Volunteer teachers from the Washoe County School District finished the second of Reno Youth Bridge’s two bridge teaching seminars on Sat., Sept. 24, 2011.
David Weinberg, Dan Green and Mollie Rakestraw, all three of whom are RYB Directors as well as Bridge Teachers approved by The American Contract Bridge League, monitored the Volunteers as they practiced playing the game of Mini Bridge.
The Volunteer Teachers are fired up to get their school’s bridge team recruited, trained and ready to compete in the WCSD-RYB interscholastic duplicate bridge tournaments beginning just after Christmas of this year. Ten of the WCSD Middle Schools and three private schools have identified volunteer school teachers to recruit organize and coach their school’s bridge teams in after school activity classes. Middle School Bridge Teams returning from last year are Billinghurst, Cold Springs, Depoali, Incline, Mendive, O’Brien, Shaw, and Sparks.
New entrants this year include Swope Middle School and Vaughn Middle School. These ten WCSD middle schools will be joined by High Desert Montessori Charter School, Davidson Academy and Our Lady of the Snows Catholic School.
Reno Youth Bridge introduces the game of bridge to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students at the basic level of what is called “Mini Bridge”. Easy to learn but containing important treatments for the play of the hand, students are able to gain understanding for analyzing and evaluating how they must play the cards to make their contract. They learn which card to play in a given circumstance, protecting entries to the hand on the table as well as their own hand, and generally become more proficient in playing their contracts.
In Mini Bridge, the players announce the point count that they hold and the partnership with the most combined points will become the declarer and “dummy” (a term used to describe the hand placed on the table). Declarer then asks his partner how many cards he holds in each suit and then selects which suit to name as trump or whether to play at No-trump. Declarer then wins points by making his contract or the defenders win points by causing under-tricks by Declarer.
Two returning teachers, Collett Gilmore and Suzy Davenport each described how their experiences have been over the past two or three years teaching bridge at their schools. The greatest benefit they noticed the students gained by learning and playing bridge was not just the measurable improvement in their math skills but also their development of social skills as they began to understand that success in the game of bridge depended on the teamwork of a partnership.
Suzy Davenport, a three-year veteran teaching the game to students at Sparks Middle School, noted that one problem she had to learn how to deal with was that students have difficulty concentrating for more than an hour during “after school activity” classes. They have been required to conform to class room discipline during the regular four or five formal class room sessions in the morning and after lunch they typically want to be less constrained. It is manageable but she warned that new teachers should be prepared to deal with an environment where talking and acting up is more common than in regular classes. Both recommended that classes be limited to 60 minutes and a judicious use of snacks be incorporated to influence behavior.