Alex J. Coyne — Bridge Blogging: Your #1 Bridge Blog Resource site

Bridge Beyond the Bridge2Success Fest

• More information about Bridge2Success can be found at their official website.

• Read more about the bridge scene in Poland at Great Bridge Links.

 
It’s the International Bridge Fest in Warsaw, Poland today. It’s a great opportunity to play bridge, introduce new people to bridge and network – and it’s it also continues far beyond only this year’s festival. 
 
The larger Bridge2Success initiative is there throughout the whole year, and members are encouraged to promote bridge wherever they find themselves. 
 
Here’s a little more about what the Bridge2Success program aims to achieve – and areas where bridge can be applied.
 
Bridge in the Arts
 
There are many artists, musicians and other creatives part of Bridge2Success, and this can certainly give bridge a boost through the arts. Whether you’re a writer of bridge fiction or a TV show producer adding a bridge-line somewhere in an episode as a nod to the game, it’s an important way to see more exposure for the game.
 
Bridge in Business
 
Bridge is played by some of the most successful people in the world – and for good reason. There’s no doubt that bridge strategy was a big help when it came to putting together their business strategies, and success in bridge can mean success in many other areas of business – including negotiating skills.
 
Bridge in Computer Science & AI
 
Bridge can serve as a great way to introduce people (and kids) to computer science, programming and Artificial Intelligence. We know that an AI can play chess, but it’s still in the process of learning how to bid – and that’s the fun part for programmers.
 
Bridge in Research
 
Bridge can be used to teach certain skills in a classroom setting, but bridge itself can also be made the topic of serious academic studies from there, and it can tell us a lot more about the demographic of players. The Sociology of Bridge study is only one example of this.
 
Bridge in Therapy
 
We know that bridge can be highly beneficial to those living with Alzheimer’s disease (or those at risk of developing symptoms), but bridge can also be hugely useful in a therapeutic setting. Playing a game of bridge allows a therapist or carer to spot vital signs and symptoms, and might even be able to conduct a full therapy session, without the patient feeling any pressure to talk about it.
 
Bridge in Rehabilitation
 
In many countries, street gambling is common – and often times a huge problem for both the younger population and adults who find themselves living on the street. Bridge can be useful as an activity to teach essential life skills, occupy time, raise funds and literally help to keep people off the street.
 
Bridge for Community Outreach
 
Bridge can do a lot for community outreach, and it’s already being applied to great effect to benefit plenty of causes all over the world – including for more research into Alzheimer’s. 
 
Bridge for Being Social
 
Bridge allows for being more social: If you’re looking for something to do, get yourself to a bridge game. If you’re more of an introvert, then head over to platforms like BBO and Funbridge.
 
 

Initiative: Getting People to Play More Bridge

As part of the Bridge2Success initiative and the upcoming International Bridge Fest taking place in Warsaw, Poland on the 11th of May this year, I’ve put a lot of thought into how more players can be brought to the game.

This post is a collection of thoughts around drawing players that will hopefully be useful to clubs and players.

More information about Bridge2Success is available at the official website and the World Bridge Federation.

More Honeymoon Bridge

Bridge doesn’t always require four players. If you’re just looking for a quick game yourself or you’re teaching a new player how, there’s always honeymoon bridge (also called two-player bridge) that can be played with two and small variations in the rules of the game.

Connect with Other Bridge Clubs

Smaller clubs should connect with other ones in town and get together for larger events and games. Network with other clubs through social media – both those in your area and those in other countries. I’ve found that clubs down the road from each other will often have no idea that the other one exists.

Join Forces

Same as in bridge, there are trading card game clubs in most towns. I came over to bridge from a world of poker and TCG’s, and I’ve never felt more at home. It can do the same for many people who haven’t discovered bridge before.

There’s interest. One Yu-Gi-Oh! player notes, “Played since primary (school). Had to take a break due to availability, but basically started again as soon as I got back to the cities.”

Get Out and Play

There seems to be a wealth of bridge players out there that “used to play” and let the game go. It’s important to get these players out there and playing again – and it might be as simple as inviting some of them out to the next bridge game or buying them a deck of cards for their birthday.

Bridge in Schools

If you’re an educator or teacher, you’re in a special position to make bridge part of the classroom. It’s one of the best ways out there to teach critical thinking and strategizing. Information on teaching bridge for children is available from the ACBL at this link.

Bridge in Media

Of course, I’d love to see more references to bridge in popular media – books, TV shows, graphic novels and movies. Make bridge part mainstream pop-culture, and make bridge something to check out for people who have never heard of it before.

Studying Bridge Further

Bridge should be more than just played: There’s a lot of room for serious academic study. There are already studies on machine learning and how they relate to contract bridge (2015, AAAI & 2016, ARXIV.org). There’s also the Keep Bridge Alive Campaign run by Professor Samantha Punch and the University of Sterling that looks to establish the Sociology of Bridge as an entire direction of study – and Aces & Knaves, a documentary taking a further look into what makes the cogs run. If you’re an academic, why not make bridge the topic of a class or study?

Take the Game Online

Online bridge play through software like BBO and Funbridge means that the game is a lot more accessible and convenient. As a disabled player, physical limitations mean there are bad days – and I’m sure this is true for many people who play. Recently, I heard about someone who gave up their regular bridge game due to pain sitting down at the bridge tables after surgery – would they have continued playing if they picked up the game through their tablet?

Embracing Bridge Tech

There’s more technology in bridge than there was five years ago, and that’s a great thing to see. The introduction of more technology to bridge can only see the game grow even more.

Bridge Challenges

What I’d like to see more of are bridge challenges: Players who challenge each other to broadcast and recorded games. This can even work with some players outside the world of bridge – I’d love to see some Celebrity Bridge Games, too.

Bring Back Bridge Columns

Many publications have foregone their bridge columns that used to be pretty majestic a few years ago. Bring back the bridge columns!

Gift More Bridge Gifts

A lot can be said for bridge-related gifts to friends and family members. It could inspire them to pick up the game, especially if they already love gaming as it is. Bridge kits and subscriptions to bridge software and publications are just some ideas to get their interest started.

High-Stakes Bridge

There are a lot of varying opinions on for-money bridge. Love it or hate it, it can bring something to the game of bridge if we see more money bridge, especially if we’re talking recorded games, higher stakes and support from mainstream casinos.

Cybersecurity and Online Bridge

Cybersecurity is often something that people think about first when we’re talking about online slots and casinos, but not too often something that’s mentioned when people are talking about the game of online contract bridge – which is played by thousands of people worldwide every single day.

Everyone wants their online bridge game to be safe, and I spoke to Boris – the Chief Technology Offer of Funbridge – about just what they’re doing from their end to make sure games are secure.

Our players’ data security is an important issue to us, especially since our users like playing bridge on computers, smartphones and tablets.” he says. “We try to protect their data in different ways. First, by always using secure connections between mobile apps and Funbridge servers; second, by complying with the recent EU GDPR,”

Finally, he notes that they use only technologies that have been tested and validated by the world community of developers while still focusing on providing the best bridge experience. He says that their infrastructure is “designed to be as impenetrable as possible” with real-time backups of all information to avoid any issues.

Should users be doing more to prevent cyberattacks and viruses themselves? “When users play Funbridge, they are in a secured environment and should only focus on the best bid to make or card to play.” he says with confidence.

As far as users protecting their own devices go, Boris says that it’s widely agreed that an antivirus is a great idea on a PC – but this doesn’t always ring true when you’re using a tablet or smartphone. “It’s more about being caution when installing any extra antiviruses as they could do more harm than good.”

From our point of view, Android and iOS systems, respectively developed by Google and Apple (which are not small IT players, to say the least), are made to be secure by definition.”

He says in particular, Apple has shown great commitment to the protection and encryption of data.

If, for any reason, your device runs slowly when using Funbridge, he recommends this: “Common sense says that they should just pay attention to the storage space available on their device, and should not hesitate to uninstall apps that they no longer use as this is a possible reason why their device runs slowly.”

For the future, Boris says that their teams are working on optimising Funbridge apps even further so that no powerful configuration is needed, and as many users as possible can enjoy their services.