Bridge has been called a mental sport and is comparable to chess. Fourth- and fifth- graders at Landstown Elementary are the only students in the city of Virginia Beach who receive free bridge lessons from teachers affiliated with the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). The organization provides free bridge text books as well as trophies, certificates and t-shirts for all students who complete the program.
Volunteer teachers donate numerous hours providing free weekly lessons. Classroom teachers work alongside the bridge teachers to help manage the students and learn about the game. Bridge experts and volunteer teachers Sandra Starkey and Marshall Hutto got students started in October with the basics: shuffling cards, identifying suits and counting high card points. Soon they were using mental math, close observation, memory and advanced planning to bid games, make strategic moves and work with their partners to win tricks.
The children spent October through February learning new skills and practicing. This spring, they were able to put those skills to use as they competed in a two week bridge tournament. After four hours of play, points were calculated and the four top players from each grade level were awarded trophies.