A RESEARCH project at the University of Stirling is set to explore the benefits and skills gained from playing bridge.

Professor Samantha Punch and Victoria Coren Mitchell
Called Bridge: A MindSport for All, it is a sociological research project looking at the card game and more, ultimately seeking to develop the sociology of mind-sports as a new academic field. Professor Samantha Punch, of the Faculty of Social Sciences, is leading the project and being an international bridge player herself, she recently launched the Keep Bridge Alive campaign. As part of that, the university this month hosted a unique experience in the Keep Bridge Alive Pro-Am Tournament, which featured TV persenter and professional poker player Victoria Coren Mitchell and saw other players fly in from 12 countries. It was an opportunity for enthusiasts to partner with players like Zia Mahmood, Sabine Auken, Dennis Bilde, David Gold, Nicola Smith and Boye Brogeland. Other notable participants included ITV newsreader, James Mates; president of the World Bridge Federation, Gianarrigo Rona; and president of the European Bridge League, Jan Kamras.
The evening raised a whopping £56,000 which will go towards the project, exploring the interactions within the mind-sport, wellbeing, transferable life skills, mental health and social connections. Professor Punch said: “We are delighted that the bridge community came together to fundraise for this research that is developing the sociology of mind-sports as a new academic field. “Our initial research findings show that bridge is an endlessly fascinating, challenging and meaningful mind-sport which has positive lifelong impacts on wellbeing and healthy ageing. “The research is used by bridge organisations around the world to promote the benefits and life-enhancing nature of bridge to new players of all ages. “Most people don’t realise that bridge is such an exciting, unique and ever-evolving card game.” She added: “Bridge has such a strong human element to the game; it is the only mind-sport where a computer has never beaten a human. “As a four-player partnership card game, bridge facilitates face-to-face social interaction, develops a range of deductive, critical, reasoning skills and brings individuals together all in a fun, supportive and engaging environment. “Bridge may not have all the answers to social isolation and loneliness, but it enables and fosters communication and connection regardless of age, physical ability, gender or ethnicity. “Bridge is a mind-sport for all ages and in today’s digitally focused but socially isolated world, bridge can help to combat loneliness by enabling a sense of connection and belonging.”

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