In an era of iPads and video games, some kids are turning to a game that usually invokes an image of older players. The game is bridge – as in the card game – and the game is trying to attract younger participants.
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A group of seniors are playing bridge at a Norcross community bridge center. I try to be quiet. You’re not supposed to talk while playing.
This is pretty much what bridge is like. The average bridge player is 67.
But there’s a movement to get kids to play.
At the North American Bridge championships at the downtown Hyatt Regency earlier this month, more than 100 kids are here to try their hand at the game.
It’s a scene Bryan Delfs enjoys seeing. He’s the education program manager for the American Contract Bridge League – the nation’s largest bridge organization.
He says sometimes kids don’t know the game exists, or there are others kids who play.
“I think there are more opportunities out there for kids than they really realize,” Delfs says. “We’re going to do everything we can to start to connect them and get them the information that they need.
He agrees the game has sort of a marketing problem. Players are getting older, and younger players aren’t joining the league as fast.
But in Atlanta, the Atlanta Junior Bridge League has been trying to help that.Patty Tucker founded the organization in 2006.
“There wasn’t a place for the kids to go in town who were interested in bridge,” Tucker says. “ I wanted to give them an advantage that I didn’t have while I was growing up – which was a group of kids to play bridge with.”
She’s been hosting summer camps and afterschool programs across the city. Since 2006, she says the league has taught more than 4,000 students.
Students like teen brothers Richard and Andrew Jeng of Johns Creek. They took her class 7 years ago.
“It would be a week long course, about two hours each and we would learn bridge,
says Andrew Jeng, 16. “ At the end of the week, I was hooked and we loved it.”
Andrew’s younger brother, Richard, became the youngest life master of the League at the age of 9. He’s now 13, and agrees more kids his age should get into it.
“A lot of logic is involved so you have to use your brain and that makes it very fun,” Richard Jeng says.
They’re now trying to teach others at their high school in Johns Creek.
Back at the hotel, the kids are finishing up their morning session.
I ask a group of kids why they decided to play.
“I needed a hobby other than bowling or boy scouts,” says Jeboah Strong.
Jeboah Strong, Bhumi Sheremi, Alex Houck and his sister Emalie all agree it’s a fun game that involves a lot of strategy. And they’re part of a new generation of bridge players — or at least that’s what older bridge players hope.