Benefits of bridge on mental health focus of international conference

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Playing cards spread out on a green felt background

More than 400 delegates from across the world are gathering next week to discuss the benefits of bridge on mental health and wellbeing.

The International Bridge Conference is being hosted online by ‘Bridge: A MindSport for All’ (BAMSA) – a research group based at the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Social Sciences – over four days from Monday 28 June. It will bring together academics, bridge practitioners and policymakers from more than 50 countries to discuss topics including the card game’s impact during the COVID-19 pandemic on social isolation, loneliness and wellbeing.

The University of Stirling’s Professor Samantha Punch, an international bridge player who has carried out extensive research on the benefits of bridge, said: “The conference aims to promote bridge as a mindsport which offers social, health and cognitive benefits for players of all ages.

“During the pandemic, we saw play move online and the bridge community supported many players to use a computer and become digitally literate for the first time. This enabled the opportunity to experience social connection with family and friends through bridge, when in-person meetings weren’t possible.

“Through BAMSA’s research, we have also been in touch with primary schools who introduced pupils to the online game for the first time, with teachers praising the mindsport for improving children’s concentration as well as their technological and communication skills.”

Players play bridge online

Play moved online during the pandemic

The conference will also feature discussions on how academic research can inform policy, influence the grass-roots development of bridge as a mindsport, and its role in promoting interaction between people of different ages and generations. It will also host sessions on new approaches to learning and teaching, including the growth of bridge in schools.

The keynote address, ‘Bridge and Wellbeing’, will be delivered by American psychologist, Professor Martin Seligman, who has authored more than 30 self-help books and is a lifelong bridge player.

For more information, include registration details, visit the conference website.