We recently caught up with the latest winner of Stars and Platinum, Bjørn Morten Mathisen. He raced to the top of the podium on the final day to beat a field of over 1100 players. He's been out of the game for many years, focusing instead on family life and work. But now he's is back to winning ways. It's great to find out what he's been up to over the last 27 years!
Bjørn is 52 years old and works as a finance manager for a construction company in Stjørdal, Central Norway. He's married with 3 children, and as a family they regular get together to play cards and board games like Settlers, Catan, Ticket to ride, and chess.
He's a bridge player with a passion for football. He enjoys watching the Premier League, and is a fan of Tottenham Hotspur. His love for football doesn't end there as he is also a coach for a football club. If he finds any more time for relaxing after, family, work, bridge and football, he'll usually be found reading, watching a good movie or out for a walk.
Moving on to bridge. In the late 80's and early 90's Norway was a great place to learn bridge, with lots of local tournaments and a large number of younger players. It's here where the 8 year old Bjørn started learning bridge. By the time he reached 11 he was already playing regularly.
As a junior player he enjoyed real success, winning the European Championship and coming in as runner up in the World Championships. He 'retired' from bridge when he passed the juniors, but now he's back playing on BBO whenever he has a bit of free time in his busy schedule.
We asked Bjørn for tips he'd like to share with new players and he simply said,
"Have fun with bridge and don't focus on the results. The results will come by themselves".
On top of asking Bjørn to share a little of his life story, we also asked him for his thoughts on Stars and Platinum, whether he had any hands to discuss and how it was to come out top.
"It was fun to win the stars and platinum tournament. I like the concept of being able to compare as a declarer".
He didn't share a board from the tournament but instead wanted to share one from around 25-30 years ago. It's one that's stayed with him all this time!
Lead: 7 of hearts (3 or 5)
After winning the opening lead, we needed to secure 9 tricks to make the contract. The lead indicated a probable 4 card suit. West tells me that he hasn't an obvious lead in the minor suits. One of the things I like mosts about bridge is creating an illusion for the opponents. Fast forwarding through the play:
♥7 - ♥6 - ♥J - ♥A
♥5 - ♥2 - ♥10 - ♥4
The player in west was sure that his partner had the ♥Q, and hoped for a Diamond return. West ducked the ♥K, and that's why I won with the ♥10. Then all I needed to do was to draw trumps and ruff/finesse the hearts. The play would not have succeeded if east had started with KJ-third in hearts.
Maybe you will be challenging Bjørn in next month's Stars and Platinum? If you'd like to add the game to your calendar it's played over three days and starts on Monday October 2. Click here for all the details.
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