Bridge in Oxford online

(Updated 16th October 2020)

This page is where you will find details of the online bridge sessions I am offering while the coronavirus is keeping us all either in isolation or at a distance from each other. Sadly perhaps, there has never been a better time to play and brush up your game. It is a shame that our regular friendly social sessions in Wytham have been off the agenda for so long (six months already). Rest assured that they will be coming back (twice a week in future) as soon as government restrictions allow.

For now the online game is all that there is, but it is good that, different as it is, many of you are finding playing online such a rewarding experience. Our week now looks like this. I have been running a regular Monday morning topic seminars (two hours with presentation slides and direct Q and A participation via Zoom) for several weeks now, with only a summer break and occasional interruptions because of some other commitments. The topics for the coming weeks can be found on the seminars page.

On Tuesday mornings the usual 3.0 hour play and learn session (“Wytham online”) continues as normal, subject to a maximum of four or five tables. Having experimented with the use of Zoom breakout rooms, it has become a much better experience than it was originally – thanks for your patience while we worked out how best to do this.

How it works now is that each table has its own Zoom breakout room, where the players can freely chat to each other without having the distraction of hearing those at other tables also talking. Everybody at the table can communicate directly with each other as well, just as when we met in Wytham. You don’t have to do anything except click the Zoom link I send out on Tuesday mornings around 9am and sign in to Bridge Base Online. I set everything else up.

The great advantage of this arrangement is that it enables me to visit each table more often to offer advice and supervision. I typically visit each table in turn for 10 or 15 minutes, either to watch the current play or to answer questions about hands played earlier at that table. Most of our regular partnerships happily now rotate opponents from one week to the next to ensure variety.

To book your place you can pay by using the payment button in the sidebar to this page. In the case of difficulty 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 normally cut off booking on Monday evenings, so as to be sure that the numbers are working.

For the rest of the week I offer any group of four players the chance to have a 60 or 90 minute supervised play and learn session with me. There are now around ten regular groups who like 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. Please email me if you have a group or a partner who is interested and wants to book a regular slot.

What it costs

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 £18 for 60 minutes and £25 for 90 minutes. Anything longer: by negotiation. The whole day beginners courses which I am offering in November will be £90 for both sessions. 

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. 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.

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.