Join Bridge Winners
Learn Bridge in a Day - our experience

We ran our first Learn Bridge in a Day a couple of weeks ago. I thought I'd give you my opinions on how it went.

First, we spent money advertising in two or three local publications that cater to local seniors. This cost around $700, the ACBL will give us back half of that. Only one person came by way of the ads. Conclusion : don't advertise.

The rest of the attendees came because our players (friends and neighbors) told them about it. We got 24 attendees, who paid an average of $70. We gave discounts to ex-military, and one of our players donated money to pay the fees for the first 8 to sign up.

14 players signed up for the 8 week lessons/supervised play that followed beginning the next week, $40 each. Some did not take the first seminar, because they already knew how to play. We'd have had more, but 8 of them were snowbirds, and migrated back north for the summer, we think we'll see most of them in the fall.

Because this was our first attempt to teach the Learn Bridge in a Day program, we tried to stick to the syllabus.

What we concluded :

1. 6 hours is WAY too long.

2. Feedback from the attendees determined that the Learn Bridge in a Day program places too much emphasis on bidding "rules", minimal as they are.

We have decided that we could have taught them enough bidding to get started in 2 hours, maybe even less. Some have advocated staying away from bidding altogether, but then they are unfit to teach their friends. In the following 8 weeks, they get a 15 minute lesson (sometimes on bidding, sometimes on cardplay), then play for nearly 2 hours.

a. Of course, they bid horribly. It doesn't matter.

b. They play the cards worse. It doesn't matter.

c. They play incredibly slowly. It doesn't matter.

d. They love playing. That does matter.

We play random deals (actually deals that have been played in the past at our club, so that they can check on the internet to see what happened then). They get a handout after the game with suggested auctions, and some help in card play. During the game, the helpers try to explain what this or that bid or play might accomplish. Poor players make better helpers than skilled players. We hope that as things occur, and are explained, that they will slowly get a better sense of what's important, rather than having them memorize rules and mnemonics (second hand low, aces take faces, etc.). The idea is that this will introduce them to ways to solve new problems in the bidding and play as they come up, without them having to "learn" anything.

I'll let you know how it is going after the eight weeks are up, but it looks for now like we will have a continuing novice game of 3-4 tables for the foreseeable future. For comparison, our open Saturday game usually draws about six tables, Mondays and Wednesdays around 16 tables in winter, and around 12 in summer. Right now, it looks like we will run our own version of the seminar again in the fall.

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