Why clever kids play Bridge

Playing bridge can boost your immune system, improve your test scores and earn you money. It may sound improbable, but it’s true.

Before dismissing Bridge as ‘old-fashioned’, maybe think about how Bridge requires intellect and concentration, and will test your memory and wits as well as your ability for number sequencing and teamwork. Did you enjoy going to an ‘Escape’ room; solving riddles to get ‘out’, then Bridge may be for you.

How is it played?

Bridge involves 4 players working in teams of 2, with each player being given 13 cards, dealt one by one face down. The game starts with a bidding competition between the pairs. The bidding part is sort of conducted as an auction and includes special language and agreements between the players.

After the ‘auction’, the game itself starts and the aim for each pair is to maximise the potential of the cards they were dealt. The main advantage of the game is the pace of changing cards: each game lasts only around 7-10 minutes, after which you receive new cards and face new challenges. In order to win, one must gain as many ’trick' points as possible. You can easily play for a few hours without getting bored.

The expert’s view

We spoke to Yaniv Vax, who has been a professional Bridge teacher with the Israel Bridge Federation for about 25 years. Yaniv started playing bridge at the age of 12 and started competing internationally at the age of 16. Yaniv won Silver at the World Junior Championships in Brazil; Silver at the European Junior Championship in Cardiff as well as a Bronze medal at the European Junior Championships in Turkey.

Yaniv always said that playing professional Bridge, other than being fun, was a great opportunity for him to meet a wide range of people while enjoying an interesting and challenging game that combines language and (secret) communication (with your Bridge partner), combined with the fun of solving analytical and statistical challenges, indeed a bit like solving riddles.

Can Bridge make you (more) clever? Absolutely.

“At the time I started”, Yaniv says, “I was very drawn to the game and was keen to learn and improve, but in retrospect, it was the game that has improved ME! It helped me with my memory, my communication skills, my numeracy, my imagination and my creativity. Besides, it has become my main profession as I have been a happy Bridge teacher for 25 years now.

Although I have enjoyed the competitive aspect of the game, it is equally great to enjoy the social and fun aspect of the game with friends or at local clubs. Since the Pandemic, online Bridge has grown exponentially, allowing easy access to the game for people from everywhere. I play and teach online all over the world today.”

Yaniv’s statement about how playing Bridge from a young age made him more skilled and sharpened his mind has been proven by research. A researcher by the name of Dr Christopher Shaw taught exactly half of a group of 5th graders in the US to play Bridge and then compared their 6th grade SAT scores (after a year of playing Bridge) to their 5th Grade scores. While the entire cohorts’ test scores had improved because they were a year older, the most significant gains were made by that half of the original group who had learned to play Bridge.

Bridge and $

Some of the world’s top businessmen and investors are known to frequently enjoy a game of bridge. Warren Buffett, arguably one of the world’s most successful investors, famously declared that: “I wouldn’t mind going to jail if I had three cellmates who played bridge.”

And if you turn out to be a whiz at Bridge it could be a profitable enterprise; some professionals make up to $1,000 for a day of playing in tournaments, while larger, national, tournaments can rake in up to $3,000 per day.

So perhaps before tossing Bridge on the heap of things NOT to do, think about how you could improve your analytical skills and do better in exams just by playing a fun game. It beats a maths tutor any time of the day.

Find Yaniv at: yaniv_vax@yahoo.com

Recommended Links:

7 Reasons to Teach Your Kids Bridge | HuffPost Life

Why Wall Street Plays Bridge


Playing Bridge Has Benefits Regardless Of Age