Category Archives: Courses

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

 

 

Bridge this week

Monday 2nd March

Next Level seminars – every Monday morning

This week: Fourth Suit Forcing, the must have bidding convention

North Oxford Association, Summertown, Oxford, 9.45am to 11.45am

Follow this link to let us know you are coming

Tuesday 3rd March

Supervised play and learn

Wytham Village Hall, 9.30am to 12.30pm

Our regular Tuesday morning session

Follow this link to let us know you are coming

Thursday 5th March

Refresher course

Wytham Village Hall, 9.45 to 11.45am

Maximum four tables; sorted by ability

Expert tuition at the table

Email arb.oxford@gmail.com to enquire about spaces

Advanced Defence

Lessons 5 to 8 will be scheduled shortly

 

Latest news

Thanks to everyone who has so far responded to assorted Doodle polls about our regular events – Tuesday supervised play and learn at Wytham, the Thursday Refresher course (ideal for, but not limited to, budding partners) and topic seminars based on Andrew’s The Next Level book. Please continue to update those if your plans change. The subjects of the seminars are moving into territory that some of you may be interested in if you have not come across them before. Next Monday (March 2nd) for example will cover Fourth Suit Forcing, an essential addition to any player’s bidding armoury, and future topic include Roman Key Card Blackwood, Jacoby Two No Trumps, two-suited overcalls (Michaels and the Unusual no Trump) plus many others. The seminars are single two-hour sessions at the North Oxford Association in Summertown, north Oxford starting at 9.45am, and cost £20. You can find the topics on a week by week basis by following the What’s Coming Up link at the top of this page, or the dedicated The Next Level page.   A reminder also that Andrew Robson’s charity day event at Rose Hill Community Centre is coming up on Monday March 9th.

Bridge this week

Tuesday 13th January

Play and learn: Wytham Village Hall, 9.30am to 12.30pm

Thursday 16th January

Refresher course: Wytham Village Hall, 9.45 to 11.45am

Friday 17th January

Next Step course: Wytham Village Hall 9.30 to 12.45pm

If you have expressed interest in one of the two courses, but have not seen an email from me in the last few days, please check your spam folder or contact me on arb.oxford@gmail.com.

Spring 2020 teaching and play sessions

Here (at last!) are my plans for teaching in the New Year. I am trying this time round to be as flexible as possible, so that nobody is disadvantaged if they cannot make all the lessons in each course. There is a summary on this link. https://arb-oxf.uk/summer-2019-courses/

Here are the current options:

Beginners

There is no scheduled beginners class at present, but if you would like to learn from scratch, don’t despair. Simply drop me an email (arb.oxford@gmail.com) and let me know you are interested in learning.  I shall add you to my waiting list and as soon as there are enough people to make it viable, we will schedule a time and venue for the beginners course. You won’t regret learning this great game!

Next Step

This will be taking place over four consecutive Friday mornings beginning on Friday January 17th. Each session will be a double lesson, which experience shows is helpful for those at this stage of their learning. The course is already nearly full, but there may be an opportunity to join if you let me know in the next week or so. There are a couple of one-off spots also available on the first and third dates. Venue: Wytham Village Hall. Start 9.30am. Free parking. Booking form attached. See the course outlines page on the website for more details. Ideal for those who have been on a Beginners course or know the mechanics of the game but want to press on ahead.

The Next Level

This courses based around Andrew Robson’s latest book, The Next Level, which looks in more detail at the bidding conventions and play techniques you will already know if you have completed the Essential or Improver courses. There are 36 separate topics (listed on the website) and I am proposing to teach these as individual 2 hour lessons, each one featuring at least four hands to play, plus a separate bidding quiz and notes I am writing for each topic. Each topic will go into greater depth about such tools as Stayman, transfers and Roman Key Card Blackwood and many suit play techniques.  If you have to miss one, provided you can notify me in advance, you won’t be charged but can roll forward your course fee for that day to a later lesson. The initial course fee for five lessons will be £100, after which you can renew for a further block of five lessons at a time. Provisional timing and venue: Monday mornings at the NOA in Summertown. Please let me know if you are interested and I will send you a booking form.

Refresher course

I am repeating this course as it proved very popular before. Because of the amount of individual attention involved, I am limiting the numbers to a maximum of four tables. It will be held every Thursday morning at Wytham Village Hall, starting at 9.30am and lasts around two hours. The format is very simple: each table deals and plays a hand, which is then discussed in depth with all the players at the table. The emphasis is on recognising situations as they arise and practising what you have learnt before, although in practice new topics keep on cropping up (e.g. signalling, using cue bids for slam bidding). I shall be providing a follow up note on any important ideas to emerge each week. Ideal for current or potential partners who want to play regularly together (although individuals are also welcome). The cost is £20 per week. First come, first served. Email me on this email if you are interested in signing up.

Advanced Defence

I am also scheduling this course, which is about the art of successful defence at the highest level. Venue and timing will be determined as soon as final numbers are confirmed. It follows on from the successful Advanced Play course held in the autumn. Improving your defence will not only make every hand of bridge more interesting, irrespective of whether you are dealt any good cards, but also make you a popular partner. All the secrets of signalling, counting and discarding are covered. Just email if you are interested.

Learn and play

The regular Tuesday morning supervised play sessions will continue at Wytham Village Hall throughout the year and I hope that the numbers will continue to grow, as they did satisfactorily in 2019. The first session of the New Year will be held on January 7th 2020. I hope to add a slightly different second supervised play session each week, starting in February. The idea I am toying with is running each session with a slight difference, playing a pre-dealt set of boards, just as on Tuesday mornings, but scoring each session as a teams event to add a slightly keener competitive edge to proceedings, and maybe adding a Q and A session at the end (as Andrew used to do in his club). Don’t be put put off if this sounds too serious: it will all be done in our normal friendly atmosphere. This could be held on a weekday evening, starting at 7.15pm. Let me know if this might be of interest to you.

Other courses

As you now there are 11 Robson course in total, all of them listed on the website (link to Our Andrew Robson courses) and I am always willing to offer them if there is sufficient demand. The way I propose to deal with this is to invite you to suggest the courses you would like to take and as soon as there is enough interest to make them viable I will be happy to schedule them. Experience again suggests that running courses as four double sessions or even two or three triple sessions can be the easiest way to resolve the problem of only being able to attend some of the normal eight weekly lessons in each course. Finally if you know of anyone who you think would enjoy learning bridge with me, please feel free to give them my contact details and ask them to get in touch.

Happy New Year to everyone.

First course in the New Year

The first course I am offering in the New Year is Andrew Robson’s Next Step course. This is the follow up to his popular beginners course which I have taught in Oxford three times already. The course will be held as four double lessons on four consecutive Friday mornings, beginning on January 17th 2020 and running from 9.30 to 12.30pm (or however long it takes to cover all the material). The venue will be Wytham Village Hall. The cost is £180 for the entire course, which includes a 50-page set of course notes, expert tuition, refreshments and follow up material. Each lesson includes four pre-dealt hands for you to bid and play. A number of you have already signed up for this, but if you have not done so and think it might be suitable for you, please let me know as soon as possible. I am attaching a Next Step Booking Form, which includes how to pay by bank transfer, but you can also pay online here as well. Details of other courses in the New Year will be published shortly.

 

Next Step course Q1 2020

The Next Step course is ideal for those who have learnt the absolute basics of the game and are looking to further and practise what they have learnt.

£180.00

Bridge this week

Our autumn Andrew Robson bridge courses start this week, with Improver starting tomorrow at 9.30am in the NOA, Summertown, and a bespoke Refresher course for a number of you who have requested it on Thursday mornings (same time, same venue as Improver). I will also shortly be confirming final details of the Beginners, Essential and Advanced Play course dates. Two of these courses (Beginners and Advanced Play) will be made up of four three-hour lessons rather than eight shorter weekly ones. If you would like to join any of these, even at this late stage, please feel free to let me know and I will fit you in if I can.

For the next few weeks our regular Tuesday morning supervised play session will be held at Wytham Village Hall, which is the next (very lovely) village you get to if you keep going past The Trout in Godstow (our former venue) and sits just the other side of the A34. Some of you may know it already from either the pub (The White Hart) or the conservation work Oxford University does in Wytham Woods or from Inspector Morse (one of whose murder cases takes place in the woods). It is accessible either from Wolvercote or directly from the A34 and overlooks the cricket ground and the woods. There is parking right outside. It is just a couple of hundred yards from the pub and village shop for those who like to stay for a drink afterwards.

Being a village hall means that we do not need to be so rigorous about ending at 12.30. I propose therefore to keep the official starting time at 9.30, but as long as you can turn up by 10am, you will always be welcome. I am also reinstating a Doodle poll to allow you to indicate if you are likely to be coming – not compulsory, but helpful for Annabel and I to know rough numbers. Here is the link to the poll. I will normally check the names on Monday afternoons. I will also check the bank account to make sure I know who has paid in advance (still the preferred payment option, although cash is also welcome).

There will be another lesson and play session in The Corner House, Charlbury on Thursday afternoon (September 26th) starting at 1.45pm. Further regular dates will be scheduled when I have an idea of how popular they are likely to be, based on this second Doodle poll (link here). Those who have already been to one of these popular sessions, or would like to consider them in the future, are invited to show their interest in future dates between now and Christmas. Hope to see you soon.

Bridge this autumn

This is the schedule for all the bridge courses and play sessions we are running this autumn. I have added booking forms for the courses, on both the autumn course page and also on a new booking forms page. The weeks ahead now look like this.

Monday 

(am) Improver course, in Summertown, starting September 23rd

Tuesday 

(am) Bridge at Wytham Village Hall, every week starting 9.30am-9.45am

Wednesday

(pm) Advanced Play (four half day sessions, starting on October 16th)

Thursday

(am) Essential course, in Summertown, starting September 26th

(mid-am) Refresher course, in Oxford, starting September 26th

(pm) Bridge in Charlbury, at the Corner House, from 1.30pm

Friday

(am) Beginners course (four half day sessions, provisional timing)

I am thinking of adding a second play and learn session either on Friday mornings or Wednesday evenings, at a venue to be determined. If you would be interested in this please let me know so I can judge whether there is sufficient demand to make it work. I am also planing to run a short course on the 2/1 bidding system for those who play duplicate regularly.

Look forward to seeing you soon. Jonathan.

 

 

 

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