Scott Smith hasn’t always been an avid bridge player. He first got into the game because he wanted a way to keep busy after retirement, as well as offer others an opportunity to socialize and stay active.
“After my father passed away, my mother largely kept to herself. She didn’t venture out much or look for ways to keep busy and it hurt me,” Smith says. So when Smith retired more than a decade ago, he started playing bridge in the 80s and took classes with the goal of encouraging those who had lost a spouse or don’t have a large social network to get out and about. This is one of the many reasons he allows singles at the games he oversees. He wants others to feel welcome, and if they keep coming, they’ll have a partner before long.
According to an article titled A Bridge to Brainpower? on aarp.com, “Researchers have discovered that mentally challenging games such as bridge are well suited for older people because the games offer intellectual and social stimulation on a routine basis.”
Ultimately, it was the social and cognitive benefits, as well as his experience with his own family, that inspired Smith to become an American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) club director. “Bridge keeps the mind alive and benefits have been researched and acknowledged by medical professionals,” Smith says. “It gets retirees and seniors out of the house and encourages interaction with others.”
If you are looking for a bridge game in Edina, there is ample opportunity to play—bring a partner or come alone for sanctioned and unsanctioned games—at the Edina Senior Center. For those not in the know, sanctioned games are far more serious affairs. The focus in the room is palpable, while unsanctioned games tend to be more social and easygoing.
Smith is one of two ACBL directors directing games at the Edina Senior Center and there are multiple opportunities to play each week. Tony Ames, another ACBL director, is in charge of all sanctioned games. Smith notes the average age of a bridge player is 71 and 60 percent of players are female.
The AARP article highlights the impact of bridge. “A study in 2000 at the University of California, Berkeley, found strong evidence that an area in the brain used in playing bridge stimulates the immune system. Researchers suggest that is because players must use memory, visualization and sequencing.”
The ACBL is actively working to reach a younger demographic, specifically baby boomers, and has expanded its offerings for those looking to learn the game of bridge with the aid of technology. Training tools include:
- A new Learn to Play Bridge software program, a learn-as-you-play tutorial.
- Free personal computer software programs, including Learn to Play Bridge I for Beginners.
- Learn Bridge in a Day, a five-hour course geared for rookies.
To learn more or inquire about a specific game, contact the Edina Senior Center information desk at 952.833.9570.
Join the Game
Monday 11:45 a.m.
Sanctioned game, $7, can come without a partner.
Tuesday 9 a.m.
Unsanctioned game, $2, must bring a partner.
Wednesday 12 p.m.
Unsancitoned game, $3, can come without a partner.
Wednesday 12 p.m.
Wednesday bi-weekly 6:30 p.m.
Sanctioned game,$6, can come without a partner.
Friday 9 a.m.
Grand Slam (sanctioned), oldest club in Minnesota, upper level play, must join the club to participate.