Words will never hurt them

The six players on the U.S. women's Olympiad team have experience and skill, but most important of all, they get along with each other
May 10, 1964

The World Olympiad, which began in New York last week, is not restricted to men. There will be women's competition, too, and although many big name players such as Helen Sobel, Edith Kemp and Dorothy Hayden will be missing, the U.S. team should do well. The three U.S. pairs are Jan Stone and Muriel Kaplan, Stella Rebner and Alicia Kempner, and Helen Portugal and Agnes Gordon. All are experienced players.

To hone the skills of his players, Captain Paul Hodge recently took five members of the women's team—Helen Portugal was unable to go—to Toronto for a grueling weekend of practice against both the Canadian Open team and the Canadian Women's team. It was a strenuous test. The girls played about 235 deals in three and a half days—nearly half as many as they'll have to play in twelve days in the Olympiad. What Hodge saw was pleasing. He watched his girls outscore Canada's Open Team in four of six sessions—even though in the final aggregate they lost by a few IMPs—and he saw Jan and Muriel sail smoothly to a grand slam on this hand, despite obstructive tactics by Canada's top pair, Eric Murray and Sammy Kehela.

WEST
(Jan Stone)

[Ace of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[10 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]

EAST
(Muriel Kaplan)

[King of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[8 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[— of Clubs]

After East passed, Murray, sitting South, opened with three hearts. Jan, vulnerable, bid four diamonds. Kehela passed, and Muriel bid six diamonds. Jan decided that her partner would not make that bid without a single ace and so she carried on to the grand slam. The opposing diamonds divided, and although East had only two trumps left with which to ruff losing clubs, Jan was able to take two ruffing finesses through South's king-jack of hearts and establish a heart trick in dummy for the vital 13th trick.

Oddly enough, the hand that gave Hodge a great deal of encouragement was one that saw both U.S. pairs meet disaster. This was the deal, played in a match against the Canadian women:

Both sides vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

[8 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[4 of Diamonds]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

WEST

[3 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[7 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[7 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[— of Hearts]
[King of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

EAST

[— of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]

When Stella Rebner was South and Alicia Kempner North, the bidding went:

SOUTH

2 [Club]
4 [Spade]
5 [Club]
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH

2 [Diamond]
4 N.T.
6 [Spade]
PASS

EAST

DOUBLE
PASS
DOUBLE

You can hardly blame East for being astounded that there should be a powerhouse two-club bid out against her hand. She inquired what South's bid meant, was told that it was forcing to two no trump, and then she doubled. South decided that the opponents probably had the better of the high cards, and her four-spade jump was largely preemptive. But North read it as showing some kind of superslam try. Since she had already shown a poor hand by her diamond response, she promoted the value of her king and her singleton and asked about aces. South meant her five-club response as a sign-off, but North thought it showed all four aces—as normally it would. Therefore she pushed on to six spades which East doubled. Mrs. Rebner lost only a club and a diamond trick for minus 200.

At the other table, with Muriel Kaplan and Jan Stone as West and East, the bidding was:

SOUTH

2 [Spade]
4 [Spade]
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH

2 N.T.
PASS
PASS

EAST

DOUBLE
DOUBLE

Not unnaturally, Jan was suspicious of the opening two-bid and simply disbelieved her opponent's jump to game. The winning bid would have been a pass—but would you have passed East's hand? At any rate, declarer made five-odd for a score of 990.

Why should Paul Hodge have been pleased with any part of this hand? Because it helped to clear up some partnership misunderstandings? Well, partly that. But mostly because the girls were able to laugh at what happened and to suggest that, of all the hands they played that long weekend, this be the one I should write about. The women's title will be decided by a round robin, and each match will count as much as any other. In a long tournament, where no single match is enough to swing the decision, the success of any team—and especially a women's team—hinges on the absence of teamsmanship. What is teamsmanship? It is the manner in which you greet the other half of your team immediately after the play ends, in order to compare your scores. An extreme example is the case where one pair announced to their partners: "We killed them on every board but two." The two boards they neglected to mention were a grand slam they permitted the opponents to make and a 1,400 point penalty they incurred against a possible two-spade bid the other way. This sort of thing can destroy team morale. That is why I think Captain Hodge is fortunate. Not only has he got six good players, but a real team as well.

ILLUSTRATION

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)