Coronavirus update

Given the latest advice from the Government, it is inevitable that our regular bridge sessions will soon have to be postponed until the epidemic is properly contained. Thanks to those of you who have already told me that they no longer feel able to come to classes or play and learn sessions. I fully understand and support your decision. I was already planning on suspending most of our events even before the latest announcements. This is the BBC News analysis as of 4.30pm today (link here) – Sunday March 15th.

While the Health Secretary says that it is not yet the right time to urge anyone over 70 or those with health issues to self-isolate, that decision will be coming shortly. The peak of the epidemic is not currently expected to occur for around 10 weeks. It seems inevitable however that most people, whether or not they are in the highest risk category, will decide to take matters into their own hands sooner rather than later to try and minimise the risk of infection.

Bridge events as we organise them currently are particularly risky as sources of infection, given the use of playing cards and bidding boxes. We can minimise that risk to some extent by dispensing with boards that move round the room, replacing them with packs of cards that are not used at any other table and are thrown away at the end of each session, and also by stopping using bidding boxes. However there is no way to enable social distancing, which requires people to stay six feet away from each other, or to eliminate the risk of transmission through the atmosphere.

The English Bridge Union has today cancelled all its national events over the next few months and  issued new guidance to bridge clubs that do decide to stay open, urging members who are vulnerable to stay away, and clubs that are still open to consider carefully whether their arrangements are still appropriate.  Some of us already know somebody who has been infected and it is inevitable that the number of cases is going to continue to grow rapidly for a few weeks.

In these circumstances, I am proposing the following. The seminar tomorrow (on overcalling and the Unassuming Cue Bid) is going ahead, but the series will not continue after that until further notice. I have asked those who have indicated interest in attending to let me know if they are coming or not tomorrow.

The Tuesday play and learn session and Thursday morning refresher course will also not continue after this week, and will this week only operate on the basis set out above – no bidding boxes and no boards travelling around the room. I have created a new Doodle poll for the Tuesday Wytham session to replace the existing one. You can find it here. I would be grateful if you could complete it. I will be contacting those who have been coming to the Thursday refresher course directly with a similar message.

While sessions are suspended, I will be offering the option of online lessons and also a regular online tournament as well. If you are interested in either of those options, please let me know – playing online may not always be as much fun as playing in a social setting, but this could be a chance to work on your game so as to come back even better and stronger than before when the virus threat has subsided. If you unfortunately find yourself among those who have to self-isolate, this may also be one good way to while away the time.

There is, finally, the possibility of holding smaller private group lessons as well, in particular cases where everyone involved is not in the primary risk category, understands and is happy with the risks and suitable playing conditions can be created. For the moment I am monitoring developments closely and will only offer that on demand and in the light of prevailing medical advice.

I very much hope that those of you who have been regular or occasional participants in any of the classes or play and learn sessions will let me know what your thoughts are on all the above. I shall provide further updates on the website and by email so that we do not lose touch. If you have not already signed up to receive emails from this website, it would be very helpful if you could do so now, by adding your email in the box to the right of the page.

This is obviously a very difficult set of circumstances, particularly so as the lessons and sessions we run have been growing in popularity and I know how many of you have been enjoying the chance to play and learn with our convivial and growing group of participants. However it is obvious that we must do everything we can to minimise the risk of infection over the next few trying weeks and protect those who are at risk. I hope that we will all be back at the bridge table sooner rather than later.

Thank you finally for all your emails and messages. Please keep them coming!

Jonathan

 

 

Bridge this week

Monday 2nd March

Next Level seminars – every Monday morning

This week: Fourth Suit Forcing, the must have bidding convention

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

Follow this link to let us know you are coming

Tuesday 3rd March

Supervised play and learn

Wytham Village Hall, 9.30am to 12.30pm

Our regular Tuesday morning session

Follow this link to let us know you are coming

Thursday 5th March

Refresher course

Wytham Village Hall, 9.45 to 11.45am

Maximum four tables; sorted by ability

Expert tuition at the table

Email arb.oxford@gmail.com to enquire about spaces

Advanced Defence

Lessons 5 to 8 will be scheduled shortly

 

Latest news

Thanks to everyone who has so far responded to assorted Doodle polls about our regular events – Tuesday supervised play and learn at Wytham, the Thursday Refresher course (ideal for, but not limited to, budding partners) and topic seminars based on Andrew’s The Next Level book. Please continue to update those if your plans change. The subjects of the seminars are moving into territory that some of you may be interested in if you have not come across them before. Next Monday (March 2nd) for example will cover Fourth Suit Forcing, an essential addition to any player’s bidding armoury, and future topic include Roman Key Card Blackwood, Jacoby Two No Trumps, two-suited overcalls (Michaels and the Unusual no Trump) plus many others. The seminars are single two-hour sessions at the North Oxford Association in Summertown, north Oxford starting at 9.45am, and cost £20. You can find the topics on a week by week basis by following the What’s Coming Up link at the top of this page, or the dedicated The Next Level page.   A reminder also that Andrew Robson’s charity day event at Rose Hill Community Centre is coming up on Monday March 9th.

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

 

Andrew Robson charity bridge day

It is not too late to book a place at Andrew Robson’s forthcoming charity day in Oxford – an annual event that supports a good cause and always draws a big local crowd. The date this year is Monday March 9th 2020 and the venue Rose Hill Community Centre, Carole’s Way, Rose Hill Oxford OX4 4HF. The bridge day raises money for the Rose Hill Junior Youth Club, a charitable organisation which supports youth activities in one of the poorest districts of Oxford.

You can find more details and book a place by opening the attached booking form. The day starts with coffee at 9.30am and includes four hours of tuition from Andrew Robson, with an excellent lunch in between. The day finishes at 3pm. It is helpful if you can indicate whether or not you have a bridge table that you can bring along. There will be several hands to bid and play to practise the themes covered in Andrew’s distinctive style.

Booking form here:

robson2020

I shall be there for at least part of the day to lend a hand, and I hope to see as many of you as possible on the day at this enjoyable and worthwhile event.  Because it clashes with Andrew’s charity day, the Next Level course lesson scheduled for March 9th will be postponed until the following week.

Separately, some of you may be familiar with the Bridge for All programme, which is raising money for further research into the social and medical benefits of bridge. You can find out more about it here. The programme is run  Samantha Punch, a formidable bridge player herself, and a professor at the University of Stirling. Bridge for All is organising a charitable “Play with the stars” dinner and pro-am tournament on February 20th in London, at which most of the top British (and some overseas) players will be taking part. Andrew himself is sadly not available because of his other commitments.

These players are giving their time for free and you can bid for them in an online auction. I have been persuaded to volunteer to play for free with anyone from Oxfordshire who would like to part in this event and is willing to donate a significant sum to the charity and its very worthwhile objectives. Please contact me (arb.oxford@gmail.com) if you would be interested in making that sort of commitment.

Bridge this week

Tuesday 13th January

Play and learn: Wytham Village Hall, 9.30am to 12.30pm

Thursday 16th January

Refresher course: Wytham Village Hall, 9.45 to 11.45am

Friday 17th January

Next Step course: Wytham Village Hall 9.30 to 12.45pm

If you have expressed interest in one of the two courses, but have not seen an email from me in the last few days, please check your spam folder or contact me on arb.oxford@gmail.com.

Spring 2020 teaching and play sessions

Here (at last!) are my plans for teaching in the New Year. I am trying this time round to be as flexible as possible, so that nobody is disadvantaged if they cannot make all the lessons in each course. There is a summary on this link. https://arb-oxf.uk/summer-2019-courses/

Here are the current options:

Beginners

There is no scheduled beginners class at present, but if you would like to learn from scratch, don’t despair. Simply drop me an email (arb.oxford@gmail.com) and let me know you are interested in learning.  I shall add you to my waiting list and as soon as there are enough people to make it viable, we will schedule a time and venue for the beginners course. You won’t regret learning this great game!

Next Step

This will be taking place over four consecutive Friday mornings beginning on Friday January 17th. Each session will be a double lesson, which experience shows is helpful for those at this stage of their learning. The course is already nearly full, but there may be an opportunity to join if you let me know in the next week or so. There are a couple of one-off spots also available on the first and third dates. Venue: Wytham Village Hall. Start 9.30am. Free parking. Booking form attached. See the course outlines page on the website for more details. Ideal for those who have been on a Beginners course or know the mechanics of the game but want to press on ahead.

The Next Level

This courses based around Andrew Robson’s latest book, The Next Level, which looks in more detail at the bidding conventions and play techniques you will already know if you have completed the Essential or Improver courses. There are 36 separate topics (listed on the website) and I am proposing to teach these as individual 2 hour lessons, each one featuring at least four hands to play, plus a separate bidding quiz and notes I am writing for each topic. Each topic will go into greater depth about such tools as Stayman, transfers and Roman Key Card Blackwood and many suit play techniques.  If you have to miss one, provided you can notify me in advance, you won’t be charged but can roll forward your course fee for that day to a later lesson. The initial course fee for five lessons will be £100, after which you can renew for a further block of five lessons at a time. Provisional timing and venue: Monday mornings at the NOA in Summertown. Please let me know if you are interested and I will send you a booking form.

Refresher course

I am repeating this course as it proved very popular before. Because of the amount of individual attention involved, I am limiting the numbers to a maximum of four tables. It will be held every Thursday morning at Wytham Village Hall, starting at 9.30am and lasts around two hours. The format is very simple: each table deals and plays a hand, which is then discussed in depth with all the players at the table. The emphasis is on recognising situations as they arise and practising what you have learnt before, although in practice new topics keep on cropping up (e.g. signalling, using cue bids for slam bidding). I shall be providing a follow up note on any important ideas to emerge each week. Ideal for current or potential partners who want to play regularly together (although individuals are also welcome). The cost is £20 per week. First come, first served. Email me on this email if you are interested in signing up.

Advanced Defence

I am also scheduling this course, which is about the art of successful defence at the highest level. Venue and timing will be determined as soon as final numbers are confirmed. It follows on from the successful Advanced Play course held in the autumn. Improving your defence will not only make every hand of bridge more interesting, irrespective of whether you are dealt any good cards, but also make you a popular partner. All the secrets of signalling, counting and discarding are covered. Just email if you are interested.

Learn and play

The regular Tuesday morning supervised play sessions will continue at Wytham Village Hall throughout the year and I hope that the numbers will continue to grow, as they did satisfactorily in 2019. The first session of the New Year will be held on January 7th 2020. I hope to add a slightly different second supervised play session each week, starting in February. The idea I am toying with is running each session with a slight difference, playing a pre-dealt set of boards, just as on Tuesday mornings, but scoring each session as a teams event to add a slightly keener competitive edge to proceedings, and maybe adding a Q and A session at the end (as Andrew used to do in his club). Don’t be put put off if this sounds too serious: it will all be done in our normal friendly atmosphere. This could be held on a weekday evening, starting at 7.15pm. Let me know if this might be of interest to you.

Other courses

As you now there are 11 Robson course in total, all of them listed on the website (link to Our Andrew Robson courses) and I am always willing to offer them if there is sufficient demand. The way I propose to deal with this is to invite you to suggest the courses you would like to take and as soon as there is enough interest to make them viable I will be happy to schedule them. Experience again suggests that running courses as four double sessions or even two or three triple sessions can be the easiest way to resolve the problem of only being able to attend some of the normal eight weekly lessons in each course. Finally if you know of anyone who you think would enjoy learning bridge with me, please feel free to give them my contact details and ask them to get in touch.

Happy New Year to everyone.

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