Sixty delegates from across Europe participated in the 11th European Bridge League (EBL) seminar held in Larnaca, Cyprus between January 28-29.
Officers from European bridge organisations examined current issues facing the bridge world, including online cheating, ways to restart bridge after Covid, sexism and evidence that bridge can help prevent and treat dementia and Alzheimer’s.
In most countries, the decrease in the number of people playing face-to-face bridge in clubs is offset by the increase of those who play bridge online due to Covid, resulting in an increase in online cheating.
Cooperation between the EBL and national bridge organisations could help establish a coordinated approach to online cheating although it was recognised that different national laws could dictate the extent to which national organisations could unify around a common protocol.
The move away from face-to-face bridge at clubs and the resulting financial loss to clubs was a source of concern. Bridge would need to find new ways to restart itself after Covid. Recognising that IT is here to stay, bridge clubs and organisations are promoting new teaching courses online, and internet clubs are springing up side-by-side with online events hosted by bridge clubs.
Efforts to introduce bridge to students at schools have been successful in several countries. But it is not only the young who are welcoming these efforts to promote bridge. Studies were presented that demonstrated that teaching simplified bridge to the elderly can help prevent and treat cases of dementia. Moreover, similar tests have shown that in elderly care homes the introduction of bridge had a striking effect on the residents, reducing depression and raising cognitive awareness.
Other efforts are being made within the bridge community itself, with a growing awareness of the need to stress ethical behaviour, including recognition of sexism in bridge.
The two-day seminar brought up a wealth of issues and a wide range of responses. Break-out groups on online cheating and restarting bridge after Covid allowed each country to present its situation, to listen to how other countries were dealing with the issues and to offer suggestions on the way forward.
The closing ceremony reaffirmed the need and willingness for local bridge clubs, their national bridge organisation, and the larger European Bridge League to work together for the greater good of all current and future bridge players.