Category Archives: Uncategorized

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


Bridge this week

We have our regular bridge session at The Jacobs Inn in Wolvercote tomorrow (August 20th) starting at 9.30am. On Thursday (August 22nd) I will be hosting another lesson/play session at The Corner House in Charlbury, starting at 1pm. I am meanwhile putting the final touches to the schedule of autumn courses, which will start in the week beginning September 23rd. Most lessons will be on Mondays and Thursdays but there may be other times as well if there is sufficient demand. Thank you to everyone who has contacted me asking about future courses. I hope to accommodate as many of you as possible. There will be a free taster session for beginners on September 16th; if you think you might know someone who would like to learn bridge, please mention it to them and ask them to come along to see how we go about it. It is a free and no partner is needed. Best wishes Jonathan.

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!

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