19. Bridge: Is Mini Bridge the key to a boom in bridge?

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I first came across Mini Bridge when I blogged in 15 about the Twin Lakes Bridge Club program in local public schools. Seems as if Mini Bridge is now the recommended way to introduce bridge to school children. But in my view, you’re never ever smarter than you were (in terms of basic IQ) than you were in the 6th grade–why not Mini-Bridge to introduce adults to bridge as well?

As it happens, almost as soon as I discovered Mini Bridge and found places to download literature on it, a foursome here in my condo asked if I could get them started playing bridge. They knew I had written a book about the history/pop culture of bridge and assumed I knew enough to teach. Wrong! My book has nothing to do with teaching bridge–you don’t even have to know how to play the game, to read the book.

However, since I’d just downloaded a little pamphlet with the rules for Mini Bridge, I thought, Why not? Give it a try.  The basic concept of Mini Bridge is this: You are provided with a simple process for determining the hand’s bid and declarer, and start playing hands almost immediately BEFORE YOU EVER THINK ABOUT TEACHING HOW TO BID.

Simple concept, but it makes such a difference! I would never have agreed to spend afternoons starting that foursome on bridge without that Mini Bridge pamphlet. Each person in the foursome announce total high card points in hand (Ace-4, King-3, Queen-2, Jack-1 as usual). If partnership totals are equal, toss in the hand. Otherwise, partnership with highest total gets the bid, lowest count within partnership is dummy, lays out hand, and the Declarer selects the bid from a chart in the pamphlet according to total number of points. No eight-card fit?  Bid no trump.

Copy/paste http://www.nofearbridge.co.uk.minibridge/beginners.booklet.htm is the place to go to print out and assemble the pamphlet. It has all the basics to get started.

The good thing about this is along the way, the student learns the etiquette of shuffling, cutting, dealing, taking turns. There is almost nothing learned that isn’t applicable to “real” bridge with bidding later on.

Mini Bridge began in Europe in the 90s. The English Bridge Union adopted it as a teaching program, and the ACBL has endorsed it for teaching kids in school.

Here’s two more useful links to copy/paste. 

http://www.bluechipbridge.co.uk/MiniBridge.htm – “Blue Chip MiniBridge is a freeware teaching program for Windows” availble for free download thanks to sponsorship of the English Bridge Union and the American Contract Bridge League.

http://www.acbl.org/teachers/schoolBridge.html – For schools interested in adding bridge to their curriculum or after school activities.

You know what was most difficult to communicate to my four students–that they all repeatedly questioned the commonsense of?  Book–having to take six tricks before starting to count those that fulfill the bid.

Why not, they asked, say “eight clubs” for a two club bid since that’s what you have to make? I finally fell back on that cliche of all mothers–“Because I said so!” Because that’s what the rules say!

Just as kids do, total beginners can often ask questions the grown-ups (experienced bridge players) don’t question. They see with new eyes.  Thinking about it, I suppose I could have said, “Well, bidding one is promising to make one more than each making six.”

What IS the official teaching answer to this question?



3 Responses to 19. Bridge: Is Mini Bridge the key to a boom in bridge?

  1. Thank you so much for your in-put! I plan to continue plugging Mini-Bridge as ideal way to get started for kids and adults alike. And it’s great to be able to point them to learning/teaching materials available.

  2. Maggy –

    The schools lesson plans that I helped create for the ACBL are a free download from the ACBL page posted above. The first six lessons are perfectly suitable for bridge without bidding in any system since there is no bidding yet! I have had emails from Kenya and Malaysia among other places where they have used this method to teach Bridge to both children and adults.

    I answered the question on how to explain “book” in that manual, and repeated it for you here: http://bridgeteaching.com/2011/09/teaching-adult-beginners/#comment-18

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