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Bridge next week: a summer bonus

Despite having to postpone a couple of lessons because of unavoidable changes to my schedule, the two courses I have been teaching this summer (Essential Extra and Improver Plus) are sadly coming to an end. Because they have been such excellent learners, however, I have decided to offer a bonus lesson to all members of these two courses and would also like to open these two popular single topic lessons to anyone else who would like to join, for a single one-off payment of £20.

The two dates are as follows:

Date: Thursday July 11th

Time: 9.40 to 11.40am

Where: North Oxford Association, Summertown

Subject: Transfer bids

Free to members of the summer 2019 Improver Plus course. £20 anyone else.

Date: Monday July 15th

Time: 9.40 to 11.40am

Where: North Oxford Association, Summertown

Subject: Doubles – takeout or penalty?

Free to members of the summer 2019 Essential Extra course. £20 anyone else.

I will also provide summary notes by email after each lesson.

To book a place for either lesson, simply email me ( to reserve your place and pay either online in the normal way by bank transfer or bring cash on the day.

Following requests from half a dozen budding enthusiasts who have completed my Beginners course, I am also looking to teach a version of the Next Step course over the course of the summer months. This will be done on an ad hoc basis through a series of 5 or 6 somewhat longer sessions than normal. If you would like to join this programme, please let me know and I will endeavour to arrange it. Next Step is suitable for anyone who is not a complete beginner, but is keen to go up a level or has recently returned to playing the game. The venue will also be in Oxford, and somewhere close to good parking and the ring road. More details once it is clear that we have the numbers to make it viable.



Bridge at The Trout cancelled

I am very sorry, but I have to cancel the supervised play session at The Trout this Tuesday (May 7th) because of a family funeral in Holland. There will be another session in Islip on Friday and normal service will resume at the Trout on May 14th (start 9.45am). Apologies to anyone who was looking forward to the session on Tuesday. Thanks also to those who have already expressed interest in supervised play in Charlbury. We will be doing a trial first run there shortly – watch this space!

One-off holiday lessons

Over the course of the next month, in addition to the weekly Tuesday morning sessions at The Trout, I am offering three single-session seminars on specific topics in which I know many of you have shown an interest. These lessons will all run to two hours and cost £20 each. They will take place on Thursday mornings beginning at 9.30 in the Library at the North Oxford Association in Summertown (plenty of parking available).

March 28th       Transfers over 1NT and 2NT (and Stayman review)

April 4th           Cue bidding and Roman Key Card Blackwood

April 18th          Signalling and an introduction to better defence

These lessons should be suitable for anyone who is familiar with basic bidding methods, either from a Robson course or from other sources.  Email me ( or to book a place. Payment by bank transfer is preferred. For those who don’t already have them, our bank details will be provided by return if you request a place – first come, first served. I will however run a waiting list if there is an awkward number looking to attend, but I hope to be able to accommodate everyone who wants to come along.

The next set of eight-week courses will start immediately after Easter. They will run on Monday and Thursday mornings and possibly Tuesday afternoons as well. I will produce a schedule shortly. There are 11 Andrew Robson course in total (follow this link for a summary). There will definitely be an Improver/Improver Plus course on Thursday mornings, and probably a Beginners and Essential course as well.

Upcoming events

The next session of Bridge at The Trout will be taking place at the usual time of 10am on Tuesday next week and for every week thereafter. To book your place simply send me an email ( letting us know you are coming and I will send payment details by return. An even easier method if you have been before is to make a bank transfer to the ARB Oxford bank account, quoting Trout and the date of the session you wish to attend (e.g. Trout 12th Feb). For genuine latecomers we do take cash on the day, but that may sometimes lead to an odd number sitting down to play and those who have paid in advance will have priority.  I have now created a separate Doodle poll for Tuesday morning dates in March and you can indicate your advance interest in those dates now by following this link. You will be asked to add your email and phone number so that we can contact you if necessary. The two sessions we have held so far have been well attended and greatly enjoyed by everyone involved, so do please spread the word and come and try one out for yourself. Email with any queries.

picture of the trout

This week’s play session

We are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Trout in Godstow tomorrow morning for the weekly morning play and learn session. Most of you have paid by bank transfer and will know who you are. If anyone intends to come but has not yet secured their place by paying, please let me know as soon as possible so we can adjust numbers if need be. There will be several tables in play and up to 32 exciting pre-dealt hands to bid and play. We will be conducting a new poll about your preferences as far as other days and times of the week are concerned in the next few days.  I have already logged the names and preferences of those who answered our poll about Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings, and these will be carried forward into the new poll.



New Year plans

I am busy putting the final touches to the schedule for the coming three months. For logistical reasons I have had to make changes to the timing and venue of some courses. The Essential course begins as scheduled on Monday January 21st at 9.45am. The starting time for the Improver course on Thursdays (starting on January 24th at the North Oxford Association) is being brought forward by an hour and a half to 10.00am. The Next Step course on Thursdays is being rescheduled. I will be contacting anyone affected by these changes directly in a separate email.

In response to demand I am also adding the Improver Plus course which will  take place on Tuesday afternoons, starting at 2.30 pm. There has also been interest in a course devoted entirely to defence and one devoted to conventions suitable for duplicate competition. If you would also be interested in either of these please let me know and I will see when and how these might be organised.

After further investigation of suitable venues, I am proposing to hold the first play and learn session of 2019 on Tuesday January 29th in the agreeable surroundings of The Trout at Godstow. As most of you will now, this is a well-known pub beside the river in North Oxford, featured in episodes of Inspector Morse, readily accessible from both the A34 (via Wytham) and the northern ring road (from the Wolvercote roundabout). There is plenty of parking.

The plan is for the session to start promptly at 10am and run until lunchtime when a buffet lunch will be available for those who want to stay. It will feature a series of pre-dealt boards that can be played and scored, with a chance to call for help during play, and to ask questions about specific hands at the end. Hand records will be available to study once the session has ended and you will have a chance, but only if you so wish, to compare your results against those who played the hands when they were originally played (in a  competition). I will also provide a bridge tip and refresher note for the day.

This way I hope these sessions will appeal to both those with a competitive urge and those who primarily value the social and learning aspects of this great game. There will be an opportunity to play against different opponents during the course of the morning, but if you simply want to come with your own group of four, simply to practise and learn, that too we can cater for. Tea and coffee will be available and there will be a modest charge for the buffet lunch if you choose to stay for that.

To gauge demand I will be sending out a “Doodle poll” shortly to find out which of the available dates over the next month you might in principle be keen to join – fill in as many of the dates as you like and if you have a partner add them as well (let me have their names and emails so I can add them to the poll). The two options currently available at The Trout are Tuesday mornings and Wednesday evenings, and I will also include Friday mornings at the St Hugh’s Centre in Woodstock. Dates and venues will be finalised once I have had a chance to review the results. My hope is that there will be at least one regular session every week from February onwards.

A Doodle poll is a simple online method of sampling demand for a range of different dates and options. You simply have to click on the link provided in the email and register which of the various dates you would be interested in attending (feel free to pick more than one). I am looking forward to hearing your views. I will send out a separate poll in due course to try and narrow down how many of you are specifically interested in duplicate sessions.

I do hope that as many as you as possible will come to one of these sessions once the poll is completed. The regular weekly sessions will evolve as I find out more precisely where the most demand is. They provide an opportunity to meet all the others who like the sound of Robson bridge. In the meantime I would like to wish you a Happy New Year and hope that all your bids and finesses continue to prosper.


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