Martin Andresen speaks out – is ready for the Olympics in bridge

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READY FOR MATCH: Martin Andresen at the bridge table in Hamar. Photo: Jostein Overvik / VG

HAMAR (VG) He is ready for the Olympics in bridge. Martin Andresen (47) is a three-time series champion in the card game and a four-time Norwegian squash champion after he disappeared from football. Here he gives his first interview in 12 years.

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– Martin Andresen should have got it Egeberg’s Honorary Award Egeberg’s Honorary AwardEgeberg’s honorary award is a Norwegian honorary award in sports for Norwegian athletes who have excelled nationally in at least two sports and internationally in at least one of these.says general secretary Allan Livgård of the Norwegian Bridge Association.

– Thank you, replies Martin Andresen with a broad smile.

– There is quite a big difference between playing football, squash and bridge bridgeBridge is a card game for four players, where two and two play as a pair. A regular deck of 52 cards (without jokers) is used, where all cards are dealt so that each player has 13 cards.. But I don’t know what the ratings are like, he says. In addition to his success in mental sports, he won four double golds in squash together with Richard Larsson from 2012 to 2017.

Andresen has 43 international matches in football and has won both series and cup in Norway. He has been a playing manager in Vålerenga in addition to playing for two clubs in the Premier League.

But Skeidar owner Martin Andresen has in recent years gone from appearing in the sports news to being mentioned in the financial newspapers. Since parting ways with Vålerenga in 2012, he has kept a very low public profile.

– I have not appeared for an interview since then. But this is about bridge. I wouldn’t have stood up otherwise, says Martin Andresen and laughs.

BERGEN ON FIRE: Martin Andresen celebrates Brann’s series gold 17 years ago. Photo: Hallgeir Vågenes / VG

He poses in a blue jumper and ditto trousers. Martin Andresen has gone a little gray in the temples. But is otherwise still a faithful copy of the former highly profiled Brann captain and Vålerenga manager.

And he has by no means stopped playing. On Friday evening, he spent his 47th birthday playing 1st division bridge in Hamarhallen.

– It’s fun to win together with someone, says Martin Andresen.

After qualification, it is clear that Andresen’s team will play the major tournament World Bridge Games in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires in autumn 2024. It’s the Olympics in bridge.

– It’s very cool, he says.

Spardame and route 3 certainly trigger the competitive instinct.

– There is competition and you set yourself goals together with people you like working with. It is very satisfying to reach those goals when we work hard, concentrated and focused. It’s a team and it’s a lot more fun when it means something, says Martin Andresen over a sushi lunch in Hamar.

OLD COLLABORATION: Former professional agent Rune Hauge (left) and Martin Andresen are both playing bridge in Hamar this weekend.
OLD COLLABORATION: Former professional agent Rune Hauge (left) and Martin Andresen are both playing bridge in Hamar this weekend. Photo: Jostein Overvik / VG

The former national team captain in football talks about systems and signals that must be prepared with the partner before each game. He plays with Espen Erichsen. He was Andresen’s teacher when he was introduced to the world of bridge by agent Rune Hauge in London. The year was 1999 and Martin Andresen played for Wimbledon.

It is cheerful when the two meet in Hamar. 69-year-old Hauge also plays in the 1st division – for the team “Hauge”.

Martin Andresen has 24 Premier League games for Wimbledon and Blackburn. He could continue in the latter, but went home to Stabæk instead.

– I enjoyed playing and setting myself high goals together with other ambitious players. Then we win and lose together. But it wasn’t always like that. In England, many of the worst players worked to get a new contract. The best played to get a contract with another club. It is obviously different if you play for Manchester City or Manchester United. But I felt that in England. You didn’t get the community, the joy and the team feeling, says Andresen.

PREMIER LEAGUE: Martin Andresen against Manchester United's Darren Fletcher 20 years ago.
PREMIER LEAGUE: Martin Andresen against Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher 20 years ago. Photo: Dave Thompson / EPA / NTB

He eventually found everything he was looking for in Bergen. Brann won its only league gold in 60 years with Andresen as captain in 2007.

– I didn’t really decide to bet on football until 2003 or 2004. Before that time I just played. It was fun, says Andresen. He won cup gold with Stabæk already in 1998.

He also played matches for Stabæk after he had actually given up in Vålerenga in 2009. Martin Andresen finished as a footballer when, as a 38-year-old in 2015, he was on the pitch for Sandefjord in the elite series.

– I was just going to check if I could play in the Tippeligaen again. It was six years after I quit. It was really just for fun, he says with a small laugh.

LUNCH WITH VG: Martin Andresen talks about life after football over a sushi lunch.
LUNCH WITH VG: Martin Andresen talks about life after football over a sushi lunch. Photo: Jostein Overvik / VG

Martin Andresen visited Vålerenga’s ASA board in 2020. But it was only a guest appearance.

– It was only to help during covid, says Martin Andresen and confirms that he has business connections with Tor Olav Trøim through investments in some of the Vålerenga owner’s companies.

– We meet regularly and constantly, he says.

– What do you think about Vålerenga moving down?

– It is sad both for Vålerenga and Norwegian football. But the club has been down before and bounced back.

ANDRESEN'S ARENA: Martin Andresen's playing surface after football consists of bridge tables.
ANDRESEN’S ARENA: Martin Andresen’s playing surface after football consists of bridge tables. Photo: Jostein Overvik / VG

It’s far from hard tackles, slippery mats and deep grandstand roars in Hamarhallen. 400 Norwegian bridge players have gathered for series games.

– There is no one in the stands here. But you prepare well. We win and lose together. It’s the same thing, he thinks.

He combines mental sports with being a businessman. Martin Andresen is still general manager of Skeidarliving Group and manages several other businesses – such as Birkelunden Investeringsselskap and Mime Invest. The great-grandfather started furniture production in 1912 and the grandmother started the furniture store in 1964.

– A family business is a bit like the mafia. Once you get in, you never get out again, jokes Andresen.

BUSINESSMAN: Martin Andresen spends most of his time running Skeidarliving.
BUSINESSMAN: Martin Andresen spends most of his time running Skeidarliving. Photo: Jostein Overvik/VG

– Do you feel the same competitive instinct as a store owner and CEO?

– We operate from week to week. If you miss a campaign, you will get an answer right away. You will be punished and given the whip. There are matches every week there too, he describes.

– You are good at the details in business too?

– Absolutely. You have to. That’s why there has been little else, he says and states that he sometimes works 14–15–16 hours a day.

In 2022, he sold the family home on Nesøya in Asker and announced a move to Paphos in tax-friendly Cyprus. The Mediterranean pearl on the southwest side of the island has an international airport and architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

– Nice sunsets. I don’t want to say anything more than that, says Martin Andresen.

According to the tax lists, the wealth has increased tremendously in 10 years. From NOK 775,000 in 2012 to NOK 335 million in 2022.

– It has gone well, notes Martin Andresen to VG’s question – before he returns to the bridge table, where he can also show success. Already in 2009, Martin Andresen won the American autumn championship together with Norway’s perhaps most famous bridge player, Tor Helness.

Last autumn, the team “Andresen” finished in ninth place during the championship in Atlanta. Martin Andresen considers the EC victory for club teams in 2022 to be his greatest triumph at the card table. With the team Hordaland 1 from Bergen Academic Bridge Club, he has won the 1st division three years in a row: 2020, 2022 and 2023 (2021 canceled due to corona). This season they won’t win.

But the Olympic participation overshadows most things.

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Published: 03.02.24 at 21:08

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The article is in Norwegian

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