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

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

I can see clearly now …

I bumped into one of my old friends in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. It turned out that he had a problem with his eyes when he was in Italy, and he was worried that the solution he stored his lenses in may have been contaminated.
Now, this can happen, and if you get any sort of eye infection, you have to very rigorously clean and disinfect both the contact lenses, and the natty little container that you store them in each night.
You do take your lenses out each night, don’t you? Even with all the advances in lenses, the ophthalmologists still recommend you give the eyes a rest each night. After all, contact lenses are still ‘foreign bodies’.
As you can see (pun intended), it isn’t just a case of bunging some in and forgetting about it. Quite the reverse. With all our organs that can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, did you know that eye problems are some of the commonest reasons for a doctor visit? And for those of you who wear contact lenses (like me) there are even more eye problems for us to get, despite the common use of contact lenses these days.
There are many types of contact lenses, the old hard ones were made of a material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) which is rigid and does not let oxygen through, but the newer ones have a material called siloxane which is gas permeable. These hard lenses are the most trouble free, although the most difficult to look after. Sounds topsy-turvy, I know.
The second type of lens is the soft contact lens, of which there is a “permanent” style and a disposable type. These are made of hydroxymethylmethacrylate (HEMA) which contains between 30-60 percent water and are gas permeable. However, soft disposable lenses give the most problems, but are the easiest to look after, in direct contrast with the hard lenses. Again sounds weird, I know.
The commonest problems with all contact lenses is infection, and since the lens is a foreign body, there is a good reason to get an infection immediately. For those of you who leave your lenses in the eyes overnight, you have an increased risk of infection by a factor of 10. Take them out every night, you have been warned!
Infection is not to be thought of as something that just happens and when it does you just pop in a few eye drops and get better automatically. Bacterial infection can be sight threatening and the cornea (the clear bit in the centre that you look through) can be destroyed in 24 to 48 hours. There is also a parasite that can get into the eye of contact lens users who have rinsed their lens with contaminated water, or who have worn their lenses swimming in contaminated water.
One very common problem is “losing” the lens in the eye, both the hard and soft types. The most important thing to remember is not to panic. The lens cannot go “behind” the eye. It just rolls itself up under the lid. Try to avoid rubbing and it will reappear in an hour or so. Just like the stray dogs in your soi.
The other very common problem is eye irritation. This is caused by material under the lens or damage to the lens itself, such as splitting or tearing. If you take out the lens and you find it breaking up, do not put it back in - you run the risk of damaging the cornea. If you are like me and you wear your “two week” contacts until they fall apart - remember you are running a risk!
Lens care is the most important feature and you should always wash your hands before removal or insertion. The lens container should be scrupulously clean and the storage/cleaning fluid should be fresh, and never use water.
Look after your lenses, take them out at night, change them frequently and remove them immediately if there is any irritation or redness. “See” you next week!

 

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I am told that foreigners can’t own property here. If that’s the case, how come I see so many realtors advertising that you can? Is it some sort of a ‘come in sucker’ or what. I’ve been told there’s lots of scams in Thailand. Is this just another one?
Per Plexed
Dear Per Plexed,
I presume from your name that you are a foreigner, and possibly Scandinavian. Yes, there are many scams here, almost as many as there are anywhere else in the world, though I must say the number of million dollar offers from Nigeria seem to be dwindling. Looks like I’ve missed out again. Oh dear!
Now to your real question, and remember that Hillary is just a simple Agony Aunt, and not a lawyer - the realtors are not telling porky pies, as there are many ways that foreigners can own property in Thailand. I do know that condominiums can even be bought and registered in a foreigner’s name. Houses with land is a different story, but there are many ways that you can purchase a house, with tenure in your name. Just go to one of the better real estate companies (one which has been around for a decent length of time, preferably longer than five minutes), and ask them. They will be able to put you right. Tell ‘em that Hillary sent you. You never know, I might score some commission here. Scams in Thailand, come on!
However, if you want to find out about a real scam, the following was sent in by a reader from Malaysia:
Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping. Simply going out to get supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don’t be naive enough to think it couldn’t happen to you or your friends.
Here’s how the scam works:
Two seriously good-looking 20 to 21 year old girls come over to your car as you are packing your shopping into the boot. They both start wiping your windscreen with a rag and Windolene, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. It is impossible not to look. When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say ‘No’ and instead ask you for a ride to McDonalds.
You agree and they get in the back seat. On the way, they start undressing. Then one of them climbs over into the front seat and starts crawling all over you, while the other one steals your wallet.
I had my wallet stolen July 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, 24th and 29th. Also August 1st, 4th, twice on the 8th, 16th, 23rd, 26th, three times on Saturday and very likely again this upcoming weekend. So tell your male friends to be careful. Keith.

Dear Hillary,
I think you were being a little unkind to the chap calling himself Uncle Bill a couple of weeks ago. So his spelling wasn’t perfect, but I’m sure you must have had a slip of the pen every so often. Nobody’s perfect. This is an advice column, not a spelling bee. Keep up the good work, though, I always enjoy your column, even though sometimes you are obviously in a bitchy mood and something sends you off.
Uncle Bob
Dear Uncle Bob,
Has this column become the Old Uncles club newsletter or something? Bob, my Petal and champion of the uncles’ cause, if I can try and get the spelling right in English, then I expect the same of the people who write in. If they can’t get it right I don’t mind, but I will correct them where I see something wrong. Is there something wrong with that? I don’t think so, but thank you for the nice words, as well as your bitchy ones. Do I get in a mood? When “something sends me off?” Don’t be silly, Uncle Bob. I don’t need a reason.

Dear Hillary,
I have heard about golfing widows, but at least golf is played in the daytime, so the golfing husbands are home in the evenings. My problem is that I am turning into a cricket widow. Cricket matches seem to be played at any time of the day (or night) in all countries of the world, and he is always off to some pub to watch another match. I am not interested in sport, or else I’d go with him, but I am getting lonely left at home. What should I do? Tell him it is cricket or me? (I’m afraid he might go for the cricket.)
Cricket Widow
Dear Cricket Widow,
If you make life difficult for your sport mad mate, then he will go and it will be an ‘away’ game every night. What I’d do is ask around to see if any of his mate’s wives would like to come over for a hen session. Even if you are not interested, a night out at the pub might also be fun. Let him watch while you gossip with the other women there. That is much better for everyone, rather than sitting fuming at home.


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Still Life photography ain’t easy

One very common misconception in photography is that Still Life work is simple. Unfortunately, no! However, one of the most amazingly creative and satisfying aspects of photography can be Still Life shooting. The ability to position and light a subject to produce a pleasing result can fill up an entire day. In fact, the pros can take a couple of days to get a still life shot just right. That’s right. A couple of days! No exaggeration.
You see, there are so many aspects to be covered in still life photography. It is not just a case of placing the subject on a sheet of paper and pushing the button. Still life photography teaches you every important aspect of the artistic side of photography, as well as honing up your basic photographic skills.

Still life food - flash and daylight.

The first good thing about still life shots is the subject doesn’t complain and tell you to hurry up and “Is my mascara smudged?” You can also just pick up the subject and move it in any direction to suit the shot. You don’t have to ask for permission. Oh yes, there are many advantages in having a silent subject!
Let us begin with lighting. The secret to all still life shots is to have two light sources. This can be daylight plus flash, two flashes, electric lights, daylight and a mirror - but you need two. One to basically light the subject and the other to light the background.
Lighting the background isolates the subject from the background and makes your subject the “hero” in the shot.
The other secret in the lighting is to produce a diffused light source. With un-diffused light, you will get far too many distracting shadows, which with small table-top objects can ruin the overall effect. You can diffuse your lighting by shining it through some scrim cloth, transparent net curtain material or through some frosted plexi-glass - the sort of material they have over fluoro lights, for example.
The next important item in still life photography is your own eye. You will find there are even books on the subject, but what you have to do is to look at your table-top and arrange the items in a manner that is pleasing to your eye. Do you want them overlapping, or at some distance from each other? Generally there is one dominant item - bring it to the foreground and then arrange the supporting items after that. Some overlap generally works well.
Having got that far and you are now pleased with the composition, you then have to look through your camera. Help! It doesn’t look the same as it did with the naked eye! What’s gone wrong? It is because of the differences between the lens and your eye’s focal length. You now have to look through the camera and adjust the table-top items to produce the pleasing composition you saw with your own eye. Yes, this takes time, and now you can begin to see why the pros take so long!
After you have the composition to your satisfaction - you have to light it. This is where daylight or tungsten light becomes easier than flash - at least with the sun’s (filtered) rays or diffused tungsten you can see what you are going to get. (In the pro studio, the flash units have tungsten “modelling” lights so that you can get the idea of how the flash will illuminate the subject, before popping the shutter.)
Generally, I light the background first, then bring in the foreground (subject) lighting, carefully noting “spill” of one light source into the area of the other. Again, this can take hours! In fact, you can change the whole look of a table-top scene just with the balance of lighting used.
Remember too, that the exposure settings used in the camera depend upon the foreground lighting (not the background), and for most situations (but not all) the background can be brighter than the foreground, to “wash” it out a little. But again this is experimentation.
No, Still Life photography is not easy, even though it sounds straightforward. Perhaps it is easier to help the model fix her mascara after all!


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Beware false profits, part 2

Water Stress
Indicator

In terms of supply there are between 9,000 and 14,000 km3 of renewable, useable water available annually. Total global water consumption (water withdrawals plus rain-fed agriculture) is currently running at around 6,000 km3. In terms of water supply and demand, therefore, there is no scarcity of water right now. But in the next few years the gap between supply and demand will shrink on a global basis. One interesting fact to note is that the supply of fresh water on the planet is no larger today that when humans first walked the earth.
Global renewable and available water resources per year
Given the rising demand and fixed supply of water it should come as no surprise to see that water rates are already rising faster than inflation. If one looks at the US, as an example, the average annual price increase of water has been 6.3% since 1989, which is about the same price increase as crude oil, but with a much lower volatility (4.2% for water compared with 42.9% for oil). This is partly explained by the fact that oil is continuously priced in an open market whereas the price of water is mainly administrated or politically priced. Private participation is less than 10% in the water industry vs. more than 70% in the oil industry.
What with the positive supply and demand fundamentals driving water usage, it should not come as much surprise to see that many analysts have predicted exploding growth for the water industry in the near-term future. However, the real situation to date has been more one of lower but very consistent growth, as historically the total water industry (in the US) has experienced mid-single digit rate growth - in the 5% to 6% range. Growth might not be explosive going forward, but at the same time it is hard to imagine any kind of reasonable future scenario in which this industry will be characterized by anything other than very steady and sustained growth, and very attractive long-term business opportunities. At the same time investors in this business need to understand that most sectors are not growing at 15% to 20% a year.
A very illustrative fact is that in any randomly selected five-year period over the last 25 years, water utilities dominate the list of the best performing industry groups in the U.S stock market on a total return basis. Why? The simple answer is that water utilities have always done very well in good times and bad.
When compared to almost any other industry, the water industry has a very compelling business model - with the most persistent demand, and probably the most predictable future.
Consider the
following facts
* There is no substitute for water and users typically cannot postpone purchases - in other words, the demand for water tends to be very price- inelastic.
* The utilities that get water to the end user are natural monopolies with huge barriers to entry.
* Demand is generally unaffected by inflation, recession, interest rates, or changing preferences - all of those factors that significantly affect demand for other commodities.
* Water has a history of strong and consistent growth under all market or economic conditions - demand doesn’t change much with changing economic conditions.
* The price of water does not reflect real economic value - water is worth far more to us than we actually have to pay for it, and hence there is room and the necessity for huge price increases in the future.
Investing in water stocks is a very compelling story, but the downside is that many of the stocks appear to reflect this good news - i.e. valuations are hardly cheap. It is, however, a very diverse industry, with many very profitable companies that are not dependant on the business cycle for their earnings, hence one should buy water funds when equity markets come under strain.
The final word
on the subject
“You think we have bad fights over oil. Just wait until we start fighting over water. It’s predicted in the Koran,” Anonymous Jordanian quoted in The Washington Post, 28 Mar 91.
“The wars of the twenty-first century will be fought over water” - Ismail Serageldin, World Bank Vice President for Environmental Affairs, quoted in Marq de Villiers’ Water, 2000.
Joanne had preceded this with an excellent piece on oil and she followed this with an article about global warming that taken together constitute a mini-series of some of the best investment ideas of the last couple of years. There is very little in the basic stories that has changed since Joanne penned her words. Something else that hasn’t changed is that such thematic investing is best considered in the light of an overall portfolio - a matrix of different asset classes that perform in complementary ways when affected by different stimuli.
This is why the MBMG client portfolios are showing gains year to date when most investments have lost money in 2008. Whether or not to buy water is an asset allocation decision that becomes meaningless if made in isolation because of the impact that it has on the overall beta performance of a portfolio. Finally we’ve seen in the last few months a welter of new fund launches within the water sector as every fund management marketing department has woken up to the opportunity and rushed a new offering out of the door. However, the kind of specialist expertise that Pictet have acquired over the last decade isn’t thrown together as the marketing machines might hope. When bombarded with the latest research supporting a brand new water offering, we might be supportive of the underlying philosophy but we have to say “beware of false profits”. In other words, go with those that have a proven track history.

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

The world is 6,000 years old. It is also flat.

And who cares if it only has 50 years left…?

Two topics have dominated any conversation in the past week or more. First the chronic political impasse in Thai politics which must be resolved soon or the Kingdom may well have to shut up shop – especially to non existent visitors. Second the potentially more disastrous situation heralded by the selection of one Sarah Palin as running mate to the Republican nominee, Mc Cain. He, you certainly know, is the 72-year-old who hopes to get an unbelievably stressful job as leader of the richest and most powerful country in the world.
Quite why he wants the job is a mystery. I guess he thinks that he can’t make more of a mess than the present incumbent and that inheriting a national deficit of 53 TRILLION dollars is so daunting that no one thinks that he – or anyone else – can possibly deal with it. In a way he can’t lose and besides his rich wife has everything else except the title first lady. And she might welcome the White House as an eighth home. And Camp David or whatever as a ninth. And if between McCain and Palin they start WW 3 there’s always that huge bunker as a tenth retreat. But let’s not get too pessimistic. We already have enough to worry about with a woman deeply – indeed impossibly – unsuited and unqualified as President in waiting if he doesn’t stay the course.
As mentioned in the heading, this is a woman who believes the world is 6,000 years old. Ms Plain is a deeply right wing Christian. A creationist. I doubt she actually believes the world is flat. I doubt whether she knows that much about the world beyond Alaska, except for those darn Russians next door and those pesky A-rabs who are always looking for trouble. Still, since her thinking on most topics is some 500 years out of date and flies in the face of science, logic, intelligent thinking, debate, social justice and the accumulated wisdom of centuries she might as well say the world is flat. And probably would if it further ingratiated her to the Bible belt and her fellow believers and creationists.
As for the future of the planet, the evidence of her outpourings on global warming, her anti-conservationist views and her desire to appease big business and the wealthy shows that quite frankly the lady does not give a damn. And if the world is only 6,000 years old then a further 50 might not seem so bad anyway. Except for the unborn child of her teenage daughter and a few billion other young people.
I’m almost amused by the thought that Palin’s thinking (if that it be) would – if reversed – have been enough to send her to the stake or the torture chamber 500 years ago when her beliefs were current. Think of poor Galileo. Still she is not anti such witch hunts, condoning as she does an antiquated view of gay and lesbian relationships, especially those who wish to live peacefully together as members of society. Let alone those who wish to adopt children. She is also – of course- vehemently anti-abortion, denying the rights of her fellow women over their own bodies, even in the case of rape or incest.
She seemingly has no sympathy for any human being who stands in the way of her rigid orthodoxy. And as for animals, rights are not an issue. Polar bears. What polar bears? She condones hunting. It is seemingly ‘sport’ to shoot bears and other animals from helicopters or low flying aircraft. The 300 million guns so proudly owned by Americans have to be used somehow I guess and she is a life long supporter of the Rifle Association. How she must have mourned the passing of Charlton Heston.
She is not concerned with the further pollution of Alaskan waters, or the reduction of whales in one area from 1,500 to 350. And those bears? Off the list of endangered species. That’s an order. As Sarah the Huntress her next starring role would be in a remake of the horror movie Driller Killer, relocated to Alaska. It’s not survival of the fittest which she condones, but survival of the CRV. Don’t worry about life on the planet so long as the automobile survives.
Nominally, she supports the family. Provided the family is the sort she would approve of. She is in favour of intruding in other peoples’ life styles and behaviour but jealousy guards that of her daughter. She can’t have it both ways. Can she?
Choosing her (against the instincts of the would-be President Mc Cain) was an act of expediency. She is young(ish) and seemingly ‘good’ on television. Her inexperience seems to pose no problem, although this is a charge most often leveled (with far less reason) at Obama. Still he’s black. True she’s a woman and that creates some tension. But since she thinks little of the rights of women, believes guns are great and hunting fun and queers are less than human, lots of men won’t take her gender too amiss. Just so long as she’s not lesbian.


Let's Go To The Movies: Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan:
US Action/Comedy – Starring Adam Sandler. Zohan is an Israeli commando who fakes his own death in order to pursue his dream: becoming a hairstylist in New York. It’s an Adam Sandler comedy, and if you like his kind of low and crass comedy, you should like this one very much. Here he plays the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for laughs. I laughed. A lot. And cringed. A lot.

Has been banned by censors in most Arab countries. But a huge hit in Israel. Mixed or average reviews. Burn / Kon Fai Look: Thai Thriller – All you ever wanted to know about “SHC” – Spontaneous Human Combustion. As you certainly know, that’s the familiar medical condition wherein a living human being suddenly bursts into flames. Director Peter Manus examines this serious human malady, and perhaps will show how you can inoculate yourself against this happening to you. Maybe diet can help.

Bangkok Dangerous: US Action/Drama – Directing twins Danny and Oxide Pang remake their popular 1999 thriller about a ruthless hitman (this time Nicolas Cage) who travels to Bangkok to carry out four murders. During the course of his jobs, the triggerman falls in love with a pretty local girl (Hong Kong actress and pop singer Charlie Yeung in a quite affecting performance) while also forming a friendly bond with his young errand boy (nicely played by Thai actor Shahkrit Yamnarm).

A fairly decent, if cliché ridden and predictable, action flick. You should be happy with it if you like a somewhat low-powered shoot-’em up action picture. And/or are a fan of Nicolas Cage. Rated R in the US for violence, language, and some sexuality.

Tevada Tokmun: Thai Comedy – About the misadventures of an angel and a monk.

Mamma Mia!: US/UK/Germany Comedy/ Musical/ Romance – Starring Meryl Streep. Immense quantities of popular ABBA music that I find horrifyingly infectious. An extraordinarily vivacious and energetic musical that is bound and determined to make you sing and dance and feel good about marriage. Mixed or average reviews.

Boonchu 9: Thai Comedy – A feel-good movie for Thais from start to finish. It’s the gentlest of comedies and family drama, with the sweetest of characters and the pleasantest of situations. The Thais I saw it with were thrilled with it every moment, and had a thoroughly good time, but I think you need Thai sensibilities to really enjoy it. Has some appealing young stars and well-established older comedians.

Boys Over Flowers: Final: Japan Romance/Comedy – Wildly popular film in Japan featuring five popular Japanese idols, about a working-class girl at an elite prep school who must contend with a four-man clique of “rich, gorgeous guys.” No English subtitles.

The Coffin / Lhong Tor Tai: Thai Horror – Ananda Everingham as a claustrophobic architect who participates in coffin rituals to gain a new lease on life. It has much going for it, with a stellar cast and a fine director, but it doesn’t seem to be the movie that director Ekachai Uekrongtham set out to make. The script won a prestigious festival prize, but the movie hadn’t been made yet, and to get the necessary funding he had to change it into a horror flick. The opening sequence of the burial ritual at the temple gives an idea of what the film could have been. This is the director’s first English language film, yet it is shown in Thailand only in a Thai-dubbed version, with English subtitles which don’t jibe with the movement of the lips. It’s simply awkward.

Made of Honor: US Comedy – A piece of fluff about, what else, love problems, with the appealing stars Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan. Generally negative reviews.

WALL•E: US Animation/ Comedy/ Family/ Romance/ Sci-Fi A work of genius from the first frame to the last. Robot love in a dead world, and the cutest love story in years. Reviews: Universal acclaim.

Death Race: US Action/Thriller – The most twisted spectator sport on earth as violent criminals vie for freedom by winning a race driving monster cars outfitted with machine guns, flamethrowers, and grenade launchers. The previews are repulsive, and have convinced not to see it. The consensus: Little more than an empty action romp – mindless, violent, and lightning-paced. Rated R in the US for strong violence and language. Mixed or average reviews.

Scheduled for Sep 18

My Best Friend’s Girl: US Romance/Comedy – Dustin (Jason Biggs) is dumped by smart, beautiful, and headstrong Alexis (Kate Hudson). Devastated and desperate to get her back, Dustin turns to his best friend, Tank (Dane Cook), the rebound specialist. Tank offers to help out by to taking her out on a lousy date in order to make her realize how great her former boyfriend was.

Cyborg She: Japan Romance/Sci-Fi – A touching time-spanning sci-fi love story between a high-tech cyborg from the future and her kindly, frail, physically handicapped inventor.


HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?: Stuart Rodger

Flowers of Wax

Here in Thailand there is a wonderful group of native air-plants named Hoya, which hang from tree branches and drink from the moist air, surviving happily throughout the dry months by storing water in their thick, fleshy leaves.
The flowers look as if they are made of wax; their centres drip with a delicious drop of honey, and some have petals which appear to have a coating of velvet. As if these unusual features were not enough, in the early evening the flowers suddenly pour forth a flood of gorgeous astringent scent that will fill your house and hit your nostrils as soon as you open your door. A lovely surprise welcome after a hard day at work, and a wonderful reward for looking after a plant which only requires the minimum of care.
The plant is usually sold in flower, and wired so that you can hang it up in the air with just the minimum amount of coconut fibre to sustain the roots. Colours range from white and pink through to deep red – the plants are easy to carry home as they weigh almost nothing! It should be hung where it can receive rainfall, or wrapped around the branch of a tree so that it can establish itself naturally with clinging roots from the climbing stem. If you have it placed underneath a balcony, spray it with rainwater or dip the coconut fibre in a bucket of water daily and leave it there for 15 minutes. This may be inconvenient; of so, the plant is quite happy in a pot of soil placed so that it can train up a trellis. As the stems grow and twine, now and again a flower will form from a leaf axil. When the flower falls, leave the stub in place, as it will continue to flower spasmodically from the same point.
Remember that, although all varieties are scented, the scent is undetectable during the day – you have to wait until the evening to enjoy this delight!

Tip of the Week
Because the plant has clinging roots all along its stems, you can easily give an admiring friend a cutting. The minimum required is tow alternate leaves with 1 inch of stem attached underneath. This, in a pot of soil, will soon establish itself with the aid of its sustaining fleshy leaves. Take care, though, not to give away one of the valuable flower stubs as you will be depriving yourself of future flowers!


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

A relaxed attitude towards life, exemplified in the phrase may pen rai (meaning something like “never mind”) is famously part of Thai culture. However, such an attitude has its disadvantages when it comes to the bridge table, where planning is rather important to success. The next hand is an example.

You are sitting South and are declarer in four spades, with no opposition bidding. The king of hearts is led. You see the North and South hands as below. What is your plan for the contract?

                         S: KJ8
                           H: 1086532
                           D: 74
                           C: Q7                      
S: ?                                                     S: ?
H: ?                                                     H: ?
D: ?                                                     D: ?
C: ?                                                     C: ?
                           S: AQ1095
                           H: A
                           D: A32
                           C: A965                  

I watched a may pen rai declarer play this at one table. He began by pulling trumps, ending on board. He then paused to think about the hand, rather belatedly. He led the queen of clubs from board, ducked it in hand and lost to West’s king. The queen of hearts was led back, ruffed by declarer, who then led the ace of clubs and a low club, hoping for good news. No such good luck. In the end, he took only his five trumps and three outside aces, going down two. As I left I heard him complaining about North’s bidding.

At the other table, declarer paused to plan the play right at the beginning. She saw that she needed two more tricks to go with the five trumps and three outside aces. Possibilities were the queen of clubs and club or diamond ruffs on board. To get any ruffs, it was important not to pull trumps too early. The best chance of making the club queen was if the king were with West. So her first lead after winning the ace of hearts was a low club. West went up with the king and led a spade to cut ruffs on board. This was won on board and the queen of clubs cleared. Now a diamond was led to the ace in hand and a low club was ruffed. East showed out, but could not over ruff board and discarded a heart. A diamond was led from board, and won by East. Another trump came back, but it was too late. Declarer won in hand, pulled trumps, took the ace of clubs and ended up losing only one club and two diamonds. Even if the king of clubs had been with East, the result is the same – declarer simply ruffs two low clubs on board instead of just one. Contract made, thanks to careful planning.

This was the full hand, with South dealer and EW vulnerable. Would your plan have made the contract?

                           S: KJ8
                             H: 1086532
                             D: 74
                             C: Q7  
S: 62                                              S: 743
H: KQ                                             H: J974
D: 10986                                         D: KQJ5
C: KJ1083                                       C: 42
                             S: AQ1095
                             H: A
                             D: A32
                             C: A965           

I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands – please do contact me at: [email protected]