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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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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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!

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.

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.”

Accredited Teacher: Donelle Foate

Donelle Foate
Grange Bridge Club, NSW

Like many players, Donelle Foate’s first introduction to bridge was being drafted to the table by her parents to make up the numbers when someone was sick or late.

“One would hardly call it playing bridge,” Donelle says.

“I imagine that gave me some form of card sense, though. My first serious bridge was in the bridge club in Lae, Papua New Guinea  in my twenties, and then I continued when I moved back to Sydney at Lindfield, eventually becoming a Director at Gordon club in the late eighties.”

After moving to the Hunter Valley, where she planted a vineyard, Donelle was approached by local golf club members to teach bridge.

“The golf club members asked me to teach them bridge, which eventually became 6 tables at my home followed by Supervised bridge and then Open.

“Outgrowing my home, I started Grange Bridge Centre which is now 5 years old with a membership of 80.”

Donelle says her favourite part of teaching is seeing novice players developing a shared love of bridge and seeing them have fun with it.

Accredited Teacher: Christine Hadaway 

Christine Hadaway
Brisbane Water Bridge Club, NSW

“I teach and direct at Brisbane Water Bridge Club, and live in Ettalong Beach on the Central Coast. I started playing bridge by chance twenty-five years ago.

“I was playing canasta with two ladies who also played bridge, after a few hands they said to me that I was wasting my time playing canasta and that I should learn to play bridge. The next day I saw John Roberts’ ad for Bridge lessons. After the first lesson I thought this is the game for me, I was hooked.

“I began teaching bridge as I wanted to share the experience of this amazing game with others. Since retiring from being a high school teacher, I have been lucky enough to do 30 cruises teaching over 1000 people to play bridge. It has been so rewarding to see so many people enjoy playing the game.”

Accredited Teacher: Matt Raj Mal


Born and raised in Suva, Fiji I started playing card games quite early in life. Constant wet weather in Suva prevented us from outdoor activities so learning to play Trumps was one alternative.

Trumps (we called it TROOP) I discovered is played in the same format as Bridge with thirteen cards and trumps nominated by the dealer. There were a lot frustrations as we had no means to find out from partners what they held so various signals were invented. We also realised that the opposition was always aware of what we were doing but it was all in fun and nobody really minded what we were doing.

Later in life we played whist with the Diplomatic Core in Suva. They were few and needed numbers. I was happy to join in and many pleasant evenings were spent at the local bowling club, the venue.

At about that time I started taking notice of the Bridge column in the local newspaper and spent many hours analysing hands that were printed. Having the Whist and the earlier Trump experience I worked out several alternative deals and wondered why they were not bid. I was aware of the local Bridge Club but was too shy to join.

It was not until I moved to Australia over 30 years ago that I took a second and serious look at Bridge. The local club was on the first floor of my workplace I got to know some players on their way upstairs. They always stopped for a chat. I was invited to sit in on one or two occasions to see what they were doing which I readily accepted. From there on I began learning to play Bridge.

I enrolled for 8 session course and was delighted to discover that apart from some minor variations the sport was very much what I had done in the past. That was over 30 years ago.

Later on doing my exam I directed Bridge sessions at my club for some time. I also realised that I needed to do more as my passion had built up and numbers were on the decline.  What to do and where to go?

One day I read about a teaching session being held at a nearby club and decided to catch a train to find out a bit more. On arrival at the venue I was warmly welcomed by Joan Butts who was to become my teacher and mentor. The STEAM philosophy took a grip on me quite strongly and I knew that I was on the right track. That was just over three years ago.

The local 50+Leisure & Learning Centre were kind enough to give me the opportunity to start teaching. Because of the response I taught non-stop for over a year. I am still at it and having a great time teaching the great mental sport of Duplicate Bridge.

My dream is to one day gain enough support to travel and teach as many people as I can to keep Duplicate Bridge alive in the small Island nations.

Accredited Teachers: Sandra Curran and Dianne Hasler

Gunnedah Bridge Club, NSW

Our connection with Bridge began when we had introductory Bridge lessons in 2000. However it was not until after our retirements in 2007/2009 that we have been able to play competitively at the Gunnedah Bridge Club. Our Club plays two afternoons a week and we play together once a week.

The Club saw the need to recruit new members, so both having come from a teaching background (though by far not the best Club players) we volunteered to take on the Bridge Teaching role back in 2010. We were aware of the importance of the “What” as well as the “How” in course development. We completed the ABF Teachers’ Accreditation exam at that time and became members of the ABFTA network. In seeking the “What” to teach we also became aware of Joan Butts’ appointment as National Teaching Coordinator of the ABF. We feel very fortunate to have been introduced to Joan’s Modern Bridge Methods and her teaching materials, and, as a result our teaching direction has been greatly advantaged. Joan’s workshops have been invaluable with our own game continually improving. The adage “that those that teach learn” has once again been the case.

As Bridge teachers it has been a reward to see the number of new members joining the Gunnedah Bridge Club and so help our Club continue to be viable and grow in regular numbers. Most importantly our rewards are seeing our students enjoying this wonderful game of Bridge and keen to continually improve.

We offer a Beginner’s course with a follow up Improver’s course on an annual basis. We also held a session for regular club players using Joan Butts’ Modern Methods and hope to deliver more sessions in his area, in the near future.

Accredited Teacher: Sandra McBain

Glen Bridge Club, NSW

Coming from a background of Bookkeeping, Programming and Adult Computer Teaching, Bridge was a natural progression and filled the mind challenge beautifully.

Becoming a Director was a natural progression as I was hooked on the game and like to learn and play as the rules (laws) dictate for the understanding and enjoyment of all players.

Being a Director of the Glen Bridge Club and the New England Group as well as being guest Director for Tenterfield and Inverell Championships has allowed me to give back to the game from which I have received a lot of enjoyment as well as gratification by helping others.

Gaining the NSW Bridge Teaching qualification in the 90’s and now embracing the ABF Philosophy for continuity and uniformity in Teaching methods was another challenge that proved fruitful. It is a great course giving solid foundations for basic beginners to build on.

I have also enjoyed the privilege of Teaching and Running multiple level sessions on board cruise ships with a great response from students who still keep in touch. Seeing the look of enlightenment as a topic hits the spot is the greatest reward a teacher can have. I thank all my students as without them this would not be possible.

Accredited Teacher: Leslie Falla

Hawks Nest Bridge Club, NSW

I started playing bridge at university in London, spending hours in the laboratories surrounded by test tubes and chemical fragrancies.  After a break of almost 30 years I was reunited with the game in the late 80’s and started playing at affiliated clubs in Sydney.   “What system do you play” was a mysterious question!

I joined the Hawks Nest Bridge Club in 2001 and have conducted lessons at least once a year for most of the last twelve years.

The majority of lessons have been at the introduction and transition levels but there have been several classes at the intermediate and advanced.    I enjoy teaching beginners and introducing them to the pleasures of bridge.   Watching the “lights come on” when some point becomes understood, remains joyous.

Introducing bridge to as wide a cross section of our small, “mature” aged community, is equally important because that way locals benefit from the social and health aspects of a competitive mind sport.

I divide lessons equally between the introduction of new topics and mentored play with, importantly, one mentor per table.   Between lessons e-mailed questions on areas of uncertainty are positively encouraged and frequently used.   The atmosphere in the lessons is welcoming and encouraging and above all my students learn that bridge can and should be fun.

Accredited Teacher: Wendy Rissler

Maitland Bridge Club, NSW


A friend suggested I would really enjoy bridge, so I contacted Maitland Bridge Club joining lessons about six years ago.

Maitland turned out to be a friendly and supportive club. On completing the lessons I entered a supervised play session and was put with a complete stranger, Miriam Officer, who is now my closest friend.

The challenge of learning to play bridge well and the friendships I have developed over the last five years, keep me coming back week after week. You never get over the excitement of making that contract.

It is a pleasure to be able to teach new members and be able to give something back to such a dynamic club.