Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

More(ton) on BSE

My recent column on breast cancer and Breast Self Examination (BSE) produced a response from Dr Michael Moreton, the International Medical Coordinator at the Bangkok Hospital Medical Center in Bangkok. I have taken the liberty (with his permission) to reprint his letter.
“I was a specialist in Women’s Heath care for many years and the techniques used to screen for Breast Cancer are of special interest to me. I would like to make a couple of additional comments to add to Dr Iain’s words.
“I agree wholeheartedly that Breast Self Examination (BSE) is a useful method of monitoring the breasts. Every woman’s breasts are different in texture and the patient becomes an expert in her own breasts and can recognize changes that a doctor might miss. I suggest to patients that a good time is in the shower or while waiting for the water temperature to stabilize before getting into the shower.
“It is important to know the correct technique. You should press the breast tissue between the chest wall and the flat pads of your fingers, do not use the tips of the fingers. When you have your next physical exam ask your doctor to demonstrate how to do this. Every doctor has had the experience of a woman coming to see them and telling them that they have a breast lump and it is only with the woman’s instructions that the doctor can feel the lump. It’s a good technique; we both recommend that you do this self-examination regularly.
“The debate about Mammography swings one way and another. The modern machines are now using a digital technique. This has several advantages. With the older machines there was a worry that repeated mammograms might even cause cancer due to radiation. There is no chance of that now. With the computer we can also zoom in to worrying areas and get more information. Digital also has the advantage that the pictures can be sent electronically for a second opinion or put on a disk so that you can keep the pictures and show a doctor in another country if that is your wish.
“Ultrasound, can also be useful in certain situations. In order to perform mammography the breast has to be compressed between two plates and X-rayed, in women with small breasts this can be difficult and U/S may be a better method for these women. Similarly women with breast implants may be additionally assessed with this method. If I am particularly interested in one area of the breast I will ask the technician to look carefully at the area. The U/S can be angled in from different directions and this can be useful in examining a worrisome area of the breast. Most modern U/S machines also have a Doppler ability and they can identify areas of the breast with a particularly rich blood supply, which can be a sign of trouble.
“Another technique that has been discussed for several years and that you may read about is Thermography. In this method the patient is placed in a cool room and photographs are taken with a temperature sensitive camera. Hot spots on the breast can be identified. The problem is that not all hot spots are caused by cancers; I am not too enthusiastic about this method.
“The most exciting thing on the horizon is the use of genetic studies in assessing the chances of cancer in any one patient. We know that there are two genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 which can be inherited and will increase the chances of cancer developing. When this blood test is perfected any woman will be able to have a blood test to see if she has a high risk or a low risk of getting breast cancer. Then different screening programs can be arranged.
“A few dietary steps can be taken which may help to reduce the chances of cancer. A diet full of fat is thought to be dangerous; one more reason to avoid them. One positive step that mothers should take is to breast feed their babies as it is found that this activity is protective.”
(Thank you Dr. Moreton for reinforcing the message on BSE. From here, it is up to you, ladies!)

 

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary (and Jim),
You gave Jim age 76 advice that a good way to learn to speak Thai is the “total immersion” method. I used this method in France with great success. However, here in Thailand things are different. The French people are more assertive than Thai people. Until I became somewhat fluent, French people would repeat everything I said, I think not to be rude, but to make sure they understood what I had said. By them repeating what I said, I heard the correct pronunciation, which was very good feed back. Here in Thailand the people are just too darn polite for them to repeat or even ask me to repeat it. And they never, I repeat never, correct me. When they don’t understand what I said they just give me this blank look. Also, in France nobody laughed at me like many young men do here. The French people seemed to be flattered that I was attempting to speak their language and wanted to help me. Here is the method that works for me in Thailand; My Thai wife went to Suriwong Bookcenter and purchased the exact same grammar books that the Thai kids use in their first and second year classes. It starts out just as basic as you can get. There is a picture of a train with the Thai word รถไฟ - of course, no English. The next page, the train comes (มา), so, รถไฟ มา. Then a picture of the Uncle, ตา. The next page, the Uncle sitting on the train, ตา มา รถไฟ.. And so it goes. Just like our American grammar books. Each chapter has a section on the alphabet and later the accent marks for the different tones. This way I’m learning to read, write and speak Thai and it’s fun. Of course my Thai wife works with me. Many bar girls never learned how to read and write Thai. This would be a good way for a farang and his bar girl friend to learn Thai together. Not withstanding all this, Thai kids six years old know how to speak their language when they start grammar school. So, I found it was beneficial to take a basic language class before I started on the school books. You (Jim) might want to take private classes, one on one, a bit more expensive than group classes but you could progress at your own pace.
Uncle Bill
Dear Uncle Bill,
What a kindly old uncle you are, possibly coming to see me “on a train”, and all in Thai, too. I’m impressed, my Petal. I am also impressed that your Thai wife works with you on getting your ‘pasa Thai’ up to speed. She was the one who got you the books and helps you with your ‘homework’ as well. Lucky, lucky Uncle Bill. (Or is that Unka Bin?) The fact that the French people spoke to you kindly also shows what a nice person you are. Many people complain that the French will only speak French and nothing else. Pop in and see me when you’re fluent in Thai. You do have another 50 years planned on the planet, haven’t you?

Dear Hillary,
You always have advice for all the lovelorn men out there to be very wary of the bargirls, but what about us women visitors? Is it the same for us? We are just looking for a good time while we are here, not looking for a long term relationship (we’ve all had those and have escaped from them at home TG). What do you have to say for us. You know, woman to woman. Is it safe? And where are the best places?
Ethel
Dear Ethel,
A new tourist attraction! Thailand’s bar boys, and here I was thinking that you all went to Spain or Uganda or somewhere like that. I must let the Tourism Authority of Thailand know you are coming. They might even lay on a welcome committee at the airport for you and your girlfriends. How many of them will be coming over here as well? There will be no problem for them to find a willing partner (non-long term). You will recognize them as they wear trousers with a zip on both sides, so they can swing either way.

Dear Hillary,
The Thai girls are really lucky. They are all size 6, 8 or 10 and it is easy for them to find clothes. For western women, this is a problem as most of us start at around size 12 and some of us can go a lot bigger than that. Have you any ideas for us more ample ladies? A place somewhere that knows and understands our problems and will cater for us.
Leader of the girls and Size 14
Dear Leader of the girls and size 14,
I was very tempted to suggest a slimming salon. They know and understand your problem and in exchange for some thousands of baht, you will emerge like a butterfly from the chrysalis, but you still won’t be size 10. No ladies, you have to accept the fact that you are big-boned girls and the place for you is a tailor shop that specializes in women’s wear.


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Sell your photo junk

Like most photographers, you will start to get a collection of old photo gear. Some of it has become surplus to requirements, some of it is broken and not worth repairing or too difficult to get repaired in this country, and much has become redundant because you have changed camera systems, or even changed complete formats (6x6 to 35 mm for example).
I found myself in that situation recently after purchasing my Panasonic Lumix Digital DMC-FZ50 (which is still delighting me). It took a year of deliberation (some might call it ‘hesitation’ or just plain ‘dithering’) before I made the fateful decision to a) go digital and b) go Lumix, after more than 20 years of using Nikon exclusively.
Of course, some of you will ask why didn’t I stay with Nikon, with its full range of digital SLRs? Good question, but easily answered. The upper level Nikons are now very expensive, and whilst I had some excellent Nikon manual focus prime lenses, they were not going to be all that compatible with the new Nikon digital auto-focus systems.
That also brings in one of the salient reasons in the purchase of the Lumix - the fantastic 35-420 Leica zoom lens that comes with the Panasonic Lumix, coupled with the electronic anti-shake technology so you can hand hold, even at 420 mm. With digitals these days, I believe that you are best served with electronics from an electronic company, with lenses from an optical company. The Lumix definitely fits that.
Having made the irrevocable decision, I looked at my now defunct Nikon 35 mm film system. I had two cameras, a much loved FM2N, and an FA. The FM2N was the typical journalist’s workhorse with more rolls of film through it than I’ve had hot dinners, whilst the FA was the back up. Only thing was the FA was no longer working, having some kind of internal problem, by which the mirror was locked in the “up” mode.
The lenses were a 24 mm wide angle, old and growing its second crop of fungus (the first was cleaned off about five years ago), a 50 mm ‘standard’ lens and a 135 mm ‘portrait’ lens. I also had a spacer for macro work, which was also very old, but was the good one that still allowed the auto exposure function to work.
Quite frankly, as far as I was concerned, these items were now surplus and it was going to be very unlikely that I would use any of it again (although I would still take the FM2N out of its bag and lovingly stroke it every so often).
It was at that stage that a good friend of mine suggested I sell the surplus items, and said that he had excellent results selling items on eBay in the UK. He was returning to the UK himself and offered to sell them, and I thought, “Why not? I’m getting nothing for them sitting in the old camera bag.”
He had been back a couple of weeks when I got the following email:

Watchers    Bids   
FA            14               7       28
FM2N        39              13      65
Spacers    16               5       22
24 mm      40              23     108
50 mm      55              13       68
135 mm    17               5        34

That little lot came to 325 pounds sterling, which at current exchange rates is over 20,000 baht, which certainly made purchase of the Lumix a breeze (duty-free price).
What made the exercise even more astounding was the number of ‘watchers’ who had been looking as the bids went in on eBay. 14 looking at a broken FA and someone who paid almost 2,000 baht for it. The lenses all went for very good money, though I would have thought the 135 mm would have been more desirable than the 50 mm, but the 24 mm did attract the highest bid, as I thought it would.
The moral to this tale is to look at the old camera gear, broken or otherwise and clear out the cupboard and sell it on eBay. You will get more than you ever imagined, but it certainly helped having a friend who was a regular eBay user and stationed in the UK.


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Reading the Runes, part 1

It must be frustrating being Bob Janjuah who is the Royal Bank of Scotland’s extremely savvy credit strategist who achieved notoriety last year by controversially warning of the impending credit crisis and subsequently has been proven right. No surprise to us as we’d already reached the same conclusions and had positioned our client portfolios accordingly. Yet at RBS and most other banks, it appears that investment strategists and portfolio managers have been continuing to maintain a significant weighting to equities for the past year as the economy and equity markets became increasingly mired in the sub-prime fall out and the credit crunch.
Janjuah and his team have now re-iterated their credit fears of last year and advised clients to brace for a full-fledged crash in global stock and credit markets over the next three months. We’ve had very similar concerns since the sub-prime reared its ugly head back in 2007 and then became a full blown credit crunch in the final quarter of last year, spilling over into the first half of this year. Despite the financial sector’s resilience in surviving what has been thrown at it so far, Janjuah and his team now see the same dangers as ourselves - specifically that inflation will paralyse the policy-making of major central banks. Thus, faced with a stagflationary outlook, every choice looks bad for central bankers and that is very bad news for equities.
A report by the bank’s research team warns that the S&P 500 may well fall by more than 300 points by September as “all the chickens come home to roost” from the excesses of the global boom, with contagion spreading across Europe and emerging markets adding, “A very nasty period is soon to be upon us - be prepared”.
Fortunately, we were prepared when the market was at 1500 rather than closer to 1300 it is today and, unlike most private banking portfolios, we have had our strategies ready for some time thus allowing our clients to make solid gains over the last 6 months as opposed to losing 15% or more in equity markets. Scott Campbell was at pains to point out during his recent Bangkok visit that although there are opportunities in various asset classes, he’d like to see equities at significantly lower levels before being in any tearing hurry to buy back in to equity markets, at which point Asia and emerging markets may well look better placed than western developed markets.
Bob Janjuah thinks that moves into distressed credit may still be too early - “I do not think I can be much blunter. If you have to be in credit, focus on quality, short durations, and non-cyclical defensive names.” This is, however, a topic that we have covered in detail in our current research paper - “Distress, what distress?”
Up to this point we’d agree with Bob Janjuah. However, his further comments reveal the added frustrations of being a prescient economist operating in a traditional asset class environment. Faced with a choice of equities or bonds, both of which look grim in the short term, Bob finds himself in a parallel dilemma to those central bankers who have to choose between inflation and recession. Neither looks good and it’s not easy to see which is the lesser of the two evils.
Therefore, the best advice that Bob Janjuah can give is that cash is the only safe haven, the only asset class that offers protection and looks likely to avoid losing money. Try not to lose too much money or your job would seem to be the best advice that RBS (which also operates the Coutts brand these days) can give most of its clients. In fairness, that places them way ahead of the majority of private banks who continue to hold equities for the long term, irrespective of how far they seem to be falling in the near term.
The best summary of the difference between the Wall Street portfolio managers who are removed from clients in their ivory towers and the perspective of those of us who are at ‘the coal face’ every day, and actually speaking to clients, was summed up extremely well by Stephen Romick of FPA recently when justifying why cash constitutes 40% (slightly higher than MitonOptimal weighting at this time) of his portfolios right now:
“As long term investors one might say who cares, because one cannot time the market. We agree in principle, but we have met few claiming to invest for the long-term, who have also proven to have the stomach to handle the downside volatility that brings prices lower than you ever thought possible. Our cash hoard has not grown because of our top down point of view, but due to our inability to find comfort in the upside versus the downside for the individual investments we analyze. We are not ashamed to admit that the unknowns in this environment scare us a bit - not enough to be disinvested, but enough to make sure that we have enough on the sidelines to survive what the market throws us. We know we lack the skill to pick the bottom, but we sure don’t like the idea of picking the middle.”
On that same note, Scott Campbell recently visited Bangkok because the world’s #1 portfolio manager in his sector feels that it is important to regularly come and meet the investors whose money he directs. Scott advanced this theme even further - “It may not be possible to time individual markets but that is relatively unimportant anyway - asset selection (i.e. choosing which equity funds or which equity sectors to be invested in) probably contributes only around 5% of the total returns that are generated. Over 90% comes from asset allocation - reading the big, macro picture and capturing or exploiting those trends. That is possible and that’s what we’ve been doing at MitonOptimal, now Midas Capital, for many years. It’s not rocket science; it’s mainly informed common sense. There are opportunities in the markets right now, although not the equity markets and there will be even more opportunities coming up - we can find attractive investments now and we expect to find even more going forwards. We’re not holding so much cash because we don’t know where to invest so much as we’ve been taking profits off the table in our commodity holdings, especially gold and oil which have done so well and which we expect to fall back allowing us to buy back in at better prices and then enjoy a prolonged structural bull market. A disciplined portfolio manager isn’t afraid to take money off the table when a short term bubble appears during a long term bull run and that’s where we’re at right now.”
To be continued…

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please contact Paul Gambles on [email protected]


Life in Chiang Mai: by Mark Whitman

A movie recommendation…… and does anyone know what’s happening in Burma…?

My film colleague won’t mind I’m sure if I intrude on his territory to mention a modest but engrossing work that is likely to get lost in the spate of over hyped, ludicrously expensive blockbusters which have been filling out local screens in recent weeks. None of which has screenwriters and directors capable of seeing through a narrative with real coherence and thus relying on special effects and plot ‘devices’ to obscure their inadequacies.
Happily this is not true of ‘21’, which is (was?) enjoying a single screening each day at Airport Major and deserves a better fate. Despite its rather dull title and lack of stars it has already proved a hit in the U.S.A. and Britain and become what is known in the trade as a ‘sleeper’, a film which has far exceeded expectations and which was made on a relatively small budget. In this case, I guess, around a twentieth of that quoted – 165 million dollars – for Dark Knight.
Put simply, 21 is a heist movie, set between a University town and Las Vegas, and belongs to a sub-genre made famous by Jack Finney’s Five Against the House. Recall, if you will, without giving yourself a headache, the daft Oceans 11, the drear Oceans 12 or the dire Oceans 13 and then with a giant leap imagine those duds with a spark of intelligence, originality and, above, all humour.
Add to that a handsome, charismatic young lead and a bright supporting cast led by the fine Kevin Spacey, who was also a producer on the film.He plays a monstrously nasty and egotistical teacher leading scams against Las Vegas casinos. He gets his come –uppance, but then, so does everyone, more or less, since this is a film which operates outside the moral vacuum which is stultifying much of recent American cinema, e.g. Dark Knight, which seems to use Guantanamo Bay as the yardstick for the treatment of prisoners by the caped crusader.
True, 21 is not a great film. But it is a highly entertaining version of a book, based on a true story and well worth your hundred baht and the 120 minutes running time. By the standards of, say, There Will be Blood, it is shallow, brisk entertainment attractive for its relative brevity and wit. I probably over rate it because its achieves its modest ambitions gracefully and with a modesty rare and becoming in movies these days. As for it’s lead actor, let’s hope that his slightly unconventional good looks and intelligence are not too far off the wall for current Hollywood and that decent parts continue to come his way, as recent credits suggest.
His name, by the way, is Jim Sturgess and he is aged around 27 and British. He made his big screen debut in the excellent Mike Figgis version of The Browning Version as one of the schoolboys and has been busy since. He is currently working on a new film by Philip Ridley called Heartless but has a couple of others in the pipe line and one of them – in which he plays a young spy who infiltrates the I.R.A. with terrifying results – will hopefully be his breakthrough into the really big time. Who knows, by 2010 he may be a big enough star to warrant a part in such garbage as Oceans 14…….Or hopefully a big enough star to refuse.
Have you noticed that despite never being out of the news, Burma is not really in it? Stories and articles abound but we never hear anything really concrete about how successful the relief aid has been. The latest news is that UN helicopters are gradually being withdrawn; this contrasts with the reports that help is still desperately needed and with the recent announcement that one billion dollars is the estimated figure for that help, over a three year period.
The problem is not new of course. Cyclone Nargis made the headlines and awakened a wider public to the hideous cruelty of the ruling Junta, who denied ‘their’ people the basic necessities of life. But with 130,000 Burmese dead or ‘missing’ even they could not deny their responsibilities for ever. But what, I wonder, is the true situation a few months on.
In the monthly magazine The Irrawaddy, there is an article claiming that the monks, whilst giving much of the help needed to the survivors, are currently re-mobilising and planning a repeat of last September’s uprising. One doubts it, since the crackdown was so brutal and extreme, and outside sympathy – let alone help- was so short-lived.
In the U.S.A. the final stages have just been reached to ban the import of all gems and jade from Burma, including those via a third country. One more step against the generals. But they have recently signed the Asean Charter, (a nonsense with their human rights record), and only three countries have so far declined to sign- Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Let’s hope they refuse to do so since it requires all ten signatories to make it binding. Still, for all the news reports and updates the blackout on real local reporting makes it frustrating to those who would like to know if the work being done by agencies and helpers has had any effect on the regime and the minds of the people themselves. Plenty of generalizations but no hard evidence. Just the way the regime prefer it.


Let's Go To The Movies: Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
The Mummy:
Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: US/Germany/Canada Action /Adventure /Fantasy – A shame! All this talent, all this fantastic attention to detail, wasted on a mess of a movie that is nothing but one bang after another, one explosion after another, one bloody fight after another, one chase after another, all to no purpose. There is so little restraint, so little taste, in what is seen. It is as though the creators just threw into the mix everything they could think of, and then confused it all with very fast editing, to simply make a loud blur of action. Ignore this one, unless of course you like mindless action, one bang after another, and the rest. Apparently some people do.
It’s a ludicrously extravagant tale of “a mythic battle between good and evil played out in ancient China,” as a narrator informs us. It’s been seven years since “The Mummy Returns” and as Brendan Fraser says in this movie, “Here we go again!” Fraser is Rick O’Connell, and he and his wife Evelyn (Maria Bello) are British aristocrat-adventurers who have retired apparently living richly off of the $800 million worldwide box office of the first two “Mummy” films. They head East in hopes of re-capturing the adrenalin of adventure and meet up with their grown son Alex (Luke Ford).
There the three unearth the mummy of the first Emperor of Qin, China’s ruthless Dragon Emperor, doomed by a double-crossing sorceress to spend eternity in suspended animation, along with his 10,000 warriors, entombed in clay as a vast, silent terra cotta army.
Also starring Jet Li.
Journey to the Center of the Earth: US Action/Adventure/Fantasy – Starring Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, and Anita Briem. During a scientific expedition in Iceland, visionary scientist Trevor Anderson, his 13-year-old nephew and their beautiful local guide, are unexpectedly trapped in a cave from which their only escape is to go deeper and deeper into the depths of the Earth. It’s utterly preposterous, but fun, as the trio travel through never-before-seen worlds, and come face-to-face with surreal creatures – including man-eating plants, giant flying piranha, glow birds, and even dinosaurs. Can’t stand the smart-assed kid – I would have offed him after about his third line of dialogue. Mixed or average reviews for the 3D version, which we won’t be seeing here.
21: US Drama – Kevin Spacey is a crafty professor who trains brainy students to cheat by counting cards and then flies them to Las Vegas to raid the blackjack tables. I found it intermittingly interesting, and I do like Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne. It is based on real occurrences in the mid 1990’s when a group of MIT students got together to count cards at Las Vegas on weekends, and did succeed for a while in breaking the bank. Mixed or average reviews.
The Strangers: US Thriller/Horror – Repellent and repulsive. If I were in charge of things, it would be banned. Shows kids how much fun it is to terrorize people, and details how to do it. Why thoughtful, sane people aren’t boycotting it is a mystery. The plot: Three malevolent, masked strangers terrorize a couple in their isolated vacation home. Rated R in the US for violence/terror and language. Mixed or average reviews.
The Dark Knight: US Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – A wonderful film; dark, complex, and unforgettable, it succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling and disturbing crime drama. Heath Ledger gives a performance that is terrifying as a portrayal of an insane mind, and is something to experience. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army: US Action/Fantasy – Directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Ron Perlman as Hellboy, this is a dark and difficult fantasy full of frightening creatures. It’s a brilliant nightmare, and almost too rich – one is truly overwhelmed with astonishing visuals and strange stories. Generally favorable reviews.
Scheduled for Aug 7
Mamma Mia!:
US/UK/Germany Comedy/ Musical – Starring Meryl Streep. Relentlessly chick-flick, or rather chick-musical, with insistent Abba music. Donna, an independent, single mother who owns a small hotel on an idyllic Greek island, is about to let go of Sophie, the spirited daughter she’s raised alone. For Sophie’s wedding, Donna has invited her two lifelong best girlfriends, while Sophie has secretly invited three guests of her own: three men from Donna’s past, all possibly her father, to the Mediterranean paradise they visited 20 years earlier. Mixed or average reviews.
Where the Miracle Happens: Thai Drama – Produced by Thai Princess Ubolrat Ratchakanya, this film premiered in Cannes on May 16, and is a drama adapted from a story in her book, “Rueng San Tee Chan Kit” (“Short Stories from My Thoughts”). The Princess also stars in the film as a successful businesswoman who values only material things until she loses her only daughter in a car accident.


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Buddhism teaches the value of patience and mindfulness. If your karma is good, all will be well. Some people also learn patience from Bangkok traffic, as you wait powerlessly for what seems like hours in order to move forward a few meters. Other people, however, react to Bangkok traffic with impatience. The former type of people are probably the better bridge players. Bridge benefits from patience and mindfulness, as we will see.
Many players use a bid called a negative double. For those who are unfamiliar with this bid, it is quite simple, but very useful. When your partner bids a suit and the opponents immediately overcall in another suit, your double is not for penalties, but is “negative”. It denies your partner’s suit and shows the two unbid suits. Most particularly it shows any unbid major (lying some about having the unbid minor is usually acceptable). For example, your partner opens 1S and RHO overcalls 2C. Your hand is:
S: 98
H: KQ542
D: Q976
C: 76
You have a decent heart suit, but cannot bid 2H (which shows a minimum of about 9 or 10 points), because you do not have enough points. So you keep the bidding low by doubling to show the red suits. Alternatively, your hand is:
S: 98
H: KQJ7
D: A976
C: 763
Now you have enough points to bid at the two level, but only four hearts, not enough to bid at the two level. Again, you double to show the red suits. But what do you do if your hand is as below, and the opponents are vulnerable?
S: 8
H: A64
D: 9754
C: AJ1098
If you double, partner will think you have the red suits, so this is where patience comes in. You pass. Your partner knows that pass in this position means either that you are weak, or that you are lying in wait in clubs. If your partner thinks you are lying in wait, he or she must double to give you a chance to pass (or, if you are actually weak, to bid something). The full deal is shown below, with you sitting West:
E deals, NS vulnerable

 

S: 10952  
  H: 852  
  D: KJ108  
  C: 43  
S: 8   S: KQJ64
H: A64   H: QJ103
D: 9754   D: AQ63
C: AJ1098   C: -
  S: A73  
  H: K97  
  D: 2  
  C: KQ7652  

This was the bidding:
E         S        W       N
1SDbl  2CP    PP     PP
South made a reasonable overcall, with a good six card suit, 12 high card points and a singleton. But, your partner looked at his void in clubs and knew to double. Your karma must be good because this has delivered South into your hands, with nowhere to run to—NS’s longest combined suit outside clubs is spades, your partner’s opening bid.
Declarer took your spade lead with the ace, and then led the club queen (a low club is
better), hoping to drop two opposing trumps. You take it and switch to a diamond. Partner takes two top spades (with you throwing diamonds), and switches to the heart queen. Now, no matter how South twists and turns, you take a total of ten tricks (2 spades, 3 hearts, 1 diamond and 4 clubs), for down 5. Soon, you are writing plus 1400 on your side of the score sheet. Ah!—the rewards of patience.
Please e-mail me your favourite hands to [email protected]