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About Ralph Welton | Bridge Bears

Ralph and Michele Welton with Buffy The Vampire Slayer

With my wife Michele, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Bridge Bears website is designed for beginners who want detailed explanations and lots of practice with bridge basics.

It's also ideal for intermediates who've been away from the game and want a refresher.

In addition, beginners who are ready to move up to intermediate status will find value in rereading these pages until they achieve their goal of total mastery.

Hello! I'm Ralph Welton. I'm a retired teacher with 35 years teaching experience in public education. I've written curriculum for primary grades, and served as chairman of my union's contract negotiating committee.

As a bridge player, I'm an ACBL life master who's been playing bridge for over 50 years.

I don't claim to be one of the top players, but I do understand how slowly beginners need to go when they are trying to learn how to play bridge. Teaching has been in my bones since I was a child.

My interest in bridge extends to inventing new bidding treatments, especially for light and limited opening bids, and how to incorporate them into a (crazy?) bidding system. I've kept a fifteen-year database of all the duplicate hands I've played at local bridge clubs and tournaments. The database provides a source of actual at-the-table results, which is better for evaluating a bidding treatment than a subjective feel for how the treatment seems to perform.

Since retiring from teaching, I've turned my attention to our family business, where my wife Michele is the webmaster of I answer emails and maintain and analyze our website statistics. If you own a dog, you should check out her advice!)

We live in Southwest Ohio with our three dogs...

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, mini poodle

"Did you enjoy licking my spaghetti plate, Buffy?"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a Miniature Poodle. She's very smart and knows over 100 words and commands.

One of her favorite games is hide-and-seek. "Buffy, where's Mommy?"... and off she goes, searching for Michele.

Mouse, blue-brindle chihuahua

I may be biased, but I think Mouse is beautiful.

Mouse is a small Chihuahua, about 5 pounds. Her color is rare – it's called blue with brindle markings on her face, feet, and legs.

She's nowhere near as smart as Buffy, but she's perfectly well-behaved. She likes to be held, so she can often be found in my lap.

Jenna, papillon

Jenna usually has one of her toys in her mouth.

Jenna is a our toy-obsessed Papillon. She can spend hours entertaining herself by burying her toys under a blanket and pounding on them with her feet to make them squeak.

Jenna, papillon

Jenna says, "Little Ball, how do you walk on water? When I try it, I sink and have to swim. How do you do it?"

Jenna likes to drop her ball into our garden pond and stare at it as it floats away. When it drifts out to the middle of the pond, she comes to me. "I need help, Daddy! My ball is stuck in the water. I have no idea how it got there..." I scoop it out with a net and she's delighted to drop it right back in the water and watch it float away again. And again, and again.

Some of my wife's little bears

We have many stuffed toy bears, as my wife likes to collect them. She still has the first bear she loved as a child.

Little Bear And this is Little Bear, who makes many comments on my site expressing a beginner's point of view. Little Bear spends most of his time playing bridge, eating honey, and waiting for me to write new pages for this site. He's very patient.

My hobbies include gardening, photography, and writing (and deleting and rewriting) pages for

Here are a few more of my pictures:

Purple Gallinule

A purple gallinule, walking on water lilies. I took this picture at Shark Valley, Florida.

Wood Stork

A wood stork looking surprisingly graceful. Shark Valley.


A roseate spoonbill landing at Ding Darling preserve on Sanibel Island, Florida.

Water garden in our back yard

We built this pond in our back yard after going on multiple pond tours and taking pictures of features we wanted to copy. We have no purple gallinules, spoonbills, or storks in Ohio.

Water garden in our back yard

Our house and pond. I often sit and look out those windows at birds, butterflies, and our pond and garden while I work on our websites, or daydream about what I might plant next year.

Water garden in our back yard

One last pic of our pond and garden. I'm so happy we built it – it provides drinking water for squirrels and raccoons, bathing for birds, shelter for frogs and toads and chipmunks, and nectar for bees and butterflies.

Anyway... hope you enjoy the site!

All best,
Ralph Welton