Teaching New Tricks: Meet the NT Bridge Club
By Alex J. Coyne © 2019 Great Bridge Links
New Tricks Bridge features in-depth tutorials, and the New Tricks Tournament Series, featuring eight of the world’s best bridge players, battling it out for individual glory.
New Tricks Bridge is one of the new kids on the block when it comes to bridge instruction, and the project hopes to get some fresh blood sitting around the bridge tables.
“The age profile of the game, especially in the UK and US, can be a potential disaster for it.” says Sue Johnson from New Tricks Bridge.
So far, they’ve sent out some brief notes for the UK educational press that brings them up to speed on why bridge is the game to play, and their respective Tournament and Tutorial bridge series’ on YouTube is growing in hits.
Here’s what Johnson had to say about New Tricks Bridge and how they’re planning a resurrection of old-school bridge TV programs converted for the game’s coming boom.
What’s New Tricks Bridge ?
“New Tricks Bridge aims to provide great online bridge resources for beginners and experienced players.”
It’s not an online playing platform or an app. Instead, New Tricks Bridge has created a unique video series to teach players some new tricks.
Johnson says they have no plans to offer a playing platform, but there’s a lot more planned for their video series – and technically, they’re not a club in the traditional sense. “It’s just the word ‘Club’ in the domain name, otherwise we’re just New Tricks Bridge. It sounds friendly and exclusive, which is good for the beginner group.”
In future, Johnson says, they are looking towards putting young players in touch with other players if they don’t have a group of four to start with. A kind of ‘partnership desk.’
Plus, their tournament series acts as a Masterclass for people already familiar with the game. “Watching the experts play with informative commentary provides lots of opportunities to learn that are both entertaining and enjoyable.”
Johnson calls the tutorial series one of the best online resources available for beginners.
“It is comprehensive, really easy to follow because of the graphical illustration and completely free,” she notes, adding that complexity is added gradually, but practical thinking is done quickly so that players who want to improve faster are able to do it.
New Tricks Bridge encourages learning bridge players to play in person, but Sue also notes that restricting playing to offline and only once a week can be a slower way to learn with a lot of opportunity to forget essential concepts. “We also show them how to play and practice online.”
The Tournament and Tutorial Series’: Masterclasses in Bridge
The tournament series is what caught our attention. It’s like Playing Bridge with Shaw Taylor or Masterbridge, but transposed into a new dawn and helped along with technology.
“The tournament series will be 14 episodes in all, each of which will, like the first one, feature two hands being played at two tables and an interview or discussion at the end of the episode.”
Johnson explains that viewers will get to know the players better as the series continues with a champion of the series at the end.
“The tutorial series will feature a bunch more videos before we introduce bidding; hand evaluation, taking more tricks and defence techniques,” says Johnson. “It’s our belief that a better understanding of the game acquired through play is the basis for better bridge.”
From there, the tutorial series will have videos that gradually introduce more complex bridge aspects together with interactive quizzes on every module. With this, they’re planning an additional section for learners to ask anything they need to know.
Then we will have videos about bidding and gradually introduce more complex aspects of the game. We will have quizzes on each module to test understanding and a facility for learners to ask questions about anything they don’t understand
New Tricks Bridge hopes to launch another bridge tournament series next year in addition to bringing the project to the attention of bridge players, educators and schools.
Founding the New Tricks Bridge Club
“Steve Root and I were talking about how enjoyable the old Masterbridge series (from UK television in the 1980s) would be if it had good graphics so viewers could follow the play more easily, ” Johnson explains.
This led to the decision to create a modernized bridge series available on YouTube.
Some of the tournament series is already available for viewing; Johnson says that one of the future ideas is to send the series over to schools to see how they would do. “How well do kids learn with supervision by a bridge player versus supervision by a non-bridge player?”
This is essential for schools and educators who would like to introduce bridge in schools, colleges and classes but don’t have the bridge-related background and don’t know their own way around the game.
The Expert Touch
“At the moment, me, Steve Root and our video creator Dermot Hunt are part of the initiative. Shahzaad Natt has also helped out with some of the content, ” notes Johnson.
Of course, she takes a moment to also thank their wonderful expert players and commentators. “We’re extremely grateful for them and they have been fantastic!”
Johnson says their enthusiasm about the project has been both wonderful and encouraging. All of the experts part of the NTBC so far are ones that want to attract new players to the game – and contribute their time to do it.
Longer term, experts might be available more – and be able to post hands on the website, contribute ideas for new videos and answering questions directly from the learners.
“They all offered to give their time, as did our fantastic commentators David Burn and Marusa Gold: We cannot thank them enough, and we could never have done this otherwise.”
Find New Tricks Bridge Club Here