If you’re a parent who has never heard of this bridge thing before but your child or teen has started to show a sudden interest, there’s no need to be worried about it: It’s not code for some new street drug; instead, it’s one of the most-played and most popular card games of all time.
Many parents of bridge-playing kids aren’t players themselves (and might not know the top or bottom of your average bridge game).
Here’s a handy safety guide to equip parents who want to ensure their kids are safe at a club game or bridge tournament.
Getting to Know the Club
Bridge events and club games are usually organized by a larger bridge club or organization. Make sure that you have the contact details of the bridge club (and anyone on the bridge team!) before sending the kids to a game so that you know who to contact should anything happen – and of course, make sure that the head of the club (or the appropriate Tournament Director) knows to contact you in the event of an emergency.
A Few Bridge Terms
If you’d like to know a little more about what your kids are talking about when they say bridge, there are many excellent resources out there which can teach you the ropes. One of the first and best places to start is this glossary of bridge terms from Funbridge so that parents don’t get left in the dark.
You’ll also find some bridge acronyms in there, including ACBL, ABTA, EBU and more. It’s searchable for easy access.
Scams Are Out There
Bridge isn’t immune to scams and what’s called phishing. If you’ve received an e-mail that appears to be from the ACBL but asks your login details or for any kind of money, it’s likely not an official e-mail from them and you get in touch with the American Contract Bridge League to ask.
(They will never ask for either login details or money, however there’s an increasing number of scams related to cheque fraud that have hit ACBL teachers that you should be aware of.)
Screening Bridge Teachers
Is someone offering to teach bridge? Make sure that they have the appropriate credentials to do it.
Most reputable bridge teachers are registered with the American Bridge Teachers’ Association (ABTA) and the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) – or a similar organization like the English Bridge Union (EBU).
If you’re looking for a bridge teacher and you aren’t sure where to start, visit the ACBL website and make your way to Find a Teacher.
Medical Conditions Considered
Many children out
there have existing medical conditions – and of course, it’s natural for many
parents to be worried about this. If this describes you and your kids, make
sure that you have someone in the bridge team who knows about their health
conditions, and make sure that you inform the tournament director.
This can help if there’s any chance of a medical emergency (such as an asthma attack) occurring at a bridge event.
If your child (or you) wears anything like an Alert bracelet that informs others of their condition, it helps to make this known to other players and those in charge of the bridge event, too.
Most bridge events have wheelchair access (and many clubs can and will make provision for other disabilities like sight impairment when informed beforehand).
As a last note, some bigger bridge tournaments are subject to rules about chronic medications. For international games, you might need a Therapeutic Use Exemption form to be signed by your child’s doctor. (For local games, this usually isn’t necessary.)
Joining the ACBL – and the Game
Bridge is a great pastime for all ages – and you’re welcome at most clubs even if you aren’t an advanced player. If the kids have invited you to a bridge game, consider joining in the fun (and consider joining the ACBL). Yes, it’s possible to join a game too without the need to play. (Note, watching a bridge game is usually referred to as kibitzing!)
Specialized family memberships are available with a discount for bridge-playing households. Benefits of joining up with the ACBL includes access to ACBL sanctioned games and exclusive resources aimed at members.
Keeping in Touch
Make sure that you know how to reach your kids throughout the game, and have the contact details for the club, venue, tournament director – or the others on their bridge team. Some rules might demand that phones are off during the game – keeping this in mind, make sure you have alternate contact details for someone at the tournament who isn’t playing.