Author Archives: Jonathan Davis

Online bridge update (again)

(Updated 4th April 2020)

Following feedback about the online sessions we have organised so far, I am proposing to make the following changes, effective from this coming week. I will be continuing the regular Monday morning topic seminars (two hours with presentation slides and direct Q and A participation via Zoom). The next one, on April 6th, covers penalty doubles and redoubling. You can book a place on the Monday seminars by following this link.

On Tuesday mornings the usual 2.5 hour play and learn session (“Wytham online for short”) will continue as normal, subject to a maximum of four or five tables. It may be possible to organise different rooms on Zoom so that the talk at one table does not disturb those at others. You can book a place for the Tuesday sessions by following this link. I will continue to allocate you to suitable tables.

For the rest of the week I am proposing to offer any group of four players (more if some are happy to spectate) the chance to have a 60 or 90 minute supervised play and learn session with me at almost any time during the day during the week. I have already got at least four groups ready for this single table format, which will allow me to give undivided attention to every bid and play you make in that time, again with voice interaction on Zoom. Thursday mornings and late Tuesday afternoon are proving popular, but other days are freer as it stands.

Revised calendar 4th April 2020

Please email me if you have a group that is interested and want to book a regular slot. To the extent that time allows, I am happy also to match up those with others of the same levels of experience into a group, so that they too can benefit from this. I have amended the outline schedule for next week, starting on Monday morning (6th April). Exceptionally there are no slots this Wednesday, as I have other work commitments that day. Late Friday afternoons will also be out for a similar reason (I am recording a podcast about investment trusts – please tell your friends or family if they happen to have an interest in that subject). Other than that, just take your pick!

What it will cost

To keep it as simple as possible I am proposing a simple tariff for any sessions you book, as follows, per player. Monday topic seminars: £20 each. Tuesday mornings (“Wytham online”) £15. Small one table group sessions £15 for 60 minutes and £20 for 90 minutes. Anything longer: ask and I will try to come up with something reasonable.  Experience suggests that most of you find 90 minutes about the most you want to spend on direct supervision before your concentration goes, but there is nothing to stop you playing on with your table without supervision either before or after my involvement. That way you get both some uninterrupted play and some tuition, the best of both worlds. It also means I can help a greater number of different groups each week. Some evenings may also be possible. To minimise the time I have to spend checking payments it would be helpful if you could pay in advance as soon as your booking is confirmed.  There will soon be an easy online booking option here.

Introduction to BBO

All these lessons will take place on Bridge Base Online, the biggest and best online bridge website. It is free to join. All you need to do is create a username and password. I will use the usernames to invite you to the relevant “table”. Here is a link to a short video introduction to what you will see at a BBO bridge teaching table, for those who have not tried it before. (There is one small error in the video which I have not had time to correct: it is possible to remove the annoying sounds you get every time you make a bid or play a card by going to the Account/Settings page and disabling the “sounds on” button). You can also access the video directly from this page (click on the white arrow). Andrew Robson Bridge Club in London has also produced some helpful You Tube videos about playing on BBO. More videos from me to follow as well just as soon as I get the rest of this all organised.

Online bridge update

Thanks to everyone who took part in the Tuesday morning session today – fewer teething troubles than last time, despite Internet connection issues in one case. Some great hands were played and I saw a lot of good things done. It will get better smoother once we all get used to it. Am reviewing how best to set up Zoom so that everyone gets a chance to discuss hands with me; look out for further bulletins on that score. I will continue to organise the tables so that you get a chance to play with the right people. You can book up for next week’s session by following this link.

Meanwhile the Refresher course (max four tables) is going ahead on Thursday morning; email me ( if you have not already done so and wish to take part. It is very much hands on learning at the table. The Monday topic seminars (intermediate plus) are also continuing and worked particularly well this week by common consent. For these I produce a step by step online presentation and we all play through the same hand as a group , so do consider trying that as well. Next Monday’s topic is on penalty doubles and redoubling. Again please email me if you are interested.

Online bridge update

Given the level of interest in playing online bridge, I have updated the page about the options for online play and lessons we are offering from Monday onwards. These include a number of regular supervised play sessions, plus details of the lessons that are continuing, and the opportunity to book a time for a smaller group session with your chosen friends and partners (either continuous supervision or an hour-long review session at the end). For the first time we are offering you the chance to organise supervised play or small group sessions in the afternoon and evening, subject to them fitting in with my schedule. Follow the link to the online bridge page for more details.

Online plans – update

Thank you to everyone who has responded positively already to joining our online bridge sessions. There are at least 40 of you and I suspect quite a few more who will also want to take part. For tomorrow’s first trial session (24th March, starting 10am, but please be in place from 9.45am if you can to have a look around BBO) I have now allocated five tables and notified everyone who is down to play on one of them. I apologise to everyone who has not been asked to join a table.

The only reason is that I am not yet sure whether Annabel and I will be able to get round more than five tables and I suspect there will be quite a few technical glitches to iron out for this first one. However I hope you will all bear me. I shall certainly be running more of these sessions every week (maybe one a day) and everyone will get a chance to participate. Priority next time to those who cannot play tomorrow.

Bridge Base Online has also been overwhelmed with new members as a result of the virus and is unable to offer us our own private “room” where we could run games just for our group. That remains the longer term objective which would mean that it would be easier to organise and numbers can be increased more easily. I am also investigating other bridge websites, such as Funbridge, which make it easier to organise private groups at present.

The Refresher course on Thursday mornings will definitely be going ahead this Thursday morning, with initial priority for those who have already been to at least one session. That session is limited to four tables at present. Watch out meanwhile for my first videos and online topic seminars – the next ones will be on takeout doubles. They will be held using the Zoom videoconferencing facility and will also be recorded so that you can watch them later if you cannot make the first showing.

I am attaching again the video I have prepared before on playing at a BBO table. One correction: it is possible to turn off the sounds that accompany every bid and play, by going to the Account tab on the right hand side of the screen and unticking the ‘sounds on’ box).




Online plans

Here is what I am proposing this week for those of you want to continue playing and learning bridge in these tricky times and want to stick with the same friendly and like-minded group we have developed over the past year and a half. Having reviewed the various options I am proposing the following:

Supervised play

I am proposing to offer these sessions in two hour blocks for any group of two to four tables (= 8 to 16 players), starting on Tuesday morning (our normal Wytham time) from 10am to midday. It is a little complicated to organise, but with a bit of patience and understanding it will soon become second nature to you. I will act as what is called a kibitzer (=spectator) flitting from table to table and answering questions (what should I bid? How should play this?) via the online chat function.

At the end I can organise a short online review session for you to ask any other questions you might have about the hands you have played (which are all recorded online so you can go back and look at them all). I will need to know in advance who is coming, so I can organise you in to group of similar ability. Because it is new the first session will be free. I already know of about a dozen regulars who have said they are keen to participate.

Please also feel free to suggest other times when you would like to play a session like this, including evenings. Any group of 8 or more can be accommodated now that we do not have to find a venue. In principle I am available to run a session like this every morning (10 to 12), every afternoon (2 to 4), and every evening (8.30 to 10.30pm), though obviously subject to other commitments.

Video lessons

I will be offering a series of video lessons that you can watch at your own convenience.

(1) Play These Hands With Me.

These will give you a chance to sit behind my shoulder and watch a series of hands, during which I will explain my thinking and play – a good way to start bringing all the things you have learnt so far together when you sit down and play yourself. The first one should be available in a couple of days.

(2) Topic webinars.

I propose to continue with these for small groups using Zoom webinar technology. Once you have signed up you will receive an invitation to join the webinar and there will be a chance to watch and hear me talk through a series of slides about a topic and ask questions in the normal way via the tele-conferencing facility. The first one will be on takeout doubles, continuing The Next Level series.

(3) Advanced Defence course.

Because it is a small group, and the course has been interrupted by the virus, I am proposing to complete this course online in the same format as the webinars.

Private lessons and games

I am happy to arrange any number of online private lessons or games for groups of 3-4 or 7-8. Please contact me for details and price, which will be set on a session by session basis. This could be your chance to get a regular weekly lesson going…..!or game

Using BBO

If you have not played bridge on BBO before, I have posted a short summary (see below) of how to register and get started. I am so repeating here a video that I recorded earlier which will show you how a game of bridge is played online. BBO is free to join; all you need to do is register a username and password. I am putting together a table of usernames for all those who have expressed interest so far. 






Signing on to BBO

This is a short introduction to playing bridge on Bridge Base Online, adapted (with thanks) from an English Bridge Union guide.

1) In an Internet web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome etc) Go to

2) Click ‘Play bridge now’ (red button in centre)

3) If you have not previously registered with BBO then click ‘Become a member (free!)

4) Type in a User name. It will need to be unique and it will show ‘Unavailable’ in blue if your chosen User name is already taken. Try adding a number or choose an unusual nickname if your preferred username is unavailable.

5) Type in a password and then type in the password again. The password may only contain letters and numbers.

6) Type in your real name if you want that to be displayed to other BBO users, otherwise leave this blank. Leave the ACBL number field blank. You can add your skill level (or simply highlight Private) and country of origin. The screen should then look something like this:

7) Click the checkbox for ‘I agree to the Terms of Service’

8) Click Register

9) You will now have been automatically logged on:

10) BBO has multiple different ways to play. When you log on you wil see a wide range of options. My online sessions will be organised for you: all you need to do is wait for an invitation from whoever is hosting the table. (If I have asked you to be a table host for the session, then you will need to look at this other post to see what to do).




Online bridge

One of the very few good things to say about the current coronavirus epidemic is that there are now many more online bridge sites than there used to be, and most are much more sophisticated than they once were. A good many of you have expressed interest in online lessons and supervised play now that all face to face dates in our calendar have had to be suspended.

As far as lessons are concerned, if you are interested in taking part in these, I would like to suggest that as a first step you should sign up to become a member of Bridge Base Online. It is free to join and all you have to do is create a username and password. BBO, as it is known for short, is the most advanced of all online bridge sites and has recently been undergoing modernisation. It is the one that all professional players use and the one I use too.

The drawback with it is that the robots it uses and most of the players you can play with at an online table use American bidding methods, which are different from the ones most people play and teach over here. Those methods typically involve a strong No Trump and you need five cards to open the bidding in a major suit, whereas in the UK we play four-card majors and a weak No Trump.

However for teaching purposes that does not matter as the teacher can control everything that happens at the table. What I would like to suggest is that once you have become a member you send me your username so I can set up tables where only those I invite can play. That way it will be possible to create a suitable teaching environment and also, I believe (though have not yet had confirmed), replicate something that is in principle similar to our Tuesday sessions with multiple tables.

I will provide more details shortly when I have fully explored the possibilities. In addition to teaching on BBO, I will also be creating a number of teaching videos and webinars to explore particular topics. The first necessary step however, if you do want to keep learning during our enforced absence, is for you to send me your usernames (to so I can add them to the teaching/supervised play database. I look forward to hearing from all of you.

BBO website




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