Until recently in Britain Bridge has been slightly regarded as a card game for the retired and something that one’s parents played. Enter Andrew Robson OBE, world Individual Silver Medallist, former World and European Champion, now Britain’s leading Bridge player, distinguished and writer of 34 Bridge books; his famous daily column in the Times is read by professionals and enthusiasts worldwide. Robson started teaching in 1995, now he runs two successful very trendy Bridge Schools in Fulham and Notting Hill, he specialises in teaching Bridge from absolute scratch; his schools have introduced thousands of new players, including young yummy mummies and children, to the game he is passionate about and now his clubs have 3000+ members.
Bridge evolved from Russian Whist, called Biritch, through the late C19th and early C20th Bridge developed to include scoring innovations from the American Harold Stirling Vanderbilt to form the ultimate mind and social game that it is today.
Robson for the purpose of teaching, now it becomes apparent he has X-ray eyes and eyes in the back of his head as he can see instantaneously which of us has dealt a faulty hand.
This reporter was fortunate enough to be invited to a day long introductory session for absolute beginners that Robson had generously given to a friend as a birthday present. Eight tables for four were all accessorised with the Bridge accoutrements and Robson’s notes for beginners, all the married couples, bar two, chose to play as partners. Lesson one: some rules and how to count points and how to notice the shape of your hand, understanding bidding and tricks, OK, we thought…Lesson two: playing and scoring, Robson has such a charismatic way of explaining this everyone felt they could grasp it…Lesson three: introducing Notrumps and how to communicate with your partner,hmmm. Lesson four: when to play like a tortoise or a hare, better not to get these the wrong way around! Exhausted everyone retired for lunch and discuss how well, or not, they had assimilated the game and instructions so far, all of us queueing to parley with Robson who in his superbly relaxed manner foundthe patience to explain to and encourage everyone.
Back to the tables for duplicate Bridge, whereby every table plays with same hands, the consecutive hands have been ingeniously designed by Robson for the purpose of teaching, now it becomes apparent he has X-ray eyes and eyes in the back of his head as he can see instantaneously which of us has dealt a faulty hand. The game continues with vastly different results from each table, Robson analyses our decisions, mistakes and various outcomes. During the next four lessons we learned the mental dexterity and concentration necessary even to be a Bridge beginner; we completed eight lessons in six hours which are usually spread over the course of a few weeks and our brains ached, Robson remained as fresh and charming as a daisy and bid us to practise at home. Since the condensed marathon lesson, this reporter and her husband have humbly played Kitchen Bridge several times and each time have more appreciated the skill and satisfaction of the game. Forget Sudoku, to keep your brain cells alert Bridge is the way to go.