About My Website

Learn to Play Bridge and Solve Puzzles

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.

Because I struggled to learn bridge, 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 play bridge to have fun, learn something, and challenge myself!

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 a decade 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 and start playing the game, it will become clearer and make sense. The more you play, the more you will understand, so never give up!

I’ve posted some of my readers’ enthusiastic and grateful comments which inspire me to continue to help others learn. 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.

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. Bridge is obviously a very popular game in those countries. It seems that South America has not yet learned about bridge!

For those who are interested, I’ll explain my educational philosophy and why I believe my teaching methods are different from most. 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 become discouraged 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. I post partnership hands for beginner bridge players to practice their bidding  and, the next day, I give my own insights and analysis. For more advanced players, I post a “Hand of the Week” to show difficult hands which I have personally played and learned from or which have been sent to me from friends. The results show what real people did and how they scored. We should try to learn from our own mistakes and successes, but why not learn from other’s experience, too? Sometimes, it’s satisfying and comforting to know that good players are not always perfect.  

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.

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

More comments from my readers:

I am a very new bridge “student” and have found your site to be incredible. Thank you. (Gainesville, Florida)

I am a bridge teacher and find your hands and quizzes so helpful to my beginners. And the added bonus — I learn a lot while doing it. A win-win! (Rowayton, Connecticut)

I have found your explanations and practice hands extremely helpful. Thanks so much. (Oberon, NSW, Australia)

First, may I say how helpful your website and FB page have been to me and my fellow learners as we struggle together to learn this wonderful, but endlessly complex game of bridge! (Bridgewater, Nova Scotia)

First – I love your site – your lessons are so simple and easy to understand – thank you! (Franklin, Tennessee)

I am SO happy I discovered your website. It is the best option I have found so far. Clear and complete. Thanks again for your help and for your beautiful website. (Delafield, Wisconsin)

You are what my partner and I have been looking for and couldn’t find till you: someone who understands that a teacher’s job is not to teach, but to help students learn. You get it! (Indian Land, South Carolina)

Your lessons have taught me a lot and I have suggested them to many others. You are very generous with your knowledge. (Duxbury, Maine)

As a retired teacher, I appreciate your clear and concise lessons and explanations. (St. Louis, Missouri)

First, let me thank you for your web site Ateacherfirst.com.  It’s a great site to teach beginners and I’m loving it. (Bradenton, Florida)

I appreciate the lessons on your website – as a returning player after decades away, there is a lot of confusing material online; yours is clear and linear in its explanations. (Sussex, England)

I love your Facebook page and website and constantly recommend it. (Geneva, Illinois)