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

H AK3

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

S AQJ62

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 5

The demand for online bridge seems to be intensifying as the lockdown goes on. I now have ten separate groups who have signed up for 60 or 90 minute coaching sessions through the week. Each group has a different range of experience and they are all, from early stage to advanced, fun to teach and the feedback continues to be very positive. Thank you to  everyone who has signed up.

In addition to all these groups there will be another seminar on Monday, this time devoted to when and how to establish long cards in suits. It will cover the probabilities that suits will break, ducking to preserve control of the hand and the importance of keeping the right number of entries, plus some other example hands from my archive. You can sign up for that on Eventbrite here.

Tuesday morning will again feature our normal Tuesday morning supervised play session (“Wytham online”), with each table in its own Zoom room to allow all four players to chat while playing. I will again be shuffling the tables around to allow you to play with different partners and opponents, unless specifically requested otherwise. Please sign up here if you can, or otherwise let me know before lunchtime on Monday and pay by bank transfer, so that I can make sure we have the right numbers. (If I have told you that you are unfortunately on a waiting list, don’t despair: I may be able to rustle up a fourth player at the last moment on Tuesday morning).

Then on Wednesday at 2pm I will be continuing with the next lesson in the Advanced Defence course, covering suit preference signals. The first of my “play these hands with me” bridge videos should be appearing shortly. For those who are at this level, I am also considering offering anyone who is interested the chance to play with me in an Andrew Robson Bridge Club online duplicate, to be followed by a short review of the hands that were played. Please let me know if this is something that would interest you. The ARBC duplicates are held twice a day on BBO, but be aware that the techniques required to get a good score in duplicate are somewhat different to teams or Chicago.

In the meantime take care and stay safe.  Jonathan

PS I am also keeping an eye on what is happening in the financial markets during the crisis and you might be interested to know that I am recording a short weekly podcast about the latest news from the investment trust sector with Simon Elliott, head of investment trust research at Winterflood Securities, released every Saturday (via http://www.money-makers.co).

 

 

 

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 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.

Online bridge update

Given the level of interest in playing online bridge, I have updated the page about the options for online play and lessons we are offering from Monday onwards. These include a number of regular supervised play sessions, plus details of the lessons that are continuing, and the opportunity to book a time for a smaller group session with your chosen friends and partners (either continuous supervision or an hour-long review session at the end). For the first time we are offering you the chance to organise supervised play or small group sessions in the afternoon and evening, subject to them fitting in with my schedule. Follow the link to the online bridge page for more details.

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).

 

 

 

Online plans

Here is what I am proposing this week for those of you want to continue playing and learning bridge in these tricky times and want to stick with the same friendly and like-minded group we have developed over the past year and a half. Having reviewed the various options I am proposing the following:

Supervised play

I am proposing to offer these sessions in two hour blocks for any group of two to four tables (= 8 to 16 players), starting on Tuesday morning (our normal Wytham time) from 10am to midday. It is a little complicated to organise, but with a bit of patience and understanding it will soon become second nature to you. I will act as what is called a kibitzer (=spectator) flitting from table to table and answering questions (what should I bid? How should play this?) via the online chat function.

At the end I can organise a short online review session for you to ask any other questions you might have about the hands you have played (which are all recorded online so you can go back and look at them all). I will need to know in advance who is coming, so I can organise you in to group of similar ability. Because it is new the first session will be free. I already know of about a dozen regulars who have said they are keen to participate.

Please also feel free to suggest other times when you would like to play a session like this, including evenings. Any group of 8 or more can be accommodated now that we do not have to find a venue. In principle I am available to run a session like this every morning (10 to 12), every afternoon (2 to 4), and every evening (8.30 to 10.30pm), though obviously subject to other commitments.

Video lessons

I will be offering a series of video lessons that you can watch at your own convenience.

(1) Play These Hands With Me.

These will give you a chance to sit behind my shoulder and watch a series of hands, during which I will explain my thinking and play – a good way to start bringing all the things you have learnt so far together when you sit down and play yourself. The first one should be available in a couple of days.

(2) Topic webinars.

I propose to continue with these for small groups using Zoom webinar technology. Once you have signed up you will receive an invitation to join the webinar and there will be a chance to watch and hear me talk through a series of slides about a topic and ask questions in the normal way via the tele-conferencing facility. The first one will be on takeout doubles, continuing The Next Level series.

(3) Advanced Defence course.

Because it is a small group, and the course has been interrupted by the virus, I am proposing to complete this course online in the same format as the webinars.

Private lessons and games

I am happy to arrange any number of online private lessons or games for groups of 3-4 or 7-8. Please contact me for details and price, which will be set on a session by session basis. This could be your chance to get a regular weekly lesson going…..!or game

Using BBO

If you have not played bridge on BBO before, I have posted a short summary (see below) of how to register and get started. I am so repeating here a video that I recorded earlier which will show you how a game of bridge is played online. BBO is free to join; all you need to do is register a username and password. I am putting together a table of usernames for all those who have expressed interest so far. 

 

 

 

 

 

Signing on to BBO

This is a short introduction to playing bridge on Bridge Base Online, adapted (with thanks) from an English Bridge Union guide.

1) In an Internet web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome etc) Go to www.bridgebase.com

2) Click ‘Play bridge now’ (red button in centre)

3) If you have not previously registered with BBO then click ‘Become a member (free!)

4) Type in a User name. It will need to be unique and it will show ‘Unavailable’ in blue if your chosen User name is already taken. Try adding a number or choose an unusual nickname if your preferred username is unavailable.

5) Type in a password and then type in the password again. The password may only contain letters and numbers.

6) Type in your real name if you want that to be displayed to other BBO users, otherwise leave this blank. Leave the ACBL number field blank. You can add your skill level (or simply highlight Private) and country of origin. The screen should then look something like this:

7) Click the checkbox for ‘I agree to the Terms of Service’

8) Click Register

9) You will now have been automatically logged on:

10) BBO has multiple different ways to play. When you log on you wil see a wide range of options. My online sessions will be organised for you: all you need to do is wait for an invitation from whoever is hosting the table. (If I have asked you to be a table host for the session, then you will need to look at this other post to see what to do).

 

 

 

« Older Entries Recent Entries »