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: