Do you have an old copy of Book 1 Beginning Bridge, Continuing Bridge or any of the Practice books which you have finished with? If you have a good clean second hand copy to sell or pass on for free, let me know. Second hand copies rarely appear on Ebay or Amazon and it is especially useful for anyone who joins late or joins for just a term to find a cheaper copy. Contact me with a brief message using the contact form
So just when I think a bridge lesson is going smoothly, something comes along which is confusing to a beginner in a bridge text book! Here it is:
"Your partner leads A against 4" and a student in my class asks what this means. I was momentarily flummoxed but soon understood the problem and explained it like this:
When the suit symbol is first it means the card. So A means the Ace of Hearts. When the suit symbol is second, it means the contract. So 4 means the contract is 4 Spades.
Another lightbulb moment on the journey to learning bridge!
A little while ago I shared a video in my class about Rule of Eleven. This is a way of helping your defence when opponents are playing in NoTrumps. Here it is
I have added a new page with "useful information" to my site and just included the two "learn to play" bridge programs for PC on that page. This means you can now download the programs from my site. This saves you from scouring the internet looking for them. Also NEW - a little video with my dulcet tones explaining how to use the programs. (voice coach wanted!) Here it is:
You Tube is a great source of learning for almost anything. There are some good videos appearing for bridge learners. The two videos below will teach you about Blackwood and slam bidding. Please let me know if you find these useful. If you are new to my site - this is not me! I don't believe in reinventing the wheel when someone else has already created a useful teaching video!
Some of my students ask about getting in some practice on the computer. I have tried Bridge Base Online (BBO) and it is an easy way to play a live game or two with real players around the world. Beginners have told me however that it can be confusing or even too fast and furious!
You need to be aware that in the UK we play a "weak No Trump" which means that you open an ACOL 1NT with 12-14 points. In other systems players may open 1NT with 15-17 points or others ranges. I recently had a scary moment on BBO when my 1NT was raised to 3NT by a friendly Canadian but thankfully I made the contract by the skin of my teeth!
It's worth trying and you can even just watch games in play, but don't expect to understand it all!
I am often asked by bridge students, "How long does it take to learn bridge?". Now that is a difficult question! My usual answer is that for most people who just want to come to a class once a week and begin to practice play, it should take about a year to go through the "Standard English ACOL foundation system" bidding. That does not, however, mean that you will remember everything about it. As you play more, you will remember some parts of the system better than others and will eventually know most of it.
I always make the proviso that someone may join my class who is not only a genius but goes to bed with a bridge book every night and can be a competent player in a few months. The reality is you can take as long as you like to learn. Just enjoy it!
My improvers group thought the Blackwood Convention was complex enough last year but I have hopefully convinced them that Roman Key Card Blackwood is a far superior method. It was devised by Eddie Kantar in the 1980s and it shows not only the number of Aces held but also the King and Queen of Trumps as well. It is therefore a much safer method of finding a slam and avoiding risky slam contracts as you can put the brakes on at a lower level.
The version I use is:
4NT asks for Key Cards (the four Aces and the King of Trumps).
The responses are:
4C* = 1 or 4
4D* = 0 or 3
4H = 2 without the Queen of Trumps
4S = 2 with the Queen of Trumps
5NT asks for Kings but not the trump King as you have already asked for it. the responses are the same as normal Blackwood.
Some players reverse the Club and Diamond* responses (0 or 3 then 1 or 4). The responses above are not the full story but lets keep it simple!
Progressing from lessons to playing in a formal duplicate session is not easy for some people. Mostly the pace of play is faster than you are used to and you have less time to think during the bidding. I am always pleased when I meet my previous learners and hear that they are playing regularly. Often their own social circle has expanded to include a weekly "kitchen bridge" session. By the way, I don't approve of the term kitchen bridge as it is often used as a derisory term by people who think they are serious players! In reality there are players of all standards in a Bridge Club and I believe that Bridge should be enjoyed at all levels. If you have had lessons and not found somewhere to play, do get in touch with me. It would be sad to see all that hard work you put into learning go to waste. Equally, if you now play at a regular venue and can recommend it to newcomers I will be happy to share it.
You may have noticed that I have now added a Facebook Link to my Contact Page and Home Page. Facebook is a work in progress and I hope to begin adding some interesting hands. First, there is the technical challenge of how best to get them into Facebook! As so many people use smartphones now to check their mail and Facebook then a complete deal could be too small to see! So far I have only added one hand which gives and example of the losing trick count. Do please take a look at the Facebook page and feel free to ask questions!
As well as being a Bridge Teacher I have been a Training Manager, an Air Stewardess, I have hiked down the Grand Canyon and held a live "carpet" python.