Source: 17th European Youth Bridge Team Championships Monday, 10 July 2000

We have spared no expense in securing permission from Five Aces to publish an extract from a book about the maestro, ‘Helgemo’s World of Bridge’ that will be published in August. It has been written by Geo Tislevol & Geir himself.

Geo Tislevoll
Geo Tislevoll

Deals where Geir Helgemo makes the right choice, when it looks like a guess, are countless. It is certainly no coincidence, but it is not easy to wrest from him the secret of his success. I think it has to do with the small details he collects during the play; in the end they give him some kind of clue as to what to do. It is important to be alert all the time, and then sort out all the hypothetical information before adding it to the known facts about the deal.

Even when Geir was a very young junior player, people noticed his fabulous ability to make the right choices. In the bulletin of the 1990 European Junior Championship, the Norwegian bridge journalist Arne Hofstad mentioned this fact. Arne was the best bridge journalist in Norway for nearly forty years, and highly respected internationally. He won a lot of journalist awards, quite frequently writing about Geir Helgemo. One article from the above-mentioned junior championship is set out below.

The Norwegian junior team at that time had a lot of excellent card players. They were not at all afraid of following the line they believed to be right, even though the percentage calculators were of a different opinion. A good nose combined with a natural talent for card- playing technique were their qualities. Systems and theoretical knowledge had to be developed later.

The title of Hofstad’s article was ‘The Norwegians have it at their fingertips’. He won the championship journalist award for it, and Geir won the prize for ‘Best Played Hand’. Geir has later stressed that he felt his play did not deserve any prize, since it was all about sniffing out the vibrations at the table. However, he agreed that Hofstad deserved the prize for his good article. This is the full story:

Dealer South Neither Vul
Q J 6 2 A 4 A 9 6 K 10 4 2
A K 3 Q 8 7 3 2 Q J 4 3 3 10 9 8 5 10 10 8 7 5 Q J 8 5
7 4 K J 9 6 5 K 2 A 9 7 6
West North East South
Pass 1 Pass 2
Pass 2 Pass 2NT
Pass 3NT End

When you see the line of play Geir selected, you might imagine that West gave the game away in the bidding, by hesitating, by questioning, or something. But he had done nothing of the sort, and part of Helgemo’s play on this deal must be placed in the category of pure intuition.

West led the three of diamonds and Geir took the first trick with the king. Then, with a steady hand, he played the jack of hearts, which held the trick! East’s ten was a joy to see, and next Geir played a club to the king, and the ten of clubs from dummy. East covered and was allowed to hold the trick. Back came a diamond, which went to West’s jack, and the next diamond went to dummy’s ace. Now Geir cashed the ace of hearts before playing a club for the marked finesse through East. This was the ending:

Q J 6 2 4
A K Q 8 Q 10 9 8 10 Q
7 4 K 9 A
When Geir played the ace of clubs the situation was not pleasant for West. He might just as well have folded up his cards and conceded. He had to keep two hearts, and whether he pitched the queen of diamonds or a spade honour he would be endplayed in spades. At trick twelve a heart lead into Geir’s K-9 was the beautiful finale.