If you know anyone in the Canterbury area who might wish to learn to play or improve their bridge, do let them know about us.
The English Bridge Union developed this new course in 2017 with the express aim of getting new players quickly into playing competitive duplicate bridge. Prior to this, traditional courses for beginners were of 30 weekly lessons of 2 hours spread across an academic year. Condensing the programme has resulted in a course that is intensive, challenging and not for the faint hearted. It requires no previous card playing experience, although that would help, and little more than the ability to count and to be able to mentally focus for a few minutes at a time.
The class size is small, just four, so that the teacher can give fullest support and attention to each student and make sure that no-one gets left behind. The courses are arranged for dates which are mutually convenient to all four students, and the teacher. The course is spread across two weekends, preferably consecutive. The first lesson, of 2 hours, is held on a Friday evening followed by two full days on Saturday and Sunday, from 9.30 to about 5pm. The whole routine is then repeated for the second weekend. There are 2 hours allocated for each lesson, beginning with an introduction to each new topic which is then followed by a period of play. Prepared hands are used which exemplify the topic of the lesson. Throughout the day there are regular and frequent opportunities for breaks and refreshment and a proper lunch is provided at mid-day.
The standard EBU text book is included and the course very much follows the format of the text so that revision is made more easy. There is little imperative need for note-taking other than perhaps the underlining or highlighting parts of the text.
It is not the aim of the course to do more than give a comprehensive outline of the basic Standard English Acol system, sufficient to enable each student to immediately progress with confidence into a gentle competitive session of duplicate bridge, such as may be found in any one of a number of local Learn & Play groups. There, the learning process can be continued as students acquire more experience of the game.
This is a course that works. It is challenging but it is not exhausting. All previous students have been able to take part in a session of duplicate immediately following completion of the course.
The fee for the course is £200.
Competitive Duplicate Bridge provides the best environment in which students may continue and develop their learning process. Playing with other beginners who are expecting and therefore more forgiving of mistakes. No-one pretends to be an expert and all recognise that they are there seeking to improve and to gain experience. This is a far better place to learn than simply playing with family or friends, although there is no reason why this should not be done as well.
There are a number of local venues where beginners are welcome:
Lower Hardres Monday evenings
U3A Dunkirk Wednesday morning or afternoon
Folkestone BC Monday evenings
Littlebourne Sunday afternoons
Swalecliffe Wednesday evening
This is not to say that beginners are unwelcome at any of the local clubs frequented by more experienced players.
From June onwards, my own Learn & Play Group at Lower Hardres will continue under the guidance of Roger Markwick.
Supervised play sessions may be arranged for small groups (of four or eight) on specific topics upon request, playing either prepared or random hands.
Short courses of four weekly lessons may be arranged from time to time upon specific topics designed to expand and develop students' knowledge and experience.