Online bridge update 26

There is again no seminar on Monday morning because I still have other commitments, but there will be the normal Tuesday morning supervised play session this week (October 20th, starting at 9.30am). You can book in by using the payment button in the sidebar or, if you have any technical problems with that, pay by bank transfer as normal and let me know that you are planning on attending. All the group sessions will continue this week in the usual way as well.

I am pleased to be able to confirm the first new course for a while. This will be a new two part online bridge course for beginners – Learn bridge in a weekend – to be held on November 7th and 28th. Each day will consist of two three-hour online lessons; one from 9.30am to 12.30pm and the second from 2pm to 4.30pm. Each one can be booked separately, so that you can decide after the first whether you want to move on with the next.

The sessions will be fully interactive and participants will receive a full set of my extensive notes after completing each day’s session. We will also play through together a series of example hands to illustrate the game in action. Some people think that it is not possible to learn the game in just one or two days, but I know from experience that this is far from the truth. The aim of the course is to take you to a point where in answer to the question “do you play bridge?” you can truthfully reply “Yes, I can”. Bridge is a skill for life that you won’t regret acquiring and this course will give you the platform to do just that.

As well as those who have already contacted me to express an interest in learning bridge, I hope that you will spread the word to anyone you know who you think might welcome the chance to start playing and (in due course) join our thriving bridge playing community. All you need to participate is a pack of cards, a computer or iPad to connect to Zoom (participants will receive a short video explaining what is involved in that) and a willingness to learn. The cost for each day will be £90, payable in advance. It will limited to 12 people to ensure I have room to give everyone sufficient individual attention. More details as soon as you have booked.

Online bridge update 25

There is no seminar on Monday morning because of other commitments but there will be the normal Tuesday morning supervised play session this week (October 13th, starting at 9.30am). You can book in by using the payment button in the sidebar or, if you have any technical problems with that, pay by bank transfer as normal and let me know that you are planning on attending. All the group sessions will continue this week in the usual way as well.

I am excited to be able to offer the first new course for a while. This will be a new two part online bridge course for beginners – Learn bridge in a weekend – to be held on two Saturdays in November. Each day will consist of two three-hour online lessons; one from 9.30am to 12.30pm and the second from 2pm to 4.30pm. The sessions will be fully interactive and participants will receive a full set of my extensive notes after completing each day’s session.

We will also play through together a series of example hands to illustrate the game in action. Some people think that it is not possible to learn the game in just one or two days, but I know from experience that this is far from the truth. The aim of the course is to take you to a point where in answer to the question “do you play bridge?” you can truthfully reply “Yes, I can”. Bridge is a skill for life that you won’t regret acquiring and this course will give you the platform to do just that.

As well as those who have already contacted me to express an interest in learning bridge, I hope that you will spread the word to anyone you know who you think might welcome the chance to start playing and (in due course) join our thriving bridge playing community. All you need to participate is a pack of cards, a computer or iPad to connect to Zoom (participants will receive a short video explaining what is involved in that) and a willingness to learn. The cost for each day will be £90, payable in advance.

The provisional dates for parts one and two of the course are November 6th and November 28th. If you are interested please let me know by email or by commenting on this post. Once I have an idea of likely demand I will settle the dates and start to take bookings.

More details about the other new courses to follow. It seems that many of you would like a revision course at intermediate level and also another course that focuses on defence, the hardest part of bridge. Please continue to let me have your suggestions for what would most help you at this stage…….

Online bridge update 24

This week’s events are:

Monday morning (4th October 4th) seminar on negative and responsive doubles. Because of a business commitment later in the morning this will be shorter than normal and so I am only charging a reduced rate.

Tuesday 5th October) our normal Tuesday morning supervised play session, starting at 9.30am.

There are payment buttons for both of these in the sidebar. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible.

Details of future courses will be published at the end of this week.

Online bridge update 23

A quick note to say that bridge on Tuesday 29th September is on as normal, despite there having been no earlier notification (for which I apologise). I have now added a payment button for tomorrow, but it is fine in the circumstances just to let know by email that you can come and pay by bank transfer instead if you can. There will definitely be tables in play in the normal way.

Online bridge update 22

This is another short update to give you the chance to join the events that are happening this week. Unfortunately I have had to postpone the Monday seminar this week on negative doubles to the following week because a number of regular participants are away. Negative doubles are such a versatile and useful bidding tool that no aspiring bridge player can afford to miss out on them. You can sign up for the new date for this seminar by following the payment buttons in the sidebar of this and other pages.

The Tuesday morning online supervised play session is going ahead as normal. This continues to evolve nicely with many regular partnerships coming online to play against each other on a rotating basis, although anyone is welcome to join, with or without a partner. To finalise numbers and tables it is very helpful if you can sign up by Monday evening. Annabel and I can normally arrange things so that latecomers are accommodated as well, but it is not possible to guarantee a place if you only contact us on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile the group coaching sessions continue with a lot of renewed enthusiasm and some impressive advances in performance. At least two of them have chalked up their first grand slam bid and made, using the Jacoby 2NT and Roman Key Card Blackwood conventions. This is always a great moment in anyone’s bridge journey. Here is a link to a grand slam hand that came up in a recent match. Would and your partner have bid 7S? I did, but it is not a 100 per cent sure thing (if spades are 4-1 and the Jack is missing). Answers on a postcard please….

Online bridge update 21

This is another short update to give you the chance to join the events that are happening this week. The Monday seminar tomorrow (9.30am to 11.30am) is a follow up to last week’s session. It is what to when your partner opens 1 No Trump and your opponents intervene, with either a double, a suit overcall or the Landy convention (showing both majors). This is a very common situation and one which can produce very different results if you are not prepared with some basic techniques. You can sign up by following the payment buttons int he sidebar of this and other pages.

The same goes for Tuesday morning’s online supervised play session. This is evolving nicely with many regular partnerships coming online to play against each other on a rotating basis, although anyone is welcome to join, with or without a partner. To finalise numbers and tables it is very helpful if you can sign up by Monday evening. Annabel and I can normally arrange things so that latecomers are accommodated as well, but it is not possible to guarantee a place if you only contact us on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile a few more group coaching sessions are gradually coming back into operation; contact me if you are interested in one of the few remaining slots. There will be both a Beginners and an Advanced course starting in mid-October, and probably an Essential/review course as well. To accommodate as many people as possible, these will probably be in a number of discreet modules rather than in short sessions over an eight week period. The new bridge platform I mentioned last week, which is being set up in the UK as competition to Bridge Base Online looks promising, but as it currently stands looks better for supervised play than for group coaching, as a number of features that are on BBO are not yet incorporated into the system. Will keep you posted as this develops.

Online bridge update 20

This is a short update to give you the chance to join the events that are happening this week. The Monday seminar tomorrow (9.30am to 11.30am) is on bidding after the opponents open the bidding with One No Trump. It will cover the Landy convention (very popular and part of the Robson method) , doubling and suit overcalls. Given how common the 1 No Trump opening is, this is an important part of the game where many tend to go wrong. You can sign up here as normal (see the sidebar).

The same goes for Tuesday morning’s online supervised play session. This is evolving nicely with many regular partnerships coming online to play against each other, though anyone is welcome to join, with or without a partner. To finalise numbers and tables it is very helpful if you can sign up by Monday evening. Annabel and I can normally arrange things so that latecomers are accommodated as well, but it is not possible to guarantee a place if you only contact us on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile the group coaching sessions are also getting back into gear, with five already back in action and others due to restart this week. There will be more news about courses and lessons in the next couple of weeks. Along with many other bridge teachers, I have been looking at a new platform which is being set up in the UK as competition to Bridge Base Online, where a number of changes are due to come into effect over the next few weeks following the sale of the site a little while ago to a more commercially-minded company. More details on this if and when we decide to make a change.

Online bridge update 19

The summer break is over for me. As of today I am back in Oxford and ready to get back into bridge. I hope that you have all been enjoying the last few weeks. While one or two bridge clubs have been bravely looking to get back into face-to-face play, with the use of plastic screens, tablets and other tools to cope with social distancing, I am afraid that is not yet an option for us, nor am I convinced that it is really the kind of interaction that most of you would enjoy, given the continuing restrictions. (Click here for the last thoughts from the English Bridge Union on this subject).

So for now the main option remains group coaching sessions with a combination of BBO and Zoom, as before, in 60 or 90 minute sessions. The formula works well and I am happy to continue offering them this autumn for as many of you as want to continue. The main options for starting times are 9.15am, 11am, 2pm and 4.30/5pm, although I may be able to fit in some other times depending on demand and other existing commitments. If there is any change in the restrictions that make returning to playing face to face in Wytham Village Hall possible, you will be notified of that possibility.

The Tuesday morning online session for a minimum of four tables will also continue as long as there is sufficient demand. The first proposed date for this will be this Tuesday, 1st September. For group sessions please let me know if you want to continue with the slots you had before. There may be some times that I was teaching before that I can no longer do, but most of them should be possible.

I propose to continue with the Monday morning seminars, but starting on the 7th September, rather than tomorrow (Bank Holiday Monday 31st August), as previously suggested. Details of the topics are on the seminars page. I have also had a request to restart more courses. I am very happy to do this, but experience suggests that the most efficient way to run these is to offer four double sessions rather than eight single ones (which inevitably include some dates a number of participants cannot make). Even better may be to hold these courses as one or two day events – more intensive, for sure, but a perfect way to acquire a chunk of material to practise and revise at your leisure.

I propose to offer a number of these courses from the middle of October and will welcome suggestions from you which courses you would be most interested in taking. Beginners and Advanced will certainly be among those scheduled. The general message is: let me know what it is you would like to do, and I will see whether I can oblige. In the meantime I look forward to seeing you shortly back at the virtual table and observing the progress you have all been making…..

Online bridge update 18

So the holiday season has finally arrived and many of you I know are already dotted around an array of exotic locations enjoying some time away from your previously locked down homes. Bridge in Oxford is no exception and I am going to taking a break from the regular cycle of seminars and online coaching for most of August. I am glad that we have been able to help keep you playing – and learning – for so many weeks since the pandemic forced an end to our enjoyable face to face sessions in Wytham.

This week will therefore be the last week for the seminar series. The series will however resume on August 31st with a host of new topics. You are to welcome to send me suggestions for other topics you would like to see covered (or revised). This Monday’s seminar will be a wrap up/review session of slam bidding, including bidding a slam in the minor suits, with a series of hands for you to bid through and play with me (no use bidding them if you cannot make them!). To sign up please use the payment buttons in the sidebar of the website, or email if you have difficulty in doing so.

The Tuesday morning play session also continues this week as normal. There will be definitely be no Tuesday morning play session the following week, and at most one more in August (details to be confirmed). I hope that you will continue playing amongst yourselves so that we can all resume at the end of August refreshed and ready for more regular play in September. By then who knows it may be possible to reintroduce face to face play in some form in Wytham, although it still looks unlikely at this point.

As for the group coaching sessions, they will also continue this coming week, although some have already been interrupted by holidays and other enforced absences. If you are in one of these groups, I will be contacting you separately to see what if any dates might be possible until we resume full-time in September. I would like to say that these sessions have been hugely enjoyable for me and the general view seems to be that they are a successful and efficient way to practice and get better.

I rather suspect that the online format we have adopted for group coaching will remain popular even when face to face bridge resumes. I know of at least one group which is about to start playing together (suitably distanced) using ipads and Bridgebase Online instead of cards. That would make it very easy for me to continue offering advice via Zoom in group sessions without the need to travel around the county to be at the table, agreeable though that experience has been.

If so it will be a good example of how the pandemic, for all its other distressing effects, will change the way that we lead our lives. Playing bridge face to face at a card table in good company will always be the best form of the game, as far as I am concerned, but for teaching the game the Zoom + BBO format has undoubtedly been a positive breakthrough. The group coaching sessions will definitely therefore be resuming in a few short weeks, so make sure to let me know if you want to continue, as there are not enough slots to satisfy everyone who wants to be part of one.

There will be another post next week before I sign off for the holidays.

Online bridge update 17

The seminar this week (July 20th) will continue the playing No Trump contracts theme of last week, with a further series of example hands and discussion of avoidance play and card placing. Those who came last week seem to be enjoying the benefits already, as the number of 3 No Trump contracts being bid (and made) has already gone up….. To sign up please use the payment buttons in the sidebar of the website, or email if you have difficulty in doing so.

The Tuesday morning play session also continues this week as normal. Advance warning: please note that there will be no seminar on Monday August 3rd and no Tuesday morning play session on August 4th as I will be away. A revised list of topics for the seminars will be posted shortly. I look forward to seeing you as normal for the next two weeks.

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