Well, it has taken 12 years, two relegations, one second place and endless ‘nowheres’ playing the Premier League and we have finally won. After three weekends, a triple round robin and 336 boards, the result was decided on the last board, when my partner Artur Mali was put to the test in a delicate 3NT — which ofc he made. That put us a point ahead of Black, making up for Allfrey beating us by one point last year.
Premier League started in its present format in 2008, when Nick Irens’s boys, including Norwegian-born Espen Erichsen, took the trophy and earned the right to represent England in the Camrose (Home Countries Championship). No coincidence, then, that Espen, playing with his regular partner Glyn Liggins, on my team, rather brilliantly defended today’s game contract. Espen was sitting East (see diagram).
When defending a hand playing teams (IMP scoring) it’s a good idea to ask yourself this question: ‘How will we get them down?’
Most pairs were in 4♠︎ and, perhaps surprisingly for a competition of this standard, several made it. West’s lead is clearly a singleton when Declarer follows suit, and some East players led back a Heart for partner to ruff, hoping that the setting trick will come from Diamonds or that partner held the Ace of Clubs. But Espen looked a bit deeper into it. He could see there was no hurry to give partner his ruff, and that on the actual layout a Diamond switch at trick two was necessary. Now that the Diamond trick had been established, Espen took the Ace of trumps immediately and then gave his partner the ruff. Plus 12 IMPs and on the road to victory.