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All comments by Samantha Punch
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I agree that voice is great. It's just not the same entertainment without it. The Roland/Bird duo is always fun to listen to. For me it's (C) so long as there's voice available.
Aug. 28
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Thanks, the team is very happy. Unfortunately my back is not so keen on having a sitting day job and a sitting hobby but thankfully it survived the week. Huge thanks to the directors for playing dummy whilst I paced about in the wings.

Now at the end of this week we'll find out how many exciting candidates have applied for the bridge PhD…
June 17
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Scotland's first outing to the Venice Cup - very chuffed
June 16
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As others have mentioned, it is fairly common for large grant applications for research projects to include funding for a PhD studentship as part of the wider project. Recently in the UK it is also becoming more common for research councils (e.g. ESRC - Economic and Social Research Council or NERC - Natural Environment Research Council) to have PhD studentship competitions which are supervisor-led (as well as the traditional competitions for proposals written by students).

The supervisor-led awards mean that the supervisor(s) develop the proposal and if successful in securing funding, they then advertise for the PhD candidate. These tend to be ‘collaborative’ awards where a percentage of the grant is funded by an external partner from the third sector, business or industry. This bridge studentship has been match-funded by the University of Stirling who pays half, whilst the collaborating partners have provided the other half of the funding between them.

The collaborative partner (in this case the lead partner is EBED with the other UK bridge unions) also contributes to the design of the proposal to ensure the outputs are relevant to their interests (ie. creating new bridge resources and adapting their teaching materials and approaches in the light of the findings). Nevertheless, traditional PhDs still exist and tend to be the norm. Overall the doctoral education market is expanding as more employers are seeking higher levels of degree qualifications (partly in the light of the growing numbers in university education).
May 9
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Good points! I'll be in Orlando in September so maybe see you there Rick? Have not managed recent Nationals as European and Olympiad events have meant using up all my holidays - a shame that work gets in the way of bridge at times…
May 9
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Thanks, and just to note that the prospective student doesn't need to be a bridge player, nor know anything about bridge (although some knowledge may be useful). I've already worked on several small-scale projects (mostly funded by EBED) with part-time postgraduates who knew nothing about bridge at all. In some ways it can be an advantage to be an outsider as they can apply sociological thinking without being clouded by insider prior knowledge of the game.

A student with academic interests in at least one of the following would be good: childhood, youth, lifelong learning, gerontology, the lifecourse, qualitative methodologies, intergenerationality, leisure or (mind) sports. There's plenty of flexibility to consider the best applicant - exciting times ahead! And our collaborative partnership is really looking forward to working with the successful candidate.
May 4
Samantha Punch edited this comment May 4
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Globally people are living longer and the crisis of the ageing population is that there are not enough carers to provide the support needed for older people. There is recent evidence (see for example, Prof Ian Philp's work) that the top seven things that enable people to live better and which contribute to healthy ageing are:

1. social connection
2. clean air (includes not smoking)
3. physical activity
4. mental activity
5. stress
6. appearance
7. diet

Bridge ticks the boxes clearly for numbers (1) and (4), as well as helping to cut down (5) stress, by forcing a change in focus from worry to concentrating on the cards. Thus the social, cognitive and well-being benefits of playing bridge contribute to delaying the need for long-term care and cutting national health costs. Bridge, as a partnership and team game, offers greater opportunities for social connection compared with other more individual-based games.

This may not fully answer your question but I’m about to travel to play the Spring 4s in England this weekend so can only give a quick reply for now. I agree this is a niche PhD project but that is the beauty of sociology which enables an exploration of the social world in which we live, and in this case of the dynamics of the bridge community and intergenerational relationships. Direct link to full advert on uni website:

https://www.stir.ac.uk/scholarships/social-science/bridging-the-gap-an-exploration-of-transitions-in-play-through-the-lifecourse-phd-studentship.html
May 4
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Thanks all. Will post advert soon, and do please help to advertise it, ideally to social science Masters departments. Exciting opportunity…
April 22
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Reliability: the questions measuring wellbeing and associated factors were drawn from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA), a large scale, high quality survey. Therefore we are confident that the responses to these questions in our survey are reliable i.e. measure the same thing, in the same way, every time.

Validity: we cannot claim that the sample of survey respondents is representative of the populations of bridge and non-bridge players in the UK, therefore it is unlikely that our findings generalise to said populations. What we found is indicative i.e. bridge looks to be associated with higher wellbeing but a different research design would be needed to confirm it.
April 20
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Very helpful thanks.
April 4
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Do you know of any references for this? We're trying to build up a general literature review on related material in similar fields such as chess, scrabble, poker, so any suggestions much appreciated. We're waiting to hear the outcome of a funding application to research the benefits of learning bridge across the lifecourse, which will include a focus on schools.
April 4
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Thank you for your observant comments. Diarmuid who did the quantitative analysis has replied but his figure and table won't paste here so I hope the below makes sense.

Figures 2 & 3
Yes, the width of individual bars was decided by the statistical software: width=1.7894737 and width=2.1578947 respectively. Setting width=2 or width=1 doesn’t change the overall shape of the distributions by very much.

Figure 4
The widths were determined by the software, and are not the same due to the different sample sizes of each group. This shouldn’t necessitate any changes to the y axis as the density measures the frequency of the different bars in the data, though I agree that you are not comparing the same range of values for each group and that having a common width would be clearer in this case).

Regression results
If I’ve understood this correctly, you would like to see separate regression analyses for bridge and non-bridge players alike: if so see below. The factors explain more of the variation in wellbeing for non-bridge players, and there are some differences in the magnitude and direction of effects between the groups. As we acknowledge in the conclusion, it is likely that playing bridge has an effect on wellbeing, but we cannot rule out the plausible possibility that people with higher wellbeing are attracted to bridge (and other similar activities).

Not sure if the below can be read - supposed to be in table form…

Coefficient
Bridge Non-bridge
Age -0.04*** 0.14
Female 0.75*** 1.69
Ability to socialise when feel like it 5.76 7.95
Member of an online social network -0.2125 0.73
Live with a spouse or partner 1.20 3.65
Retired 1.20 -.79
Degree or higher .43 0.80

Constant 39.39 22.98
R squared 7% 19%
n 6,092 293
April 1
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Equivalent individuals were compared by controlling for demographic and social factors.
April 1
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Congrats - great win!
July 28, 2017
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I’m trying not to get involved in the detail of the discussions as the point of this research is to explore others’ views. I admit I used the somewhat provocative title to try to encourage a few more people to respond to the questions. Many people have indicated that they would reply but still haven’t got round to it yet. Whilst the responses I’m getting are extremely interesting, it would be great to get more in order to compare the replies of different ages and levels of players.

I also used the title of the post and added it as an extra question because quite a few of the early responses to the sexism questions referred to men being better than women at bridge. I used the word ‘successful’ rather than ‘better’ because there are more men in the world’s top 100 list or who win major open titles (even when there is no simultaneous women’s event). However, I’m happy for terms to be questioned/unpicked etc as the aim of this exploratory (qualitative rather than quantitative) research is to try to understand the meanings and understandings that players attribute to these issues.

This is why I’ve used the more open-ended format of questions rather than a more structured, quantitative approach such as Surveymonkey as I’m keen to encourage respondents to explain their views and provide examples to illustrate their points. The reason I’m asking Ashley (a doctoral researcher who I work with in sociology) to do the initial analysis is because she can look at the data from a non-bridge player’s perspective before I become more involved.

This current study complements an on-going piece of research with 52 international players which covered a greater variety of topics. These projects are largely self-funded so until we secure some further funding, there is a limit as to how much and how quickly we can process the data and disseminate the findings. Meanwhile, interviews with some of the top players will be appearing in the online Bridge Magazine as a new series called ‘Bridge Encounters’ (starting from this February issue I believe). I’ll be keen to hear your feedback on these so I can improve the editing of the interviews to cover topics of most interest.

Meanwhile, we look forward to receiving more responses over the next couple of weeks. In due course the papers we write from this research will be shared via BridgeWinners. Many thanks.
Feb. 6, 2017
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Looking forward to hearing your views on it and the other questions.
Jan. 31, 2017
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Still time to respond if you haven't yet got round to it. Would be much appreciated. Either post here, private message me or send to the email: genderandbridge@stir.ac.uk

An additional question to include at the start is:

0) At the top level, why are men more successful than women at bridge?
Jan. 30, 2017
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Many thanks to all who have responded so far. If you haven't yet done so, please do consider sending your response - all views are welcomed and appreciated. I shall continue to collect responses during January.
Dec. 26, 2016
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Given that I have now completed 52 interviews with top players I have lots of interview data on a wide range of bridge themes and hopefully (with help from my bridge networks and BW - please keep emailing with your responses) I will have lots more data on this topic. My main problem now is time and funding - at the moment this is largely self-funded research (with some greatly appreciated contributions along the way which have enabled me to get it started).

However given that I work full-time and play a lot of bridge, this means I'm currently trying to squeeze this research into my somewhat limited ‘free’ time. If I could secure more funding it would enable me to employ PhD students to undertake literature reviews, the sorting and coding of the data as well as to assist with the analysis and writing up. That way by supervising and working with doctoral students, academic papers and bridge literature could be published much more quickly, making the findings easily accessible rather than waiting for my early retirement plans to kick into action. Just thought I'd take the opportunity to mention that here, in case anyone has any funding suggestions…
Dec. 24, 2016
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Well spotted! We have presented this paper at two academic conferences (in Scotland and England) and in December I gave a similar talk to a bridge audience at a Scottish congress in Peebles. Interestingly there were more men in the audience than women. If of any interest, I'd be happy to present at other bridge events that I'm attending. Reply to your questions below…
Dec. 24, 2016
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