The important business of selecting our Open Team and our Women's Team for next year's World Bridge Olympiad will be taken care of in the International Team Trials this week in Miami Beach. The right to play in these Trials is one of the major awards for doing well in national championships; 16 pairs are competing in the Open Team Trials and eight pairs in the Women's Team selection event.
Five players are doubly qualified for the Open, having won both the Vanderbilt and the Masters Knockout Team titles. Cliff Russell, Harry Harkavy, Billy Seamon and Alvin Roth will be in the open event. But the fifth, Mrs. Edith Kemp, is additionally qualified to play in the Women's Trials. Unfortunately, she cannot play in both, so, largely as a matter of family pride, she has elected to play in the women's event with her sister, Mrs. Ann Burnstein. Since Billy Seamon is their brother, this means that three members of the family may end up playing for the U.S. in one international championship—a record for any country.
The high caliber of Edith's play can be judged from her brilliant defense in a hand (below left) during the Masters Team championship.
The bidding demands little comment. Over West's takeout double, North's raise to two hearts was mildly preemptive. But South, thinking there might be a play for the game, up and bid it.
On winning the club king, West continued with the ace and then the deuce, encouraged by Mrs. Kemp's high-low with the East hand. Declarer ruffed with dummy's queen of hearts, and, without the slightest hesitation, Edith discarded a low spade. To realize the gorgeous deceptiveness of this play, put yourself in South's place. Suppose East had over-ruffed with the heart king. Declarer's best chance would be to reach dummy with the diamond ace and finesse against the jack of hearts. It would work, and the contract would be made.
But when the heart queen held the trick, declarer had to be concerned about losing a trick to West's presumed king of hearts and having West continue with the clubs, giving East an overruff of dummy with the jack. So when dummy led a trump and East followed with the 3-spot, declarer found the finesse of the trump 8 totally unsafe. Instead, he went up with his ace of hearts and played either to drop West's supposed king or to split the suit and lose only one trump trick. As the cards lay, of course, he lost two trumps and his contract.
Don't be in a hurry to grab a trick if it cannot escape you anyway. Declarer may be misled as to the location of the high cards and patience may get you two tricks where haste could win you only one.