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.
Category Archives: Play sessions
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 email@example.com) so I can add them to the teaching/supervised play database. I look forward to hearing from all of you.
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!
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
Wytham Village Hall, 9.45 to 11.45am
Maximum four tables; sorted by ability
Expert tuition at the table
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about spaces
Lessons 5 to 8 will be scheduled shortly
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 email@example.com.
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.
(am) Improver course, in Summertown, starting September 23rd
(am) Bridge at Wytham Village Hall, every week starting 9.30am-9.45am
(pm) Advanced Play (four half day sessions, starting on October 16th)
(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
(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.
The play and learn session tomorrow will not be at The Trout, as usual, but instead at the Jacobs Inn, a few hundred yards away in Wolvercote village. There is parking there too and a fair deal of space – lighter and less cramped than the room at The Trout we had last week. Kick off as normal is formally at 9.45, finishing at 12.30 or so, but if you get there earlier and want to start playing a few randomly dealt hands that is fine too. I shall be there from 9.30. Sorry for the change in venue, but we are in peak tourist season, with the end of the University term thrown in as well. Here is a link to the new venue.