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How to handle "anxious" newcomers?

Despite living in NJ, our area did not have any bridge clubs until I started a small one last year to bring together some small clusters of players.  We officially play once a week and average anywhere from 5 to 9 tables in a given week, but due to very low overhead it keeps us alive and happy.  I don't think anybody is even a Life Master yet.  Despite the positive reviews from members, we haven't had a single new player join since we started the club last fall. That, we are trying to work on, but that's more of a call for help for another day.

So fast forward to the issue that came up recently, which I'd ask your opinion on. Yes, I'm being a bit long-winded, but try to stay with me.

I have a group of ladies that I give lessons to once a week. It's the type of group where, despite repeating the same thing over and over and over again for months, they still don't understand that 1H-1S (Standard American bidding) is an unlimited bid, whereas 1H-2H is a limited bid. Many of them don't remember that 2NT as a response is different than 2NT as an opener, despite taking lessons from me for at least a year now. Trust me, others have become very good players, so it's not my teaching, which I do try to differentiate, based on the people attending.

Anyway, we are sitting there, having an enjoyable time with the lesson, when one lady says, "John, if somebody overbids to try to get a better score, I would call the director. That's cheating and I don't think it's fair to play that way." I tried to explain the difference and legalities of psych bids and stretching of bids and convention cards to no avail, and I have explained so many times that going down one might be better in some circumstances than letting the opponents make a contract.

This group of eight or so ladies started playing at the sanctioned game when we started the club, but have since stopped coming, citing that the game is "too intense." These ladies would rather play kitchen bridge without tracking scoring. They would rather be in a 2C contract making making 5 than a 3NT contract making 3 (on the same hand), because it makes them feel better about themselves that they made so many tricks. They feel demoralized when they lose (I'd say they average anywhere from 30-37% per game).

So one of those ladies, who is on the board of our group, asked me to start a separate newcomer game for their group (at the same time the regular game gets played) so they could play just players at their level.  It's not about earning points, because more than half of our club does not belong to the ACBL (including all of these players that I'm referring to).  We are just trying to promote the game of sanctioned duplicate in our area, in hopes that people become more serious about duplicate bridge as opposed to just kitchen bridge.

1.) Should I start a newcomer section?  I have no problem starting one to help out the new players feel more comfortable.  I just don't know if this would help them, since we would still be keeping score, and somebody is still going to lose.  This group of ladies plays in non-sanctioned kitchen bridge type settings a couple times a week, so starting a session on another day isn't helpful for this situation.

2.) How would I break apart who is eligible to play that game and who isn't?  I can call it a 0-5 or 0-20 game, but there are so many players at our club who would be eligible to play in that game that it wouldn't help things out because we have some very good newcomers at our club as well.  It's like they want to have a limited game limited mostly just to players they want to play with, which isn't in the spirit of the game.

3.) Do you ever come to the point with people where you tell them "maybe this isn't the game for you?"  I'm a very positive person and want to grow the game, so I don't want to, but sometimes dealing with a group like this makes me doubt my own teaching/directing abilities at times.

4.) How do you get new players (ones who take lessons but haven't started playing sanctioned) to give it a try?  We keep trying to push the fact that you aren't going to get better until you try, but anxiety is a real issue.  Some players also just don't like competition, even when the environment itself is friendly.

5.) Any other words of advice for dealing with players like this?

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