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From the Well: Fred Gitelman's Predictions

Empty Bridge Club

While in the Well last week, Fred discussed an important topic that should serve as a wake-up call for the bridge community:

" I greatly fear that there is not going to be much left of bridge in most parts of the world (certainly including America) in 40 years time. Even within 20 years bridge players are going to start dropping like flies. Some time in the not too distant future, the length of the "In Memoriam" page will surpass that of the "New Life Masters" page in the ACBL Bulletin ."

This is a sobering thought, but one that shows signs of becoming a reality. Fred continues with his plea for us to confront this problem head on.

Not everyone agrees with Fred. On our site, Bill Hall posted a recent blog entry titled The Future of Bridge?stating why he feels otherwise:

" Young people will seek challenges, and the most challenging trick-based game is bridge. Bridge organizations may well die, and maybe they should. But not the game itself. Duplicate? It predates even auction bridge. Players who seek competitive challenges will find a way. Thanks to the growing ease of communication and travel, even international competition will continue. Only the form and sponsorship are uncertain ."

Where do you see the game in 20 years? How about 40 years from now?

Getting bridge into schools is one way to ensure its survival, and nobody I know of has done a better job of this than Patty Tucker . Patty has hada remarkable success rate at getting young people to learn the game. Her efforts fostered the multitude of young players in the Atlanta area that compete in the area's tournaments. (She also runs the Bridge Winners Youth Bridge Section ).

Several European nations (especially Holland and Poland) have also achieved tremendous success in getting the younger generations interested in the game.

While getting the future generations to learn the game is important, the form of the competitive landscape for bridge in the future is also quite interesting. I'm curious to hear our members' opinions on Fred's other predictions for the game 20 years from now:

  • The USA still has plenty of years of glory in Seniors events to look forward to, but we will find it harder and harder to compete effectively in Open and Women's events (mostly because everyone else seems to be getting better but also because a significant number of our best current players will either not be alive or will see their skills diminish within the next 20 years).
  • China will continue to rise as a power in world bridge.
  • More and more bridge will be played online (including "serious bridge" at some point).
  • Exciting new applications of both new and existing technologies will continue to have a highly positive impact on bridge.
  • Computer bridge programs will continue to struggle against strong human players unless some massive changes take place either in computers themselves or in the number of quality man hours that are devoted to research in this area.
  • The science of bidding will of course continue to advance. While I am sure experts (including me) will find these developments interesting, I am one of those weird people who believes that this is not necessarily a good thing in terms of the overall health of our game. I know many people feel the exact opposite way. Let's just agree to disagree.

Do you agree with Fred?

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