Category Archives: Play sessions

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

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 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 arb.oxford@gmail.com) so I can add them to the teaching/supervised play database. I look forward to hearing from all of you.

BBO website

 

 

 

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

 

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.

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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