Seasons greetings

Happy Christmas to everyone on our mailing list. Thank you to every one of you who has either taken a course, joined a seminar, taken a lesson, and played online or face to face this year. There will be no more scheduled sessions or lessons until January as we take a Christmas break but there will be more activity in 2023. I will be providing an update of what is on offer, including details of a new free online challenge series, shortly. If you are one of the many who have contacted me in the hope of starting to learn bridge, please don’t hesitate to let me know if you are still interested. It has been difficult to schedule lessons for everyone who enquired, but I hope to accommodate as many of you as possible in the New Year. Please watch this space for more news.

Best wishes to all


Face to face bridge coming back

It looks like it won’t be long before we can go back to playing face to face bridge the Andrew Robson way in Oxford. As the Omicron variant fades and restrictions are lifted, we are planning on restarting our regular weekly play and learn sessions in Wytham and Charlbury, as well as continuing with online sessions and our first duplicate and team challenges.

Please look out for the chance to sign up and join us and renew contact with all the regulars who you may not have seen in person for the past couple of years while Covid was trampling all over our lives.

In the meantime this week I will be running the regular Tuesday morning online play and learn session, starting at 9.15am and finishing by 12 noon. You can sign up as usual using the link provided below, or do so from the new Book In page you will see at the top of the page. On Thursday next week there will be a second online evening supervised play session, starting at 7.30pm, and I will circulate details on that shortly.


Tuesday supervised play 25th Jan 2022

Our regular Tuesday morning online session (Zoom and BBO), starting at 9.15am.


Online bridge update 88

The first online evening play and learn session is scheduled for the evening of January 20th 2022, starting at 7.30pm.It will be hosted jointly by Charlie Bucknell and myself. Charlie is a young bridge professional (and an under-26 international player) based n Oxford and is joining ARB Oxford to offer more teaching and play options, in anticipation of a return to face to face bridge shortly. We have had some takers for this evening session already and I hope you will consider joining us then. You can sign up below or email me to ask for bank details.


Evening supervised play (Online)

January 20th 2022 at 7.30pm (Zoom + BBO)


Online bridge 79

Online supervised play

The normal Tuesday online supervised play will be going ahead as normal this week (November 9th) starting at the new regular time of 9.15am. You can book using the block below. I am away for the rest of the week in Scotland so there will be no group coaching after tomorrow but will resume as normal the following week.

Pay for supervised play

Online November 9th 2021 at 9.15am


Face to face play again

There will be a face to face session of supervised play at Wytham Village Hall on Wednesday December 1st beginning at 2.15pm. Everyone welcome. This is a second step back towards resuming a normal weekly cycle of face to face play. I hope you can make it.

Face to face play in Wytham

December 1st 2021 at 2.15 pm in Wytham Village Hall


Future schedule

As promised I will be publishing a schedule of future play sessions, seminars and courses in the next few days, to cover the period up to Christmas. From January there will be a much wider range of potential options to look forward to. Thanks to everyone who completed the recent Doodle poll. If you have not yet had a chance to do so, the link is still open.

The website has been playing up annoyingly.


Online bridge upate 13

I can see that the normal weekly email did not go out as planned at the weekend. This post is therefore merely to remind you that the normal Tuesday morning supervised play session is going ahead as normal tomorrow (June 23rd) and again at the same time next week. If for any reason you missed the chance to book a place please drop me an email in the morning, when I will be checking the final numbers and can let you know if there is room.

July 7th 2020 play session

Our normal regular Tuesday morning session from 9.30am to 12.30pm.


The turnout at this morning’s seminar on Ace-showing cue bids as well attended. Thanks you all for attending and I look forward to seeing you at the next one, which is on the Jacoby Two No Trump convention, next Monday at the normal time of 9.30am. The following week I will be covering trial bids, to complete the suite of slam bidding tools, and following that we will be going back to play topics.

July 6th 2020 seminar (trial bids)

Our regular two-hour Monday morning seminar on bidding and play techniques: two hours with slides, sample hands and Q and A, from 9.30am.


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 ( 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 6

Week 6 of lockdown already and most of you seem to be settling well into a routine in which online bridge features on a regular basis. The number of groups having regular coaching sessions with me on BBO and Zoom now stands at 11 and I am seeing some dramatic improvements in performance. Thank you all for your support and for having so much energy and enthusiasm. In order to accommodate everyone I shall be contacting one or two groups to suggest bringing forward the starting times by 15 minutes or so. Do contact me if you want to set up a regular session.

It might be worth clarifying that the Monday morning seminars are now definitely starting at 9.30. Tomorrow’s topic is on the subject of managing the trump suit, an important complement to last week’s seminar on establishing suits (which many of you seem to have found very helpful). It addresses the fundamental question declarers need to answer when planning the play: should I be drawing the trumps or delaying doing so?

As before, if you are having trouble signing up on Eventbrite, feel free to email me to say you want to participate and make a bank transfer – however only those who have paid in advance will be allowed to join. The same goes for the Tuesday morning group sessions, which are now running smoothly with each table having its own Zoom breakout room. With 12 regular participants, I am looking for another couple of participants to justify a fourth table, the maximum we can manage for the moment. The idea of this session is to keep switching the tables around so that, for variety, you are not always playing the same people each week. For the time being it is the closest we are going to get to our pre-pandemic Wytham sessions.

This weekend I am – virtually speaking – on the northern Norfolk coast, taking part in an annual three-team event that has been running for several years and is known, for some reason that has never been clear to me, the Bittern Bucket. It is normally accompanied by much wining and dining around a large (and noisy) table in our host’s kitchen. It is very much a social occasion and the standard of bridge is variable, but a perfect example of what a great game this is. Bridge can be enjoyed at so many levels, whatever the standard.

Here are a couple of the challenging decisions that came up yesterday. This is your hand

S 2

H 109762

D AK975

C 87

The bidding goes 3S from your partner, (as dealer) Pass, Pass, Double, Pass, 4H.

Your bid? Rightly or wrongly I doubled (discuss), having what I hoped was a nasty shock in store for declarer with my five hearts. I led the AD and this disappointingly suitable dummy appears:

S A107


D 43

C A10953

On the first diamond your partner plays the 6 and declarer the 2. You play a second diamond and partner plays the 8 and declarer the 10. Are you going to defeat the contract now and if so how?

This is the second


H –

D 97

C AKQ1062

This time your right hand opponent opens with a weak pre-emptive bid of 3 Hearts. Your bid?

Answers in due course.












Online bridge update no 4

You all seem to be getting a taste for playing bridge online, which I am delighted to see. Yesterday when I was about to play a match myself, I noted no fewer than nine other tables in play with familiar faces from our regular sessions. I am guessing that you may well retain that interest when the lockdown is finally over – as a complement to our own regular face to face sessions in Wytham when they resume, naturally (it is still a social game after all)!

I also now have several groups of four taking 60 or 90 minutes training sessions with me during the week. These are a lot of fun for me and going down well with you, according to the feedback I am getting. I still have a couple of slots left, so do please contact me if you are interested in joining the throng.

The Monday morning seminar this week will be on the finer points of finessing, starting at 9.45am. You can sign up here. Our Tuesday morning Wytham online session is now running very smoothly, with each table having its own Zoom room so you can chat to each other while you play without disturbing anyone else. It means also I can flit from able to table at regular intervals. Booking for that is here.

I do have to limit numbers to multiples of four, however, as if I have to play it complicates the logistics to an unhelpful extent. Do email me however to see if there are any last minute places if you have not managed to book in advance: I cannot promise to accommodate you, but I will try.  I will continue to mix and match tables in response to requests, so you don’t always have to play against the same people, in keeping with our social bridge mandate.

A number of you have had some trouble in accessing all the features of BBO; in many cases this is because you do not have the right browser. Safari or Google Chrome are worth trying as alternatives if you are having issues as they do always work well with BBO. Look forward to seeing you “at the table” in one guise or another in the next few days.











Online plans – update

Thank you to everyone who has responded positively already to joining our online bridge sessions. There are at least 40 of you and I suspect quite a few more who will also want to take part. For tomorrow’s first trial session (24th March, starting 10am, but please be in place from 9.45am if you can to have a look around BBO) I have now allocated five tables and notified everyone who is down to play on one of them. I apologise to everyone who has not been asked to join a table.

The only reason is that I am not yet sure whether Annabel and I will be able to get round more than five tables and I suspect there will be quite a few technical glitches to iron out for this first one. However I hope you will all bear me. I shall certainly be running more of these sessions every week (maybe one a day) and everyone will get a chance to participate. Priority next time to those who cannot play tomorrow.

Bridge Base Online has also been overwhelmed with new members as a result of the virus and is unable to offer us our own private “room” where we could run games just for our group. That remains the longer term objective which would mean that it would be easier to organise and numbers can be increased more easily. I am also investigating other bridge websites, such as Funbridge, which make it easier to organise private groups at present.

The Refresher course on Thursday mornings will definitely be going ahead this Thursday morning, with initial priority for those who have already been to at least one session. That session is limited to four tables at present. Watch out meanwhile for my first videos and online topic seminars – the next ones will be on takeout doubles. They will be held using the Zoom videoconferencing facility and will also be recorded so that you can watch them later if you cannot make the first showing.

I am attaching again the video I have prepared before on playing at a BBO table. One correction: it is possible to turn off the sounds that accompany every bid and play, by going to the Account tab on the right hand side of the screen and unticking the ‘sounds on’ box).




Bridge this week

Monday 3rd February

The Next Level – 1st lesson:

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

Tuesday 4th February

Supervised play and learn:

Wytham Village Hall, 9.30am to 12.30pm

Thursday 6th February

Refresher course:

Wytham Village Hall, 9.45 to 11.45am

Advanced Defence:

Private venue, 1.30pm to 5.00pm

Friday 7th February

Next Step course :

Wytham Village Hall 9.45am to 12.45pm