About Me and My Website

Welcome to my website and thank you for visiting!

If you are wondering about the website’s title, let me explain that I have been, and still am, a teacher first. Long before I became a bridge player, I was a teacher. Then I became a teacher of bridge, but I’ve always been a teacher first. I would never consider myself to be an “expert” on bridge; there are many bridge teachers and authors who have much more experience and expertise than I do. I hope my website helps new bridge players learn how to play without being discouraged and giving up (as I did, twice).

I did not find bridge easy to learn. As I struggled with it and slogged through the first lessons trying to figure out how it all fit together, I believed there were better ways to teach it so it is easier to understand. That’s why I have tried to simplify the first steps for learning bridge, making it as easy to follow as possible. Even now, after many years of playing and teaching bridge, I like to keep it simple. I do use a few more conventions than what are shown on this website, but not many. Sometimes I play with partners who use 2/1 bids and I can adapt to play with them using that bidding system, too, but I am quite content to bid with Standard American Bridge rules, which is what I teach on this website. I don’t play bridge to win — I play bridge to have fun! (Winning is nice, too.)

I especially enjoy helping beginners learn the basics of playing bridge in a simple, straightforward way. I know that beginners learn better and faster, gain confidence and are less confused when the lessons are kept as clear and simple as possible. I enjoy sharing my knowledge of bridge so others can enjoy the pleasures and fun of the game.

Bridge is very intellectually stimulating and socially engaging. It’s always a challenge and it keeps me motivated to try to improve my game each time I play. That’s what I like about the game — it is never boring!

“I always win. Either I win … or I learn.” That’s my basic philosophy. I like to win, but I love to learn!

As a hobby, about ten years ago, I decided to create this website to help others learn how to play bridge. At the start, it wasn’t too much work as I posted my own lessons that I had already created for my group of beginners, with quizzes and answers. I had no idea that my website would reach so far and be valued by so many people from around the world. Every week, I am sent some appreciative messages − from beginners trying to learn on their own, from players who are “getting back into the game,” from parents who use my lessons to teach their children, from players who use it to teach their friends and social groups, and from bridge teachers, club owners and directors who use it to teach in their clubs. I especially enjoy hearing from those who have taken up bridge after they retired. It’s not an easy game to learn.

I’ve posted some of your enthusiastic and grateful comments on the right-hand sidebar, but I do not have enough space to post them all. Thank you so much! Please, don’t let that deter you from sending more positive messages. I love to hear from you! It keeps me motivated to add more to my website and update it often. It’s nice to know that my time is well spent and my work is appreciated. Most of the content on my website is free but I do charge for a few supplemental things. I often receive interesting emails about the “Hand of the Week” or other bridge topics and enjoy communicating with my website visitors from all over the world. Occasionally, my readers find a mistake, too. Some of the feedback I receive is valuable and helps me to improve my website. I appreciate that so much. I cannot remember receiving a negative comment — only positive ones or constructive criticism (sent with the intention of improving my website) and I appreciate it all! There have been a few, but very rare, occasions when someone has not been completely satisfied with a purchase and I have refunded them fully.

Here is a map that shows the locations of my website visitors who are learning to play bridge from places around the world. (Click on it to enlarge.) ATeacherFirst.com gets over 5,000 visitors a month and between 250-500 each day. Most of the pink markers on this map represent hundreds of visitors; some of them only a few. Most visitors (and those who purchase Pocket Guides) are from the USA, Canada, UK and Australia. It seems bridge is a very popular game in those countries.

My philosophy: With just five simplified lessons as a starting point, beginners can start to play and enjoy the game. I have tried to make the rules simple and easy to grasp. While watching beginners try to learn, I’ve been able to identify some areas where beginners often get bogged down and start to find it difficult. If beginners can get over the first hurdles, they have a much better chance of continuing with the game. It takes time to learn this game and you cannot learn it in a day. I have tried to be meticulous about the lessons and hope that they are clear and precise. I believe that repetition helps with learning, so I have included many examples in my quizzes. I also believe that it is important to visualize the cards as you would see them in your own hand (not just symbols on a page), and so I have incorporated graphics of realistic-looking cards into my lessons. It takes me much more time and effort to do that, but I think it is worth it. I spend a lot of time updating and revising my website, constantly trying to make it better. Sometimes I get constructive suggestions from my readers which I use to make changes and improvements.

My background: My teaching and administrative experience has spanned several countries around the world. I have taught English, information technology, computer and business subjects to students with many varying levels of ability, ages and backgrounds  — ranging from those with special needs and learning difficulties (including those challenged by learning English as a foreign language) to advanced level high school, college and university students, and adults returning to studies. I hold a Master of Education degree, several specialist certificates in teaching, and have received awards for excellence in teaching. Regarding bridge specifically, I have completed the qualifications to become an Accredited Bridge Teacher and Club Director, certified by the ACBL (American Contract Bridge League — www.acbl.org).

I have a Facebook page, too:  A Teacher First.  About once a week, I post sample hands for beginner bridge players to practice their bidding, giving my own insights and analysis. I hope you enjoy them. 

Although my website’s main focus is on bridge, I’ve also included lessons on playing Mah Jongg and solving Sudoku puzzles and cryptic crosswords, which are some of my other interests. I have noticed that those who enjoy bridge, often enjoy cryptic crosswords as well. Playing bridge and Mah Jongg are wonderful ways to meet new friends and socialize, plus these games stimulate and challenge one’s cognitive abilities. Attempting to solve Sudoku puzzles and cryptic crosswords, though more solitary than the other two, can provide many hours of personal amusement and satisfaction and are good for stimulating the brain, as well.

If you do have a comment, a suggestion, or a question, please email me at info@ateacherfirst.com.

Below, you will see our kitty sitting on my papers and being a nuisance, so I thought I would show her what a good bridge hand looks like. She’s a smart kitty and she knows when she can bid 7NT!

Priscilla's dilemma


“I’m hungry. Should I alert this?”

When I’m not playing bridge, I like to travel. Sometimes I travel AND play bridge.

San Francisco

Wishing you good hands and best of luck in learning and playing bridge!

Warmest regards,
Marlene

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