A Teacher's Testimonial:
"In the spring term of 2009 I arrived at my local bridge club for the usual Wednesday night session to be greeted by a little voice. “Hello Miss. I’m here to play bridge”. My first reaction I am sorry to say was not of delight at seeing one of our Year 7 students but of puzzlement. Why would a young person be interested in playing our fascinating game when there are so many gadgets and gismos for the entertainment of young people? My next question was where could I possibly send her so that she could learn the rudiments of the game? In the end I concluded that school was the place to provide such education and reasoned that if one child wanted to play there must be others. Fulford School Bridge Club was born!
Over the next six years I witnessed the many benefits that bridge has for young people. Card playing helps students identify numbers, similarities and sequences, improves numeracy and strategic skills, encourages teamwork and communication and enables young people to meet and make friends for a common purpose. The strategy and logic of the game engages young players positively and improves behaviour.
Bridge is essentially a counting game. Players must first ensure that they have a hand of 13 cards, then to assess that hand they must allocate and add up points. When the cards are in play, players must count how many cards have been played and subtract from 13. This requires not only quick thinking but also is a fun way of practising and fine tuning mental maths. Some of the bridge club members have significantly improved their maths skills because of their bridge.
Strategy is an essential part of bridge. Declarers must learn that they must lose tricks more often than not to make contracts. This encourages patience and logical thinking.
Play consists of two partners using an agreed bidding system and bidding for contracts on the strength of 2 hands. Players must learn that contracts depend on a 26 card holding rather than declarers 13 cards. Players must work together. This encourages trust, teamwork, communication skills in young players.
Bidding boxes cause much interest. Young people love codes and secret messages and the opportunity to communicate secretly offers an air of mystery. Learning new bidding systems and using cards teaches young people that communication is not necessarily verbal despite the temptation to tell your partner what you have got in your hand, and the changing of the different bidding cards encourages observation.
Perhaps the most valid benefit that bridge has for young people is that it is a great leveller. Bridge is a game where all players are equal. You can be the coolest kid in the school or the loudest, the most academic or the student who struggles to add up 4+3+3+2 to assess the strength of a hand; a child bordering on ADHD, a student with aspergers syndrome, the straight A* or the young person who finds it difficult to make friends ;a student who physically is unable to represent the school at sport who finds himself part of the school bridge team representing the school both at local and National tournaments. All these personalities have come together under the banner of Fulford School Bridge Club.
I once overheard an experienced club player state that young people would never be able to learn bridge – ‘after all he did not start to learn the game until he was in his sixties’. I am very fortunate in that the majority of club players I know take the opposite view and encourage my students. My players enjoy the interaction with their older counterparts and love to learn from them. I believe that as experienced players not only do we have much to teach, we also have much to learn from our young players.
In conclusion I would like to leave you with this picture: 16 young players of varying ages. academic and physical abilities engrossed in 52 cards working in teams in shared companionship. There is joy at reaching the contract and dissection and regrets after each hand. Whatever the result, the students like us are always back for the next session!"