Jack James started playing bridge at 16.

Now, five years later, he's teaching other young people how to play.

"When I was in Year 11 at Palmerston North Boys' School, my dad wanted me to get out of the house and develop some social skills.

He came up with the idea that we could do bridge lessons together.


He thought it might be good father-son bonding stuff.

"Arguably, though, I had been playing since I was 3.

"I used to sit on dad's lap while he played bridge on the computer," said Jack.

Jack is currently studying part-time towards a maths degree at Massey University.

He also works part-time as a chess tutor.

Chess is Jack's other great love and he is the Oceania junior chess champion.

"I'm a better chess than bridge player," is Jack's assessment.

That may not be the case for much longer.


Jack is rapidly making his mark as a bridge player.

He already ranks among the top 20 youth players in New Zealand and will very likely come into contention for national selection at youth level.

"What I really love about bridge is that you can always improve.

"Every time I play a three-hour session of bridge, it feels like there's no limit on what I can learn.

"In chess the players have 'perfect information' whereas, in bridge, you can't see all the cards.

"Decisions have to be made on the basis of probability.

"There are other significant differences. One of the most significant ones is around interpersonal relationships.

"Bridge is a partnership game. You can't be a capable player without having a mutually supportive relationship with your card-playing partner.

"The opposition is more varied than chess.

"In a single session of bridge, a player can expect to play against around 30 different opponents."

Jack also enjoys the technological side of the game.

Bridge has moved with the times.

In tournament and club play scores are communicated wirelessly to a central server from tablets at each card table with scores uploaded to the web at the end of each session of play.

Players have rich information enabling then to analyse their own performance and compare themselves against their rivals.

Jack has now put his hand up to teach bridge to new players.

This comes at an opportune time for the New Zealand Bridge governing body which is in the process of implementing a strategy to attract more young players into the sport.

Jack looks forward to introducing the game to many new players of all ages.

NZ Bridge is promoting the idea that bridge is truly "a game for life".

Palmerston North Bridge Club is hosting a free taster session, 7pm, April 29, at the club rooms at 2 Cook St.

Lessons start 7pm pn May 6, $50 for a 12 week course which includes lesson materials and club membership to the end of the year.

For more information Google Palmerston North Bridge Club or contact lesson administrator Jan Whyte: 06 353 3088, email: January.why@gmail.com.