Christmas break up at JoJos

What a great Christmas break up party we had at the new JoJo’s on Monday!  


Maria had gone to so much trouble organising the day, and I was blown away by the generosity of Stefan and his partner Rose. 

There was a gorgeous beach bag gift for everyone (I'll be using mine to carry sets of bridge boards!) and inside were various beauty products. THANKS!

There was a lovely menu of our lunch at each place setting, and the food was superb! The tables looked grand too, with modern Christmas decorations all along the length of each long table. 

The whole place looks like a divine Mediterranean holiday palace, with a whole retail section for gorgeous gifts, clothes and furniture! 

It was just, wow…

Thanks to all you wonderful Monday bridge players for the support you’ve shown Martin and me during 2017. 

We’re restarting on Monday January 15th, so have a good break for Christmas. 


A Christmas Gift Guide for Bridge Players


Christmas is coming and to help you find the perfect present for bridge fans, we have pulled together this Christmas Gift Guide. 

Gift Vouchers 

Give the gift of gold membership. Joan Butts Bridge Gold Members can play unlimited hands and exclusive challenge hands online. They also have access to the Joan Butts Online School of Bridge. 

The Online School of Bridge is a place to learn, practise and develop new skills to use at the bridge table. This course has been specially designed to help you improve, and calls on Joan Butts' many years of experience as a bridge teacher. 

Beginners or Intermediate Course

The perfect gift for Brisbane residents looking to improve their bridge skills. 

This gift voucher covers a course of Beginner or Intermediate lessons with Joan Butts. The courses are four, weekly lessons offered at the Joan Butts Bridge Centre in Albion, Queensland. 

In addition to the course, this voucher covers 30 days of gold membership. Joan Butts Bridge Gold Members can play unlimited hands and exclusive challenge hands online. They also have access to the Joan Butts Online School of Bridge. 

Beginners Books

Gifts for the Intermediate to Advanced Player


Help your partner or loved ones add some new skills to their repertoire with these books for intermediate to advanced players. 

Two Over One at Queensland Contract Bridge Club

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Most of the teachers who attended Saturday's Teacher Training Program stayed on for the second day to complete one of four Continuing Professional Development Days offered by the Australian Bridge Federation.  CPD Days are more content-based than “how to", although the methods used are always the same, following the STEAM principles. 

There’s no need for players or teachers to feel that 2/1 is hard, or that it means learning a totally new system. The best way to present it is to show where it “fixes” weak parts of Standard, and what the benefits are.

Even beginners are able to learn 2/1, so let’s embrace it! 

Teacher Training at QCBC

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Four tables of teachers or teachers-to-be gathered at QCBC in Brisbane for the first day of the Education programme that has been running in Queensland for 10+ years. The Teacher Training Program Day is mandatory for any teachers looking to obtain their ABF Teacher Accreditation.

Some had done the course (Methodology of Teaching - how to teach) before, but they commented that they picked up different things this time around. In fact, the first time you complete the Teacher Training Program, you’re likely to not absorb it all, as there’s a lot of ground covered in the STEAM principles. That’s S = Student Safety, T = Timing, E = Energy, A =Attitude, M = Materials and Methods. These are proven successful areas to focus to improve teaching. 

Teachers hailed from Mt Tamborine, Kenmore, Arana, Tableland, Dalby, Hervey Bay, Sunnybank, QCBC, Toowoomba, Toowong and Redlands. 

The Kilvo Cup

Earlier this year we lost a dear friend to cancer. Grant Kilvington, from Melbourne, was a very popular member of the Australian bridge community. He had enjoyed bridge for years –  representing Victoria often, and coaching and mentoring youth teams to gold medals in world championships. He was a true bon vivant, entertaining us many times before and after bridge events for dinner and drinks at his place, and…and… and…he was just so many things!

Greg Lewin decided to organise a bridge event (the Kilvo Cup) in memory of Grant, so he arranged an extraordinary weekend in early November at his country property (Grannes) in Victoria’s Grampians, with an organisational flair that only Greg could produce!


Laura Ginnan was the chief mastermind/director of the event, aided by Martin Doran.  She did an amazing job, producing score books with the system we were to play (Kilvo Acol and nothing else), and a huge banner with Kilvo Cup emblazoned on it, along with various photos of Grant.

Our score books were littered with Kilvo jokes, recipes and bridge quotes, and the rules were:

Oldest to play with youngest for the first match, and after that first played with last! We played for two days in eight sessions of 12 boards each time.

Six tables of players amassed and what a field it was! Australia’s top young players were there in memory of all that Grant had done for them, plus some of his oldest friends, and a few more players who wanted to be part of it.

Here’s the field:

  • Pete Hollands & Laura Ginnan
  • Justin Mill & Jane Rennie
  • Nathan Mill & Lucy Henbest
  • Max Henbest & Jamie Thompson
  • Joan Butts & Martin Doran
  • Arthur Robbins & Gary Ridgeway
  • Denise Newland & Doug Newlands
  • Gary & Sue Hollands
  • Annette Maluish & Simon Hinge
  • Greg Lewin & Geoff Chettle
  • Alli Stralow & Lauren Shiels
  • Peter Boling & John McRae

So we played for two days in a marquee specially erected for the event, and the winner of the Kilvo Cup turned out to be Arthur Robbins!

Grant’s daughter Emily and son Trevor came out to stay and to present the Kilvo Cup, amidst some fanfare and suitable celebration!

After the weekend the diehards, who didn’t have to leave,  stayed for GOULASH BRIDGE!!! That was something else! and we’re not sure who won that!

Greg’s wife Glenda has a huge project and passion called WAMA (Wildlife Art Museum of Australia) and we saw the magnificent native flora on their property and in the surrounding area. Glenda’s sister and a friend provided the most amazing food for the twenty four of us over the three/four days, and Greg & Glenda were wonderful and tireless hosts – providing almost everything for the players: endless drinks and food, garden tours, visits to their WAMA property, trips to wineries, walks in the Grampians…you name it. 

I don’t think any of us will forget the time we spent with Greg & Glenda at Grannes, in honour of Grant!


2/1 Game Forcing in Glen Innes

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What a fun group gathered at the lovely Town & Country Club (home of the Glen Bridge Club) for an ABF Continuing Professional Development Day, an Introduction to two over One Game Forcing! 

We had teachers from Inverell, Tenterfield as well as Glen Innes.

Most of the country players and teaching team were not familiar with this system, but they gave it their all, and at the end of the day were keen to take it on board. 

The beautiful roses all around, combined with the food, and the lovely country atmosphere really made the day a pleasure. After seven hours of work, neither the players nor the roses were showing signs of wilting.

Thanks to Sandra McBain, ABF Accredited teacher for organising such a lovely experience. I was delighted to receive the following feedback from Sandra after the event!

Today our club was abuzz with everyone trying 2/1. I had lots of queries and they had lots of laughs," she said. 
"I’m so pleased they took it and ran with it. One of them said that what impressed her most was is that the ABF is trying to bring them into the 21st century and helping them improve their game.”

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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!