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All comments by Samantha Punch
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I have to say when introducing the Sociology Bridge PhD student, Kevin, to the Bridge Winners community, as an outside observer to our game, then we did both hope he would be welcomed more warmly.

It is also disappointing because I heard recently about perceived negative reactions to new players when they visit some bridge clubs, that then the clubs are considered to be intimidating rather than welcoming. Signals such as these can be off putting and even damaging for those hoping to join the bridge community.
Feb. 12
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For general clarity and background info - we did have two card playing sessions first, and then were trying out a new 8 fast track lessons course. This was always going to be challenging and everyone was warned about the experimental nature of trying to teach the basics over 8 weekly lessons. However we had heard that some people were keen to learn over a shorter period of time rather than over a year or two years of lessons as some clubs do.

We also were constrained by finances - we didn't want to charge for lessons on top of the annual fee of £10 (for students) because in order to attract more young people to establish the new university club, we wanted to keep it very cheap. Given my KBA work, my other university commitments and my own international bridge playing, I wasn't able to commit to delivering the course myself as I have never taught bridge. There were no local available bridge teachers who were able to do it for free.

The bridge teacher we hired had reservations himself about trying to deliver something so ambitious. However, the feedback we have had, has been extremely positive despite the fast pace of the lessons. The club began 4 months ago and we have 28 signed up members, most of whom regularly appear each week.

We are now running supervised play sessions which I do help out with, and we find having a volunteer helper at each table is useful. We have also split up the club into those who had played cards before, like whist, who did the 8 fast track lessons and those who didn't know what tricks or trumps were, so they concentrated on card play.

We now have lots of special events during the Keep Bridge Alive (KBA) two month campaign, including play with an expert (each partnered with a player from the local bridge club in town), speed bridge for Valentine's week (ie. like speed dating - playing one hand with a new partner each time), and the screening of the film Double Dummy (many thanks to John McAllister for supporting KBA).

I also believe that no matter how you teach some of the parts of bridge, it can be complicated at times - it is not always an easy game to learn the ins and outs of bidding - it takes time, and if trying to cut down that time, then it can seem like a strange new language.
Feb. 10
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I have been asked a few questions about donating in other currencies.

The Crowdfunder accepts credit cards (visa, mastercard etc) so they make the conversion from Pounds Sterling to Dollars (or another currency). So £10 (pounds sterling) is about 13 US dollars. Or the other way round, 20 dollars is approximately £15.

So if you select the amount you want to donate in pounds, it will convert that on your credit card in dollars. It should be straightforward but do let me know if you have any issues with it.

Also please do remember to say in the comment box which country you are from and that you are a bridge player (or bridge club), as we would like to be able to track the number of countries, clubs, players and non-bridge players that contribute.

Many thanks for your support in helping to re-brand and grow the bridge community!
Feb. 4
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Shame you don't still have the thesis Norman, would've been great to read it. Which discipline was it for? Did it also discuss the possible reasons for the gender differences, i.e. nature versus nurture?
Jan. 4
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Thanks for your comments Nigel. I'm certainly keen to investigate China's approach and would love to set up a meeting before the Venice Cup with people involved in promoting bridge in China. If anyone knows who I could contact for this, do let me know.
Jan. 3
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Apologies that was the link to the show on 19 Dec. Today's one is:

https://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=6379a3ce-8450-482c-bad1-6b4cc2574313
Jan. 2
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The intention was to use something ‘punchy’ (pun intended) to catch the attention of the media so that we can promote all the positive reasons for greater investment in bridge. The initial campaign will run throughout February and March (closing at the end of the Memphis national) and one of the goals is to start to raise the profile of bridge beyond the bridge world (and not just nationally).

For me the slogan is not meant to seem defeatist but designed to stand out in press releases and encourage debate about how we can enhance the sustainability of the mind sport. It would be great if people could support the campaign which launches on the 5 Feb, such as by sharing posts/tweets widely via social media to non-bridge as well as bridge networks.

The Sociology of Bridge research has the potential for spanning the next 10-15 years, and the initial first year phase is to establish evidence and credibility for the new field. If others also feel that the slogan of Keep Bridge Alive should be replaced after the Feb/March campaign for the longer term work, then we're very happy to hear suggestions for a more suitable, catchy alternative. Thanks! And please get in touch if you have contacts in the media where press releases could be forwarded.
Dec. 27, 2018
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Yes both papers in relation to the survey with 7000 bridge players are available on EBED's website:

McDonnell, D., Punch, S. and Small, C. (2017) Individual Wellbeing and Bridge: An Empirical Analysis, Aylesbury: English Bridge Education & Development (EBED), https://www.ebedcio.org.uk/health-wellbeing-research.

Galbraith, C., Punch, S. and Small, C. (2018) Competition and Mental Exercise in a Mind Sport: Building Bridges of Fun and Friendship, Aylesbury: English Bridge Education & Development (EBED), https://www.ebedcio.org.uk/health-wellbeing-research.

A summary blog piece is also available on the same site for each of them. My recent conference paper on motivations of elite players is still a work in progress, which I plan to publish in the academic journal ‘Leisure Sciences’ next year.
Dec. 21, 2018
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Please note that we would like to include any comments posted here anonymously in our ongoing research. Please indicate if you don't want anything included (or PM me), thanks.
Dec. 20, 2018
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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, 2018
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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, 2018
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Scotland's first outing to the Venice Cup - very chuffed
June 16, 2018
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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, 2018
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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, 2018
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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, 2018
Samantha Punch edited this comment May 4, 2018
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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, 2018
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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, 2018
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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, 2018
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Very helpful thanks.
April 4, 2018
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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, 2018
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