better every time I watch it).

This blog was inspired by the fact I was startled to note the change of pace, names and countries represented which certainly speaks well for the allure of the event (despite the absence of monetary prizes).   Of the four teams remaining .. some interesting observations:

1.  Of the four teams, three are six-handed and the remaining one boasts of a foursome.  Thus, a total of twenty-two players.

2.  It is unbelievable that we are hosting seventeen foreign performers in the semi finals.

3.  Thus, only five are American which is a far cry from the early beginnings when just about everyone was from the U. S.  That is, in no way, a put down – but rather an incredible observation of the departure from the pattern when I came on the scene .. in the late fifties. 

4.  The American quintet includes Allan Graves (formerly a Canadian), Joe Grue, Jacob Morgan, Brad Moss and Richie Schwartz,

5.  Two of the five are sponsors and reaching the semi-finals speaks so well for them.

Back to BBO to which I find my eyes glued switching back and forth to the two matches!

Thank Heavens for Bridgeblogging.com!

About five years ago a close friend suggested that Bobby and I contact Ray Lee, of Masterpoint Press, about publishing his about-to-be completed book "The Lone Wolff."   It was not only one of our better moves, but it exposed us to the world of bridge blogging and an opportunity to meet Ray and Linda Lee who at the time were jointly at the helm  Since then, Ray has more or less ‘stepped’ down and has left the running of the site to his better half.

We spend a great deal of our personal time happily affording much effort to our individual sites. 

Bobby, as most of you know, produces a daily seven-day-a-week universally published Aces on Bridge column (through the generosity of his syndicate) which appears on the site exactly two weeks after its actual publication.  He exerts a lot of time back and forth to his readers which is a perfect instance of a true labor of love.  Many of his ‘regulars’ make suggestions and pose questions — and he replies to each and every one of them.  These individuals are from all over the world — not just from  here in the States.   I might add that Bobby believes in the pro bono creed as a way of giving back to the game all the pleasure and satisfaction he has personally derived from it.  Sometimes bids and plays are challenged — but all in a respectful, if not curious, way!  Bobby devotes a lot of time to his responses, explaining bids and plays from a different perspective that some of the readers may have overlooked. Often he agrees that there are other choices or that bids and calls may be close.   It is a true love affair and sometimes I see the light on in his study in the wee hours of the morning (long before dawn) where he is pounding away on the computer, responding to queries and comments.  Bridgeblogging.com reaches thousands and thousands of readers daily although many content themselves to read and enjoy but do not partake in exchange of information.

I, on the other hand, produce blogs based on memories of old (and that I am), stories of events about some of the magnificent real heroes of the past (even digging up pictures recently to accompany their releases), topical issues (many of them controversial) about how ‘things are done’ today, displeasure with the handling of some issues by the ACBL (especially the directing force), stories of many events with which I have been associated (especially the Omar Sharif Bridge Circus) .. and whatever else seems to be timely and appropriate.   My blogs are sincere (often not sparing the rod) and I am not intimidated by my readers disagreeing with me.

The above tales about our sites are a prelude to the purpose of this blog.  Comments and replies are made in a respectable fashion even though we may agree to disagree!   Usually, if I take the time to write on a particular issue I think worthy of publishing, I leave no stone unturned.  It is just one person’s opinion and I can well understand if someone chooses to assume a different position.  However, NEVER (except with one uncalled for erroneous refutation by a commenter) has a fiasco (or near  fiasco) ever occurred.  It became very ugly as I was an eye witness to certain long ago occurrences and my opponent was not.  It was so infuriating that Ray, normally a sweet, calm, extremely well mannered gentleman, stepped up to the plate and censored the blog as it had gotten so out of hand.   Between Bobby and me over a five year period there was only one such debacle — and I think the answer is because of mutual respect (although sometimes difference of opinion) which exists between the blogger and the responder.  

Also, I might add that in the years of our participation, we have worked with a very caring and conscientious technical staff who respond immediately to questions and are marvelous at problem solving.   The cast has changed somewhat over the years, but they have always put their best foot (feet) forward.  A special note of gratitude to all who have come to our aid in time of need.   We couldn’t do it without them.

You must have suspected there was a reason for such a detailed prologue and indeed – there is!  I have been randomly watching another site and I was in for a rude awakening.  Though I enjoy reading many sincere. intelligent and constructive viewpoints, several of the ‘users” (both those who post and also comment) have, IMHO, gravely overstepped their bounds.  When I first questioned  their ‘Support Group” (ha! ha! – more of an Unsupport Group), I was advised that the tone of some of the renderings (one individual’s in particular) wasn’t “appalling ENOUGH to require action ‘ (described and qualified as “explicitly obscene language, explicit accusations of cheating”) and heralded our Freedom of Speech standards!   Who determines just “how appalling” the offense must be????  Obviously no one is willing to make waves!  As a stone gathering moss, this character garnered some support from persons of apparently like moral fiber.   Whatever is said immediately is aped by his fellow “follow the leader” sidekicks.   Allow me to describe the overriding tone used:  sarcasm, insolence, prejudice, bias, ugliness, harassment, disrespect, contempt, scorn, disgust, hatred, et al.  However, what offends me the most is the deliberate attempt to put someone down.  You can agree to disagree without venom or trying to be meanly humorous – poking fun at your intended victim.  Is there no longer respect for your bridge peers?  Where have all the decent people gone????   Incidentally, I was disappointed by the Support Guru (who is very capable and I thought once to be a substantial contributor to the site but disappointed by his last communication) when I was advised (as countless others) that I may choose to hit some jigger or other on my keypad and this joker’s comments will not be available for me to get.   BFD!  Hardly a palatable solution.  What good does that do if they still appear and the owners and organizers continue to allow contamination and degradation of a once super site???? 

I appreciate and admire Linda and Ray more and more every day.   They have earned it in spades.

The Current ACBL Monthly Bulletin

In simple language, they are getting better and better by the issue — a far cry from the ones when I first entered the scene which proves indelibly how time marches on.  That observation is coming from one who is hardly a compulsive, avid reader and only adhered to mandatory reading in both high school and college.  I must confess (and I always joke about it) the last book I read in its entirety many moons ago was Forever Amber

When the monthly ACBL Bulletin appeared in my mailbox, I scooped it up with my other mail and began to glimpse through it — checking out Brent Manley’s Viewpoint, Letters to the Editor (with responses), Upcoming NABCS (not that we attend them anymore), Life Master Milestones, my favorites columnists’ monthly contributions which are growing in number — and last, but not least, the Obits.  I single out that page because recently more and more of my peers are getting their names in lights (unfortunately in a posthumous fashion).

What caught my eye were the opening few pages where the featured articles were plastered in bold print, with page numbers and all photos accompanying them were in technicolor   It was a traditional eye catcher.  On the opposite page besides the Table of Contents appeared fifteen small black and white photos of the glib-tongued "contributors" — captioning the original column titles as well as the pages on which they appear.   The distinct categories were listed (including page identification) which pointed you to Columns, Departments, Interactive Features, Masterpoints, Calendars and "Passings."  “Passings”?  How delicate!

The subject articles, replete in most cases with colored photographs, are very provocative.  If you can’t find an affordable cruise to enjoy, blame no one but yourself!  There are detailed enticing full color advertisements which can’t avoid catching one’s eye.  These lovely ads of bridge water journeys include just about every cruise line available with dates, sites, host experts and (sometimes) prices but an 800 number is provided if you are serious about wanting more specific information.  In fact, Bobby was approached about the possibility of hosting one as he has done on numerous occasions in the past.  However, it wasn’t workable, but I am still entertaining the thought as there are only so many duplicate clubs and casinos in Vegas and a change of venue might be good at our tender ages.  And, would you believe, though I have been all over the world for bridge championships — never been on a cruise!

And now –  where do we direct the credit?  Obviously .. to my old friends (Editor in Chief Brent Manley and Managing Editor Paul Linxweiler) whom it seems I have known forever (or longer) who are probably first and foremost responsible for this fantastic upgrading of our monthly delivery.  I am certain the Associate Editor (Sue Monday) and the Graphic Design/Layout Coordinator (Cindy Hill) whose names I recognize but do not know personally played a major role in making it all happen.    And, to the many others who have silent roles in its production and distribution — we thank you. 


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!


When we left Las Vegas for the Trials in Orlando, I was in a state of indecision.  Of course, I always root for Bobby and most always have not been disappointed by his performance.  However, in this instance, I was in limbo – mainly after reading the highly controversial and unpleasant banter on Bridge Winners for nearly two weeks how the Israeli Women’s Bridge Team (despite the rationalization by others) were put in a position where it was incumbent upon them to withdraw from the competition after an ongoing hassle by detractors and being ignored or stalled by the Indonesian authorities for months regarding arrangements for their visas (as well as wanting to feel safe with their own security protection which they were refused).   I have presented a blog on this issue before, but since I could have been personally involved, I thought it was pertinent to revisit the scene.   Had this been held in Israel, there is no doubt that extreme measures would be taken to both welcome the visitors and take a vehement position on protecting their safety.  This September’s site as most of you know is Bali.  You  may also recall, after 911, the WBF had selected the same island for the Bermuda Bowl to be held a few months after the murderous attack by the terrorists.   The WBF, with Jose Damiani by far the dominant force, in all good conscience, decided to abruptly change course and relocated in Paris.   All went smoothly and despite heavy financial losses for both Lippo Bank of Indonesia and the WBF, the change in midstream was a success and judged to be a responsible move.  Anyway, here were are back in Bali and many are uneasy about the site.  I happen to be one of those, so being knocked out in the middle of the week was not as painful as it ordinarily would have been and I am not ashamed to admit it.  Human safety should be the first consideration in site selection.  True confessions!

The outcomes of the recent USA1 Women’s and USA 1 Senior Teams were very popular.  The Women’s consist of Captain Barbara Sonsini (a beautiful sponsor whom I only know by sight) surrounded by an extraordinarily impressive squad consisting of Lynn Deas, Beth Palmer, Irina Levitina, Kerri Sanborn and Judi Radin.  The Senior Team is captained by sponsor Richie Schwartz (playing with former Canadian Allan Graves) and two good partnerships:  a newly formed one of Sam Lev and Bob Hamman and an expert, well respected and seasoned twosome of  Neil Chambers and John Schermer.  These six are thought to be as good a Senior Team as we could produce for the World Championship and have a terrific chance to be right up there at the final bell.   Playoffs are still in session for the USA II teams in both categories.

As I wrote earlier, the hotel site and their employees were super; the directing staff which was headed by Solly Weinstein and Harry Falk et al. were efficient, soft spoken and very gentlemanly as one would expect; Peg Kaplan was there with camera in hand and Lisa Berkowitz and Mollie O’Neill untiringly welcomed the contestants and spouses or significant others to the Hospitality Suite.  They outdid themselves and no one walked away hungry.  Jan Martel did her usual hustle and bustle and kept the event going smoothly.  However, I just read that an appeal was made Wednesday which determined (and reversed) the outcome of the Kasle/Meltzer match with details to follow.  (It is now twelve hours after I began this post and no explanation has yet been rendered on the USBF site).  I am anxious to see who comprised the “Appeals Committee” – hopefully without bias, prejudice, professional ties and other naughty leanings.  Luckily the adverse decision made in the Open Trials involving  the winning Fleisher Team did not alter the scores or results, although there was a huge amount of public criticism (and rightfully so) by more qualified individuals than those who served on the actual Committee.  Incidentally, it was relegated to a telephone squad who conferred on the ruling and I do think the Trials to select our country’s representatives should be better supervised by on-site committees rather than Graham Bell contributors.   We seem to have money for everything else.  What could possibly take precedence over who is to represent the USA????

Another conspicuous aspect of all three Trials to represent our country was the predominance of sponsored teams.  I certainly agree there are SPONSORS and sponsors.  Many of the so-called money people behind the team are decent players – not necessarily world class – but who would have a shot with good back up to hold his or her head up high.   As some of you are not aware, sponsorship (though it was hush-hush) actually reared its head back in the sixties).  Would you believe even Charlie Goren backed a team on which he was playing, but it was important to keep his name in lights because he was the chief promoter of modern bridge as we see it today.   Believe me, this is not ‘rumor’ as Bobby was one of those solicited to join their ranks.

I have kibitzed our game ad infinitem (both comedy shows and serious bridge) and watched the 2013 contests in the hospitality room, on the return flight by Ipad and on BBO from my computer at home.  There seems to occur one system “forget” after another.  Is this the Keystone Cops or what???  I cannot believe it is not humiliating to make a bonehead bid or play that is being witnessed by thousands of viewers the world over.   I would want to crawl into a hole to never again resurface.   I witnessed such a disastrous action by a well-known sponsor and I confess the person may not even have been aware of it, but a first grader (with only a tinge of numeracy) who was just learning the game would have known better.   The play was a hundred times worse than impossible – if there is such a thing. It must have produced a universal cringe!  I find it uncanny to comprehend the direction in which world representation is headed.  Learning and feeding one’s ego by playing with a pro and making the headlines in sectionals, regionals and even NABCS does not affect our world status.  But — are we encouraging this class of players to strive to represent the US?  Is buying one’s way onto a world championship team what our game has come down to?   However, with the economy the way it is and many professionals not being capable, trained (or industrious enough) to find other ways of financial support — the level of supposed “world class teams” have been compromised and will hit the skids and one day the inevitable will come – our game will become history because its majesty and glory have disappeared.   I am not normally a crepehanger, but it is hard to rationalize what has occurred and how this status came about! 

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 ….


Though I have never visited the Indonesian island of Bali, I have always envisioned its legendary beauty as a tourist attraction.  Recently, those far off visions have been darkened by reading a blog called Banned in Bali – regarding the upcoming WBF championships scheduled to be held there in September of this year – a shade over two months away.   Please note what you are about to read is all hearsay (not official) as seen through the eyes of another bridge blog site.   Its contributors are a mixture of universal views (some erudite and well intended – others not so erudite and not so well intended; some biased – others prejudiced).  Everyone speaks his or her mind – some respectfully – others not so! 

The introduction of the subject from an Israeli:

“The Israeli women’s team qualified for Bali by finishing 6th in the European championships.  Indonesia doesn’t recognize Israel, and wouldn’t issue any visas there. It also refused to even discuss the security arrangements for the Israeli team.  Rather than intervene, the World Bridge Federation asked Israel to withdraw if it couldn’t arrange travel to the tournament.  Israel had to withdraw …”

I read about it the first time yesterday and was saddened to hear the protection of human life was the focal point.  It is imperative you understand I am not taking a position either way.   However, the decision is a matter of vital bridge importance.  Bali was the original site of the 2001 Bermuda Bowl to be held a month or so after 911, but because of so much unrest, it was moved to Paris which proved to be quite successful and relieved the fears of many participants (who might not have attended if the WBF stood firm on the original site).   Much money was lost by the generous sponsors because of the abrupt change of venue and the WBF promised they would return again one day and make it up to them.  Apparently, that day has come (but not without challenge)!

The issues raised in the referenced blog are (1) a repeat of the troublesome site selection;  (2) refusal (or difficulty) of the Israelis to obtain visas; and (3) avoidance by the host officials to approach the subject of the imperative security protection arrangements.

There are enough hurdles and high fences to scale in the game itself and I find it so sad that the safety factor has once again reared its ugly head.