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. The purpose of my website is to help people learn how to play simply and easily without being discouraged and then giving up.

I did not find bridge easy to learn at the start. As I struggled with it, trying to figure out how it all fit together, I believed there must be 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 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. 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. Many who write to me learned to play bridge after they retired because they had more time then. As an adult, it can be more difficult to pick up a new pastime such as bridge. It takes time and patience to learn how to play. If you can make it through the first few lessons on bidding so you can start playing the game, it will become clearer and make sense. The more you play, the more you will understand, so don’t give up!

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! I love to hear from you! It keeps me motivated to add more to my website and update it often. It’s good 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 enjoy communicating with my website visitors from all over the world. Sometimes I’m asked a question on bidding which I try to answer as best as I can. 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. My readers are wonderful! 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.) My website gets over 5,000 visitors a month and between 250-500 each day. Most of the markers on this map represent hundreds of visitors; some of them only a few. Most visitors are from the USA, Canada, UK and Australia. It seems bridge is a very popular game in those countries.

Here are my teaching methods and philosophy: With just five simplified lessons as a starting point, beginners should start to play and enjoy the game. I’ve made 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 any first hurdles, they have a much better chance of continuing with the game. It takes much time to learn this game well. 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 most of 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, revising and adding to 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 experience and 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 post bridge tips for beginners. I’ve also added the “Hand of the Week” to show difficult hands with the results so we can learn from the top players. 

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 these other puzzles as well. Playing bridge and Mah Jongg are wonderful ways to meet new friends and socialize, plus they 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 help to stimulate 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, Priscilla, sitting on my papers and being a nuisance, keeping me company as I work on my website. I thought I would show her what a good bridge hand looks like. As you can see, she is not impressed. She’s a smart kitty and she knows when she should bid 7NT!

Priscilla's dilemma


Here she is, looking at the bidding box, wondering:
“I’m hungry. Should I alert this?”

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

 

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

Warmest regards,
Marlene

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