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

Noel Daniel-Photo 2017.jpg

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.

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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! 

Accredited Teachers: Malcolm & Lyn Carter

Malcolm & Lyn Carter

For Malcolm and Lyn Carter the Queensland Contract Bridge Club is their home club, but over the years they have taught bridge in a variety of places, including on many cruise ships.

Malcolm started playing at the age of 11 when he bought a bridge book and taught himself to play where Lyn came from a bridge playing family and learnt at the age of 16 by attending lessons run by the ACT Bridge Association in Canberra.

“We have both taught bridge, off and on, for a long time, including at schools where we worked at as teachers of maths and science,” Lyn said.

The couple regularly teaches bridge on cruises and have made some good friends in the bridge world. Lyn states that the people she meets are what she enjoys most about teaching and playing bridge. This isn’t surprising when you consider how Malcolm and Lyn met. 

“We first met when my mother (Jean Read, who many might remember) introduced us whilst we were all playing at the Australian National Championships in Melbourne in 1975, not long after Malcolm arrived from England. We were married 18 months later.”

Accredited Teacher: Cecily Critchley

Cecily Critchley
Gold Coast Bridge Club, QLD


How did you discover Bridge?
Through family and friends.  I learnt to play at Queensland Contract Bridge Club (Brisbane) at the beginning of 1984 and was immediately hooked!

Why did you decide to become a Bridge Teacher?
I first taught bridge at Brisbane Bridge Centre in the 1990’s, long before I moved to the Gold Coast in 2006. Why? I love(d) teaching and love(d) the game of bridge.

What do you enjoy most about playing/teaching Bridge?
Probably the intellectual stimulation and challenge. But it also continues to fascinate me how closely the game mimics life. Probably true of most intense games and among the reasons that sports psychologists are hired to work with elite athletes, bridge and chess players.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you?
That my first university degree, before I became a psychologist (via BA, Dip Psych), was a Bachelor of Divinity, majoring in Theology (all University of Queensland).

Accredited Teacher: Lynley Jenkins

Lynley Jenkins
Gold Coast Bridge Club, QLD

How did you discover Bridge?
Through my grandparents and mother. As a family, we often played Auction Bridge at home. My mother also was a very keen club duplicate player.

Why did you decide to become a Bridge Teacher?
It just happened one day. I accepted an offer to conduct Beginners’ Lessons at Brisbane Bridge Centre back in the early 1990s. Although I had never attended Beginners’ Lessons myself, I was fortunate enough to be playing against the best players in Queensland and to have been tutored by some of Australia’s best, including Paul Lavings. I enjoyed teaching immensely and found I had a good rapport with students. I felt I had something to offer in the area, and it evolved from there.

What do you enjoy most about playing  Bridge?
I love playing bridge. I am an addicted bridge player because the challenge never ends.

What do you enjoy most about teaching Bridge?
Passing on what I have learned to those who wish to master (the impossible dream!) the great game is one important aspect. But probably the most important aspect these days is seeing friendships formed and forming friendships with my own students – many of whom are my age or older – and who are just starting their bridge careers. I love to watch those lightbulb moments. This is the most rewarding and exciting part of all!

Tell us something most people don’t know about you?
That in my late teens (1960’s) I was very involved in live theatre in Brisbane, performing in plays at Brisbane Repertory Theatre, Twelfth Night and Brisbane Arts Theatre. Many of my friends from that era are household names in the world of Australian theatre, film and TV – Barry Otto, Jack Thompson, Gerard Kennedy, Michael Caton, Judith McGrath, Rowena Wallace and (the late) Carol Burns.

Melbourne Bridge Holiday 2017

We all gathered at the Langham for the 2017 Melbourne bridge holiday… Mardi & Anne had driven across from Mt Gambier, SA, Walter & Hilary were over from Rockingham, WA, and a number of Brisbane regulars came down to enjoy that special Langham atmosphere!  How good it was to be back!

The elegant surroundings were matched only by the wonderful service we received. Gorgeous floral arrangements were everywhere, complimenting the paintings and décor. The food was terrific, from the breakfasts to the dinners.

The day group from Melbourne who joined in played in various clubs in the city. Some knew each other, some didn’t, but it didn’t really matter because we were all there to make the most of our three days. And they certainly know each other now!

The morning lessons covered bidding (three lessons) play (two) and defence (one), and I covered some new topics, ie Five Steps to Overcome Entry Problems (based on a new book by Audrey Grant), and Support Doubles and Redoubles. Also revisited some important areas of bidding, 2/1 Game Force, which I noticed more people were keen to play this time. Way to go!

The results of the games are up on my website, and masterpoints will be given for the place getters. Some “stars” were Jacqui Fardoulys & Yolanda Coroneo, John Burt & Janice Little, and Ronnie Kennedy and Catherine Armstrong.  They placed consistently. Congrats to them, and also to everyone who tried! We can’t all win. 

Our rather glamorous dinner on Saturday night was held in a private room, and we sat around an ornate wood dining table telling various stories and getting to know each other better! Because it was the Moomba Festival in Melbourne we also had fireworks to watch, which every night exploded into the sky above the Yarra.

Too soon it was time to go, but a number of people are planning to meet up for the next bridge holiday in Byron Bay, and then Sydney and finally Fiji!    


Opening Strong Hands

A question I'm often asked is, "How good does my hand have to be to open 2♣︎?"

The answer is you need to look at a few things; points of course, but quick tricks, loser count, and playing strength all contribute too. 

I’ve noticed that top players open at the one-level a lot these days, rather than 2♣︎. But when they do open 2♣, it shows a very special hand, strong in points (18+) and playing strength too.  You need aces and kings that will take tricks even if you’re defending.

So, here’s an old-fashioned formula which may help you decide.  (Remember no formula is 100% foolproof!)

Open 2♣︎ when your quick tricks are greater than your loser count.  

Here’s how to count quick tricks and losers.

Quick Tricks                          

AK = 2 quick tricks  

AQ = 1½   

A = 1    

KQx = 1   

Kx = ½


AKxxx =1 loser            

Kxxx = 2       

Qx = 2

AQx = 1

xxxx = 3

The way it works is that you don’t count more than three losers in any suit. Count one loser for each ace, king, or queen that’s missing.  Holding only one card in a suit, count one loser.


Compare these hands, both of which have three losers. Hand (1) has one heart, one diamond, and one club loser. Hand (2) has one heart and two diamond losers.

(1)   ♠ A                          

       ♥ AK10874       

       ♦ AKJ4                         

       ♣ K4                                        

(2)  ♠ void

       ♥ KQJ108765      

       ♦ QJ1097

       ♣ void

The first hand has 5 ½ quick tricks (ªA = one, ©AK = two, ¨AK = two, and §Kx  = ½ ) and 22 high card points.

It has both offensive and defensive potential. Because 5 ½ (quick tricks) is greater than 3 (losers), open 2♣, and show hearts later.

The second hand has only one quick trick (©KQ) and only nine high card points. You could take ten tricks by yourself if allowed to play in hearts, but you have no sure defensive tricks if the opponents compete in spades or clubs. Because ½ a quick trick is less than three losers, open 1♥ or 4♥ rather than 2§, and try to buy the contract at a suitable level. 

Accredited Teacher: Susan Falkingham

Peninsula Bridge Club, NSW

It didn’t take long for Susan Falkingham to get hooked on bridge. The Peninsula Bridge Club teacher said from the beginning she would have been playing bridge “every day of the week except for that pesky need to have a job interfering”.

Susan now teaches beginners, takes supervised play and directs at Peninsula Bridge Club at Warriewood.

“I also run the bridge sessions at Warringah Bowling Club and Harbord Diggers Club. I have done casual directing at a number of clubs. Bridge is now my career and I love it,” she said.

Susan credits her terrific first teacher Catherine Collins with getting her addicted to bridge. 

“Within a couple of years, I found myself more interested in what was going on in the room and how the movements were set up.  I completed the director’s exam and then under the mentoring of John McIlraith have been directing for the last few years as well.”

Susan became involved in the Bridge Education program at the Peninsula Bridge Club under the stewardship of Cath Whiddon.

“I love teaching, I love my supervised groups, and occasionally I even play with my long suffering bridge partner Dot,” she said.

“What I love most about teaching is when I see people I have taught playing in sessions, enjoying themselves and with a thirst to improve and learn more.  

“I get a buzz to think I helped them find that enjoyment.  I also play golf, so I am fortunate to have two great activities in my life.”