Do you ever go to the EBU website and read some of the articles writen about the major events?
I met two members of this Irish team many years ago. One of my favourite memories is at the Brighton Congress when McGann and Hanlon turned up late for the second session of the major event, Swiss Pairs. Timing is very strict at major events and a fine can easily be the difference between winning the trophy and being second, not to mention the prize money, £800. It was a time when Irish bomb threats in Brighton were not uncommon. Our Irish pair seriously explained they had been detained by the police who were checking for bombers. They were let off the fine and rejoined the event. It was only later in the bar that we found out we had been duped! It wasn't the only time they were late, but that excuse didn't work again.
A recent event was the The Schapiro Spring Foursomes and Brian Senior wrote the following.
The final of the 2017 Schapiro Spring Foursomes featured the Irish Open team, with coach and multiple world champion Krzysztof Martens replacing the unavailable Tommy Garvey, and the Allfrey team which has shown itself to be the best in England by some margin in recent years. In the semi-finals, Allfrey, the second seed, defeated top-seeded Zia by 80-52 IMPs, while Barton (Ireland), the original seventh seeds, defeated Seed 13, Black, by 107-62.
The final was played over four eight-board segments, however, as the undefeated team in the double-elimination KO, Ireland had the option of claiming an extra eight-deal segment should they be behind after 32 deals and that eventuality duly materialised. Allfrey led almost throughout the final but never by anything like a comfortable margin. Indeed, with two deals to play in regulation the margin was down to a single IMP, increasing to 15 over those two deals. When the Irish missed a cold slam on the second board of the extra eight the match was effectively over as the rest of the set was a very quiet affair. Allfrey (Alexander Allfrey, Andrew Robson, David Bakhshi, Tony Forrester, David Gold and Michael Bell, had won the 2017 Schapiro Spring Foursomes, the final score being 91-67 IMPs (82-58 after slow-play fines to both sides). The runners-up were Krzysztof Martens, John Carroll, Tom Hanlon, Hugh McGann, Rory Boland, Mark Moran, and npc Grainne Barton.
This deal from the third set had the potential for a huge swing but it all ended up rather tamely in the end, though the two West players had some fun along the way.
The board he is writing about is 21. Dealer North. N/S Vul. At the first table the auction was as in the diagram with West Carroll North Forrester East Martens South Bakhshi
Forrester’s 1♣ opening was either natural or balanced and Bakhshi’s 1♠ promised at least five cards. Now John Carroll could have leapt to 4♥, or even 5♥, but decided that either of those actions would just encourage his opponents to keep bidding, which was not what he wanted to happen. Instead, he tried a psychic 1NT call, hoping to conceal the true nature of his hand. However, Forrester had enough to show a good raise to 2♠ or better via a heart cuebid and Carroll had an opportunity a few seconds later to try a second psyche, this time 2♠. However, from here N/S took over, Forrester completing the picture of his hand by bidding his four-card diamond suit. Bakhshi bid 3♥ to commit to game then cuebid hearts to show the control at his next turn before taking control with RKCB and bidding the small slam on finding one key card to be missing. Six Spades would have been a tricky contract on a heart lead but Carroll thought it unlikely that a heart would stand up and instead kicked off with a diamond. Bakhshi won the ace, played a spade to his queen then a diamond to the king followed by a diamond ruff with the ace. A spade to the king now put him back in dummy to ruff the last diamond and it remained only to exit with a heart and leave the defence to solve his club guess for him; +1430.
The auction at the other table
Hanlon opened 1♦, and McGann’s 2♥ was a transfer to spades. Robson tried the rather more flamboyant psyche of 5♦, allegedly Exclusion Key Card Blackwood, showing a diamond void and asking for key cards outside that suit. When Hanlon felt able to not only support spades at the five level but do so via a 5♥ cuebid, McGann was happy to bid the spade slam, only for Robson to trust his opponents and take the save in 7♥, promptly doubled by Hanlon to end the auction. McGann led the seven of diamonds and three rounds of that suit saw him collect his ruff. There were three black tricks to come next so the contract was down six for –1400 and 1 IMP to Allfrey. I have to confess that this is one of my favourite ways to gain a single IMP but, given that 6♠ was far from secure on a heart lead, leaving declarer to find the ♣Q himself, Robson would have much preferred to defend had he known the full layout.
Other articles by Brian Senior : The 2016 final | 2017 Bulletin 1 | 2017 Bulletin 2 | 2017 Bulletin 3 | 2017 Bulletin 4 | 2017 Final Bulletin