2015 got off to a rollicking start with TGR’s sixth Auction Pairs — chief rollickers being the Norwegians, whose unparalleled appetite for the sauce and disdain for sleep is matched only by the brilliance of their play. Leading the 70 pairs after the first day were Frank Svindal and Tom Johansen (bought in the auction by their buddy and like-minded rollicker Thor-Erik Hoftaniska), neither of whom let the small matter of an hour’s sleep cramp their style. No early nights with a steaming mug of Bovril for them. Off they went to enjoy the watering holes of London almost until it was time to play the second day. On Sunday they continued to hold their impressive lead until the penultimate round when they were nudged into second place by French supremos Jean-Christophe Quantin and Robert Reiplinger, who coincidentally they were due to play in the final round.
But back to the penultimate round of two boards: only too aware of the standings, the Norwegians needed a swing to recover their lead, and went for it on this board against my teammates Nick Sandqvist and Tom Townsend.
Tom Johansen, sitting West, did not have a clear double by any means, but amazingly he did have a clear head and knew that he had to make up ground quickly, so after a minute’s thought he grabbed his chance to raise the stakes.
He cashed the Ace of Spades, Svindal following with the Jack, a signal for Hearts. The Jack of Hearts followed, known in the trade as a ‘surrounding play’, and the defence cashed three heart tricks. That meant +300 and left N/S with only a single match point, and the dynamic Norwegians with enough to capture the title. Cheers, boys!
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