A bridge club is attracting large numbers of younger players by helping dispel myths that the game is “elitist” and difficult to play.

Cheltenham Bridge Club (CBC) opened in 1966 and now has more than 500 members, ranging from eight to 97-years-old.

Member Jan Bailey goes into local schools to teach children the game and said it gives them lots of new skills.

Several children have said to us, ‘my maths has improved since I’ve been playing bridge’,” she said.

Ms Bailey added: “The children get more experienced in probability, working out where different cards might be, who’s holding those hidden cards and how to try and beat them.

There is lots of speaking, listening, rule following and team building. They have to work with their partner who’s sitting opposite them.”

Ms Bailey starts training players from the age of eight, funded by the Gloucestershire County Bridge Association.

She starts with an easier version of the game called MiniBridge, which is for beginners before they move on to learning how to play the popular card game in full.

George, 11, who has been learning bridge for four years, is starting to progress onto harder aspects of the game.

I like being declarer because you get to control two hands instead of one. I’ve just started learning bidding and it’s really interesting, and makes bridge a lot more enjoyable‘,” he said.

Pupils at Woodmancote School, Cheltenham, have been learning the game with the help of CBC.

Teacher, Paul Adkin, said: “It’s absolutely delightful to see the children play bridge. They pick it up quickly, and it’s a great example of a game which supports their learning on so many levels. It involves turn-taking, logic, long-term strategy, showing patience and, of course, maths.”

“What’s most important of all is that they enjoy it.”

CBC runs regular youth bridge sessions at its headquarters in Tivoli during school term and holidays.

“The children have said to us that they’re going home and they’re teaching their parents, their grandparents and their siblings.

“One young lad told us he was teaching his friends at their after-school club,” said Ms Bailey.

With the game having a reputation as being played by older people, members are keen to get more young people involved and host a monthly ‘generation game’ where different-aged family members are encouraged to play together.

Ms Bailey said: “We are conscious that we are very Cheltenham-centric and we would like to reach out to other communities.

“If anyone would like us to come out and teach them, we’re very happy to do that.”

“We want to expel the myth that it’s a difficult game and a bit elitist. It’s for everybody to have a go.”

Young people of all ability levels from across the country are invited to a youth tournament being held on the weekend of 23-24 March at CBC.