Category Archives: Courses

Online bridge update 27

This Monday (October 26th) I am going to be experimenting with a new type of seminar. Instead of covering a single topic, I am proposing a two-hour interactive session called Play These Hands With Me, during which I will bid and play through a series of real life deals, most of which I have played myself or noted from watching on BBO or taken from other sources. The idea is to talk through my thinking at every stage of the hand and discuss all the issues that come up with you as we go through.

This format is one that I know from my own personal experience is invaluable in taking the conventions and play techniques you have learnt so far and applying them to a real life situation at the table. As many of you have told me, it is one thing to know in principle what to do and another to put all that into practice. In particular, the challenge is to organise and prioritise your thinking so as to focus on what is most important at each point, recognising that this may differ from one hand to the next.

I do hope you will give one of these sessions a try and let me know how you find them. I am in the process of rescheduling future topic seminars, including repeating some of the ones which have proved to attract the greatest interest to date, such as Doubling, Key Card Blackwood, Opening Leads and Weak Twos. Look out for more details on those in due course.

There will be the normal Tuesday morning supervised play session again this week (October 27th, starting at 9.30am). You can book in by using the payment button in the sidebar or, if you have any technical problems with that, pay by bank transfer as normal and let me know that you are planning on attending. All the group sessions will continue this week in the usual way as well.

There are now two weeks left until the first part of our new two part online bridge course for beginners. Day one is on November 7th and day two on November 28th. Each day will consist of two three-hour online lessons; one from 9.30am to 12.30pm and the second from 2pm to 4.30pm. Each one can be booked separately, so that you can decide after the first whether you want to move on with the next. Thank you for everyone who has booked up so far. I still have one or two places left (numbers restricted to ensure sufficient individual attention).

The sessions will be fully interactive and participants will receive a full set of my extensive notes after completing each day’s session. We will also play through together a series of example hands to illustrate the game in action. Some people think that it is not possible to learn the game in just one or two days, but I know from experience that this is far from the truth. The aim of the course is to take you to a point where in answer to the question “do you play bridge?” you can truthfully reply “Yes, I can”. Bridge is a skill for life that you won’t regret acquiring and this course will give you the platform to do just that.

Congratulations meanwhile to two of my regular students who have successfully bid and made their first small slam this past week. It is one thing to make 12 or 13 tricks on a hand and quite another to bid it knowing that there is a high probability of making it; your first bid and made slam is an important milestone. Thank you also to the opponents in a tough league match who allowed us to double them in Four Spades and then misplayed the hand (to be fair, it was a difficult one) to go seven down and give us a score of 1700…..

Online bridge update 26

There is again no seminar on Monday morning because I still have other commitments, but there will be the normal Tuesday morning supervised play session this week (October 20th, starting at 9.30am). You can book in by using the payment button in the sidebar or, if you have any technical problems with that, pay by bank transfer as normal and let me know that you are planning on attending. All the group sessions will continue this week in the usual way as well.

I am pleased to be able to confirm the first new course for a while. This will be a new two part online bridge course for beginners – Learn bridge in a weekend – to be held on November 7th and 28th. Each day will consist of two three-hour online lessons; one from 9.30am to 12.30pm and the second from 2pm to 4.30pm. Each one can be booked separately, so that you can decide after the first whether you want to move on with the next.

The sessions will be fully interactive and participants will receive a full set of my extensive notes after completing each day’s session. We will also play through together a series of example hands to illustrate the game in action. Some people think that it is not possible to learn the game in just one or two days, but I know from experience that this is far from the truth. The aim of the course is to take you to a point where in answer to the question “do you play bridge?” you can truthfully reply “Yes, I can”. Bridge is a skill for life that you won’t regret acquiring and this course will give you the platform to do just that.

As well as those who have already contacted me to express an interest in learning bridge, I hope that you will spread the word to anyone you know who you think might welcome the chance to start playing and (in due course) join our thriving bridge playing community. All you need to participate is a pack of cards, a computer or iPad to connect to Zoom (participants will receive a short video explaining what is involved in that) and a willingness to learn. The cost for each day will be £90, payable in advance. It will limited to 12 people to ensure I have room to give everyone sufficient individual attention. More details as soon as you have booked.

Online bridge update 25

There is no seminar on Monday morning because of other commitments but there will be the normal Tuesday morning supervised play session this week (October 13th, starting at 9.30am). You can book in by using the payment button in the sidebar or, if you have any technical problems with that, pay by bank transfer as normal and let me know that you are planning on attending. All the group sessions will continue this week in the usual way as well.

I am excited to be able to offer the first new course for a while. This will be a new two part online bridge course for beginners – Learn bridge in a weekend – to be held on two Saturdays in November. Each day will consist of two three-hour online lessons; one from 9.30am to 12.30pm and the second from 2pm to 4.30pm. The sessions will be fully interactive and participants will receive a full set of my extensive notes after completing each day’s session.

We will also play through together a series of example hands to illustrate the game in action. Some people think that it is not possible to learn the game in just one or two days, but I know from experience that this is far from the truth. The aim of the course is to take you to a point where in answer to the question “do you play bridge?” you can truthfully reply “Yes, I can”. Bridge is a skill for life that you won’t regret acquiring and this course will give you the platform to do just that.

As well as those who have already contacted me to express an interest in learning bridge, I hope that you will spread the word to anyone you know who you think might welcome the chance to start playing and (in due course) join our thriving bridge playing community. All you need to participate is a pack of cards, a computer or iPad to connect to Zoom (participants will receive a short video explaining what is involved in that) and a willingness to learn. The cost for each day will be £90, payable in advance.

The provisional dates for parts one and two of the course are November 6th and November 28th. If you are interested please let me know by email or by commenting on this post. Once I have an idea of likely demand I will settle the dates and start to take bookings.

More details about the other new courses to follow. It seems that many of you would like a revision course at intermediate level and also another course that focuses on defence, the hardest part of bridge. Please continue to let me have your suggestions for what would most help you at this stage…….

Online bridge update 22

This is another short update to give you the chance to join the events that are happening this week. Unfortunately I have had to postpone the Monday seminar this week on negative doubles to the following week because a number of regular participants are away. Negative doubles are such a versatile and useful bidding tool that no aspiring bridge player can afford to miss out on them. You can sign up for the new date for this seminar by following the payment buttons in the sidebar of this and other pages.

The Tuesday morning online supervised play session is going ahead as normal. This continues to evolve nicely with many regular partnerships coming online to play against each other on a rotating basis, although anyone is welcome to join, with or without a partner. To finalise numbers and tables it is very helpful if you can sign up by Monday evening. Annabel and I can normally arrange things so that latecomers are accommodated as well, but it is not possible to guarantee a place if you only contact us on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile the group coaching sessions continue with a lot of renewed enthusiasm and some impressive advances in performance. At least two of them have chalked up their first grand slam bid and made, using the Jacoby 2NT and Roman Key Card Blackwood conventions. This is always a great moment in anyone’s bridge journey. Here is a link to a grand slam hand that came up in a recent match. Would and your partner have bid 7S? I did, but it is not a 100 per cent sure thing (if spades are 4-1 and the Jack is missing). Answers on a postcard please….

Online bridge update 21

This is another short update to give you the chance to join the events that are happening this week. The Monday seminar tomorrow (9.30am to 11.30am) is a follow up to last week’s session. It is what to when your partner opens 1 No Trump and your opponents intervene, with either a double, a suit overcall or the Landy convention (showing both majors). This is a very common situation and one which can produce very different results if you are not prepared with some basic techniques. You can sign up by following the payment buttons int he sidebar of this and other pages.

The same goes for Tuesday morning’s online supervised play session. This is evolving nicely with many regular partnerships coming online to play against each other on a rotating basis, although anyone is welcome to join, with or without a partner. To finalise numbers and tables it is very helpful if you can sign up by Monday evening. Annabel and I can normally arrange things so that latecomers are accommodated as well, but it is not possible to guarantee a place if you only contact us on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile a few more group coaching sessions are gradually coming back into operation; contact me if you are interested in one of the few remaining slots. There will be both a Beginners and an Advanced course starting in mid-October, and probably an Essential/review course as well. To accommodate as many people as possible, these will probably be in a number of discreet modules rather than in short sessions over an eight week period. The new bridge platform I mentioned last week, which is being set up in the UK as competition to Bridge Base Online looks promising, but as it currently stands looks better for supervised play than for group coaching, as a number of features that are on BBO are not yet incorporated into the system. Will keep you posted as this develops.

Online bridge update 20

This is a short update to give you the chance to join the events that are happening this week. The Monday seminar tomorrow (9.30am to 11.30am) is on bidding after the opponents open the bidding with One No Trump. It will cover the Landy convention (very popular and part of the Robson method) , doubling and suit overcalls. Given how common the 1 No Trump opening is, this is an important part of the game where many tend to go wrong. You can sign up here as normal (see the sidebar).

The same goes for Tuesday morning’s online supervised play session. This is evolving nicely with many regular partnerships coming online to play against each other, though anyone is welcome to join, with or without a partner. To finalise numbers and tables it is very helpful if you can sign up by Monday evening. Annabel and I can normally arrange things so that latecomers are accommodated as well, but it is not possible to guarantee a place if you only contact us on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile the group coaching sessions are also getting back into gear, with five already back in action and others due to restart this week. There will be more news about courses and lessons in the next couple of weeks. Along with many other bridge teachers, I have been looking at a new platform which is being set up in the UK as competition to Bridge Base Online, where a number of changes are due to come into effect over the next few weeks following the sale of the site a little while ago to a more commercially-minded company. More details on this if and when we decide to make a change.

Online bridge update 19

The summer break is over for me. As of today I am back in Oxford and ready to get back into bridge. I hope that you have all been enjoying the last few weeks. While one or two bridge clubs have been bravely looking to get back into face-to-face play, with the use of plastic screens, tablets and other tools to cope with social distancing, I am afraid that is not yet an option for us, nor am I convinced that it is really the kind of interaction that most of you would enjoy, given the continuing restrictions. (Click here for the last thoughts from the English Bridge Union on this subject).

So for now the main option remains group coaching sessions with a combination of BBO and Zoom, as before, in 60 or 90 minute sessions. The formula works well and I am happy to continue offering them this autumn for as many of you as want to continue. The main options for starting times are 9.15am, 11am, 2pm and 4.30/5pm, although I may be able to fit in some other times depending on demand and other existing commitments. If there is any change in the restrictions that make returning to playing face to face in Wytham Village Hall possible, you will be notified of that possibility.

The Tuesday morning online session for a minimum of four tables will also continue as long as there is sufficient demand. The first proposed date for this will be this Tuesday, 1st September. For group sessions please let me know if you want to continue with the slots you had before. There may be some times that I was teaching before that I can no longer do, but most of them should be possible.

I propose to continue with the Monday morning seminars, but starting on the 7th September, rather than tomorrow (Bank Holiday Monday 31st August), as previously suggested. Details of the topics are on the seminars page. I have also had a request to restart more courses. I am very happy to do this, but experience suggests that the most efficient way to run these is to offer four double sessions rather than eight single ones (which inevitably include some dates a number of participants cannot make). Even better may be to hold these courses as one or two day events – more intensive, for sure, but a perfect way to acquire a chunk of material to practise and revise at your leisure.

I propose to offer a number of these courses from the middle of October and will welcome suggestions from you which courses you would be most interested in taking. Beginners and Advanced will certainly be among those scheduled. The general message is: let me know what it is you would like to do, and I will see whether I can oblige. In the meantime I look forward to seeing you shortly back at the virtual table and observing the progress you have all been making…..

Online bridge update no 8

The Monday morning seminar is on the topic of bidding big hands. It covers when and when not to open Two Clubs and how to develop the bidding from there. The next three weeks after that will cover the Losing Trick Count, the Jacoby Two No Trump convention and splinters, all popular subjects that will help with your game and slam bidding. The list of topics is updated regularly. You can sign up for all these dates on Eventbrite, or if that proves tricky (as sometimes happens) email me and pay by bank transfer.  The seminars start at 9.30am and run till 11.30.

Tuesday will feature our regular morning of social bridge, starting at 9.30am, and again the way to book a place is via Eventbrite. We aim to have a minimum of four tables and this week we will be looking for a couple of newcomers to add to our regulars. The breakout rooms are working smoothly on Zoom.  Please email me if you would like to join us this week. There is a cutoff point for booking a place on Monday evenings so I can allocate the players to tables.

On Monday afternoons I have committed to play with a regular partner of mine in the Andrew Robson 18-board duplicate game for the next few weeks. I will record some short videos about a couple of the hands each week and have arranged to discuss them with at least one pair from our group who are taking on the challenge of playing in the same event. As I said last week, there is always a greater random element in the pairs game and so this is a great chance to outscore the best players from Andrew’s London club (extra kudos if you manage to score more than me!).

The Advanced Defence course finished last week and I am happy to say that some of those who were on the course have said they want to do it again. For the time being I am continuing with private one-table coaching sessions during the week (currently doing 12 in all) but I am thinking of how best to offer new courses as well, with a beginners or recently started course one of the priorities. If you have any specific requests let me know and I will build up a waiting list.

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.

Coronavirus update

Given the latest advice from the Government, it is inevitable that our regular bridge sessions will soon have to be postponed until the epidemic is properly contained. Thanks to those of you who have already told me that they no longer feel able to come to classes or play and learn sessions. I fully understand and support your decision. I was already planning on suspending most of our events even before the latest announcements. This is the BBC News analysis as of 4.30pm today (link here) – Sunday March 15th.

While the Health Secretary says that it is not yet the right time to urge anyone over 70 or those with health issues to self-isolate, that decision will be coming shortly. The peak of the epidemic is not currently expected to occur for around 10 weeks. It seems inevitable however that most people, whether or not they are in the highest risk category, will decide to take matters into their own hands sooner rather than later to try and minimise the risk of infection.

Bridge events as we organise them currently are particularly risky as sources of infection, given the use of playing cards and bidding boxes. We can minimise that risk to some extent by dispensing with boards that move round the room, replacing them with packs of cards that are not used at any other table and are thrown away at the end of each session, and also by stopping using bidding boxes. However there is no way to enable social distancing, which requires people to stay six feet away from each other, or to eliminate the risk of transmission through the atmosphere.

The English Bridge Union has today cancelled all its national events over the next few months and  issued new guidance to bridge clubs that do decide to stay open, urging members who are vulnerable to stay away, and clubs that are still open to consider carefully whether their arrangements are still appropriate.  Some of us already know somebody who has been infected and it is inevitable that the number of cases is going to continue to grow rapidly for a few weeks.

In these circumstances, I am proposing the following. The seminar tomorrow (on overcalling and the Unassuming Cue Bid) is going ahead, but the series will not continue after that until further notice. I have asked those who have indicated interest in attending to let me know if they are coming or not tomorrow.

The Tuesday play and learn session and Thursday morning refresher course will also not continue after this week, and will this week only operate on the basis set out above – no bidding boxes and no boards travelling around the room. I have created a new Doodle poll for the Tuesday Wytham session to replace the existing one. You can find it here. I would be grateful if you could complete it. I will be contacting those who have been coming to the Thursday refresher course directly with a similar message.

While sessions are suspended, I will be offering the option of online lessons and also a regular online tournament as well. If you are interested in either of those options, please let me know – playing online may not always be as much fun as playing in a social setting, but this could be a chance to work on your game so as to come back even better and stronger than before when the virus threat has subsided. If you unfortunately find yourself among those who have to self-isolate, this may also be one good way to while away the time.

There is, finally, the possibility of holding smaller private group lessons as well, in particular cases where everyone involved is not in the primary risk category, understands and is happy with the risks and suitable playing conditions can be created. For the moment I am monitoring developments closely and will only offer that on demand and in the light of prevailing medical advice.

I very much hope that those of you who have been regular or occasional participants in any of the classes or play and learn sessions will let me know what your thoughts are on all the above. I shall provide further updates on the website and by email so that we do not lose touch. If you have not already signed up to receive emails from this website, it would be very helpful if you could do so now, by adding your email in the box to the right of the page.

This is obviously a very difficult set of circumstances, particularly so as the lessons and sessions we run have been growing in popularity and I know how many of you have been enjoying the chance to play and learn with our convivial and growing group of participants. However it is obvious that we must do everything we can to minimise the risk of infection over the next few trying weeks and protect those who are at risk. I hope that we will all be back at the bridge table sooner rather than later.

Thank you finally for all your emails and messages. Please keep them coming!

Jonathan

 

 

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