School bridge programme set to expand
A club devoted to a complicated card game is to expand after a successful run in four schools.
Organisers said bridge, a game of sets and strategy, teaches critical thinking and interpersonal skills.
Now the Bermuda Bridge Club is to contact other schools in a bid to boost knowledge of the game.
John Burville, president of the Bermuda Bridge Club, said that bridge was a perfect tool to improve the mathematical ability of pupils.
He explained: “It teaches fast and slow counting, it teaches visualisation, and you’re doing a lot of different arithmetic.”
The Bridge in Schools programme was introduced to Saltus Grammar in 2013 through Mike Viotti, a physics teacher, after the school was contacted by the bridge club.
Mr Viotti said: “I didn’t play bridge before that point so I really had no idea what to expect, but I can definitely say that it’s grown a lot more than I ever thought it would.”
The schools programme later expanded into the Berkeley Institute, the Bermuda High School, and CedarBridge Academy and attracted more than 50 pupils at the start of this year.
Bridge involves a team of two players who attempt to play a bid, a card with a specific number and set, that is greater than their opponents.
Because of the game’s reliance on fast thinking, mental maths and teamwork, bridge has been shown to help expand a player’s strategic and logical skills while also improving teamwork abilities.
A 2005 study in the United States showed that students who were taught to play bridge scored about 24 per cent higher on a basic academic skills test than those who did not, with the most significant improvement appearing in maths and science.
The study said: “Bridge is a game that develops inferential reasoning skills, which appear to be used in all five subjects in middle school.”
Mr Burville added that the game was played in US and Chinese schools for that reason and that bridge was “a lifetime gift that parents could give their children”.
He said: “Bridge can be played beyond the realm of athletic abilities as a professional business — it survives all else and is proven to be mentally rewarding throughout a person’s life.”
The growth of the game has also allowed different schools clubs to travel abroad for competitions.
Saltus’s bridge club travelled to Chicago in 2015 as the first Bermudian team to enter the Youth North American Bridge Competition.
Since then, teams from Saltus have taken annual trips to Italy.
Combined school teams have also competed in Toronto, and Atlanta.
Mr Viotti said: “The hardest part with any sort of club is getting kids to stay interested in it, but now there’s a bit of momentum and the kids are kind of driving it a little bit.”
Bridge in Schools plans to visit Las Vegas next year and said sponsorship from insurance giant AIG was instrumental in the trip.
Mr Viotti added that he hoped the programme would grow into an interschool league.
He said: “We have been having an event at the Bermuda Bridge Regional, which is a big bridge tournament at the Fairmont Southampton in January, and the attendance for the youth event has been growing.
“One of the goals, I think, is to expand the youth competition beyond just that and to try to have school matches where one school competes against another.”
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