The death of Helen Sobel Smith leaves no clear-cut heiress to the title of best American woman player. Edith Kemp, Margaret Wagar and a few others who were more or less Helen's contemporaries would win some votes from the Establishment. Mary Jane Farell currently leads the ladies in the department of master points, and she will soon attain the remarkable 10,000 level, which was first reached by Oswald Jacoby. But Mrs. Farell is closely pressed and may soon be passed by Hermine Baron.

In any case, the top female star of the future—if not of today—is likely to be found among the six women who this year went farther in the tough Spingold knockout team competition in Los Angeles than any other all-woman team in history. They curtsied out in the quarter-finals by the narrow margin of four international match points in a match against the star-studded Ira Rubin team that went on to meet the Dallas Aces in the finals.

The ladies' sixsome was captained by Dorothy Hayden of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., who has enjoyed considerable success in recent national and international events—though the captaincy is often an honor that rotates when a team includes a good many stars of almost equal rank. In addition to Mrs. Farell and Mrs. Hayden, the team included Peggy Solomon of Philadelphia, Emma Jean Hawes of Fort Worth, Marilyn Johnson of Oakland, Calif. and Jacqui Mitchell of New York. Jacqui's presence on the team necessitated some juggling in the Rubin match, since her husband, Victor, was on the Rubin team, playing with Sam Stayman, and the Mitchells prefer not to play directly against one another, an idea I most heartily recommend to other married couples who may encounter one another on opposite sides of a team match.

This team of women might have won the Spingold, or at least reached the semifinals, but for a combination of bad luck and an unfortunate guess on this small-slam hand that produced a 21 IMP swing in favor of Rubin.

When Rubin-Westheimer held the North-South hands they got all the way to four hearts on the kind of conservative bidding one might rather expect of the women:

SOUTH
(Westheimer)

1 [Club]
2 [Spade]
4 [Heart]

WEST
(Hayden)

PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Rubin)

1 [Heart]
3 [Club]
PASS

EAST
(J. Mitchell)

PASS
PASS
PASS

Because the heart suit split 4-1, declarer lost two trump tricks. Nevertheless the Rubin team scored +450. At the other table, however, the girls reached a superior contract.

SOUTH
(Johnson)

2 [Club]
3 [Club]
6 [Club]

WEST
(W. Grieve)

PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Farell)

2 [Diamond]
5 [Club]
PASS

EAST
(P. Feldesman)

PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: 3 of hearts

Recognizing the possibility that the heart lead might be a singleton, declarer ducked in dummy and won East's 10 with the ace. Next she cashed all six clubs and the ace of spades, leaving this situation:

NORTH

[King of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]

WEST

[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[King of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

[King of Spades]
[8 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]

EAST

[Queen of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]

Declarer had reached the moment of truth. She had to guess which card—the king of spades or the diamond ace—would force East to make a fatal discard. Unfortunately, she chose to cash the diamond first. When the king of spades was next cashed, East was able to discard a heart and two tricks had to be lost. But see what happens if South elects to first cash the spade king, discarding dummy's diamond 7. If East discards a heart, declarer simply surrenders a heart trick, holding the ace of diamonds as reentry. If East discards the diamond instead, declarer cashes the ace of diamonds, plays a heart and ducks it to East, who must surrender the last two tricks by leading a heart into dummy's king-9. Instead of losing 11 IMPs, the girls would have gained 10 and won the match.

Neither side vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

[10 of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

WEST

[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[3 of Hearts]
[King of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[5 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

EAST

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

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)