Bridge Blog

Summer Bridge Camp in Oaxaca, Mexico

Un Diamante, Un Corazon …

Ever wonder how to play bridge in Spanish? A good place to learn is Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca is a city of about 250,000 people in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains, a major tourism destination and (bonus!) also considered the culinary capital of the country.

In 2014, Arturo Garcia Aquilar, a bilingual Spanish teacher, and Carl Owens, a retiree from Georgia, U.S., co-founded La Liga de Bridge-Oaxaca, Mexico (The Bridge League of Oaxaca, Mexico) to provide outreach to the Mexican population and to offer bridge classes to youngsters.

The program began when Arturo was faced with a shortage of work after most of his students returned to northern climates at the end of the winter.

Local bridge players, all expats, financed the first summer school program for children to learn to play bridge on the campus of the Becari Language School. It started with two students; by the end of the summer there were 24.                                                                                                             

“The initial course was designed to provide students with the basic information needed to play socially and for people who haven’t played for a while,” Owens said.

Arturo collaborated with the ACBL Teacher Stipend Program and ACBL Educational Foundation and received a grant on behalf of La Liga de Bridge-Oxaca to introduce bridge to the general population living in the city.

In 2017, the ACBL Educational Foundation noted the continued progress being made in Mexico and provided a grant of $900 to the League to run a tournament for their students. In 2019, the Foundation provided a $1500 grant to the League to teach 16 youths basic bridge during a 10-day course in July. The grant also provided teaching and class management instruction to four certified young interns.

“It’s a great game for kids,” Arturo explains, “because you have to know what the goal is, make decisions focusing on that goal, and count the whole time. Bridge is played as a two-person team competing with another two-person team.” In addition to teamwork, the game requires problem solving and can sharpen players’ math abilities.

Arturo and Tammy (one of the certified interns) participated in four radio interviews in August to promote the League’s upcoming bridge classes and its benefits to players.

And people were listening. On September 7, 2019, a group of 60 Oaxacan people, ranging in age from eight to eighty, embarked on a two-hour lesson to learn bridge.

Helping to make this program possible were six young interns, including four of Maestro Arturo’s original bridge students. Each of them are now certified to start teaching bridge in their own neighborhoods.

Another grant was awarded to La Liga de Bridge-Oxaca in 2020.

« Back to Bridge Blog