Schoolgirls at the centre of new University of Stirling study into card game bridge are making history

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three girls with playing cards
(L to R) Rachel Yu, Niamh Reid and Isla Jamieson's school is part of a University of Stirling research project and made history at the Peggy Bayer bridge tournament.

Three schoolgirls who are part of a new University of Stirling-led research study into the game of bridge are promoting its educational benefits – and making history along the way.

Niamh Reid, Rachel Yu and Isla Jamieson, all 15, are key participants in a four-year international project led by social scientists at the University of Stirling that will explore how bridge can be used to teach mathematical concepts in a fun way. The major study is led by Faculty of Social Sciences research group Bridge: A MindSport for All (BAMSA).

The S4 pupils, all from The High School of Glasgow, made history at the weekend as the youngest female players to represent Scotland at the Peggy Bayer bridge tournament in Belfast. They took third place in the competition.

The trio started playing bridge in 2020 under the tutelage of their teacher Danny Hamilton, who is also non-playing captain of Scotland’s Under 21 team. They competed against university students and other older players from the UK and Ireland at the tournament, which took place from 16 to 18 February.

It comes just weeks before the schoolgirls participate in the new research project on mindsport education – supported through crowdfunding from the global bridge community. The project builds upon BAMSA’s previous research exploring the lack of female representation in bridge at elite level, and how gender stereotypes and neurosexism could be discouraging younger women from playing.

Professor Samantha Punch, who leads the BAMSA initiative at the University of Stirling and is herself a top-level international player, said: “BAMSA’s research has shown that bridge can be beneficial to people of all ages, but particularly for young learners. It is exciting that some of the youngest players ever to represent their country at the under 21 level are from Scotland.

“This sends an extremely positive message to young women wanting to play bridge and progress to an elite level. It busts myths around bridge being an ‘old person’s game’ and goes against the gender stereotypes present in bridge uncovered by our previous research.”

Samantha added: “This next research project will look at the educational and mental benefits bridge brings to young people and pose important questions for our schools and educators.”

Isla said: “I am so thankful for this opportunity to represent my country. [Playing bridge] requires me to do a lot of thinking that helps me to succeed in my school subjects. It also makes me improve my memory and addition.”

Niamh said: “It’s a great opportunity and it’s going to be so fun.”

The Peggy Bayer tournament took place at the La Mon Hotel & Country Club in Belfast from February 16 to 19, in an event that was broadcast worldwide on the internet.

For more information visit the Scottish Bridge Union website: