Libby Stoker-Lavelle — Libby’s Bridge Blogging Site

Advice for a Beginner?

My name is Libby, and I am the newest member of the Master Point Press team. My background is in teaching and freelance writing, and I love books – reading them, talking about them, writing about them, convincing other people to read them…..Anyway, I am thrilled to be working with Master Point Press this summer and I look forward to being part of the dialogue here at Bridge Blogging.

At this point, I’d like to reach out and see if anyone out there has some pearls of wisdom to share about learning bridge. Learning bridge is one of my first tasks here at Master Point, and I am enjoying the process so far, but I am sure it will be challenging. It seems to me that learning the game of bridge is a lot like learning a language: not only is there a mile-long list of terms to learn, but mastering the game requires years (decades?) of practice. Most importantly, it seems that tenacity is essential at the beginning–because the more you learn, the more rewarding and enriching bridge becomes.

Over the past few years I have been learning to speak Spanish, and I love that the Spanish language is a part of my life now–I am so glad that I stuck with it. As I embark on my adventure into the world  of bridge, I am wondering, what are some of the challenges beginners run into, and how do they deal with them?

If any of you bridge experts, bridge teachers or bridge newbies out there have tips for getting started in bridge, or any learning-bridge stories to share, please drop me a line!

Looking forward to hearing from you,



Bill CubleyJune 29th, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Try the quizzes at This is Richard Pavlicek’s website and is as complete as anyone’s is. Good luck or buenos suerte.

I passed Spanish in a government class by getting out my idctionary and telling a lady instructor, :Tine una sonrisa bonita.” Still can’t understand the menu at Taco Bell, but i did pass.

Libby Stoker-LavelleJune 29th, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Thanks Bill, I’ll check out
Well, at least you can compliment the lady at the counter, even if you can’t order what you want off the menu 🙂

Bill CubleyJuly 2nd, 2012 at 6:17 pm

The only bad news about Mr Pavlicek is he does not respond to questions these days. He is caring for his beloved wife and Alzheimers. Generally, almost all experts with websites do answer questions.

But Bobby Wolff and Mike Lawrence do respond if you have a question. So does Eddie Kantar. If you asre really lucky, Bobby will publish your question in his Sunday column.

But Richard does have he most complete website I have been too. He is missed from the tournament scene at the nationals.

Libby Stoker-LavelleJuly 3rd, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Thanks for the info, Bill. I really appreciate it.

Daniel SkipperJuly 4th, 2012 at 3:37 am

Find a partner whose company you enjoy away from the bridge table and who has a similar enthusiasm for the game.

Libby Stoker-LavelleJuly 4th, 2012 at 1:24 pm

That’s an interesting point, Daniel – I hadn’t thought about finding a partner to learn with, but I can see how that would make the learning process much more fun. Thanks for sharing!

Jeff LehmanJuly 5th, 2012 at 4:33 am

The Learn to Play Bridge software on ACBL website, authored by BBO’s Fred Gittelman, is an excellent source.

Good luck!

Libby Stoker-LavelleJuly 5th, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Thanks Jeffrey, this looks really useful – I’m going to try out the software this weekend. Here is the url for anyone who’s interested:

Cam FrenchJuly 12th, 2012 at 2:25 am

Read everything. The column in the newspaper, books at the library, beg, borrow and steal from friends. Play with better players. One of my friends, (OK Vince Oddy) his girlfriend used to ask all of his friends once every six months to play, nobody said no and she quickly ascended the ranks. No, this is not his present partner Barb. She made it without Vince. My point is, as our mothers all told us in a different context, “play the field”.

Be a good partner. Miller Rule.

A couple of favourites.

Right Through the Pack
Watson’s Play of the Hand
Gamesman’s Bridge (funny and you will appreciate it)

You can get all from Vince Oddy Bridge, shameless plug but he is the man.

Play on-line. Watch. Subscribe to the ACBL and The Bridge World. Your life will never be the same. May have to ditch the boyfriend/hubby if he is not an adherent. Nobody’s perfect.


Libby Stoker-LavelleJuly 12th, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Thanks Cam! I’ll let my boyfriend know that he’d better learn bridge with me, or else…..

clarksburgJuly 13th, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Initially forget about the typical early instruction about bidding, i.e. point count, requirements for opening responding etc. Just start with the play of the hand. This will enable you to instinctively recognize a good hand, i.e. high cards with balanced hands, and “shape” and “fit” for unbalanced hands. Then the “bidding methods” will make immediate practical sense when you get to it.
Also, spend considerably more time learning about “defence” than you do learning about declarer play. You’ll be defending twice as often as you will be declarer!

Libby Stoker-LavelleJuly 16th, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Thanks, Ron. Your approach makes a lot of sense. I think it’s helpful to be able to narrow the focus at the beginning of any learning process, in order to avoid getting overwhelmed, and I really like the idea of just working on the play of the hand at first. Thanks for sharing these two excellent suggestions.

Michael YuenJuly 17th, 2012 at 12:16 am

Welcome to

Just have fun and enjoy the game. Results not important.

Libby Stoker-LavelleJuly 17th, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thanks, Michael!

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