Modern Bidding at VBA

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It was a small but “select” group of teachers at the VBA on Saturday, November 11. Christopher Leach’s presence was most welcome, and the off the cuff involvement of the new VBA Manager, ex-teacher and bridge player, Andrew McCready Bryan was really stimulating too.

The topic for this Continuing Professional Development Day was Modern Competitive Bidding Methods. The group covered a whole lot of ground, but mainly the workshop focused on emphasising how important it is to develop your own judgements about hands, and that sometimes it pays to bid a whole lot with a little, and at other times, the very opposite! 


Of course the hard bit is to recognise when to do what! 

Some of the teachers had done this course before, but it was so good to hear that they’ve picked up new things the second time around. It was also great to see newly accredited teacher Stella Hammond, who showed me her smart new business card which advertises her ABF Teacher Accreditation status.

Two Over One at Coffs Harbour

Phil & Bambi Houlton, along with president Helen Blewitt, invited me to do a follow up day on Two Over One Game Force at Coffs Harbour Bridge Club, on Sunday, October 29. 

The club sponsored the day, and as usual, the atmosphere was great. The club is built high up in the trees and has a lovely outlook.

The catering was good too, and I was so pleased to see a variety of ages and experiences coming along to learn something new!

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Two over One (2/1) is the system to play, as it makes the less effective parts of Standard a lot easier and much clearer.

I’m hoping the players will persevere with 2/1. I know Phil & Bambi will be there to deal with any queries. Whenever one learns something new, one must expect to make some mistakes while perfecting things. So, keep it up!    

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Entries at Toowong

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The topic of Entries is a fascinating one, and there were young and old players at Toowong Bridge Club on Saturday, October 28 to hear about how to cross from one hand to the other.

ABF Accredited teacher Sue Eix is always helping in the wings, and with Margaret Prentice, they organise the teaching programme so well at this club. 

I was thrilled to have some newer keen players there too. They are on their way to becoming champs I think! 

Doubling up at Peninsula

How exciting to walk into my favourite club in Sydney to see a record number of players coming along for a lesson on Doubles! A number of them are on the Online School of Bridge too, so I was able to meet some new Gold members! A double thrill.

Talking about Doubles at Peninsula Bridge Club.

Talking about Doubles at Peninsula Bridge Club.

Susan Jensen had done a marvellous job of organising the afternoon, and followed it up with a delicious spread at hers before we went back for the Swiss Pairs that night. 

I talked to the evening group about the power of preempts, and they certainly took it on board, unleashing some beauties! I really enjoyed playing with David Farmer, who is another tireless worker for the club.

Workshop attendee Terry Herfort wrote a lovely report about the session - including his key takeaways from the workshop. 

"Once Joan gauged the standard of her audience - which were mainly novices and intermediate players - she pitched her presentation solely to takeout doubles," Terry wrote.  

"In my observation of playing bridge over the last eighteen months, the takeout double is underutilised. 

"Joan confirmed this and explained that a takeout double is a very valuable bid to have in your armoury, especially when your pesky opposition open the bidding and you have an opening hand with shortage in their suit.

"So in summary, a most worthwhile session, and excellent value for the $12 outlay. I look forward to Joan's next workshop." 

You can read Terry's full report, including his key points on the Peninsula Bridge Club website

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Peninsula Bridge Club on Sydney’s Northern beaches has boomed over the past five years, so that they are now the fourth largest club in NSW. Their president and teaching team work so well with the players that it’s no surprise to hear this. 

Thanks for having me again Peninsula!

Playing in paradise: Our bridge holiday in Fiji

Our bridge holiday to the InterContinental Fiji in September made me feel that I was either  IN paradise for a week, or at least on the set of "South Pacific", or “Death In Paradise” (sans the death!)


There were nine players, Ann Roberts, Marg Lockyer, and Val Curry from Brisbane, Carol Borella from Deniliquin, Jo Prime from Geelong, Marg Cole and Mary Raftery from the Kiama area, and Ann Caulfield from Melbourne, so we played teams every day, after two lessons with me.    


The (almost) one-on-one set up gave me a good chance to answer extra questions and check what everyone was up to with their bridge.

Ann Roberts, leading player from the club in Brisbane, was a huge help, as she’d grown up in Fiji. She recounted interesting stories of times past (often to the accompaniment of Fijian drummers) when we met for a drink after our lessons and games. 


The Fijians are the gentlest and most friendly race one could imagine, always smiling, and the service we received was second to none. We were greeted with “Bula” everywhere we went.

So at the end of the week I think everyone would agree that we were feeling better as a result of our stay. 

So, "Vinaka Vakalevu" to you Fiji, and to Fay from Travel Phase for finding this perfect spot for us to play!


Accredited Teacher: Birgitt Bingham

Birgitt Bingham
Surfers Paradise, QLD

I started bridge in 1994 while living at Sanctuary Cove. A small group of keen golfers asked Kathy Johnson to come out to teach. I started playing in earnest around 2002  joining Tweed Bridge Club first, as my Mother played there. Around 2005, I began to help with supervised play at Surfers Paradise Bridge Club. 

When the club was looking for a new teacher, I was asked to fill the gap. Being a qualified teacher helped greatly so here I am still today. Contributing to the success of a club is most rewarding.  I enjoy the challenge of the game, the constant and continual learning, the friendships which develop and the joy on the faces of learners when a concept is grasped.

For 10 years I lived and worked in many  exotic countries, putting my hand to a variety of occupations here and overseas.  I speak several languages which helps when I am directing and teaching bridge on cruise ships.

Accredited Teacher: Noel Daniel

Noel Daniel
City of Melville Bridge Club, WA

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How did you discover bridge?
I played bridge as a teenager with my parents and family at home. It was Rubber Bridge in those days. I retired at the end of 2006 and joined Melville Bridge Club and started playing bridge in 2007.

Why did you decide to become a bridge teacher? 
After playing bridge for four years, I started conducting Supervised Sessions at MBC and became a Director. My passion and interest in the game, led me to read a lot of books on bridge and do a lot of Bridge courses to improve my own knowledge and skills in the game. I later started teaching bridge at the Club.

What do you enjoy most about playing/teaching Bridge? 
I enjoy the mental stimulation, bidding and playing of challenging hands and making contracts in the game of bridge. In teaching bridge I enjoy promoting the game to new comers and teaching them the simple and basic rules of accurate bidding andcard play.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you?
Besides being a Bridge Addict, I like to cook!

Accredited Teacher: Vickie Busteed

Vickie Busteed
Peninsula Bridge Club

How did you discover bridge?
I always knew I wanted to learn when I stopped working full time. I started playing at Grand Slam Double Bay in 1999.

Why did you decide to become a bridge teacher? 
About four years ago when the Peninsula Club supported a focus on growing the club through education. Cath Whiddon was also very encouraging and supportive.

What do you enjoy most about playing/teaching Bridge? 
I love teaching people who are keen and excited to learn a new skill. Bridge keeps your mind active, solving problems and is social.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you?
I am very interested in politics and world news.

Alice Springs - A Festival of Fun Characters

It was a real experience for me to fly out to this extraordinary place, and meet the bridge players there. Phil Hassall and Eileen Boocock had organised four workshops for the club members. 

It wasn't so much the bridge that was stimulating but the characters who make up the bridge community! We had dinners after the sessions and I couldn't help but be fascinated by their assertiveness, their opinions on things apart from bridge, and their  life experiences! And their fun attitudes! I was blown away by the beauty of the place, and the wonderful desert atmosphere too.   Thanks for having me!

Play bridge online at

I'm delighted to announce you can now play bridge hands online without leaving the Joan Butts Bridge website. This is a fantastic development that will allow me to incorporate more hands into my lessons and offer exclusive content, like more challenge hands, for Joan Butts Bridge members. Importantly, this change will make it easier for you to log in, register and navigate my website. 

What you need to do: 

1. Register your new account

Every player will have to set up a new account on my website in order to keep playing. Once you are signed up you will be able to play hands. You will be able to reuse the same email, password, and username with your new account if you wish.
If you experience any difficulties creating your new account or have any questions, please email 

2. Decide what to do with your existing Sky Bridge Club account

When you sign up with my new game system, you may wish to cancel your existing Sky Bridge Club account.  If you have a paid Royal Membership on Sky Bridge Club that you no longer wish to use, please be sure to cancel it or you will continue to be charged.

You can manage your account by logging into Sky Bridge Club and clicking on the My Profile link in the top right-hand corner. If you have any difficulties with your Sky Bridge Club account you can email

3. Start playing online! 

While we have worked really hard to make this transition as smooth as possible - you will have to do a couple of things to keep playing with Joan Butts Bridge.

To thank you for your patience, unlimited hands are free for all players until we are ready to launch the Online School of Bridge.

New membership plans are coming... 

Soon I will be offering three membership plans on my website. 


  • Play one hand each day
  • Access all free lessons

SILVER - $10 each month

  • Play unlimited hands
  • Access introductory lessons
  • Try exclusive Challenge Hands 

GOLD - $15 each month

  • Play unlimited hands
  • Try exclusive Challenge Hands
  • Improve your bridge with all lessons from the Joan Butts Online School of Bridge

All prices are in Australian dollars and include GST. 

Coming Soon...

I am very excited about the new Joan Butts Online School of Bridge. Gold members will be able to complete new bridge lessons each week, and access a library of lessons covering a number of topics. Lessons will include notes, videos, hands to play and more. I will have more news about this in coming weeks!

Byron at Byron Holiday

Byron at Byron Holiday

60 keen bridge players enjoyed four days of bridge lessons and games at the five star Byron at Byron Resort.  The only problem - it's over! Everyone seemed to have a great time. Hopefully the bridge programme gave you some new ideas about all three aspects of the game - bidding, play and defence.  The resort offered sensational service, always with a smile. Thank you for coming and making it an unforgettable few days.

Read More

Beginners lessons at Indooroopilly Golf Club

For the past four weeks, I have been teaching the fundamentals of bridge to a very enthusiastic, large group at the Indooroopilly Golf Club. They all have done very well! 

The lessons began as a number of members wanted to play bridge after their golf game. Everyone was really quick to take up the ideas and have the basics in place. 

I'm llooking forwards to coming back in a few weeks time to start teaching the next steps.

Something Going Right in Geelong

Two workshop at this delightful club in Victoria, were a pleasure for me to do, and here's Dot Read, the teacher who makes it all happen (with the help of husband Geoff of course), alongside some of her new students. 

Dot Read's with brother-sister combo. James & Rebecca Grapsas. These two are enjoying bridge so much that Rebecca, a lawyer with two young children. is now bringing her husband along as well. Brother James, also a lawyer, had been reading a lot about the game for a few years, and is getting it all sorted out that's for sure. I hope you go a long way with it! 

Great work Dot!