Hello Josee ,

Winter has finally arrived in Toronto! Last Wednesday we had a “real” snowstorm. Notice the quotation marks around real and that is only because so many times over the years, we have been warned of a terrible snowstorm which became a non event. Although to be perfectly honest, my expectations when I hear the word snowstorm are quite likely very different from yours. I remember our winters in Québec city where the snow reached halfway up the kitchen windows. A year, when I was just 12 years old, I walked from school a distance of 6 or 7 km because all the buses were cancelled. This morning as I am doing a last quick review of the newsletter, it is -10 C here in Toronto and -19C up at the cottage where I am headed tomorrow. They are calling for -24C on Friday . But I have seen worse. I was 21 years old and going to Laval University. Our family skied at Mont Ste-Anne, and my best friend and I had met two really nice boys from Ontario one afternoon. So we made a date to meet them on the slopes the next day . I had always had a weakness for those english speaking Ontarians. What we didn't know was that the temperature that morning would be -26 C . We managed two runs. Then it was all about the après-ski! Anyhow, enough reminiscing!

As we embark on the second month of 2023, I continue to be encouraged with all the new opportunities for in person bridge here in Toronto. In fact last week, I played twice in person (first time since pre-Covid) and how wonderful it felt! One of these games was with Barbara Seagram. We had never played together in all the years we have known eachother. Just like I imagine you feel if playing with a much better player, I was a little nervous. Sure didn’t want to embarrass myself especially when playing the hand! "Count your losers Josée, analyze the lead, make a plan..." Sounds familiar? We had such an enjoyable game! We kept our convention card relatively simple so that there would be no confusion as to the meaning of bids. Remember the KISS method – KISS stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid! I really hope she asks me again !

It was also so nice to reconnect in person with partners and students. If you haven’t tried this yet, plan on it! I promise you will find it addictive in a good way! On this topic check out below the article from the Guardian on healthy living.


I am continuing with in person lessons after my return last Fall brought sold out classes. But I haven’t forgotten those of you who live too far away. I have a pre-recorded lesson due out February 20th on competitive bidding. See the mini video below to give you a taste of what the lesson will include. This lesson is geared for beginners and intermediate players where we will focus on how and when to compete when the opponents have opened the bidding. This is a lesson on basic competitive auction principles – overcalls, takeout doubles, preemptive bidding.


Scroll below to read about a new game starting in March at Armour Heights Presbyterian Church, my winter and spring lessons , offerings from Barbara Seagram, BridgeWhiz, some fun trivia and more! Enjoy and I look forward to hearing from you! 


Have a great month!  



Enjoy this short lesson: Today's video is a teaser of my next lesson on competitive bidding. West has opened the bidding 3 diamonds, should North get involved? If so, how? Now, South's turn...watch for more!

Just click on this link and always let me know if you have any questions: https://youtu.be/RonD7BN4jng

Hint: On Youtube, press the letter F on the keyboard to watch the video in fullscreen.


A combination of healthy lifestyle choices such as eating well, regularly exercising, playing cards and socialising at least twice a week may help slow the rate of memory decline and reduce the risk of dementia, a decade-long study suggests. Practising multiple healthy lifestyle choices together “was associated with a lower probability of progression to mild cognitive impairment and dementia”

Writing, reading, playing cards or other games at least twice a week was the second area of healthy behaviour.

Social contact at least twice a week was the sixth healthy behaviour, including activities such as visiting family and friends, attending meetings or going to parties.

Read more at https://www.theguardian.com

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Bid and Play

Classes closing soon!


Two very gentle sessions aimed at strengthening your bidding and playing foundation. For anyone who has recently completed the Bridge Basics program, or needs a refresher on bidding and playing techniques. Hand evaluation, supporting partner’s suit, NT bidding and responses, competitive auctions and much more.


DATES: Tuesday, February 7th, 1-3 pm (SOLD OUT)

Tuesday, February 14th, 1-3 pm (ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT)

PRICE: $30 per session


Lessons will include a PDF of all the hands including commentary on bidding and responding, opening lead and declarer’s strategy. These sessions are hands on.


Introduction To Declarer Play – A 4-Week Course


Do you love playing bridge? Are you looking to do more this Winter? Still feels like Play of the Hand is puzzling at times? Then you NEED this course!


Counting Losers, Counting Winners, Ruffing losers in the Dummy, Extra Winners in Dummy or Declarer’s Hand, Long Suit Establishment, When and How to take a Finesse and much more! 


DATES: Wednesdays - March 8, 15, 22, 29 - from 1 to 3 pm.

PRICE: $155 (includes Eddie Kantar’s Book Introduction to Declarer Play – new edition revised by Barbara Seagram).

Introduction To Defence – A 4-Week Course


Have you noticed that you are defending at bridge 50% of the time? That is right! Did you know that being on Defence is the most fun you can ever have at the bridge table even when you do not have any points in your hand? Learn how to have more fun and to gain respect from all players when they notice you know how to defend! 


Opening Leads against No Trump and Suit contracts, 2nd hand play,3rd hand play, Signaling against No Trump and Suit contracts, and much, much more!!


DATES: Mondays – April 24, May 1st, 8, 15 – from 9:30 to 11:30 am

PRICE: $155 (includes Eddie Kantar’s Book Introduction to Defence – new edition revised by Barbara Seagram).


Basics Beginners Bridge Series


Learn the basic elements of the game of bridge: how to take tricks, how to work with a partner, how to open the bidding in a suit and in No Trump, how to respond, how to compete and much more! Play bridge the very first week!


DATES: Wednesday, April 12th, for 8 weeks, 1 to 3 pm

PRICE: $240. Includes taxes, Barbara Seagram Basic Bridge textbook and PDF of PowerPoint presentations.


Intermediate I Bridge Series


For those who feel rusty and need a refresher and for those moving up from Bridge Basics lessons.

DATES: Wednesday, April 12th, for 7 weeks, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

PRICE: $210. Includes taxes, Barbara Seagram Intermediate I textbook and PDF of PowerPoint presentations.


Contact Josée Hammill at mjhammill@rogers.com

or call 416-300-9140

Website: www.bridgewebs.com/josees


Who was this man, the scion of a respected railroad family, who invented the game of contract bridge as we know it today?

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Harold S. Vanderbilt

Harold Vanderbilt (1884-1970) was born into the Vanderbilt millions, but managed to serve his country in World War I and have a profound impact on both yacht racing and bridge. For bridge, Vanderbilt revamped the rules of an earlier game, auction bridge, to reward precise bidding, which greatly elevated the skill component of the game. His revisions were so effective that they are now the unquestioned standard for bridge players around the world, which is quite remarkable considering how almost every other card game has many variants.

Vanderbilt donated a trophy, the Vanderbilt Cup, in perpetuity to the American Contract Bridge League, and winning the Vanderbilt is regarded as one of the greatest achievements any bridge player can claim.

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In this section I'll be featuring your most commonly asked bridge questions.

You can ask anything bridge related! Just email me @ mjhammill@rogers.com.

Put in the subject line Ask Josée. I look forward to hearing from you!

Hi Josee. Knowing that your high priority is playing in a major suit rather than a minor one, I have a question:

- When one has opening point count and five of a major and six of a minor, how should he open? Please tell me how you would bid this, and explain how reverses might come into play.


Thank you for this question! Certainly gives pause to think, doesn’t it?

Following the general opening rules, we should open with our longest suit therefore in your example above, you would open in the minor.

The issue is that you as opener must always plan your rebid. Let’s say you have a minimum hand and 14 total points including distribution with 5 hearts and 6 diamonds.

You open 1and partner bids 1(of course since your distribution could be 1-5-6-1 or 0-5-6-2). You must revalue your hand and take 2 or 3 points off your original 14 points. When we don’t have a fit for partner’s suit, our hand devalues. When we have a fit, our hand gets better. Since you are forced to bid, you have to repeat your diamonds. Partner never had a chance to hear about your hearts because introducing your hearts now would show a reverse (a good 16 or more points).

So here you have a case for opening in the major and you will then have the ability to introduce the minor no matter what bid partner makes.

Same point count, now you have 5 spades and 6 diamonds, you open 1 and partner bids 1, you now bid 1, then partner bids 1NT. What now? What would rebidding your spades mean? Yes must show 5, therefore must have 6 diamonds but you need some extra values here. The reason is, if your partner with her 6 to 9 points and her 4 hearts now prefers playing in diamonds rather than spades, you have forced her to correct to 3. That would be again a reverse.

Can you see where I am going with this? With a minimum hand (less than 16 points including distribution, open in your major and bid and repeat your minor if needs be. Partner will now have a good idea of the distribution of your hand, at least 5-4 Major -Minor. And if you rebid the minor after this then partner sees a 5-5 distribution. The bid of a minor after opening in a major shows up to 18 total points with the major longer or equal to the minor (5-4 or 5-5).


With 16 or more points, now you can afford to reverse. So, yes, open in your minor and bid your major at the first opportunity and repeat the major.


Remembering what a reverse promises:

  • 17 (good 16) or more points
  • First bid suit always longer than second bid suit.


So what will your partner hear:


1 1



Partner has reversed and therefore has 5 diamonds and 4 hearts and 17 or more total points.

A reverse is forcing for one round, so let’s say partner bids 2 or 2NT.

You now repeat your hearts. What does partner know about how many hearts you have? You first promised 4 and now you are saying you have 5.

Therefore, following the principles of a reverse, your diamonds must be longer so you must have a minimum of 6 diamonds. Partner can now see 11 cards in your hand between the two red suits.


Hope this helps!


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NOW ON SALE: REG. PRICE: $16.00 USD/$18.00 CAD

NOW: $12.00 USD/$15.00 CAD

If you have not yet purchased this, you need one for you AND one for partner!

Such a great learning opportunity!

POSTAGE in Canada: $5.75 per book

POSTAGE TO USA: $7.50 per book

or pick up near Yonge and Lawrence in Toronto

Email Barbara at barbaraseagram@gmail.com to get this special deal. It is not listed in her online store

OFFER good till end of February.



FOR 0-20 and 0-199 MP PLAYERS! 

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A stepping stone is an action that helps one make progress towards a goal.


Our first goal is to offer bridge in a fun, friendly, supportive and welcoming


Stepping Stones Bridge with Cyndy Winkler & Josée Hammill

Step 1 (Gentle Bridge) is held on Mondays at 12:30 PM and geared specifically for newcomers to duplicate bridge with under 20 master points. We have terrific volunteers to help you bid and play the hand. Requirement to attend this very popular introduction to duplicate bridge is to have taken one series of beginners lessons somewhere, sometimes. The use of cheat sheets or other materials is allowed . Email gentlebridgejosee@gmail.com if you would like to be added to the mailing list and get weekly reminders or for more details. This game is by advanced registration only.

Step 2 begins on Tuesday March 7th, at 12:00 Noon. It is for players in the range of 0-199 MPs. The game will be stratified. The hands will be pre- dealt, hand records available.

 Our goal is to be patient and supportive of all players. We will also endeavour to find you a partner if you need one.

We hope you will join us at Armour Heights Presbyterian Church, 105 Wilson Ave, North York, ON, M5M 2Z9

For further information contact:

Cyndy Winkler at cyndywinkler@gmail.com

Phone: 647 723-3006


F2Face has returned at Torontobridge!

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Important Notice: No games on February 1st and 2nd. Apologies!!!

starting the week of February 6th, there will be 3 weekly F2F games at Leaside Memorial Gardens:

  • Wednesday 12 PM Open
  • Thursdays 9 AM limited (0-500) and
  • Thursdays 12 PM Open 

All games are 12$.

Location is Leaside Memorial Gardens, 1073 Millwood Road.

Contact Rob Drummond at rob@torontobridge.ca

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Josee & Lee's 0-50 Pairs

Wednesdays, 6:45 pm




If you or your partner have not yet played in this game, email Lee at calendar@interlog.com at least one day prior to your first game. Give Lee your name, your ACBL number, your BBO user name and a contact phone number he can reached you at. Once this is done you will be free to join the game 


Here is how to find the games on game day :


AFTER you log in to Bridge Base online (www.bridgebase.com) you will be at the Events/Categories page which lists categories. Under FEATURED AREAS you will see a heading entitled VIRTUAL CLUBS. Click on that heading. Then click on ALL CLUBS at the bottom of the list.





At the conclusion of the game you can go to the following website to see the Results. They are posted approximately 1 hour after the conclusion of the game:



If you have any question prior to game or during the game, Lee can be reached at 416-274-1752.


If you have questions after the game on some boards you played, send me the board number and we can discuss these.


Lastly, HAVE FUN. And RELAX. :-) This is not brain surgery!

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