Hilton Head Island Bridge Club teaches next generation of bridge players how to beat Grandma at the game

abredeson@islandpacket.comFebruary 18, 2013 

  • The Hilton Head Island Bridge Club hosts Hilton Head Junior Bridge from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturdays in Port Royal Shopping Center on Hilton Head. The program is free. Details: www.hhjb.org

While most kids are running around outside or playing "Angry Birds" on a Saturday morning, 9-year-old Harrison Luba and his friends can be found playing bridge.

The group of children meets for two hours every week to learn from the experts. The Hilton Head Island Bridge Club's youth program is free and open to children ages 6 and older.

Three years ago, club members Ron Perry and Fred Ferguson started the program with the hopes of teaching their grandchildren the game. The two men began teaching a small group of children on Saturday mornings. Now the group has grown to about 60 kids.

The children break up into groups of four. They get a brief lesson and then play a few hands.

"It's fun to play," Harrison said, adding that he likes figuring out where all the cards are. "It's fun learning, and then it gets more fun when you're able to play in tournaments."

Harrison often plays bridge with his great-grandmother and has even beaten her in the game. And when the bridge club recently needed an extra pair to play at the annual meeting, they called in the two.

"It requires a lot of skills," one of the club's directors Marty Davis said. "You have to plan. You have to know where all 52 cards are. ... It's great for the kids. It's great for us old geezers, too. Keeps our brain cells going."

Ferguson said he and the other members of the bridge club have a blast with the kids. But he said the real reason they host the youth program is because bridge has a tremendous educational value. He said there's plenty of documentation that shows playing bridge helps kids increase their test scores. He said the game teaches them logic, reasoning and math. Bridge can even help the youngest children learn to sort, order and rank.

"The bottom line is, if it's not fun, they won't come back," Ferguson said. "We try to make it fun. ... And what we are really trying to sneakily do is to help them understand and improve their test scores, their math skills."

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