Monday, June 07, 2004 3:06 AM

Why Improve Your Bridge ?




          Why improve your bridge ? In any sport there is a human desire to improve ones skill. This is an ego generated human response. Losing sucks and have other people perform better then you all the time is no fun. Therefore you are always learning in Bridge . Looking for an edge to beat the opponents is another natural human response . The partnership aspect of the game is another re-enforcement for improving. You do not want to let your partner or team mates down with inferior skill at the game of Bridge.


          Some people just play bridge as an escape mechanism and have no desire to learn. Some people feel they are good enough already so do not have to improve. They do not want to expend the effort necessary to learn as they “may forget” . These people by staying static are missing out on a positive aspect of the game of Bridge . Learning new things and improving in Bridge is fun ! The complexity of the game allows even experts to continue improving . Researching new ideas , trying new conventions all add to your overall skill as a player. You must have a positive attitude towards improving no matter your age. There is no reason why a player can not be better at age 70 than at age 50 unless you let your mind rust.


          I have included some quotes from the Bridge World plus a news item that says playing bridge might be good for stimulating your immune system !!



Because every hand is different, the intellectual challenge of bridge never ceases. Besides, and more importantly, my father often noted that, "If you don't play bridge, you'll have a miserable old age." Since that time is getting closer, this is no time for my interest in bridge to lag or diminish.

- Rudy Boschwitz



Many games provide fun, but bridge grips you. It exercises your mind. Your mind can rust, you know, but bridge prevents the rust from forming.

-       Omar Sharif


Just as muscles will atrophy when not used regularly, so will brain power deteriorate when not maintained with stimulation. Most people attempt to achieve this exercise in pleasant activities, such as reading novels or attacking crossword puzzles. Bridge offers an exciting way to partake in mental exercise.



Contract bridge enhances the immune system, according to a preliminary study by researchers at UC Berkeley
08 Nov 2000

New Orleans -In a presentation at this week's meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley, biologist Marian Cleeves Diamond will describe an experiment showing that contract bridge players have increased numbers of immune cells after a game of bridge.

Based on her previous work, and that of others, Diamond interprets the findings as strong evidence that an area of the brain involved in playing bridge stimulates the immune system, in particular the thymus gland that produces white blood cells called T cells, or T lymphocytes.

"People are aware that voluntary activities like positive thinking and prayer work to keep us healthy, but no one has had a mechanism," said Diamond, a professor of integrative biology in the College of Letters & Science at UC Berkeley. "These data, though preliminary, show that brain activity affects the immune system, and support the possibility of us learning to voluntarily control the level of white blood cells to help combat disease and other illnesses."

Diamond chose to study bridge players from an Orinda, Calif., women's bridge club because bridge is a game likely to stimulate an area of the brain - the dorsolateral cortex - that she suspected influences the immune system. She selected women as subjects because most of her laboratory experiments have involved immune compromised female mice.

Diamond and graduate student Jean Weidner divided the 12 women, all in their 70s and 80s, into three groups, and had each group play a one-and-a-half hour bridge set. Weidner, a former phlebotomist, drew blood samples before and after the sets, and delivered them to immunology research associates Peter Schow and Stan Grell to measure the numbers of immune cells.

Only the levels of CD-4 positive T cells changed in the 12 subjects. In two of the groups, levels increased significantly. In the third group, T cell levels increased only slightly, not enough to be statistically significant.

T cells are white blood cells produced by the thymus gland and sent out to patrol the body in search of viruses and other invaders. T cells that sport a surface marker called CD-4 are "helper" cells that regulate the activity of antibody-producing B cells and of other T cells.

While that task, the so-called Wisconsin Card Sorting Task, is suitable for psychiatric tests, she decided that contract bridge would be a perfect substitute to use with normal subjects.

"Contract bridge was ideal for what we were after," she said. "It is the closest activity to a challenging card sorting task that also contains multiple factors that should stimulate the dorsolateral cortex. Bridge players plan ahead, they use working memory, they deal with sequencing, initiation and numerous other higher order functions with which the dorsolateal cortex is involved."

Luckily, her old college roommate, Marian Everett, was a member of a golfing and bridge club in Orinda, so Diamond approached her about finding a group of 12 players.

"They were so willing to be part of the experiment," Diamond said, that she had no problem getting enough volunteers.

In the future, as a possible follow-up study, Diamond suggests using a functional nuclear magnetic resonance machine to see if the dorsolateral cortex actually does show greater activity during bridge playing than during rest.

Because the brain's cortex is under voluntary control, she hopes her findings lead to ways to educate the brain to improve health.