Today, fewer people are playing bridge and there is a fear within the bridge community that the card game will become extinct if we don’t recruit a new generation of players. Players know that bridge as a mind sport encourages immersion whilst promoting focus and clear thinking, which can offer a welcome distraction from worries, helping to alleviate stress and boost self-esteem. Bridge, as a partnership and team game, facilitates communication and the development of social connections as well as contributing to intergenerational community building.
The University of Stirling has launched the global ‘Keep Bridge Alive’ CrowdFund campaign (running until 31 March) to communicate messages about the benefits of bridge beyond the bridge world. The key goals of this project are to transform the image of the bridge, to increase participation and enhance the sustainability of the mind sport.
Part of the University of Stirling’s new campaign, led by Samantha Punch (sociologist and international bridge player) is to establish the Sociology of Bridge. The Sociology of Bridge is a research project and an emerging academic field exploring interactions within the mind sport, well-being, healthy ageing and social connection as experienced in the bridge world.
‘Bridge is my passion as it is rewarding in so many ways: a never-ending fountain of fascination which is fully absorbing. The appeal of bridge lies in immersing oneself in the thrill of competition amidst the social interactions of the bridge community at and away from the table.’ Professor Samantha Punch, UK Bridge Player
‘Bridge is candy for the mind. Young people need social interaction away from their computers and a game like Bridge could fill that role. I love what you’re doing and fully support it.’ Mitch Dunitz, American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) Educational Foundation
What is the Sociology of Bridge?
Sociology is a way of exploring and understanding how society works. So the sociology of bridge is about understanding how the bridge world works: what motivates players, opportunities for skill development and the dynamics of the game.
By doing research which highlights the benefits and skills that playing bridge provides, we can develop an evidence base to persuade governments and employers to consider investing in getting more bridge into schools, universities, and local communities.
‘The European Bridge League, which administers the sport of Bridge in Europe, is pleased to lend its support to the ‘Sociology of Bridge’ research projects being undertaken by the University of Stirling under the leadership of Professor Samantha Punch. Better understanding of the sociological and educational aspects of bridge, through evidence-based scientific research, will greatly enhance the development of our sport to the ultimate benefit of society.‘ Jan Kamras, European Bridge League (EBL) President.
‘Research is like bridge: you have to investigate to better understand what’s going on around you’ Simon Fellus, World Bridge Federation (WBF) Secretary
Bridge is considered by many to be the greatest card game of all, providing immense fulfilment and enjoyment over one’s life. Bridge combines excitement, challenge and mental stimulation that enables players to stretch their thinking, which in turn is a good workout for brain fitness and healthy ageing. Bridge also offers opportunities to socialise and have fun. Social connection is the number one factor (more important than diet or exercise) in terms of having a longer, healthier and more meaningful life, so the social element of bridge helps us to age well.
‘Bridge is an addiction that is difficult to resist. It’s a pleasure and it’s a passion and it’s something that if you enjoy it, you don’t put it down. Professor Punch’s research at the University of Stirling on the benefits of bridge is just what the bridge world needs to attract new players to our amazing card game.’ Zia Mahmood, International Bridge Player
How Can You Help?
We need individual players, bridge clubs and organisations and other supporters to join us by donating to the Keep Bridge Alive campaign so we can publicise and promote bridge more widely. We would also be delighted to hear from you if you have research ideas, expertise or even time to support the campaign. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The money raised will go towards funding two part-time researchers to work alongside Professor Punch. This new research team will explore interactions within bridge regarding well-being, healthy aging and social connection. We will also produce a library of accessible materials aimed at different audiences, including schools, to encourage growth of the game and help shift the image of bridge. Ultimately we aim to launch a global collaborative research project focussing on the benefits that bridge contributes to health and well-being, leading to the long-term sustainability of the mind sport.
Please join us by contributing to the Keep Bridge Alive Campaign so that more people, including your children and grandchildren, can share the benefits of this endlessly fascinating mind sport.
‘It’s just an amazing game really. It’s the fusion of the competition, playing against these two opponents, and especially the co-operation – the partnership aspect of the game that makes it so amazing. I welcome your initiative to reach out to young people - indeed everybody - informing them of all the reasons why they have to play bridge. Any research to confirm to all my students what they feel already - that bridge is a life-enhancing activity for so many reasons - is very welcome.’ Andrew Robson, English Bridge Player, Bridge Columnist for The Times and owner/teacher of the Andrew Robson Bridge club, London
The Keep Bridge Alive campaign aims to attract new players to our game via innovative and collaborative approaches (including targeted resources aimed at children, young people, families as well as policy-makers, employers and teachers). Keep Bridge Alive is about taking action to share best practice, pool resources and develop an evidence-base to re-brand and grow the bridge world. This as an excellent opportunity to do something different and create momentum for change within the bridge community.
As a bridge player from Stirling where a local club Alva recently closed and the nearby, once vibrant, club of Falkirk is on the brink of closure, Samantha Punch’s passion has been fuelled to bring people together to Keep Bridge Alive. We really hope people will get behind this global campaign as every contribution, no matter how small, will make a difference to the future of the bridge world.
“If you Keep Bridge Alive, it will do the same for you.” – thanks to David Burn, English Bridge Player for our KBA strapline!
~ Professor Sam Punch