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.

Accredited Teachers: Malcolm & Lyn Carter

Malcolm & Lyn Carter
QLD

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

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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.

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: Barbara Conquest

Moonee Valley Bridge Club, VIC 

I grew up in a card playing family. My grandmother used to have solo evenings at her house each week. She would bring treats the next day in the form of surplus chocolates and cakes from the night before, which was a bonus for my sisters and me when we came home from school.

My parents also had card evenings on occasions and witnessing the fun that they had I learnt to expect to be playing cards in some form when I retired and I am so glad that I did start to play bridge.

I first discovered bridge about twenty years ago and I decided to become a Bridge Teacher because I feel strongly about the need for people to be able to learn bridge and fill their spare time with such a stimulating activity.

Playing bridge (and continuing to learn bridge) is mentally stimulating and socially rewarding. The most enjoyable part of teaching bridge I find is to be able to provide the information and materials which allows the "bridge beginners" to become empowered and progress to a point where they continue to play bridge in the unsupervised sessions run at the club.

Accredited Teacher: Matt Raj Mal

CENTRAL COAST LEAGUES CLUB BRIDGE CLUB, NSW

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 Teacher: Julia and Bruce Hendry

North Adelaide Community Centre Bridge Club, SA

We first started playing 40 years ago as contract bridge was played in our workplaces at lunch time. We learnt at the CWA! Many Adelaide readers will remember the teacher, Kath George. 

Then seven years ago Julia started a small, not for profit, community club auspiced by the Adelaide City Council. Council assists with purchases like tables, teaching materials, bidding boxes and boards.

Over the years to attract and keep new players we needed to provide lessons. We were unable, on the small gold coin contribution players make, to afford a tutor and so decided to do it ourselves. Bruce's retirement as a teacher coincided with the beginning of the ABF accredited program for teachers and 12 months ago we began offering a course for beginners, advertising through the local newsletter. With more confidence and with a great program and teaching resources from Joan Butts , we now offer intermediate lessons. 

We have really enjoyed seeing the rapid progress of our players through the beginner stages to intermediate and their support and enthusiasm for the club. It is also very rewarding to be able to offer a community based activity that is suitable for a wide range of ages and physical abilities. 

For ourselves as players improving our communication and bridge skills, even sticking together, is  a constant challenge. We are assisted in our own learning and play by the great team at Adelaide Bridge Centre. 

Probably most readers of this article don't realise we aren't the best players and we aren't the best teachers. We joke that we could now run a cruise course in a tinny on the Torrens. 

We have been successful because the program, teaching resources, and support from Joan Butts, has been fantastic.  

Accredited Teacher: Laurelle McDonnell

SUNNYBANK BRIDGE CLUB, QLD 

It was an overheard conversation about bridge nine years ago that prompted me to sign up to beginners' classes with my husband. 

We had three very good teachers who helped us understand the game and always showed much patience with all the inevitable questions that I had. 

When the opportunity presented itself to start a new lot of lessons, my friend June Cross and I introduced the Joan Butts Teaching method which has been a wonderful success. 

I love playing Bridge because it is stimulating and challenging and I never stop learning. 

When I am teaching the new players something, it is so satisfying when I hear them say that something has just sunk in and made sense to them.

Accredited Teacher: Deirdre Giles

REDLANDS BRIDGE CLUB, QLD
QUEENSLAND CONTRACT BRIDGE CLUB, QLD

As young children, my brother and I were taught to play many different card games at a very early age. Our Dad was a very keen card player so we became quite good at whist, solo, and Newmarket, and had even learned the basics of Acol by the age of eight.

Over the years I did make several attempts to play regularly, however bridge was put on the back burner due to school work, and later, family and work commitments. I always promised myself that I would take bridge up again when I retired, which I did in 2003. Since then I’ve been playing at Redlands and QCBC. I was privileged to be made an Honorary Life Member of Redlands in 2014.

Some years ago I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit in on beginner lessons given by Joan Butts and observed Best Practice in bridge teaching.  I’ve been teaching beginners for four years now and still followJoan’s teaching methods as closely as possible. I run Supervised Play sessions following beginner lessons, and have also taught some Intermediate lessons when required.

I enjoy meeting different personalities from all walks of life, and watching their journey from struggling with the concepts of bidding and play, to when the lessons start to ‘click’, and I watch their progress through supervised play to joining our novice day, to open bridge sessions.

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.