My Day with Jesper Parnevik by Larry Cohen

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I was one of 55,000,000 Americans glued to my TV in late September 1999 when the Americans won their stunning come-from-behind victory over a tough European Team in golf’s Ryder Cup.

Jesper Parnevik con Larry Cohen
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Source: IBPA Bulletins

I was one of 55,000,000 Americans glued to my TV in late September 1999 when the Americans won their stunning come-from-behind victory over a tough European Team in golf’s Ryder Cup. None of us will ever forget the dramatic shots of Sergio Garcia-Jesper Parnevik partnership as the European team forged an early lead. What most of us didn’t know is that “Sweden’s” Jesper Parnevik really lives in Florida (maybe he should play for the Americans next time)? And guess what he does when he’s not golfing? One thing, is that he runs the American branch of LiFizz. They make effervescent vitamins that are very popular in Europe. And when he’s not at work, he plays bridge!

This past summer he called me (he had read my books and knew I lived nearby) and asked if we could get together. I met him at his company (tried some vitamins, of course), gave him an autographed Swedish-language edition of To Bid or Not to Bid, and wished him luck in the Ryder Cup (and he had lots of luck!). Since that time, we have gotten together for golf (the thrill of my lifetime) and bridge (I doubt it was the thrill of his lifetime). I won’t bore ACBL readers with the golfing details (I’ll leave that for my Golf Digest article), but it was an indescribable pleasure to watch that man play. He shot an effortless 69 (I forget what I shot). I didn’t injure anybody, so it was probably a successful round. After the golf, Jesper and his Swedish college buddy, Pontus Bruno, joined Marty Bergen and me for a game of rubber bridge. No Flight C for them.

They wanted to play as partners and challenged Marty and me. And for a penny a point, no less! (I suppose it was only fair, Jesper made me play from the back tees of the golf course – I would have preferred the Ladies’ Tees). We won a little money (I was embarrassed to accept it) – but, until the last rubber, Marty and I were trailing! That’s the beauty of bridge. Two “amateurs” can sit down and beat the pros. That could never have happened in the golf game. Jesper and Pontus were quite competent, bidding and making some games and slams as if they did it for a living. They played mostly an American style (strong notrumps), the only big difference was that they used four-card majors. That explains their auction on this deal from the first rubber:

Dlr: SouthManos LC 1I led a club, and Jesper won in his hand with the ace. It looks as if he has to lose three diamonds and a trump trick, but…. He drew two rounds of trumps with the ace and king and cashed his high clubs and hearts. That gave him the first six tricks in aces and kings – in much the same manner as my grandma used to play out the hand. Next he trumped a heart in dummy and a club in his hand. That gave him the first eight tricks and left:Manos LC 2

He led his last heart and I was doomed. If I ruffed, Jesper would throw a diamond from dummy and score each of his trumps separately for 10 tricks. If I discarded a diamond, he would trump in dummy and ruff the last club in hand to take the first 10 tricks. So, I threw the club jack. Maybe he would be thinking of his next golf tournament and not realise that the club ten was now high. No such luck. He ruffed the heart in dummy and led the good club, throwing a diamond. Our 4 sure tricks had turned into 3 – maybe Jesper should consider switching occupations. Now, the next time you watch golf, you can root for the Swede who executes fancy squeezes at the bridge table.

 

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