Edmonton students embrace classic cards with bridge

Bridge isn't just your grandmother's card game anymore.

'It took a lot of time to learn the game, but we got there,' says Grade 9 student Malarie Vaughan

Edmonton students are learning the classic card game in classrooms across the city. (Corbis)

Bridge isn't just your grandmother's card game anymore.

Likely to conjure up images of grey hair and wrinkles, cucumber sandwiches and afternoon naps,  the classic game is often perceived as a pastime reserved for the old. 

But you don't have to be over the hill to enjoy playing a few hands.

The old game is becoming popular with Edmonton teens.

And junior high students will compete in the city's first annual student bridge tournament on Wednesday afternoon at the Edmonton Bridge Centre.

Twenty-four advanced math class students from Rosslyn Junior High School have been taking weekly bridge lessons and getting their poker faces ready for the match.

"Playing games is a great way of learning. There is some math to it, points and strategy ... this is the way kids learn best," said math teacher Barbie Kuz, who has been working with the Bridge Centre to bring the game to the classroom.

Kuz says learning how to hone their card skills has left her students flush with enthusiasm. 

"This has been a great experience for them. Kids that I rarely hear from are engaged, talking, and cheering or showing disappointment around the card table." 

Grade 9 student Malarie Vaughan said learning the four-player game wasn't easy, but she's confident she can deal a winning hand. 

"It's different from every card game, like go fish, 21, it was way more complicated," said Vaughan, who admits she had no idea bridge was perceived as a game for oldtimers.

"It took a lot of time to learn the game, but we got there." 

The kids will cut their competitive teeth at a second tournament in May, and organizers hope to expand city-wide in the coming year. 

After success at Rosslyn, the club has been working to introduce the game at Lillian Osborne High School, and plans to expand the card-playing curriculum to a third school in September. 

The Spring Break Special Tournament began at the Edmonton Bridge Centre at 11810 Kingsway Wednesday at noon.