Stage 1: Comprises of six lessons, taking beginners from nothing to being able to play competitively at the table. We strongly encourage all beginners to follow these six lessons.
Lesson 1 [1/11/07]: As an introduction we will see that a bridge hand comprises of the structure:
DEAL -> BIDDING/CONTRACT -> CARD-PLAY/TRICKS -> RESULT.
We will play a small tournament using the idea of duplication to indicate that bridge is a game of skill, not luck. The question is: How can results be improved? Naturally the answer lies in increasing our knowledge of bidding and card-play. We will build up these two notions in the coming weeks, but first we need to begin with a better idea of hand evaluation: high card points. We will end our lesson trying to find the link between the number of points a pair holds and the number of tricks they expect to make. This will serve as the foundation to all the bidding that will come.
Lesson 2 [8/11/07]: We begin with our bidding system by defining the 3NT game, the 1NT open and simple NT responses. For the card play we will learn the notion of establishing long suits.
Lesson 3 [15/11/07]: We will play hands which based on the bidding knowledge we have so far will be played in 3NT. We will replay these same hands in a major suit fit and observe that in principle we make more tricks. We define the 4M game and hence see that 4M is a better game contract than 3NT in terms of safety. In the bidding we will learn the 1M open and support responses. In the card play we will learn ruffing with the short suit. We will also learn how to score up the hand as well as understanding the principles of scoring in a pairs tournament.
Lesson 4 [22/11/07]: We will learn the 1m opens, 1M responses and support rebids. In the card play we will see the notion of impasse/expasse. This will complete the basic notions of card-play.
Lesson 5 [29/11/07]: We will learn the NT responses and the basic idea of non-support rebidding (reverses not included).
Lesson 6 [6/12/07]: We will learn the idea of simple overcalls being considered as competitive opens. Doubles will be treated as penalty. The notions of compensation and voluntary bidding will also be looked at. We will also mention vulnerability. This completes the basic notions of bidding.
Stage 2: Once we are comfortable with the basic bidding of stage 1, we can move on to the stage 2 lessons. These are meant to further improve our bidding and card-play, preparing us to enter into the world of competitive bridge. The dates and the order of the lessons will be discussed together closer to the time.
Stayman and Transfers: In the basic bidding we have no structure over a 1NT open. Here we discuss two popular conventions that aid us in finding the major games when the open was 1NT.
Reverses and Jump-Shifts: In the basic bidding when we consider the general rebidding technique, we put ease of use over bridge logic. To tighten our knowledge we have to consider the notions of reverse and jump-shift and we will discuss how we need to adapt our system accordingly.
Slam Bidding (Blackwood and Control Bidding): Basic bidding puts an emphasis only on finding games. Sometimes we are dealt enough points to consider playing in a slam. In this lesson we see how we can improve our bidding to include slams on the radar. Further we will see two conventions to further aid us in separating the good slams from bad slams.
Strong Opens (only after Slam Bidding): Consider holding a hand so strong that we are afraid of partner passing even though there could be enough points combined for game. In these circumstances we need to improve our opening bidding to include the 2C, 2D and 2NT as opening bids.
Take-Out Doubles (only after Strong Opens): Similar to the lesson on strong opens, we could find ourselves holding an overcalling hand so strong that we are afraid of partner passing even though there could be enough points combined for game. In these circumstances we need to update our overcalling bidding to include the notion of the take-out double. We will also see how this tool can also be used in many further competitive positions.
Defensive Signalling: Much can be gained by improving our defence, in particular through signalling. We will discuss how, and when, to make a signal such such as count, suit preference and attitude.
Pre-emptive Bidding: Sometimes we are dealt hands which are weak on points yet long on trumps. We will learn how to bid such hands, how to deal with them constructively as well as destructively. Further we will look at how best to comptete against such bidding.
Fourth Suit Forcing and New Minor Forcing: These are two conventions that aid greatly in finding the correct game contract particularly when the open-response-rebid has yet to establish a fit.
Protective Bidding: If you are in a position whereby by passing ends the bidding then we say you are in a protective position. Here we will discuss what one needs to keep the bidding alive.
2-Suited Overcalls: In the basic system we see that overcalling can cause the opposition many problems, particularly when we find a fit. Naturally enough, if you hold two suits then the possibility of finding a fit increases. Here we discuss how we can overcall and show two suits at the same time. Further we will discuss how we can counter this interference when the opposition also bid showing two suited hands.
Team Bridge: In the Stage 1 we only considered pairs bridge. But if there are only two tables it is better to consider playing as a team of four, against four: each hand is only played twice. In teams bridge, the method of scoring is slightly different. We will learn this and discuss the tactical consequences that arise in the bidding.
Safety Plays (only after Team Bridge): Playing teams bridge also introduces a tactical consequence in the card-play, the safety play: the idea of better securing the contract at the cost of giving up overtricks.