Bobby Wolff

Edith Freilich/Kemp/Seligman/Seamon

One of the highlights of my early career with the ACBL and as a bridge player, was a glorious opportunity for me to play with Edith Kemp (at that time) in the 4 session National Championship open pair event at the Spring Nationals in Cleveland, Ohio in 1965.

That event has been forever in my thoughts in spite of our not doing well in the pairs itself.  Charge it off to my inexperience, or the difference in systems.   Edith was a strict Roth-Stoner and my leanings were the other direction, but whatever were the true reasons, was no concern to me at that moment nor any time thereafter.

Edith was in the midst of a fantastic winning streak, having won both the Vanderbilt and the Spingold in 1963, a performance unlikely to be duplicated, especially by a woman, and one who stands just as tall today in any Lifetime Bridge Achievement associated with anyone else, even those who would be considered to have mastered our wonderful pastime.

Edith was very simply an elegant person, being an off-the-charts talented and bold player whose confidence shined forth, but never neglecting all the positive human characteristics that not all top players possessed.  She was compassionate, humble, stunning in looks and dress, kind and considerate (to her partner and to the opponents), composed, titillating  both in personality and in conversation, but what set her apart from others, was that those qualities stayed with her all of her life and were always abundantly on display each time I fortunately ran into her, exchanged pleasantries, and so was constantly reminded of who she was and had always been.

Rarely does a person in bridge stand for all the finest qualities the game represents such as top class play, active ethics, competitive ruthlessness, necessary complete concentration, and yet while doing, never led anyone to think that she was neglectful of all the best human qualities.

Having said the above, is there any wonder that bridge will miss her; her family and friends will mourn her; and all who came in contact with her will lose her cherished presence … especially me.


PegMay 18th, 2011 at 8:47 pm

I had the honor of having Edith as a teammate for the Mixed Teams at a Chicago NABC. While I know her age was “getting up there” even then, she was utterly amazing.

As the saying goes, Edith “played like a guy” – while being a totally classy lady. We surely have lost one of bridge’s biggest stars.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 18th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

I had the pleasure of meeting Edith as a young bride of Norman’s in the mid-sixties in Bal Harbour.

My apartment neighbor in Philly lived at the King Cole in Miami where Edith resided. When we first met, I hardly knew anyone in the bridge world and she took a shine to me and very graciously introduced me around. I will never forget what I consider the American Bridge World’s grande dame!

Gary JohnsonNovember 9th, 2011 at 7:06 pm

To Bobby Wolff: At a recent club team game an expert palyer opened 2 spades in 1st seat holding 10,9,8,7,6,5 of spades; K,J,9,x of hearts and K,J,x of clubs. After the hand was over I called the director and was basically told people can open whatever they want. I thought the bid was highly unethical and would like some expert opinion. Gary Johnson, Beaverton, Oregon

bobby wolffSeptember 11th, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Hi Gary,

Since after 10 months of not checking this site, I ran into your question and now will answer it, although you might have preferred me waiting another 10 months.

Any player has the right to choose whatever he considers a hand ripe for the bid he makes, regardless of what he holds. However, if it is a psychic response (such as, in this case, short spades, perhaps only 2) then he still is permitted to psyche it, but it should be recorded so that, if he continues to do so, and it always seems to work, e.g. partner also having short spades and a very weak hand, then the suspicion of a private understanding or cheating method will come into the picture

However, there is no indication of that, so whoever he was he was entitled to regard the hand you say he held and bid 2 spades with him.

Freedom of choiice, (however far afield, and truthfully this one is not that far) is his decision to make, and, in truth, you should, like at a wedding, forever hold your tongue.

Good luck and please forgive me for not checking Judy’s site until now.

John CunninghamMarch 10th, 2013 at 6:53 pm

The Friday March 8 column says that East did the right thing by taking the club King and returning the suit. Eventually the contract can be made. If East wins the club king and returns a diamond, does that not defeat the contract? All plays that I tried defeated it with a diamond return.
John Cunningham

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