Upon arrival at Launceston airport, two bridge players whom I had never met before kindly allowed me to share their taxi to the venue. To my surprise they wouldn't allow me to pay my share, insisting that I instead pay by local currency (beer) later. This I was able to do later that evening, repaying my debt to my new friends as I purchased a "7 of diamonds"- induced beer for my partner, thereby saving time queuing at the bar by combining both debts.
Recalling absently that I wasn't staying at the venue, and with four hours to fill before play started, I headed for the Food Court and ran into Roger the Director. As I tucked into the local delicacy Atlantic Salmon, I told Roger that Tim and I had presented the Seeding Committee with a dilemma since we had never played together before. "We solved that easily," Roger replied, "we didn't seed you!"
Having completed a 40 minute walk past the golf course and Salmon Farm to the Olde Tudor Motor Inn, I relaxed in the spa bath until Tim arrived. The organisers provided a gratis Stretch Limo to take us to the venue, where Roger's rebuff inspired us to the lofty heights of Table 1 in the Australian Swiss Pairs Championship (scored in imps) for Rounds 3 to 9. Constant meal breaks were filled with deliciously indulgent Tasmanian Salmon. Dare I break tradition and include a bridge hand? Well, only if Ian dares me to, and even then only as an addendum.
A funny thing happened in the Final Round (#10). We were NS at Table 2, just 4 VPs behind the leaders who were NS at Table 1. Alas the scoring program broke down, so the backup program (using the datum scores based on all 61 tables) had to be used. Almost every hand was a game or slam to EW. The scores were calculated, and at all the top tables EW had won by a maximum by bidding their games and slams. At the bottom of the field, every NS pair had a maximum win as the EWs floundered. Quick quiz: is "salmoned" a word?
Thus the top four placegetters were the EWs who went into the last round at Tables 1,2, 3 and 4 respectively. They collect the vital Playoff Points to determine the Australian Team for the Bermuda Bowl in Bali.
After pleasantly sating my appetite with some delicious salmon at the airport cafe, I boarded my Ansett flight. My dining companion John Roberts had celebrated his win by dining the previous night at Australia's finest restaurant "Fee and Me". Despite his allergy to salmon, he had an enjoyable meal, partaking of spatchcock instead.
As my plane prepared to depart, I could see the creme de la creme of Australia's bridge players, including the winners of the event, waiting to board their Qantas plane. Recalling Dustin Hoffman's comment in Rainman about the infallibility of Qantas, I shuddered slightly that if Qantas's first crash were to occur, then perhaps I would have a chance to qualify for the Bermuda Bowl in Bali next year and meet such distinguished Internationals as David Burn and Mike Hargreaves.
PS: If you are ever in either Launceston Tasmania, or Puerto Mont in Chile, don't forget to try the Atlantic Salmon.