WHAT MIGHT THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE GAME OF BRIDGE ?............( Bridgemeister reflects on a recent newspaper article )
The other day a very rare and unusual thing occurred : an article about bridge appearing in one the country's leading newspapers :
To a certain extent there was a small measure of hope and optimism about the future of bridge in that young people were " starting to swap nightclubs for bridge clubs " , with membership of the under-25's tripling over the last three years.
Alas , the statistics issued by the Bridge Union were misleading , because the stark reality was
numbers were still depressingly low : membership had only grown from 106 to 344. The start of a revolution ? I very much doubt it.
The article then explored the possible reasons why this sudden increase in young members might be nothing more than a false dawn. Bridge it seems has a negative image problem. Far too many people have the wrong idea about the game. Its reputation is one of grumpy old grey-haired fogeys , staring at hands of cards , slowly and ponderously deciding what bid to make , or which card to play next. Not an image which is likely to excite today's youngsters.
Thankfully , bridge is being introduced into schools which helps to break down any negative preconceptions. School kids , who love and enjoy mind games , can see and experience for themselves the stimulating challenge and passion the game can generate. But there again , they are all computer savvy and will be quick to pick up on the fact that bridge on the internet is far easier to access , available 24/7, and cheap to play. Moreover , they can hop in and out of a game without having to make any excuses or apologies. Perfect.
Then of course one has to acknowledge two other off-putting factors as to why young people , who fancy taking up bridge , might well reject the idea of joining a club. First off is the cost of taking a course of bridge lessons , which can last 10-12 weeks, which will quickly empty their cash-strapped purses. Secondly , there is the monstrous ogre of the highly intimidating Rule Book , which comes into play at every perceived transgression. With so much to pick up and learn the task ahead seems both daunting and unappealing. Retired elderly people of course have plenty of time to spare, free of job security and financial worries. Young people who lead busy lives and work long hours seek to engage in pastimes which are quick, easy and fast.
So perhaps then there is a need for clubs to introduce a slicker , faster , more streamlined version of the game , namely rubber bridge. A game that can be played by as few as four , even possibly for money,. A version where the rule book is no longer than a page , where poker elements are embodied into the play , and where the participants " swap the Victoria sponge for Havanas , and the Earl Grey Tea for malt liquor ". Hopefully , young people might stick around a little longer to make the transition into duplicate bridge.