Q & A for School Bridge Clubs in Kent
What is a School Bridge Club?
A break-time or extra mural club that provides and the teaching and play of bridge.
What will participants at a Primary School Learn?
The teaching follows a well-laid out curriculum that eases each child into a competent level of bridge play through a series of levels. Typically, the first three levels – Minibridge (before learners learn to bid), Bronze and Silver – are taught as a progression, each course taking approximately one school year. A qualified bridge teacher is provided by the English Bridge Union’s education arm (EBED) or sourced in the county. Keen bridge students can enrol in further development at regional and national events (such as the annual EBU-run Junior Teach-In) where they can progress further through Gold, Platinum and Diamond levels.
How are these attainments rewarded?
Through the English Bridge Union’s “Junior Award Scheme”, each level is rewarded with a hall of fame entry and certificate of competence.
Who can participate?
We would recommend Years 4, 5 and 6. Younger children may struggle with some of the concepts and physical aspect of holding 13 cards in a hand.
What will the School need to provide?
A classroom, library room or school hall, tables and chairs, and a responsible teacher. A magnetic white board is an advantage (although the bridge teacher will in all likelihood have access to one). The coordinator and / or bridge teacher will help the school to source all other required resources (cards, teaching material, bidding boxes, table cloths, scoring sheets, table numbers etc.) from the English Bridge Education and Development (EBED) arm. EBED is a registered charity and is funded for the expansion of youth bridge. It would be helpful if the school could assist with printing copies from time to time (for bridge learning notes, register, circulars).
What will the responsible teacher’s duties be?
The responsible teacher is expected to assist the bridge teacher during the bridge club time. Importantly, ensuring that a register of attendance is kept up to date, that the class is set (tables, chairs and white board arranged) and clean, and that all bridge dates are correctly coordinated with the school’s calendar to ensure there are no clashes. In addition, the responsible teacher will be required to coordinate with parents in terms of progress updates, and inter-school tournaments and bridge outings.
How does bridge benefit the child (see also the benefits of bridge, below)?
Bridge is good for the mind. It is a mental workout unlike any other and is one of the few activities to stimulate both halves of the brain in equal measure. Playing bridge uses and develops logical thinking, inferential analysis, problem solving skills, sequencing, visualization, lateral thinking, long and short-term memory, observation and psychology (or cunning). Bridge is already on the national curriculum in some enlightened countries such as China, Poland, Indonesia and Holland. In the UK, a simplified form of bridge known as Minibridge is beginning to be introduced into schools. Each child completing a JAS is issued with a certificate of attainment and entered into the Hall of Fame (on the EBED website). Once they have successfully completed and attained the first level – Minibridge – they are provided with free membership of the EBU (inclusive of the monthly English Bridge magazine and ability to earn Master Points).
How does bridge benefit the school?
Bridge is “mind-game”, that perfectly complements most academic curricula - equipping the child with all of the benefits described above. It differs from chess in that it is team or partnership game, thus also providing a social dynamic. Ofsted are particularly encouraging of bridge as an extra-mural in schools and bridge is a choice in the Duke of Edenborough Award. We have found bridge to be an excellent “wet break” activity (particularly for mental stimulation) – a hand takes approximately 10min to play and each child only requires access to a pack of playing cards.
How much time is required for a bridge club?
We have found that a break-time club of 30min – allowing ten minutes of teaching and 20min of organized play is sufficient. However, in order to ensure that participants are adequately equipped for attainment of Minibridge and Bronze level awards, the bridge teacher will require at least two “teach-in” sessions of about two and half hours a year (these can be pre-planned with the Head at the beginning of the year so as to be least disruptive). Some schools encourage house-pointed intraschools bridge competitions, which would require a further one or two three-hour session. Alternatively, If the school intends to run the club after school hours, 45 minutes to one-hour is ideal. We advise that the bridge club be run over the Autumn / Winter / Spring school terms, so as to free up the children for in Summer (usually a time crammed with activities and out-door play), if this is what they would prefer to do.
Requirements from Participants?
As most of the required resources can be provided by EBED either no fee or a nominal fee (for the bridge teacher’s time and transport) is required for break-time clubs. An after school club may require slightly more funding, but this can be worked out between the coordinator, assigned bridge teacher and school head.
EBED will assist the Coordinator to ensure that the Bridge Teacher and helpers are cleared by the Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS), made aware of the EBED policy on Safeguarding and where possible accompanied by the responsible school teacher.
The best reference to glean more information on Bridge is the EBED website (Hyperlink: ebedcio.org.uk) or the EBU site (Hyperlink: ebu.co.uk). These sites offer a lot of information on the game, country-wide teaching and playing opportunities, the JAS, and videos that explain the game to newcomers. It is also worthwhile looking up the local bridge club (most bridge clubs have a website) which may act as a “patron” to the school’s club, provide helpers for intra-school competitions, and provide a “feed-in” club for those more advanced players that would like to play duplicate sessions in the school holidays.
Other Schools with Bridge Clubs?
Although in its infancy, the out-reach for getting bridge into schools is rapidly gaining momentum. Currently, Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls, Weald Community Primary School, Radnor House, New Beacon Preparatory School… have established clubs, and we expect a further six to ten schools to start up clubs this year.
A School Bridge Assembly, two weeks to three weeks prior to the commencement of a new club (or the new year of an existing club). This provides a forum at which the game can be introduced (usually, interactively) to the whole school. Children leave with an understanding of what is on offer and a note about the club to parents. Following the assembly, the responsible teacher oversees a sign-up process. We recommend a minimum class of 8 pupils, filling two bridge tables), for each level class to be worthwhile. Experienced teachers are able to deal with odd numbers and half tables (eg.; having roving dummies or having the school teacher fill in)
What are the Benefits of Bridge?
"Bridge is the most entertaining and intelligent card game the wit of man has so far devised". - W. Somerset Maugham, novelist "Bridge is such a sensational game that I wouldn’t mind being in jail if I had three cellmates who were decent players and who were willing to keep the game going 24 hours a day.” - Warren Buffett, business magnate, Investor and philanthropist. Played by over 220 million people worldwide, bridge is the most popular card game in the world. James Bond, Omar Sharif, Bill Gates, Martina Navratilova, Mike Gatting, Radiohead and Blur are numbered among its devotees. Just what is it about bridge that inspires such passion?
Bridge is social.
As a social game, bridge is unparalleled and a great way to meet new people. It can be played at many different levels, ranging from a social foursome, right up to local, national and international competitions. At whatever level you play, you are guaranteed to make a new network of friends!
Bridge is a game for all ages.
Bridge is probably the only competitive activity that all generations can do together and all have an equal chance of winning. It is a myth that bridge is an old person’s game. It is a game best learnt when you are young and enjoyed for the rest of your life. It is a game that you can spend your whole life studying, learning and playing yet never fully master!
Bridge is good for the mind (as above).
Bridge brings health benefits.
It is believed that bridge can boost the immune system through its stimulation of the dorsolateral cortex, which is involved in the higher order brain functions needed to play the game. Playing bridge regularly will keep your brain young and your mind alert and recent research has suggested that it may even stave off degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Bridge is great fun & Bridge is exciting!
If you can play bridge you will never be bored. It combines the best qualities of all games – the cerebral challenges of chess, the suspense and psychology of poker and the excitement of a competitive football match. Bridge truly offers a unique combination of challenges and with every deal different, success depends on a combination of technique, teamwork and tactics.
Bridge is good value for money.
It requires very little in the way of equipment and is thus a relatively inexpensive pastime. Unlike poker, it is not usually played for money.
Bridge is a great leveller.
Bridge is played by people of all ages, from all walks of life and from all social and ethnic backgrounds. When four people sit down at a table to play bridge together, none of the usual prejudices apply, all that matters is the game and the challenge it presents. Bridge is probably the only game in the world where ordinary players can rub shoulders with champions. If you play tennis it is unlikely that you will ever end up playing against Roger Federer, or indeed enjoy the experience if you do. However, you might well find yourself at the same table as his bridge counterpart and even win the odd deal!