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Bath Bridge School


See latest dates for more info of courses

Urchfont Manor
A full list of all courses at Urchfont Manor including:
     Absolute  Beginners
     Bridge For New Players
     Bridge Weekend
     Brush Up Your Bridge

Master Classes
A full list of all Master Class courses including:
Find out about private tuition here
Conventions, Bridge Teasers, Online Bridge Tools and Bridge Humour
A series of presentations designed for teachers to utilise, and for students to use for self taught learning
Links to other sites


Forthcoming Course Information

Some more information about courses listed on the homepage appears below.

Brush Up Your Bidding 


This course is designed for players who have successfully completed a beginners’ course and also those who already have a basic knowledge of the game (perhaps gained some time ago) and want to become adept in the standard bidding methods in use in England today. 

The course expands on the methods taught by the English Bridge Union and in addition introduces some improvements to the basic Modern English system such as Transfer responses to One No Trump. 

The 1NT opening and responses (including Stayman and transfers) 

  • Requirements for a 1NT opening bid
  • When to avoid a 1NT opening bid
  • Responding on balanced and unbalanced hands
  • The Stayman 2 response and development of the auction
  • Transfer responses

The opening bid of 1 of a suit

  • Opening balanced hands too strong for 1NT
  • What values are needed to open? The Rule of 20
  • Opening on two-suited hands - which suit to open
  • How to open on 4-4-4-1 hands

The first response to partner’s opening bid of 1 of a suit 

  • The negative response: “pass”
  • Raising partner’s suit
  • Responses in no trumps
  • Responding in a new suit
  • The jump shift response

Opener’s rebid 

  • Rebidding on balanced hands
  • Opener rebids his suit - simple and jump rebids
  • Opener raises responder’s suit
  • The rebid after opener’s suit is raised - trial bids
  • Opener bids a new suit. The Reverse and other strong rebids

Responder’s second bid (1) 

  • Opener has rebid in no trumps
  • Exploring the options - finding a major suit fit
  • Opener has raised responder’s suit response
  • Opener has rebid his suit - including jump rebids by opener

Responder’s second bid (2) - Fourth Suit Forcing 

  • Opener rebids a new suit
  • Opener’s rebid is consistent with a minimum hand
  • Responder makes a weak bid on the second round
  • Responder makes an invitational rebid
  • Responder can bid game
  • Fourth Suit Forcing. Opener’s next bid after Fourth Suit Forcing
  • Responder’s rebid when opener has shown extra strength

Strong Two bids 

  • The opening bid of 2NT and responses: Stayman 3 and Transfers.
  • Acol 2-bids. Why are opening 2-bids forcing?
  • Responses to Acol 2-bids
  • The Acol 2 opening bid and responses

Pre-emptive bids 

  • Pre-emptive openings of 3 of a suit. The Rule of 500
  • The risks attached to opening pre-empts
  • Responding to an opening 3-bid
  • Supporting partner’s opening 3-bid
  • The opening 3NT bid and responses
  • Opening bids at the 4-level and higher

Slam bidding – Using Cue Bids and Splinter Bids 

  • Slam bidding in no trumps
  • The Art of Good Slam Bidding
  • Cue-bids - first and second round controls.
  • Splinter Bids
  • Blackwood. When is 4NT not Blackwood?
  • Gerber and the Grand Slam Force


Five-Card Majors 

Most bridge players in the U.S.A. and also in mainland Europe play bidding systems which include a requirement that an opening bid of 1 or 1 requires a 5-card (or longer) suit. This method (also standard in the Precision Club system) has in recent years become more popular amongst the top British players. 

There is no doubt that there are various advantages to knowing immediately that your partner holds at least five cards in a major suit. Supporting him in a competitive auction becomes much easier, and the opportunity to raise pre-emptively to disrupt the opponents’ bidding is frequently available. However, it is essential to understand how the bidding system needs to be modified to accommodate this method without incurring disadvantages. 

This four-week course is designed for Club players with a sound grasp of the game and will allow you to include “Five-card Majors” into your bidding system without distorting the structure when you wish to open and have no 5-card major to bid. 

Week 1:          Opening 1 or 1 - responses including the Jacoby 2NT and Splinter Bids
Week 2:          Further responses to 1
and 1: the forcing 1NT response and Bergen raises
Week 3:          Opening bids of 1
and 1: which suit to open
Week 4:          Responding to 1
and 1: Inverted Minor suit raises and the Jacoby 2NT 


Weak Two Bids and Benjaminised Acol

 Weak two-bids can be a very effective weapon in the auction, denying the opponents bidding space when they hold the balance of power. However, as well as being a useful pre-emptive bid, the Ogust method of responses and rebids will enable you to bid accurately following partner’s weak two-bid. 

Designed for players who already have a good grasp of the basics of bidding, this 4-week course will look at how weak opening two-bids can be integrated into any bidding system, whether based on Acol, 5-card majors or a strong club opening. The popular method commonly known as “Benjaminised Acol” will be examined, but also the “Three weak twos” system used extensively in America (and also on the internet) will be considered.  

In addition, defensive methods which may be employed to counter an enemy opening weak two-bid will be examined in detail.

Week 1:          The weak 2 and 2 opening bid and Ogust responses/rebids
Week 2:          The Benjamin 2
and 2 opening bids and subsequent bidding
Week 3:          “Three weak twos”: The weak 2
opening bid and bidding strong hands
Week 4:          Defence to weak two-bids: how to counter their use by the opponents


The Play of the Cards: Suit Combinations 

In order to make the most of our cards we need to be familiar with certain card combinations and the best way to play them. Although suits must be taken in the context of the entire hand, nevertheless there are right ways and wrong ways of tackling particular suit combinations. 

Even a simple technique such as the finesse is often applied incorrectly. Double and combination finesses can be used to improve the chance of success in making the required number of tricks. Also, knowing how the missing cards are likely to be divided in the defenders’ hands is important. 

The correct play of a suit that has become trumps is often critical in the success or failure of a contract. Certain combinations occur frequently and yet are still misplayed. And the trump suit may be tackled in different ways depending on how many tricks declarer can afford to lose. 

Maximise your tricks from common suit combinations and you will certainly make more contracts.


Hand Evaluation: the Losing Trick Count 

When we first learn about bidding we are taught how to calculate the strength of our hand by counting how many high card points we have – 4 for an ace, 3 for a king and so on. However, although this is usually a fair indication of the strength of our hand when we are fairly balanced, it becomes less useful when the hand has a long suit (or suits).  In particular, when we have established a good trump fit (i.e. at least an eight card fit) with partner then we sometimes need another way of working out how many tricks we might be able to make. 

The Losing Trick Count (LTC) is a way of measuring the trick taking potential of a hand without using high card points. 

However, there are many adjustments that need to be made to the basic LTC, and it can be improved further by adding the concept of Cover Cards. 

With these additional refinements the LTC allows you to calculate the total number of tricks that your partnership can take. Used correctly, this can give a more accurate assessment of the level at which you should be playing than simply counting points.

Planning the Defence: Defeat More Contracts

An important part of learning how to play bridge is realising that when you are declarer, you must plan the hand. Defenders must also plan their strategy. Here are some of the things you must ask yourself:

  • How many tricks do we need?
  • What can I deduce from partner’s lead?
  • What can I deduce from the bidding?
  • What is partner’s point count?
  • How is the play likely to go?
  • How many tricks might I make?
  • To succeed what must partner hold?

Only when you have considered all these points are you ready to make your plan to defeat the contract. As usual the steps involved will be reinforced with prepared hands for you to play.
This Masterclass will help you to plan the defence, and become a better defender


Fits & Misfits

The last Masterclass of 2008 will combine learning, with the seasonal and social

As all bridge players know the most exciting hands often turn into a misfit and a bidding nightmare. No matter how many conventions you have agreed with partner, there never seems to be a suitable bid available. Instead you must mentally shortlist the possible bids, and choose a starting point that passes the most useful message that you can think of.

Robert will start off the afternoon by giving some tips and examples. You are also invited to bring along a hand that has recently caused problems.

After the talk there will then be some challenging hands to play duplicate style, with a break for wine and seasonal refreshments.

The winning pair will receive a small prize and an engraved trophy to share over the next year.




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