Category Archives: Online at BBO

Online bridge update no 9

The topic this week in the Monday morning seminar series is the Losing Trick Count, one of the must have tools in improving your bidding judgment. Learn how to use the Losing Trick Count to help value your hand – how to count your losers, how to support your partner to the right level and when (and when not) to use this popular valuation technique. As usual the seminar starts at 9.30am and finishes around 11.30pm.

Along the way we will show a series of example hands and go through a set of slides that will also be emailed to those joining the seminar after the seminar has concluded. You an book a place via Eventbrite (link here) or if that proves difficult (as sometimes happens) send me an email to register your interest.  Coming up in the following weeks are seminars on other powerful bidding conventions – the Jacoby Two No Trump convention, Splinters and Roman Key Card Blackwood among them.

Places at our regular Tuesday morning sessions are also available to book on Eventbrite (start time also 9.30am) and all 12 of the regular small group coaching sessions are also continuing as normal. You should get an invitation to join the related Zoom session for all our events shortly before the start. Payment for the group sessions is by bank transfer and it is very gratifying that so many of you are paying promptly without having to be reminded – thank you for that!

I see a lot of progress in all the groups, whatever the level, which is great to see, and just as importantly everyone is enjoying the game and its many subtleties. Keep up the good work……

 

 

 

Online bridge update no 8

The Monday morning seminar is on the topic of bidding big hands. It covers when and when not to open Two Clubs and how to develop the bidding from there. The next three weeks after that will cover the Losing Trick Count, the Jacoby Two No Trump convention and splinters, all popular subjects that will help with your game and slam bidding. The list of topics is updated regularly. You can sign up for all these dates on Eventbrite, or if that proves tricky (as sometimes happens) email me and pay by bank transfer.  The seminars start at 9.30am and run till 11.30.

Tuesday will feature our regular morning of social bridge, starting at 9.30am, and again the way to book a place is via Eventbrite. We aim to have a minimum of four tables and this week we will be looking for a couple of newcomers to add to our regulars. The breakout rooms are working smoothly on Zoom.  Please email me if you would like to join us this week. There is a cutoff point for booking a place on Monday evenings so I can allocate the players to tables.

On Monday afternoons I have committed to play with a regular partner of mine in the Andrew Robson 18-board duplicate game for the next few weeks. I will record some short videos about a couple of the hands each week and have arranged to discuss them with at least one pair from our group who are taking on the challenge of playing in the same event. As I said last week, there is always a greater random element in the pairs game and so this is a great chance to outscore the best players from Andrew’s London club (extra kudos if you manage to score more than me!).

The Advanced Defence course finished last week and I am happy to say that some of those who were on the course have said they want to do it again. For the time being I am continuing with private one-table coaching sessions during the week (currently doing 12 in all) but I am thinking of how best to offer new courses as well, with a beginners or recently started course one of the priorities. If you have any specific requests let me know and I will build up a waiting list.

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 (arb.oxford@gmail.com) 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 3

(Updated 11th April 2020)

The main news this week is that I have made some further improvements to the way we are running our online sessions. Thanks to everyone for their patience so far. I know that many of you are playing a lot of online bridge now, which is excellent news. As the lockdown and social distancing restrictions seem set to last at least until the end of this month, and probably longer, it looks like there will plenty more opportunities to improve your game and while away the hours at the same time. It is encouraging that all the research done so far suggests that playing more bridge is good for your long term mental health and wellbeing.

Tuesday mornings

I am making some important changes to the way that the Tuesday morning sessions (what I call “Wytham online”) are run. Having experimented last week with the use of Zoom rooms, I am now able to make this a much better experience than it has been so far – thanks for your patience while we worked out how best to do this. How it will work in future is that each table will have their own Zoom breakout room, where they can freely chat to each other without having the distraction of hearing those at other tables also talking. Everybody at the table will be able to communicate directly with each other as well, just as when we meet in Wytham. You don’t have to do anything except click the link I will send out on Tuesday mornings around 9am: I can set everything else up.

The other great advantage of this arrangement is that it will enable me to visit each table more often to offer advice and supervision. I can for example arrange to visit each table in turn for 10 or 15 minutes each time, either to watch the current play or to answer questions about hands played earlier at your table. I am confident that this will work considerably better and make it much more enjoyable for everyone involved. We will continue to allocate all comers to tables of roughly equal ability and experience. It means that you do not always have to play with the same group, though you are free to do so.

The booking page link for these Tuesday morning sessions is here.  I hope you will try this new and improved format! If you  have trouble with paying by Eventbrite (as some of you have been having), you can also pay by bank transfer, but please make sure you do so 12 hours in advance with the date clearly stated. Please let me know if there is someone you are expecting or hoping to play with. In order to make this work for everyone, I am going to have to be fairly strict about insisting on advance booking, so I can make sure the numbers are working.

Private group sessions

For the rest of the week, as mentioned last week, I am continuing to offer any group of four players (more if some are happy to spectate) the chance to have a private 60 or 90 minute supervised play and learn session with me. I have now got six regular groups who have opted for this format, which allows me to give undivided attention to every bid and play you make in that time, again with voice interaction on Zoom. By using a BBO teaching table, it gives me greater freedom to comment and show what might/could have happened.

So quite a few of these private group slots in the week have gone, but I still have room for one or two more. Please email me if you have a group or a partner who is interested and wants to book a regular slot. To the extent that time allows, I am happy also to try and match up those with others of the same levels of experience so they too can benefit from this. Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings are full, but there are still a few 60 or 90 minute slots available on other days. I am meanwhile looking for volunteers for a regular 90-minute supervised session at 2pm on Saturday afternoons.

Monday seminars

I will be continuing the regular Monday morning topic seminars (two hours with presentation slides and direct Q and A participation via Zoom). You can book a place for several weeks ahead by following this link. The topics for the coming weeks can be found on the seminars page. Although this Monday (April 13th) is Easter Monday, I propose to continue with this series when the topic will be Showing your shape (including discussion of reverses. how to distinguish 5-4, 5-5, 6-4 and 6-5 hands and the dreaded 4-4-4-1 shape).

What it will cost

To keep it as simple as possible I am proposing a simple tariff for any sessions you book, as follows, per player. Monday topic seminars: £20 each. Tuesday mornings (“Wytham online”) £15. Small group sessions £15 for 60 minutes and £20 for 90 minutes. Anything longer: by negotiation.  Experience suggests that most of you find 90 minutes about the most you want to spend on direct supervision before your concentration goes, but there is nothing to stop you playing on with your table without supervision either before or after my involvement. That way you get both some uninterrupted play and some tuition. It also means I can help a greater number of different groups each week. Some evenings may also be possible. To minimise the time I have to spend checking payments it would be helpful if you could pay in advance as soon as your booking is confirmed.

 

Online bridge update (again)

(Updated 4th April 2020)

Following feedback about the online sessions we have organised so far, I am proposing to make the following changes, effective from this coming week. I will be continuing the regular Monday morning topic seminars (two hours with presentation slides and direct Q and A participation via Zoom). The next one, on April 6th, covers penalty doubles and redoubling. You can book a place on the Monday seminars by following this link.

On Tuesday mornings the usual 2.5 hour play and learn session (“Wytham online for short”) will continue as normal, subject to a maximum of four or five tables. It may be possible to organise different rooms on Zoom so that the talk at one table does not disturb those at others. You can book a place for the Tuesday sessions by following this link. I will continue to allocate you to suitable tables.

For the rest of the week I am proposing to offer any group of four players (more if some are happy to spectate) the chance to have a 60 or 90 minute supervised play and learn session with me at almost any time during the day during the week. I have already got at least four groups ready for this single table format, which will allow me to give undivided attention to every bid and play you make in that time, again with voice interaction on Zoom. Thursday mornings and late Tuesday afternoon are proving popular, but other days are freer as it stands.

Revised calendar 4th April 2020

Please email me if you have a group that is interested and want to book a regular slot. To the extent that time allows, I am happy also to match up those with others of the same levels of experience into a group, so that they too can benefit from this. I have amended the outline schedule for next week, starting on Monday morning (6th April). Exceptionally there are no slots this Wednesday, as I have other work commitments that day. Late Friday afternoons will also be out for a similar reason (I am recording a podcast about investment trusts – please tell your friends or family if they happen to have an interest in that subject). Other than that, just take your pick!

What it will cost

To keep it as simple as possible I am proposing a simple tariff for any sessions you book, as follows, per player. Monday topic seminars: £20 each. Tuesday mornings (“Wytham online”) £15. Small one table group sessions £15 for 60 minutes and £20 for 90 minutes. Anything longer: ask and I will try to come up with something reasonable.  Experience suggests that most of you find 90 minutes about the most you want to spend on direct supervision before your concentration goes, but there is nothing to stop you playing on with your table without supervision either before or after my involvement. That way you get both some uninterrupted play and some tuition, the best of both worlds. It also means I can help a greater number of different groups each week. Some evenings may also be possible. To minimise the time I have to spend checking payments it would be helpful if you could pay in advance as soon as your booking is confirmed.  There will soon be an easy online booking option here.

Introduction to BBO

All these lessons will take place on Bridge Base Online, the biggest and best online bridge website. It is free to join. All you need to do is create a username and password. I will use the usernames to invite you to the relevant “table”. Here is a link to a short video introduction to what you will see at a BBO bridge teaching table, for those who have not tried it before. (There is one small error in the video which I have not had time to correct: it is possible to remove the annoying sounds you get every time you make a bid or play a card by going to the Account/Settings page and disabling the “sounds on” button). You can also access the video directly from this page (click on the white arrow). Andrew Robson Bridge Club in London has also produced some helpful You Tube videos about playing on BBO. More videos from me to follow as well just as soon as I get the rest of this all organised.

Online bridge update

Thanks to everyone who took part in the Tuesday morning session today – fewer teething troubles than last time, despite Internet connection issues in one case. Some great hands were played and I saw a lot of good things done. It will get better smoother once we all get used to it. Am reviewing how best to set up Zoom so that everyone gets a chance to discuss hands with me; look out for further bulletins on that score. I will continue to organise the tables so that you get a chance to play with the right people. You can book up for next week’s session by following this link.

Meanwhile the Refresher course (max four tables) is going ahead on Thursday morning; email me (arb.oxford@gmail.com) if you have not already done so and wish to take part. It is very much hands on learning at the table. The Monday topic seminars (intermediate plus) are also continuing and worked particularly well this week by common consent. For these I produce a step by step online presentation and we all play through the same hand as a group , so do consider trying that as well. Next Monday’s topic is on penalty doubles and redoubling. Again please email me if you are interested.