Club Management Focus: Winter 2016

EBED Simultaneous Pairs

The English Bridge Education and Development Simultaneous Pairs will this year be raising funds to aid its work in researching the cognitive benefits of playing bridge.

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025. EBED, the English charity for Bridge Education and Development, is now taking a scientific approach to establish whether playing bridge delays the onset and severity of dementia. With little scientific investigation so far, EBED is fundraising to enable a formal scientific evaluation of the topic.

All proceeds from the EBED Simultaneous Pairs events in May and September will go towards funding EBED’S work. Simply by organising a heat at your club – or playing at another club on a night your club is not hosting a heat – you will be assisting a project which will make a difference not only to bridge players, but to the health and wellbeing of the general public.

Please take part!

What does the research involve?
There has been a revolution in technology used to image the brain over the last decade. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a relatively new procedure that uses MR imaging to measure the tiny metabolic changes that take place in an active part of the brain.

EBED is planning a research project at Imperial College, London that will scan the brains of bridge players and compare them to appropriate controls. The fMRI technology will allow scientists to examine the brain in states of rest and then examine the networks and connections utilised whilst undertaking a cogitative task such as playing cards. It will allow them to examine the differences in the anatomical structure and function of the brain in bridge players and non-bridge playing controls.

For the first time it will be possible to see which areas of the brain are activated during a game of bridge. At the end of the project there will be a quantitative measure of the possible neurological benefits of bridge.

As part of these investigations EBED will also examine the social benefits of playing bridge in collaboration with Professor Samantha Punch, University of Stirling. It will try to establish how much of the health benefits are due to the social interactions provided by bridge playing and how much is due to the cognitive activity of playing cards.

There is a sense of purpose and community in a bridge club and this probably enhances the wellbeing of those regularly attending. EBED will undertake an investigation about the social networks and interactions; examine measures of social isolation, sense of community and wider implications of what bridge adds to the health and wellbeing of players. Will there be an amplified effect on the wellbeing of bridge players attending a club compared to those that play bridge online in social isolation?

The work will also have benefits to the wider society. It could demonstrate possible health care benefits to the general ‘non playing’ ageing population. It could promote the health benefits and encourage new players into the game. A delay in the onset of the ageing process by an average of just one year, or a modest 10-15 per cent improvement in mental awareness, could generate considerable cost savings. It would relieve some of the economic burden on formal services, and reduce both the economic and emotional strains on those who give informal care support.

How – and why else – to take part

The events take place on:
Spring Sim: Tuesday 3rd to Thursday 5th May and Monday 9th May 2016
Autumn Sim: Monday 5th to Friday 9th September 2016

Taking part is very simple. You should register through the club’s members area of the website and nominate a member of the club to receive the deal files. They will be then be able to download the hands from their members area prior to the event. To submit your scores simply submit your usual P2P scoring file, and tick the box which says it was part of a Sim Pairs event. An invoice for the additional entry fee (£2.70 per player) will be automatically raised at the same time as your P2P invoice, and if you pay by direct debit it will taken automatically. Full instructions are available here.

We will also send you a promotional poster prior to the event which you can personalise and display at your club to let your members know that the event is taking place, and how the money raised will be used.

We hope that simply supporting the work of EBED is sufficient incentive, but should you need more persuading...

  • Each club which hosts a heat will have the chance to win up to £1000. The winning pair of each heat will also have the chance to win up to £1000, and there are cash prizes for the overall winners of each event too.
  • The results service which is provided is, we believe, excellent, with a breakdown of all the scores and percentages along with hand records and an expert commentary which is both interesting and educational. There is also a double-dummy feature, so you can see what you could, or should, have done, and there is a discussion feature, so you can talk about what happened on the board. Here is an example.
  • Whilst not the motivation of some club players, others love the opportunity to boost their Master Point total whilst playing in their home club. The top pairs will receive hundreds of Master Points as well as being awarded Blue Points. You can see more information on Blue Points here.
  • We sometimes receive comments that some people are concerned that hands in a Sims event are manipulated so that they are weird, or that we pick hands which make for a more interesting commentary. This is not true. The hands you receive are exactly as dealt, and the interesting commentary is down to the skill of the author, not due to manipulation of the hands.

Please take part and help EBED to do important work which will make a difference not only to bridge players, but to the health and wellbeing of the general public.