Friday, 30 January 2009

ACOL Bridge Bidding Practice

Edit:  I wrote this post nearly 4 years ago (it's Octo 2012 as I'm writing this).  It's hard to believe just how much this site has grown in the last few years.  More amazing is how much No Fear Bridge has grown - click here to take your 2 week trial and see for yourself.

There are now, quite literally, thousands of Acol bridge practice hands on the site. There are daily hands, weekly quizzes and interactive tutorials on virtually every aspect of Acol bridge.  There is even an advancer's zone now.  A perfect way to challenge yourself!

The most popular areas of the site, remain those aimed at beginners and improvers with the daily Acol bridge practice hands being played by thousands of members.

Original Post from 2009:
Want to practice ACOL bridge bidding?  This is an exerpt from one of the many bridge bidding practice exercises on the No Fear Bridge membership site.  It's fun and interactive and the *** latest feature *** (sorry, couldn't resist the asterisks there) is audio to explain incorrect choices.
The great thing about this site is that if you choose a wrong answer you are always given a clear explanation of why the answer is wrong.  Which is a fantastic way to learn.
Here is a set of 12 mixed bidding hands selected at random from a set of 24.  Quite a few of them will require good knowledge of overcalling.

The suggested bidding uses basic Acol (Standard English) with Strong Twos, Stayman and Blackwood. No Transfers.

Can you bid them all correctly first time?!
  • Audio feedback for incorrect bids.
  • Automatically checks if hand bid correctly and removes it.
  • Incorrectly bid hands are repeated at the end of the set so you can try again and work on your weaknesses.
If you want to practice your bridge bidding, the No Fear Bridge site offers a FREE two week trial.  Try it now.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Stimulate Brain Activity - Play Bridge

The health benefits of playing bridge. In the last post I told you about a study done by Berkeley University, looking at how playing bridge can help boost the immune system and  stimulate brain activity.

I've found a US news clip, telling you about the study and interviewing bridge players. 

I guess the old adage applies - "use it or lose it".  Playing bridge is the perfect opportunity to "use it".  You don't even have to leave home - join the No Fear Bridge membership site.  Lots of interactive quizzes, hands, tutorials and help to keep your brain active and interested and help improve your bridge game.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Improve Your Immune System - Play Bridge

Joining the No Fear Bridge membership site could improve your health.  Really.  

In the last post I talked about how playing Bridge can help keep your brain active and improve your social life.  But did you know that playing bridge is a great immune system booster?  It seems the mental concentration needed to play bridge has a positive effect in boosting the  levels of key immune system blood cells.

In 2000, Professor Marian Diamond, of Berkeley University in the US, did a study to try and determine if it is possible to improve your immune system by using the dorsolateral cortex - a part of the brain which can be controlled voluntarily.  In other words, can you "think about improving your immune system"?

Playing bridge stimulates the dorsolateral cortex.  For the study, 12 women in their 70s and 80s were asked to play bridge for 90 minutes.  Then their blood was tested.  Two thirds of the women had significantly increased levels of T cells in their body.  It is the T cells that attack foreign cells in the body.  

It seems that playing bridge acts as an immune system booster, raising the levels of T cells in your body and helping you fight infection.  (It's fun too!)

What are you waiting for!!  Practice your bridge playing now.

Read the original story on the BBC website.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Learn to play bridge for a happy, healthy retirement

If you are newly retired, or due to retire, this is the perfect time to start learning bridge.

Bridge requires concentration and every game is different.  It is the perfect activity to keep your brain active.

Learning to play bridge will also guarantee you an active social life.  You will be able to join your local bridge class or club.  You will meet new people and make new friends. 

If you decide to retire to a new area, where you don't know anyone, being a bridge player is guaranteed to help you make new friends quickly.  If you are single you will find yourself in great demand as a bridge partner.

Not only will you have an active social life, you will be able to go on holiday with your new found friends to bridge weekends/weeks/cruises across the country and around the world.  The perfect excuse to travel!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Opening the Bidding

In many ways the opening bid is the most important of the game. If you get your opening bid wrong there is nothing your partner can do to help.

How to make the correct opening bid is one of the first skills you will learn when you are a bridge beginner. It is a skill that takes practice and ----- well -----more practice!

I have found a brilliant quizz on the No Fear Bridge Membership site. There are thirteen questions (is that an unlucky number? I hope not, my opening bidding needs all the help it can get.)

Each question has a choice of four answers. If you choose the wrong answer, you will be given an explanation of why it was wrong.

You can try the quiz as many times as you like. No-one's watching you - and your computer won't count how many tries it takes to get the answers correct. Take your time and learn from your wrong answers. It isn't a competition - take as long as you need to learn.

Friday, 23 January 2009

How to play mini bridge (lesson 2)

At the end of lesson 1 on mini bridge, the person with the most points in their hand became the declarer.

The declarer's partner becomes the dummy and lays their cards on the table so that everyone can see them

Declarer now starts the bidding.  Thanks to Leigh Harding for writing this lesson on bidding for this blog.  As she says, you need to read pages 4 and 5 of her beginner's bridge leaflet.  Just sign up for the mailing list on the right of this blog and you can download the leaflet for FREE. 

(Note:  this post may not display the hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades symbols correctly if you don't have the original font installed on your computer!  I've annotated the first occurence of each symbol so you can see which symbol your computer does display for each of the suits.)


You have 8 (or more) cards in hearts or spades: 

1.  If you have an ‘8 card fit’ (this means at least 8 cards between your hand and dummy) in hearts or spades.  Choose that suit as trumps. 
(ª (hearts) or « (spades) scores 30 points per trick) 

You DON’T have 8 (or more cards in hearts or spades):

2.  Usually choose No Trumps

(NT scores 40 for the first trick and 30 for subsequent tricks)

3.  If you have an 8 card fit in clubs or diamonds, choose clubs or diamonds as trumps only as a last resort.   It is normally better to play in No Trumps with an 8 card fit in clubs or diamonds unless you have a serious weakness in one of the other suits (i.e. the opponents could get a lot of tricks)

      (¨ (clubs) or © (diamonds) score only 20 per trick)


See page 4 and 5 of the booklet about scoring. (Join the mailing list to download the FREE booklet)


If your points add up to 25 or more your targets will be: 

      No Trump        9 tricks  (3NT)

      ª or «             10 tricks (4ª/4«)

      ¨ or ©             11 tricks (5¨/5¨) note because you have to make 11 tricks you really need more like 27+ points

(these are called ‘game’ contracts) 

If your points don’t add up to 25 your targets will be: 

      No Trump   7 tricks 1NT

      ª or «         7 tricks (1ª/1«)

      ¨ or ©        7 tricks (1¨/1©)

(these are called ‘part score’ contracts)

Thursday, 22 January 2009

How to Play Mini Bridge (lesson 1)

Mini bridge is a fun game for four players.  Anyone can play and it is a good game for children as it involves counting and adding up.  If you have never played bridge but want to learn, Mini Bridge is a good way to start.

The players sit around a table. There are two pairs of players, known as partners.  Each player sits opposite their partner.  For ease of reference the four players are called by the points of the compass, North, South, East and West.  North and South are partners and sit opposite each other, similarly for East and West. 
Deal all the cards - each player should have 13 cards in their hands.  Each player sorts their cards into suits (hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs).  To make it easy to read the cards, sort them into a red suit, then a black suit, then a red suit, then a black suit.

Next add up the points value of your hand.  4 points for each ace, 3 points for each king, 2 points for each queen and 1 point for each jack.  Starting with the dealer, and working clockwise around the table, each player announces the number of points in their hand.  The total should add up to fourty.  If it doesn't - count again!!

Now add the value of your hand to that of your partner.  The pair with the highest point score becomes the declaring side.  If both pairs have a total of 20 points then deal the cards again.

The person with the most points in the declaring side becomes the declarer and their partner becomes the dummy.  (If both partners have the same number of points, then the person who announced their score first becomes the declarer.)

If you can't wait for lesson 2 - sign up to the mailing list on the right of this blog and download  the FREE beginner's bridge notes, which contain instructions for playing mini bridge.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Learn to Play Bridge on a Bridge Holiday

A great way of starting to learn to play bridge is to book a bridge holiday.  Don't worry, there are bridge holidays for complete beginners.  You won't be alone - everyone will be a beginner and you can learn in a fun, relaxed way and enjoy a well earned holiday at the same time.

You will find these holidays set in beautiful, historic locations throughout the UK.

Whilst writing this entry I found beginner's bridge holidays at a variety of venues.  Here are a few to help get you started.

HF Holidays - offer 4 night breaks in a variety of picturesque locations, including the Cotswolds and Northumberland.

Earnley Councourse near Chichester in W Sussex

Marlborough College Summer School - in glorious Wiltshire

Crantock Bay Hotel by the sea in Cornwall

These place are in no particular order, and I'm sure if you search the internet you will find many more places for yourself.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Responding to one of a suit

Who wants to be a millionnaire?

Anyone can be a millionnaire on the No Fear Bridge website. The membership area has a set of fun, millionaire quizzes to help you practice your bidding.

Just answer 15 questions correctly and you can win a million points!

No need to worry if you get an answer wrong. You are given an explanation of why your answer was wrong and then you can restart the quiz.

Learn and have fun at the same time. Join today and get a completely FREE, no obligation, two week trial.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Bridge Scoring

How to work out the score at bridge is a fundamental lesson. There is no point in playing bridge, at home, at a club or in a class, if you don't know how to work out your score. Bridge is a competitive game, after all. You want to know if you've won ----- or lost.

It's one of the first things that a beginner needs to learn.

The No Fear Bridge membership site has a convenient handout that you can print out and keep. You can study it in your own time, or take it with you to your class or club so you can practice your scoring.
Like all new skills, it may seem a bit daunting at first, but with a little practice you will soon find that you remember the scoring system and won't need to use the handout anymore.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Stayman bidding

If your opening bid is 1NT your partner may want to ask if you hold 4 or more cards in one of the major suits. Sadly you can't just ask!!

Fortunately, an American bridge player called Sam Stayman developed a bidding convention which allows you to "ask" your partner that question if you need to.

The member area at No Fear Bridge allows you to choose a personalised set of on-screen flashcards. One of the topics you can choose is Stayman bidding practice.

At the time of writing this post up to 24 cards are available. Choose how many you want to work through. Each card has your hand and the bidding displayed. On the reverse you will find the bid you should make and an explanation of why.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Learn bridge bidding with the weekly bidding quiz

As a beginner I am trying to learn bridge bidding. Fortunately for me, the members' area at No Fear Bridge includes a weekly bidding quiz. I thought I'd have a try.

There are 20 questions in each week's quiz. With each question you are shown your hand, told which position you are playing and given the bidding history. It is your turn to bid and you are given 4 options.

You just use your mouse to select your answer. When you have finished you submit your answers.

The correct answers are shown. The REALLY helpful bit comes if you chose a wrong answer. You are given a clear explanation of why the answer was wrong.

This is a fantastic learning tool. It is fun and there is a weekly leaderboard. Challenge yourself to improve and make it to the top of the weekly leaderboard.

I forgot to tell you. Membership of this site costs just £3 per month, or £30 for a whole year. Be warned - you might find yourself addicted!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Learn Mini Bridge

If you've decided you want to learn to play bridge but don't know where to start - don't worry. Start by learning Mini Bridge.  Mini Bridge is a simplified version of bridge that gives you a chance to practice playing hands and counting points.  It's a fun game that all the family can play. Or invite your friends round and learn together.

All the techniques you learn will apply to the full game.  If you decide to join a class or beginner's club you will find learning Mini Bridge is a good introduction.  You will arrive at the first class or meeting with some basic knowledge to help boost your confidence.

How can you learn Mini Bridge?  The instructions are in the FREE booklet that you can download when you join our mailing list.  If you missed the pop-up box for joining, fill in the form on the side of this blog now.  We look forward to welcoming you aboard.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

No Fear Bridge

Welcome to the Blueberry Bridge blog.

Learning to play bridge can seem like a daunting prospect. All that bidding to learn and jargon to get your head round. Sometimes it seems that everyone apart from you is an "expert" bridge player. You want to join in, but where do you start?

Luckily - help is at hand. In the form of No Fear Bridge , a leading website for UK beginners and improvers.

Expert help from an experienced and highly respected bridge teacher. The site has lots of fun exercises, quizzes and advice.

If you can't find a bridge club or course close to home, or prefer to learn the basics in the privacy of your own home, No Fear Bridge is the site for you. Take a look NOW. You won't be disappointed.