The English Bridge Union (EBU) has launched a funded scheme to bring Minibridge into the school classroom over the next three years. This has been made possible, since our Youth and Education charitable trust received a donation from the Milton Damerel Trust.
But what is Minibridge? Minibridge is a simplified version of the game of bridge and is the route into bridge recommended by the English Bridge Union. Minibridge was first developed in France and the Netherlands as an introduction to bridge for schoolchildren and was soon acknowledged as an excellent game in its own right.
Minibridge has proven suitable for classroom use, allowing children the opportunity to improve their logical and lateral thinking skills within the framework of play, which offers dynamic brain training. See Minibridge and children. Our new initiative will help to introduce Minibridge to primary schools, so we can help the children with their maths.
In this blog I would like to introduce David Adelman. David is the EBU’s Manchester Youth Officer and an experienced Bridge teacher. He is currently working with the English Bridge Union on their Minibridge initiative and provides the training.
On a recent visit to Fairway Primary School in Offerton, Stockport, I had the chance to talk to David and watch him in action.
Mike: Tell us more about this project?
David: It’s about a vision in bringing a fun activity into the classroom. Minibridge is a game which can be taught to staff in minutes and by the same staff to their pupils in a few lessons. I see Minibridge as a route into bridge and the skills children are learning are bridge problem-solving. I have been using the same teaching style with adults and I think the results speak for themselves, a new generation of competitive players is being developed and this is what the game needs.
We are in an age when there is as much pressure to raise standards in maths and social skills.
Mike: Do you think it’s realistic to expect non-card playing teaching staff to able to do this?
David: Yes certainly, and this is what we are doing here at Fairway School with Year Four children. The class teacher is a not a bridge player, but she has already commented on the interest and enthusiasm of the class. Additionally, Boris Ewart and I have spent a lot of time developing a new interactive CD, which will allow children to learn card-playing skills.
Mike: How does it work?
David: The children can learn by actually playing. The CD has a series of graded problems with targets. The teacher can click on the cards on the interactive display while the pupils play with cards four to a table.
Card playing skills are at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. Children sometimes ask “Why am I doing this? Why can’t I just play?” I explain that trick awareness is like ball control skills for a football player. You don’t just go out and play, because first you must develop the skills!
Mike: Yes, I can see that very clearly in this class. I know this is their second class on Minibridge, and they are already playing with thirteen cards very well.
How does your approach to Minibridge differ from the more traditional approach illustrated in the EBU’s current literature and manuals?
David: Essentially it’s less complex. We only use No Trumps at this stage and targets simply determined by the number of points held by the partnership. Scoring is very simple; either you meet your target or you don’t. No need for scorecards or computer programs to decide the winners. If several schools in one area participate then they can compete, initially locally and in time regionally or even nationally.
Mike: I notice you don’t use much bridge jargon. Is that deliberate?
David: Of course! The underlying ethos is that bridge is a language and uses a language that only bridge players understand. Teaching people, especially young ones from scratch, you have to avoid bridge-talk at all costs. Today we played with
AK2 opposite Q3 and 3
They learn from playing. If they start with AK they see the death of the Queen and can start to draw their own conclusions. Experience can create a language of explanation, jointly with the student, which they in turn can understand. I regard this student-centred approach as pragmatic and sensitive.
Mike: What’s the next step?
David: Well the Initiative is only in its first months. We have developed lots of contacts in the North-West / Manchester and in Sheffield and I know that others are being found else where. We have also set up our Minibridge section on the EBU website, so people can let us know if they’re interested. Have a look here.
Mike: Is there anything interested bridge players can do?
David: It’s all about word-of-mouth and building up contacts. Bridge players could talk to teachers whom they know or even better to Maths Advisors and the like.
Mike: Thank you, David
How can you be involved?
We will be showcasing the project in Manchester on 24 April 2009. Primary School teachers welcome. Please let us know if you would like to attend and for more details view here.
Please do contact either Matt Betts or myself, if you are a primary school teacher and would be interested in our initiative. Or simply fill in our form, which can be found on the Minibridge section of the website.