Mexico Life
Oaxaca Bridge Club members enjoy a social event. Oaxaca Bridge Club members enjoy a social event.

Learning punctuality with bridge lessons

The game represents educational enrichment for youth, says Oaxaca Bridge League

Bridge is one of the world’s most popular card games, one that is enjoyed by millions of players, but it has only a limited audience in Mexico, acknowledges the Oaxaca Bridge League.

But that may be changing.

Two Oaxaca bridge enthusiasts recently attended a workshop in Mexico City where 30 novice players learned the rudiments of the game in just five and a half hours. It was the first Learn Bridge in a Day workshop to be held in Mexico.

The course is designed to provide the student with the basic information needed to play socially and is also useful for people who haven’t played for a while, said Carl Owens, co-founder of the Oaxaca Bridge League.

Another Oaxaca player, Barbara Perez, agreed. It’s “a good tool for our winter visitors who have had a hiatus from playing and want to refresh their skills so they will be comfortable back at the bridge table, or for newcomers to the sport. And the Oaxaca bridge club always welcomes new players.”

For Owens, the Mexico City workshop demonstrated the means of introducing more people, adults and children, to the game.

In Oaxaca, the Bridge League, known officially as La Liga de Bridge Oaxaca, has grown to at least 51 participants, young players who learned the game through the league’s courses, according to a report by Geri Anderson in The Eye, a Oaxaca magazine.

The program began when Owens’ Spanish teacher, Arturo García Aguilar, was faced with a shortage of work after most of his students returned to northern climes at the end of the winter.

The two came up with a plan in which the teacher would offer bridge lessons to young people instead of language lessons to snowbirds. A grant from the American Contract Bridge League got things going, and paid García’s salary.

They began with a class at an organization that worked with street children. It started with two students; by the end of the summer there were 24. Requests began coming in from other organizations and soon there were adults and youngsters taking the course.

García says bridge is a good game for children, “because you have to know what the goal is, make decisions focusing on that goal and count the whole time.” It’s good for team work, problem solving and sharpening mathematics abilities, he says — and for learning the importance of being on time.

“Mexicans have some problems with that,” says the bilingual Mexican. “However, the kids soon discovered that being late not only hurt the other players, but late comers missed some of the lecture, some key strategies and pointers.”

Owens sees an opportunity for growing the popularity of the game with the type of workshop that was offered in Mexico City. Such a program would be useful for adults with limited time and for the development of school-based leagues, he says.

He believes that a class held two or more times a week over a period of months will be a good option for the league, and be more fun for the students. It will also contribute to La Liga’s goal: teaching bridge to the youth of Oaxaca for lifelong pleasure and educational enrichment.

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