Category Archives: Lessons

Online bridge update 29

The two-hour Monday morning interactive session Play These Hands With Me continues to work well so I have decided to extend it for a few more weeks, albeit with a mild twist. I will kick off with a small number of hands based around a specific theme and then move on to generate new randomly dealt hands to bid and play through (discarding those that are of no great teaching value). 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 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 am including a Paypal payment button in these posts but if you have trouble making them work you should be able to book your place by going to any page of the website and looking for the payment option in the right hand sidebar.

Pay for seminar

9th November 2020 from 9.30am

20.00 £

There will be the normal Tuesday morning supervised play session again this week (10th November), starting at 9.30am). You can book in by using the payment button in this post or in the sidebar of the website. If you have any technical problems with that, pay by bank transfer as normal and let me know that you are planning on attending. Please let me know as early possible that you intend to join as it makes it so much easier to arrange the tables. If we have the same 16 as last time I am proposing to arrange this as a teams match – the purpose being to enable me to allow you to compare your bidding, play and scores to a professional match (one of the better features of Bridge Base Online).

Pay for Tuesday bridge

10th November 2020 Supervised play

15.00 £

All the group sessions will continue this week in the usual way as well.

Last week I took the decision to defer our new two part online bridge course for beginners by a week because some of those attending had to change their plans because of the recent new lockdown rules. Day one will now be on 14th November and day two on 28th November. Each day consists 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 are fully interactive and participants will receive a full set of my 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 achieve just that.

Jonathan Davis

Online bridge update 28

The two-hour interactive session Play These Hands With Me, held last Monday, seems to have gone down well and ws a lot of fun for me too. I am therefore proposing to repeat it on Monday (November 2nd) and maybe again the following week. The format involves my bidding and playing a series of real life deals, some of which I have played myself or recorded from other sources, plus a few that are randomly dealt deals I have never seen before. 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 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.

Pay for seminar

2nd November 9.30 to 11.30am Play these hands with me

20.00 £

There will be the normal Tuesday morning supervised play session again this week (November 3rd), starting at 9.30am). You can book in by using the payment button in the sidebar of the website or, if you have any technical problems with that, pay by bank transfer as normal and let me know that you are planning g on attending. All the group sessions will continue this week in the usual way as well.

Pay for Tuesday bridge

3rd November 9.30 to 12.30

15.00 £

There is now one week 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.

Jonathan Davis

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 no 12

I am sorry to say that the Monday morning bridge seminar series is going to have to skip a week. There will be no seminar this Monday (June 15th) on trial bidding, because of a second professional commitment of mine, which unfortunately I cannot change. I apologise for the break in service, which is rare, but sometimes unavoidable. There are after all few more important things than a regular bridge commitment…….

The series will resume on Monday week with Ace-showing cue bids, followed by the Jacoby Two No Trump convention, two more essential additions to your game and slam bidding methods. The session on trial bidding will be rescheduled for a later date. Anyone who has already booked for this Monday will be automatically rolled over to the next date unless you advise me otherwise.

The next three topics in the series will be as follows:

  1. Ace-showing cue bids: June 22nd
  2. Jacoby 2 No Trump convention: June 29th
  3. Playing No Trump hands: July 6th.

The good news is that it will be back to business as normal on Tuesday morning with our regular social game (“Wytham online”). I will assume that those of you who booked for last week’s cancelled session are coming this Tuesday unless you tell me otherwise; there will be no need to book again in that case.

As an experiment, and in the interest of continuous improvement, rather than using Eventbrite, I am inviting you to pay directly from the website. Simply click on the button below and you should be able to pay by debit or credit card. If you have any problems please let me know. I am keen to know whether this method is simpler or more difficult to use than alternatives. If so I may use it for the Monday seminars as well.

Tuesday play 23rd June

Our regular social bridge session every Tuesday morning

£15.00

All the online coaching groups continue as normal. I have had a number of enquiries about a beginners class in bridge and I am willing to offer this if there are enough takers. If you have not already done so please feel free to let me know if you are interested in this, or know anyone who might be. In the latter case please ask them to email me with their details.

In the meantime happy bridging!

 

 

 

Online bridge update no 11

Tomorrow’s Monday morning bridge seminar continues our sequence of invaluable conventions, this time focusing in on splinters. A splinter bid tells your partner about a shortage in your hand once you have agreed a trump suit. it dovetails nicely with the other tools you will need to become an expert game and slam bidder. As with the others in the series once you have mastered splinters, you won’t want to leave home without one.

As normal the seminar begins at 9.30 and will include a series of example hands and teaching notes that are emailed to you after the event. You can book a place by following this link to the Eventbrite page, or email me to pay by bank transfer if your computer won’t let you use Eventbrite (you might need to change your browser).

The next three topics in the series will be as follows:

  1. Trial bidding: June 15th
  2. Ace-showing cue bids: June 22nd
  3. Jacoby 2 No Trump convention: June 29th

And now for the bad news. I am afraid that I am going to have to cancel, exceptionally, our regular Tuesday morning social bridge gathering (“Wytham online”) because of a change in the time of the monthly investment committee to which I belong. This change has been foisted on me and I am sorry that there is nothing I can do at this late stage, and apologise for the late notification. Anybody who has booked for the Tuesday session already will be given a rollover to the following Tuesday when we will resume as normal.  If I can find an alternative time this week I will let you know.

All the online coaching groups continue as normal. As I noted last week, as the lockdown eases it may be that some of you may need to drop out of these groups, and I would appreciate some early warning if you think that might be the case as it will give me time to find suitable substitutes. Of course I recognise  that many of you will have become so hooked on your weekly bridge coaching session that you will want to reschedule your work and family life to make it a fixture indefinitely…….! In the meantime enjoy the sunshine and keep safe.

 

 

 

 

 

Online bridge update no 10

The topic for tomorrow’s Monday morning bridge seminar is a wonderful convention that you should definitely aspire to adding to your bidding armoury as you improve. Roman Key Card Blackwood is the upmarket version of the better known  Blackwood convention, when a bid of Four No Trumps after a suit has been agreed is asking for the number Aces your partner has. Roman Key Card Blackwood, so named because it was developed in Italy, extends the enquiry to include the King of Trumps as well as the four Aces and also enables you to ask about the Queen of trumps as well – often the crucial information you need to go slamming.

As normal the seminar begins at 9.30 and will include a series of example hands and teaching notes that are emailed to you after the event. You can book a place by following this link to the Eventbrite page, or email me to pay by bank transfer if your computer won’t let you use Eventbrite (you might need to change your browser). This seminar dovetails nicely with the Losing Trick Count we discussed last week and the next four seminars as well. These will be as follows:

  1. Splinter bids; June 8th
  2. Trial bidding: June 15th
  3. Ace-showing cue bids: June 22nd
  4. Jacoby 2 No Trump convention: June 29th

Our regular Tuesday morning social bridge gathering (“Wytham online”) continues as normal, starting at 9.30 and also can be booked on Eventbrite. Follow this link. As always I shall be arranging the tables on Monday evening so please do try and book up in advance so that I know the numbers and it also helps if you can log in to the Zoom call around 9.25 for best results and a prompt start. All the online coaching groups continue too.

As the lockdown eases it may be that some of you may need to drop out of these groups, and I would appreciate some early warning if you think that might be the case as it will give me time to find suitable substitutes. Of course I recognise  that many of you will have become so hooked on your weekly bridge coaching session that you will want to reschedule your work and family life to make it a fixture indefinitely…….! In the meantime enjoy the sunshine and keep safe.

 

 

 

Online bridge update no 7

It is another glorious sunny day – not perhaps the best for sitting indoors to play bridge – but there is more cold weather coming and it looks like it is going to be some time before the lockdown restrictions are materially eased. How nice to have developed a weekly routine in which some of the hours can be filled with the best card game every invented!

The seminar I am running this Monday is about the single hardest decision you have to make at the bridge table – which is the right card to lead at trick one? Without a sight of dummy, you only have the bidding and your own cards to guide your choice.  On some estimates the fate of as many as 50% of all contracts are determined by which card you lead at the first trick.

I shall be discussing the options and explaining how your thinking should be guided in the two-hour seminar, starting at 9.30am. (To add to the problem, there are or course different answers for No Trump and trump contracts). You can book a place by following this link, but let me know by email if Eventbrite rejects you (as it seems to do with a small minority).  I have updated the list of future topics on the seminar page on this website; look out for some popular bidding conventions coming up.

The “online Wytham” session will be going ahead as normal on Tuesday, starting at 9.30am (link here – ignore any suggestions on Eventbrite that the start time is 9.45am). Nearly all our regulars will be there but we do usually have room for one or two more, so please advise me by email (arb.oxford@gmail.com) if you would like to be considered. I try to sort out the tables on Monday evening, so there is a cut-off for entries at that time, but occasionally I will send out an SOS for reinforcements to fill the last table.

All the 11 different coaching sessions will be continuing this week and I am trying to fit in a couple more. What this means unfortunately is that I am having to be a little stricter about start and finishing times. I appreciate there are many distractions, but if you can log in on BBO and join the Zoom call just before the start time it will ensure that we squeeze in as many hands as possible. Each group is different but they are all a lot of fun to teach – thank you for making them so.

For those of you who are interested in playing online duplicates, Andrew Robson’s club in London is now running four tournaments a day on Bridge Base Online. Subject to other commitments, I am planning to play in the 18-board 2.15 game on Monday afternoons myself and happy to take questions about the hands afterwards if you are also taking part. There is a considerable random element involved in duplicate pairs, so even the experts don’t always come out on top, and this is a good chance to try and outscore the best players and secure some bragging rights!

With another hat on I am involved in a small group organised by the Oxfordshire Bridge Association which is tasked with promoting tournament bridge in the county. They are planning some tournaments for early stage bridge players in the coming weeks. Most of you I know prefer the friendly social games that we have always run, but I shall give more details in due course for those who might want to try it out.

I will do a separate post about the answers to the two bridge hand questions I posted last week. I gather, finally, that there is a mention of a bridge player I know well in Andrew Robson’s latest Country Life column (though I have not seen it). Those of very advanced years may recall my grandfather Frank Davis, who wrote the salesroom column in Country Life for more than 20 years and was still busy writing the week he died, aged 98.

Enjoy the sun while it lasts!

 

 

 

 

Online bridge update no 3

(Updated 11th April 2020)

The main news this week is that I have made some further improvements to the way we are running our online sessions. Thanks to everyone for their patience so far. I know that many of you are playing a lot of online bridge now, which is excellent news. As the lockdown and social distancing restrictions seem set to last at least until the end of this month, and probably longer, it looks like there will plenty more opportunities to improve your game and while away the hours at the same time. It is encouraging that all the research done so far suggests that playing more bridge is good for your long term mental health and wellbeing.

Tuesday mornings

I am making some important changes to the way that the Tuesday morning sessions (what I call “Wytham online”) are run. Having experimented last week with the use of Zoom rooms, I am now able to make this a much better experience than it has been so far – thanks for your patience while we worked out how best to do this. How it will work in future is that each table will have their own Zoom breakout room, where they can freely chat to each other without having the distraction of hearing those at other tables also talking. Everybody at the table will be able to communicate directly with each other as well, just as when we meet in Wytham. You don’t have to do anything except click the link I will send out on Tuesday mornings around 9am: I can set everything else up.

The other great advantage of this arrangement is that it will enable me to visit each table more often to offer advice and supervision. I can for example arrange to visit each table in turn for 10 or 15 minutes each time, either to watch the current play or to answer questions about hands played earlier at your table. I am confident that this will work considerably better and make it much more enjoyable for everyone involved. We will continue to allocate all comers to tables of roughly equal ability and experience. It means that you do not always have to play with the same group, though you are free to do so.

The booking page link for these Tuesday morning sessions is here.  I hope you will try this new and improved format! If you  have trouble with paying by Eventbrite (as some of you have been having), you can also pay by bank transfer, but please make sure you do so 12 hours in advance with the date clearly stated. Please let me know if there is someone you are expecting or hoping to play with. In order to make this work for everyone, I am going to have to be fairly strict about insisting on advance booking, so I can make sure the numbers are working.

Private group sessions

For the rest of the week, as mentioned last week, I am continuing to offer any group of four players (more if some are happy to spectate) the chance to have a private 60 or 90 minute supervised play and learn session with me. I have now got six regular groups who have opted for this format, which allows me to give undivided attention to every bid and play you make in that time, again with voice interaction on Zoom. By using a BBO teaching table, it gives me greater freedom to comment and show what might/could have happened.

So quite a few of these private group slots in the week have gone, but I still have room for one or two more. Please email me if you have a group or a partner who is interested and wants to book a regular slot. To the extent that time allows, I am happy also to try and match up those with others of the same levels of experience so they too can benefit from this. Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings are full, but there are still a few 60 or 90 minute slots available on other days. I am meanwhile looking for volunteers for a regular 90-minute supervised session at 2pm on Saturday afternoons.

Monday seminars

I will be continuing the regular Monday morning topic seminars (two hours with presentation slides and direct Q and A participation via Zoom). You can book a place for several weeks ahead by following this link. The topics for the coming weeks can be found on the seminars page. Although this Monday (April 13th) is Easter Monday, I propose to continue with this series when the topic will be Showing your shape (including discussion of reverses. how to distinguish 5-4, 5-5, 6-4 and 6-5 hands and the dreaded 4-4-4-1 shape).

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 group sessions £15 for 60 minutes and £20 for 90 minutes. Anything longer: by negotiation.  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. 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.

 

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