Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Raibidpura - Trip Summary(Kids) - Aug 21 - Sep 4, 2012

It was an amazing experience being at Raibidpura in person. People are extremely hospitable and friendly.

I was accomodated in a vacant house, with various players taking  turns to host my lunch and dinner with their respective families.

The Children and Mini-Bridge

There are10-18 girls visiting the club everyday. They play mini-bridge (2 tables), and practice on the laptops using Bridge Master (Audrey Grant version). There are 15-20 boys who come in the next batch, and few young adults who have started learning as well.

They are highly enthusiastic, and seem to already love the game (albeit the mini version of it). This was evident from the fact that they would visit the club and play a few extra hours when they had a day oiff from school!!

Amresh had told me want to learn bridge - bidding included. I gauged that it may be too early for that - so gave them a few challenges to illustrate how much more there is in the domain of mini-bridge itself..

Concepts Taught

The concepts i focused on during this visit included:

  • Probability, combinations, breaks etc - and how to calculate probability of a distribution. This needs further work.
  • Counting cards, and working out shapes
  • Importance of vocabulary - esp. bridge vocabulary
  • Importance of Planning the play
  • Trumps v/s Notrumps - the essential differences
  • Counting winners and losers - and making it a habit
  • Planning the play - and making it a habit
  • Power and importance of trumps - an ally and a danger
  • When to draw trumps/delay drawing trumps
  • Importance of entries
  • Managing entries
Essentially, i covered the first few lessons from LTBP-I, with a strong focus on the players learning the right habits. I think at least 80% of the concepts were grasped by 80% of the audience - more than what i had hoped for when i had started.


Many kids seem to have an innate card sense.

For instance, a kid about 8-9 years old, from a nearby tribal area, tries to develop a trick in a suit with QJxx opposite xx at a NT contract!! And this within first 2 weeks of starting to play mini-bridge, with almost no training. Similarly, i saw another kid smoothly refuse a trick when the declarer took a finesse!!  Another case - a new mini-bridge player could work out the lay of cards required for a simple squeeze to operate (this one an adult - a teacher).

Sure they cannot yet articulate the reasons for their actions, and maybe it was just a co-incidence, but when coupled with the kind of enthusiasm, hunger and dedication they have shown, I am very confident that some of them will turn out to be very fine bridge players given proper guidance/training.

What started as a 1-2 week fulltime commitment from me has already turned into a 6 month full time commitment at the minimum, thanks to the overwhelming response from the children.


As the attendees range from ages 8-16, at different stages of mental development - teaching them all together  is extremely difficult. It needs to lot of 1-1 interaction to understand how much each of them has grasped.

I found that some of the brighter kids were finding the pace a bit slow, or the lessons too easy, whereas the others were struggling to keep pace - something that happens in any class, but accentuated a lot more here due to the wide spectrum of attendees.

Other challenges include

  • Lack of bridge literature in Hindi
  • Inadequate Teaching/learning aids
  • Not enough teachers to scale the program

However, one needs to be mindful of the fact that it is just a 3-month old initiative, and these challenges should just act to shape our future plans.


Modern day urban life makes time scarce even for kids aged 8-15. Rural India is still relatively untouched by this phenomenon, and as such Raibidpura offers an excellent opportunity to groom players for the future.When coupled with the fact that the game is already widely accepted in the larger society at the village, means there are virtually no social barriers to entry. A little support can go a long way in facilitating bridge players from Raibidpura.

Future Plan

There is a break in the teaching effort as the kids have exams, and I travel with the senior team to Chennai for a tournament. The classes will continue from October first week. The plan is:

  • Continue to teach more sophisticated card playing techniques
  • Teach the basics of defense
  • Drill in the importance of the number of trumps in the combined hands (and exposet he inadequacy of HCP system alone) by modifiying mini-bridge rules so that the number of tricks to be scored by the declarer goes up for bigger fits
  • Introduction to Contract Bridge
  • Introduce the basic bidding concepts - Standard

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A New Beginning - Aug. 21, 2012

Its 4:00 p.m. and am on my way to Raibidpura - a small village with a population of ~5000. This is a visit after close to 2 years - and am very excited.

What's so special about Raibidpura?

There are more than 200 bridge players - thats an amazing 4% of the population!! Undoubtedly the highest density in the world. A mind game that is considered to be elitist - being played on the streets and the roadside. And many of the players are illiterate!

The chief occupation at Raibidpura is agriculture. Almost everyone has a house in the village, and most have a piece of land they live off. A lot of residents are also teachers.

The Beginnings of a new Revolution

Thanks to Amresh, and many others, a new revolution is shaping up, hence the excitement. Amresh, with contributions from some bridge players, has set up a bridge club at Raibidpura. The club can house 40-50 players at any time. There are 5 laptops, a broadband connection and adequate power backup to allow the club to function even when there is no electricity.

There are 40 children from ages 9-15 who have started learning mini-bridge (a scaled down version of bridge specifically designed to take bridge to new players).

I am going to carry Amreesh's efforts forward - to facilitate the learning process.

What this blog is about?

This blog will document first hand experiences at Raibidpura focussed at Bridge related happenings.