The Oxford Junior Bridge Club started in September 2014 with one 9 year old pupil, Henry Rose, who had persuaded his parents to drive him to Oxford from North of Banbury. This determination continued and Henry is now well known for his many successes in the world of English and International Bridge. New pupils trickled in from around the city and county and by Christmas 2014 we had two full tables for a friendly competition and end of term party.
Until 2019 our venue was the Summertown Church Hall, large and spacious inside and with a garden where, after the tea break, the children played their own made up game of "rugfoot" in all weathers. Now we use the premises of the newly refurbished Oxford Bridge Club.
When the EBU decided to form an International Under-16 team, I was asked by Sarah Bell, who was running the squad, if I had any pupils who were good enough. Having no idea of the standard required, at Sarah’s suggestion, I took all who were bidding and available to Andrew Robson’s Parsons Green club. From that first event, our little club has had no less than ten pupils picked for the squad many representing England face to face and online.
Many of our juniors have come by word of mouth or from seeing flyers around the city but, before Lockdown, we held one Taster Session per year, having leafletted fourteen roads close by. One year this yielded 16 visitors, including 4 South American women who were definitely not "8 – 18 years!"
Every year since 2015 we have sent teams to the Annual Schools Challenge, held at Loughborough Grammar School, with many successes. In March 2021 the team from Eton, who won the Schools Cup, contained two players who had started Bridge at OJBC.
Much as we cherish these successes, our main goal is to inspire juniors to play at their own level and to make the game fun and enjoyable for all. We welcome families learning together and are delighted that a father and son pair, Zahir and Zane Soonawalla who learned at OJBC, are now two of our valued teachers.
Holly Kilpatrick, November 2021
|OJBC in lockdown October 2021
In keeping with government orders, the Oxford Junior Bridge Club closed its doors in March 2020, leaving a dozen juniors and families without their regular Sunday afternoon bridge session.
Realising that this was not a short term measure, the youth arm of the OBA “met” and decided to hold an online competition in May, for all junior players who could bid. Many of the youngsters had never heard of BBO but most managed to hunt down the site, dream up an appropriate username, find a partner and be ready to go.
The first competition was so successful that we decided to run these events on a monthly basis. Less than one year later, we switched to using RealBridge and have continued the events, free of charge. During the 15 months of online competitions junior players entered from all over the UK, including Scotland, Northern Ireland and The Isle of Wight and from their holiday venues in Nice, Prague, Florida, South Devon and Suffolk. The best attended event had 30 pairs playing in two sections, experienced and intermediate.
Meanwhile, the Oxford Junior Bridge Club re-opened its doors in September 2020, only to be closed again in November but has been permanently open, during term time, since April 2021. The Autumn Term has started well, with three new families enrolled to learn and we are all thrilled not to have to push four tables together anymore – nobody ever seemed to know who their partner was, least of all the adult volunteers!
Now that the juniors are back to a normal school routine, we have decided to hold these online competitions only during school holidays and breaks. The next event will be held on Sunday 12th December 2021 at 4:00pm on RealBridge
Next term starts on Sunday 9th January 2022 – all juniors and their families are welcome on any Sunday; first visits are free of charge.
Holly Kilpatrick, 2nd October 2021
|Oxford Junior Bridge Club - Opening New Premises
Saturday 26th October 2019 marked the official opening of the newly refurbished premises of the Oxford Bridge Club. Members joined with the Chairman, Pat Lewis, guests and Trustees for a reception and the unveiling of the donors’ plaque by England’s No. 1 bridge player, Andrew Robson.
In the front room of the premises fifteen juniors aged 8 to 16 years arrived early in the day to commence a friendly game of duplicate bridge whilst they awaited Andrew’s arrival. The ‘maestro’ did not disappoint and spent a memorable half hour chatting with the players, whilst he advised and shared tips and jokes.
Some of the young players had been learning since the junior initiative first started in Summertown Church Hall in September 2014. Now installed in the Oxford Bridge Club, 3 or 4 tables of juniors, of mixed ability, learn and play every Sunday afternoon term time
Andrew, grew up in Oxfordshire, attended Abingdon School and played as a junior himself at local bridge clubs.