In a room at one of the most renowned universities in the city four students sit round a table in rapt concentration carefully studying their cards.
"One no trump!"
The students call in turn.
While elsewhere on the campus students are intent on their studies and dutifully taking notes in classrooms, this one room stands out as the place for learning how to play cards, or to be more precise one card game in particular: Contract Bridge.
"The bridge class is so different from other classes because it is actually a game. We play cards in front of the teacher. We are concentrated but relaxed, serious but entertained," said Cui Wenwen, a 23-year-old woman at Peking University.
Bridge is an optional course at Peking University. "This is one of the most popular optional courses I've ever seen," said He Zhongkai, an associate professor who teaches the bridge course. "The 100 seats for the course were fully registered within half an hour."
Bridge, which was included in the 11th five-year plan of the Ministry of Education in 2007, has proved a popular option at many colleges and is now offered by at least 10 universities in Beijing, including Peking University, Renmin University of China and the Central University of Finance and Economics. Tutors believe the game benefits students in many ways.
"Bridge helps students in the areas of behavior, reasoning, mental techniques, memory and concentration," He said.
A game of skill, communication and chance, practitioners claim that Bridge is one of the world's most challenging mental sports and to its many aficionados Bridge is by far the greatest card game of all.
"It helps boost our team spirit, for as a bridge player you need to co-ordinate with your partner. The bidding system is particularly captivating and fascinating, because it requires concentration and mental skill to work out how many tricks you and your partner should win," said Zhang Nan, leader of the Bridge League at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
The Western card game was introduced to Chinese colleges in 1980s and the students' enthusiasm for it has since inspired the launch of various bridge leagues and associations in the city.
"Our bridge league is a relatively young one. Members take part in weekly activities," said Zhang Nan, "We have guests in all get-togethers, mostly bridge lovers from Capital Normal University. Bridge is our friendship."
Zhang also said believes bridge provides the students with many lessons for life.
"It's like life. It's not always fair. Sometimes a less-talented player will beat an expert thanks to good luck," he said. "But God finishes the shuffle and we play the cards."