Waldemar Von Zedtwitz, for more than three decades one of the foremost tournament players in the world, will not be playing on the New York team when it meets Los Angeles next week, but he may be the New Yorkers' most important man. As nonplaying captain, the baron (he inherited the title from his father, a baron of Saxony) was given absolute authority in selecting the New York team of eight players, and he will exercise sole command over all eight in the first intercity match for the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED trophy.
There is a growing belief that the recent success of the French and Italian teams in international competition is due in large measure to the fact that their nonplaying captains have exercised similar arbitrary power. Well-suited to his role, Von Zedtwitz should have equal success. His judgment of play and players is superb. He knows the personalities of his team: Helen Sobel, Peter Leventritt, John Crawford, Tobias Stone, Howard Schenken, George Rapee, Edgar Kaplan and Alfred Sheinwold. He also knows their opponents: Lew Mathe, William Hanna, Ivan Erdos, Oliver Adams, Meyer Schleifer, Ira Rubin, Harold Guiver and Edwin Kantar, with Kelsey Petterson as nonplaying captain. Most important of all, the New York players have such complete respect for his judgment and fairness that there is no danger of a player revolt against his decisions.
Long the favorite partner of Harold Vanderbilt, it was with him during the 5th Vanderbilt Cup team championship that Zedtwitz played his best-known hand. Their teammates, Hal Sims and Willard Karn, who had long since completed their hands against Mrs. Ely Culbertson and William J. Huske, knew that the slow-playing Vanderbilt and Von Zedtwitz were 310 points behind, and there was only one deal to play.
At the other table East-West had been set two at a contract of four spades. When he heard the news that Von Zedtwitz was playing for an 11-trick game, Sims gave up the match as lost. Then it suddenly dawned on him that Waldy had a play for his contract.
"A play for it" was all that Von Zedtwitz needed. He was faced with a tough guess when West, after winning the king of hearts, shifted to the 9 of spades. Was Fry underleading the ace? Von Zedtwitz guessed right, and dummy's jack forced East's ace. At this point a diamond return would have beaten the contract, but East returned a heart for dummy to ruff.
Dummy's club ace was cashed, and then a low club trumped by declarer. A second heart was ruffed and another low club trumped by South, after he had carefully cashed dummy's king of diamonds.
Now Von Zedtwitz cashed his remaining ace-queen of trumps, discarding dummy's low spades. Trumps split, the king of spades put the lead back in dummy, and dummy's king and small club won the last two tricks, the game contract and the Vanderbilt Cup.
Vanderbilt's four-diamond bid is worthy of praise. He realized that his partner probably did not hold four spades or he would have shown that suit after the takeout double of hearts. He recognized the danger of having to trump hearts with his comparatively short spade suit, and thus kept out of the spade contract which was defeated at the other table. In your own bidding follow this precept: when partner doubles one major, show the other major any time you hold four, even in preference to a five-card minor.