Contract bridge is alive and well in Thailand


The Royal Bangkok Sports Club hosted the annual Open championship for bridge, including a special tournament for the under 18s. The main championship hosted 128 players of which 40 were university students, with the under-eighteen competition attracting a further 100 players. The youngest players were just nine years old.

The two Pattaya-based bridge clubs sent a delegation to play in the once-yearly event. Jeremy Watson, who runs the Jomtien-Pattaya bridge club, said, “This bodes very well for the future of the sport in Thailand. Some other countries are experiencing a decline in bridge playing, but the keen participation by young players in Thailand is the key to its success.”

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The temporary collapse of tourism in Pattaya, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, means that the bridge clubs in the resort are currently rather low on numbers. They are seeking new players locally whilst offering to teach beginners of any nationality the basics of the game. There are organized games most afternoons in the week. The Jomtien-Pattaya club contact is Jeremy (085-818-2172) and the Pattaya Dutch club is Jan (091-228-1648). The two international clubs are separately run but regularly exchange members.

Contract bridge was introduced to Thailand by King Rama VI and international competitions have been held since the 1940s. There are now registered bridge clubs in several Thai cities and resorts. In what is generally regarded now as a misunderstanding about the nature of the game, 32 Pattaya bridge players were arrested for gambling in 2016 but all were released without prosecution.