We held the first of what will become our regular weekly play sessions at The Trout on Tuesday this week and it turned out to be both popular and, I believe from the immediate feedback, a great success. The cold weather was a bit of a negative when the roaring log fire went out without anybody immediately noticing (too absorbed in their cards perhaps?), but that is something we can readily fix on future occasions.
The next Tuesday morning sessions, which starts next Tuesday (February 5th) at 10am, has attracted even more potential interest than the first one, so I am expecting an even bigger turnout. It is not too late to book a place however – the more the merrier. I will only be totting up the final numbers on Sunday evening, so do please put your name down before then if you would like to come.
If you have a regular partner to bring they will be very welcome, and if you are on your own we should be able to fit you in provided only that we have produce a final number count 24 hours in advance. With the help of my colleague Annabel we can cope with most combinations, but the one really difficult one is if we have a multiple of four plus one turning up; in that case (and that case alone), we will have to ask one person to sit out on for just one hand in the course of the morning. I don’t think that sitting out for one hand in a three hour session should be a major hardship, but it is only fair to advise you that it is a possibility in that one particular case.
As this week, next Tuesday’s session will allow you to play a number of pre-dealt hands under supervision. I bring 32 such hands to each session and from now on they will be carefully selected to make sure that the most interesting ones are divided equally between the two sides of each table. That means everyone will get a chance to declare a number of contracts, while also being able to practise their defence the rest of the time. (There were at least six potential slam hands this week, incidentally, even though the deals were randomly generated).
We will typically aim to get through between a half and two thirds of those 32 pre-dealt hands in the three hours available. It is up to each table to decide how long they want to spend reviewing the hand they have just played. Annabel and I are both on hand to answer queries and offer advice as and when required. Experience suggests that you cannot fail to improve by practising the bidding and play tips you have picked up in lessons or your earlier bridge life. It was also hugely encouraging to see the friendly spirit in which all the hands were played – definitely part of the Robson bridge experience – and I heard a lot of spirited and amicable chat as well.
The success of the Tuesday morning session should ensure that it becomes a regular weekly event. Support for the other two options I canvassed (Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings) means that they too may be able to start quite soon. I am keeping open the Doodle poll for all three sessions – the link to the poll is here – and hope that you will be encouraged to sign up for one or more of those if you think that is of interest to you. When the teaching term ends in March, I also hope to offer alternative days of the week for play sessions. A number of you who cannot come to a weekday event have expressed interest in a half or full day weekend session and that will also be scheduled shortly.
There is a good chance that the first Friday morning session will start running next week or the week after. Please watch this space for further confirmation. I can only apologise to those who have expressed interest for a session that has not yet taken place. I can assure you that a wider choice of sessions will be happening as soon as the timetable and numbers allow. In the meantime I look forward to seeing you as many of you as possible next Tuesday morning at The Trout.
If you want to book a place for a Tuesday morning session at The Trout the simplest way is to sign up on the Doodle poll and send an email (to email@example.com) to let us know that you are definitely coming, and – if you are bringing others – who they are. You will then need to book your place by transferring £15 to the ARB Oxford bank account, giving the venue and date as the reference (e.g. Trout 5th Feb for next Tuesday’s event). We much prefer that to taking cash on the day, although we can do that as well if there is no alternative. I can send the bank details to anyone who asks me for them or does not yet have them.
PS It is always helpful if you can add your contact phone number to any email so that I can add that to our database of interested players. It makes it easier to find out where your interests lie – and for me to schedule things – if we have the option of calling you directly.