BAMSA’s third academic paper has recently been published about some of the rewards and costs of playing the mindsport bridge. The paper presents findings from in-depth interviews with top players from the USA and Europe.
The findings illustrate players’ motivations and the opportunities and barriers associated with playing, particularly in relation to partnership dynamics. For example, the social aspects and connection with partners are a benefit, but the partnership can also be a source of tension and difficulty.
The early part of the paper discusses the ways that the academic field of Leisure Studies conceptualises ‘serious leisure’ and where tournament bridge fits in those debates. It suggests that we need to understand elite bridge as a distinct ‘social world’. Within this social world there are two sub worlds: one of amateurs and the other professionals. The paper talks about the choices and constraints facing top players in terms of their commitment to playing and their careers over time.
We show that some players who want to play professionally, may have to take a step of moving to a new country to pursue the elite levels of bridge that are not geographically available to all. The paper demonstrates that for some elite-level female players there are barriers to increasing commitment, both financial and related to childcare responsibilities.
We argue that elite bridge is a good case for exploring ideas of ‘complex leisure experience’. The paper suggests that leisure experiences of winning, competition, thrill and flow should be recognised as key rewards for those who engage in serious leisure pursuit.
Whilst much of this may not be surprising to players, the aim of the publications of Bridge: A MindSport for All (BAMSA) is to contribute to an evidence base about the social world of bridge. Chess has decades of such research, and bridge still has much catching up to do. BAMSA hopes that such publications will raise awareness about bridge as a mindsport and contribute to it being taken more seriously in wider society.
The full paper can be read here: Serious Leisure Experience in a Dyadic Pursuit: Elite Player Motivations and Participation in Tournament Bridge published in the journal, Leisure Studies.
A summary of the paper is also available.