Case study: How did kids start to play bridge in a small greek town.

By Marina Lantzouni, Member of Kids’ Committee, Hellenic Bridge Federation

Once upon a time, (actually 5 years ago), two 8 & 9 year old kids showed up in a local bridge Club, in a greek provincial town, Kalamata, eager to learn bridge.

Do kids play bridge? Can they? Would they understand the concepts?

Well, we all know the answer to this question. Not only they can play bridge, but they can perform better than all the rest of us… It was a tough year though… Sometimes even adults would refuse to play against them. “It’s like stealing candy from a kid” they said. Little did they know! Their teacher believed in them. And the kids played, and played. Sometimes they would end up second (from last) and they would have a party! And after that, a victory came. And another one. And the local players started to realize that kids can really play bridge.

Next year, another kid showed up. Disappointed, as she was the only kid in an adults’ class, she opted out.

But the year after that, the local club decided to do the first big move: A kids’ bridge class with strong support from the Hellenic Bridge Federation. Almost all kids were sons and daughters of the players. But they were kids, and they wanted to learn bridge! And so they did! Not all of them continued next year, but 10 new kids joined in! Furthermore, a teacher in a local junior high school managed to create a bridge project as an extracurricular activity in her school. Around 30 kids heard about contracts, and finnesses, and spades and no trumps. That summer, the first two kids of the Club joined our national kids team, the first one ever formed in Greece, and competed in the European Bridge Youth Championship. Meanwhile, another 100 kids made an initial contact with bridge at a summer day camp, that offered a get-to-know-bridge lesson once a week.

This year, another 12 kids joined the Club’s kids’ group and started to learn bridge. And again, the same project is taking place in the junior high school with 30 students. It would be naive to believe that all these kids will play bridge in the future. But people in this city are becoming more aware of this mind sport named bridge. Year 2018 debuted in our city with a kids’ tournament with 32 participants (U16), and two kids as assistant directors. These numbers may seem small to most of the big Federations, but this is just the beginning. The seed is planted, and we are eager to see it bloom!

These two little kids, 13 & 14 years_old_today have paved the way. We have to thank them!