Vol. VII No. 46 - Tuesday
November 11 - November 17, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


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

Getting hooked on hookworm

When you talk about ‘worms’, most people think of threadworms that all children seem to get. The answer is always “a good worming”. Yes, we’ve all been down to the chemist shop and bought a packet of ‘worming’ tablets.
However, you should not imagine that ‘worms’ stops there. I can assure you that there are far more dangerous wrigglers in the community. And the sandy beaches are the habitat for some of them.
My friends laugh at me when they see me walking along the beach. Instead of letting the cool sand squish between my toes, I wear closed shoes. Does this mean I am a pedantic pedestrian? Or a member of a weird anti-sandal sect? Fortunately it is neither. I am just a trifle afraid of Ancylostoma duodenale. And so should you!
Ancylostoma duodenale is one of the two hookworms that can get their hooks into you (and me if I let them). The other is called Necator americanus. These little chaps are roundworms between 7 to 13 mm long and are far from rare. Approximately one-quarter of the world’s population is infected with Hookworm.
So how do you get infected? Easy, the hookworm eggs are passed in faeces (or poo if you prefer) and infection results when you come in contact with the eggs from the contaminated soil. The larvae enter through the skin and travel to the lungs through the blood. They ascend the lungs through the bronchi and trachea and are then swallowed. As the larvae pass into the digestive tract, they attach themselves to the wall of the small intestine. Here they mature into adult worms, mate and feed on the blood of the host. And adult hookworms may live up to ten years.
Unfortunately many hookworm infestations do not produce symptoms; however, there may be local irritation of the skin where the worm penetrated or even an itchy rash. While going through the lungs, there may be asthma-like symptoms or even pneumonia. The most common symptoms of Hookworm infection, however, are from their taking up residence in the intestine. Hookworm here can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss, loss of appetite and excessive gas.
With long-standing infections, the intestine’s owner may become anaemic as the worms feed on the individual’s blood. This in turn leads to the usual anaemic symptoms including pale complexion, tiredness and weakness.
Diagnosis is done by looking for hookworm eggs in the stool (by using a microscope). Blood tests will show the amount of blood loss and can be used as a pointer towards the seriousness of the infestation.
Fortunately hookworm is treatable, generally with the drug mebendazole. This drug cures more than 99 percent of all cases of hookworm if given twice per day for three days. It kills both the worms and the eggs, but is contraindicated during pregnancy. If anaemia has become a problem, then iron supplements can be given as well. Once treated, the symptoms settle quickly in a few weeks at most.
So what can you do to avoid hookworms? Well since hookworm infection comes from non-hygienic practices and faecal contact in the soil, my shoes sound like a great idea, don’t you think? Never mind the problems with hypodermic needles found in the sand in many countries these days!
Hookworm infections should be dealt quickly and stringently. Known symptomatic infections should be treated rapidly and treatment given to asymptomatic family members or neighbours. Strict attention to cleanliness and sanitary practices is needed when a hookworm infection is detected to prevent its spread. This means hygienic disposal of human waste, limiting skin contact with soil and even water, where there is untreated sewage.
Hookworm can be a very serious illness so it is essential to be aware of any change in one’s health status. Any difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, chest or abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, blood with coughing, asthma-like symptoms, skin rashes, abdominal swelling or bloating, lightheadedness or weight loss should be brought to your doctor’s attention.
Me? I’ll just keep wearing shoes!

 

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
Here is some advice to UK single pensioners, marry your Thai girl friend and get a big pay rise (married man’s pension), then your wife will get also her UK national insurance card, which will make her very happy. I know because I have just done this, and we are both happy.
Archie
Dear Archie,
I sort of get the impression that your advice on getting married is the right choice, but for all the wrong reasons! Being an old biddie with probably some out of date ideas, I believe you should get married to show your commitment to your partner and to share life together, not primarily as a way to extract money from the British government. However, I am glad you are looking after your Thai girlfriend, my Petal.

Peepo, Hillary,
Nit and Ying (the adorable, wee yum-yums) are not allowed the enclosed Yorkie bar, but I dare you to have a nibble! It’s not for girls, you know!
Mistersingha

Letter to Hillary ‘by leg’
Dear Mistersingha,
Thank you for the letter, which I have printed in its entirety above, and for the plastic bag containing a Tropical Orange Bacardi Breezer and the Yorkies bar. Yes, I did try it, but I cannot really see why the manufacturer wants to restrict the consumption to men only. I checked and it had not produced any strange swellings or dangly things anywhere, so I don’t think it is a chocolate answer to the blue diamonds. Perhaps they are trying to stop us women putting on too much weight, I think. Anyway, thank you Petal, it’s not quite French champagne and Swiss (or Belgian) chocolates, but, from you, it’s a start! You can buy half bottles of bubbly, you know, if a full bottle is a little too much for your weekly budget, especially as you have the welfare off the twins to take care of! I should have probably made that a ‘weakly’ budget?

Dear Hillary,
I think I’ve been taken for a ride, good and proper. On my first trip over to Thailand last year I met what seemed to be a very nice woman who stayed with me for the whole two weeks. When I found out just how basic and cramped were her digs, I bought a condominium so she had somewhere better to stay. This was all done very hurriedly, but she assured me it would be in my name. It’s taken me a while to get back to Thailand, but I find the condo is owned by some Swiss guy because she sold it, and it had never been in my name anyway. Is there any way I can get my money back?
Ron

Dear Ron,
There’s a song which goes, “Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread…” There’s also a very well known tenet in all legal dealings which goes “Caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware). She has done nothing wrong in law, even though her ethics are deplorable. Kiss her, and your money, goodbye.


Dear Hillary,
I have not been here too long, but have met a really wonderful woman who I would like to marry. She is in her mid-40s, like me, and amazingly has never been married, like me too. I have been dating with her for over six months, and I am quite sure that she and I would make it as we are so alike in so many ways as well. How difficult is it to get married here? Would a Thai wedding be recognized by the authorities back home (UK)? I would like to make sure that she would be protected if something should happen to me afterwards.
John

Dear John,
Congratulations on finding your life’s mate, after what has obviously been a long wait. I hope it will all have been worthwhile. Yes, your Thai wedding would be recognized by the British authorities, but that covers the registered wedding at the local Amphur office. The weddings celebrated in the village are very elaborate affairs with much ceremony, such as counting the “sin-sod” (dowry) and the tying of sacred threads around the wrists of the couple (sai-sin) all in the presence of generally nine monks. Unfortunately, despite the ceremony and payment of the dowry, these weddings are not accepted by overseas authorities, so even if you have the ceremonial wedding, you must also register yourselves as man and wife at the Amphur office. This is not a simple affair either, as because you are a foreigner you have to get an affidavit signed by your embassy to state that you are free to marry (not currently married, and if divorced you have to show the originals of divorce papers) and all this has to be translated into Thai, the only official language accepted for legal documents in Thailand (funny that) and verified by the Department of Legalization, a government office in Bangkok. Go to the Amphur some weeks before the agreed wedding date to get the full details required, as it is a lengthy process. However, there is one little detail, but important one, my Petal. You must ask the lady first! You may also be required to speak to her parents and get their permission. Tradition is important in Thailand. Save me some chocolates and a bottle of bubbly from the reception party!


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Technocrat or artist?

Would you believe me when I say that there are some famous photographers whose camera equipment consisted solely of a Polaroid camera? One is still remembered today, 21 years after his death. His photographs recorded an era of our society and some of the more way out people of that time. He was an artist, and one who merely ‘recorded’ what was happening. His name was Andy Warhol.
If we look at another famous photographer, this was a man who trudged through the wilderness with a large plate camera and tripod and then developed his own negatives and printed them according to the Zone system. He was in comparison, a technocrat and his name was Ansel Adams.
Now Andy Warhol and Ansel Adams had very little in common, but both recorded images of subject matter that was ‘there’. The immense difference was in their subject matter, and the way they recorded those images.
While Adams recorded the natural unspoiled beauty of the mountains, Warhol was recording the totally spoiled ugliness of the human psyche.
Ansel Adams took his first long trip into the wilderness in 1920, when he was just eighteen. His burro, Mistletoe, carried almost a hundred pounds of gear and food; he himself carried a thirty-pound pack full of photographic equipment. Adams was heir to a long tradition of American wilderness photographers who lugged cameras, tripods, and even portable darkrooms with them into the back country in order to capture its breathtaking beauty.
The following list is a typical inventory for Adams: one 8 x 10 view camera, 20 holders, 4 lenses - 1 Cooke Convertible, 1 ten-inch Wide Field Ektar, 1 9-inch Dagor, one 6-3/4-inch Wollensak wide angle. Item: one 7 x 17 special panorama camera with a Protar 13-1/2-inch lens and five holders. Item: one 4 x 5 view camera, 6 lenses - 12-inch Collinear, 8-1/2 Apo (chromatic) Lentar, 9-1/4 Apo(chromatic) Tessar, 4-inch Wide Field Ektar, Dallmeyer. Item: One Hasselblad camera outfit with 38, 60, 80, 135, & 200 millimeter lenses. Item: One Koniflex 35 millimeter camera. Item: 2 Polaroid cameras. Item: 3 exposure meters. One SEI, and two Westons - in case he drops one.
Item: Filters for each camera. K1, K2, minus blue, G, X1, A, C5 &B, F, 85B, 85C, light balancing, series 81 and 82. Two tripods: one light, one heavy. Lens brush, stopwatch, level, thermometer, focusing magnifier, focusing cloth, hyperlight strobe portrait outfit, 200 feet of cable, special storage box for film.
On the other hand, Andy Warhol branched out into photography after his original commercial art such as the famous Campbell Soup tins, but rather than take carefully arranged photographs with boxes of equipment, Andy Warhol went the other way, using a Polaroid camera to record ‘instant’ photographs, again in the anti-art genre. There are no well lit, carefully posed, complementary background photographs from his Polaroid era. Dreadfully cluttered backgrounds, and Andy Warhol could not have cared less.
In fact, as he then began to move in the Hi-So circles, Warhol would go out every night and capture the people on film. “You want to go out every night because you’re afraid if you stay home you might miss something,” wrote Warhol many years ago.
He had discovered that the life in America was like his Campbell’s Soup tins. Everyone wanted to be exposed to the public, the more times the better. The more recognizable, the more ‘famous’ you had become, and Warhol was the man who would be there. The ‘ultimate’ street photographer. Just as many famous photographic artists photographed the ordinary people, Andy Warhol photographed the ‘out of the ordinary’ people. His relentless shots taken in Studio 54, the ‘in place’ disco, are albums of freaks, hangers-on, minor celebrities, aging movie stars, starlets eager for any publicity, drunks, transvestites, designers, people with designs on being designers, the whole superfluous and superficial crowd. And Andy got them all, and in some ways recorded an era for posterity.
So who is right? Ansel or Andy? The jury is still out, but it is interesting that Ansel Adams, later in his life, said, “Knowing what I know now, any photographer worth his salt could make some beautiful things with pinhole cameras.”


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Running Scared, part 1

The overriding theme today in just about every financial market is uncertainty - the range of potential outcomes is greater than at any time that I have ever known. That sounds scary but it isn’t as long as you adopt the right approach to this. Mind you, if you don’t, then it is terrifying but then as we get older, we seem to be finding that there are more things than that terrify us than ever before. Strange noises outside, aches & pains that we have never felt before, our inability to recall anything that happened an hour ago and just the other day, a recommendation that we saw from an advisor to his clients to invest 100% into emerging market equities.
As you can imagine, to us who are obsessive about diversification this was bound to result in a blind panic. We have been here in Thailand since 1994 and although we have seen the Thai market recover around 200% in recent years it still languishes around 75% down from where it was in 1997 in Sterling terms.
On top of that, while we see pockets of exceptional value on the horizon for certain emerging markets, it is far from clear to us that we are yet at the buying opportunity stage. Furthermore, we are extremely worried about the way that “Chindia” has become ‘de rigueur’ as a proxy for emerging market investment.
In the same way that it isn’t in any atlas, ‘Chindia’ is not on the map of any portfolio manager or investment analyst. It is just a creation of marketing departments, like its ugly bloated elder stepsister, the BRIC.
We were far more in agreement with the altogether terrifying pronouncement of Adrian Mowat, chief equity strategist at JP Morgan that he is underweight on India and Korea because we are now in an environment of higher borrowing costs with credit harder to come by and therefore economies with current account deficits are the most vulnerable to funding constraints. Also, policymakers in such economies will have less FX flexibility to manage a growth-inflation trade-off. These markets have underperformed MSCI EM since the beginning of the year. The respective currencies are also the worst performers against the US$ YTD. Added to which, despite recent price reforms, rising global oil prices will worsen the trade balance of energy importing economies.
We are not the only ones who are nervous. Asia seems to be pondering two questions in particular:
1. When will the US housing market stabilize?
2. How will global inflation develop and what does it imply on monetary policy?
These questions are inter-related. Global monetary policy is likely to stay loose until US home prices stabilize. A weaker US dollar, despite its recent strengthening, is partly the reason for the sharp rise in commodity prices. Excessive liquidity provided by central banks has pushed up food and energy prices, reinforced purchases by investors who regard commodities as a new investment asset class, even though our portfolio advisors at Midas MitonOptimal have been banging this particular drum for the last 5 years. In Asia, mutual funds that invest in commodities have been the most popular product for the past two quarters.
Many central banks claim that the recent surge in inflation is driven by high food and energy prices. In fact, food prices have been pushed upward due to the recent supply shocks, even though they are temporary supply disturbances. Global oil prices have risen dramatically over the last couple of years and are mainly attributable to the rise in demand. Demand in Asia, especially in China, accounts for much of the rise in global demand. The high demand in China is not going to vanish soon. This is because Chinese growth is energy intensive. So the rise in energy prices is not temporary, even though in June 2008 we warned that we were worried about a pullback from an overextended peak before the market resumes its upwards trajectory.
According to CLSA, food is the single largest component of the CPI basket for Asian economies. The surge in food prices, year-on-year, has forced central banks in Asia to react. However, they have responded differently. For example, the People’s Bank of China continues to raise Reserve Requirement Ratio to control loan growth. India is expected to raise Capital Requirement Ratio. Singapore, on the other hand, has expanded the trading bank of its currency to curb inflation caused by the rise in imported food prices.
Currencies are clearly to the fore right now as a component of this worrying trend of higher commodity price inflation.
Currencies
For the first time in my entire career we do not have a favoured long or short term currency view right now - as events unwind we will and we will keep you updated BUT for now every investor should either consider investing almost exclusively in their base currency (ies), including Thai baht, OR they should regard their currency choices as high risk and speculative.
Many readers of this article will be aware that MBMG International hosted a client seminar in June. Our keynote speaker, Scott Campbell of Midas Capital spoke of investment opportunities and the impact of the US and UK sub prime mortgage crisis upon the rest of the world. Whilst the potential risks of further depreciation in the US dollar and particularly the GBP remain, a number of observers are also asking whether we are now close to the point where these currencies have reached the bottom and if so to what extent and how quickly can they recover?
Scott Campbell’s recent visit to Bangkok provided the clearest answers yet to this conundrum and next week we will show MBMG’s latest currency view.
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

Love of Siam

And why do we have to freeze at the Airport Major Cinemas?

That super Thai movie Love of Siam (Rak Hang Siam) was one of the great hits of last year and is continuing to delight audiences throughout the world. It had its first international airing at the Hong Kong Film Festival soon after its release here and the latest festival screening was at the end of October in Manila, where, oddly, one of the stars of the movie – Mario Maurer – received the award as best actor.
I say ‘oddly,’ not in any way to denigrate the very handsome and talented young star, who has a large fan following of both girls and boys (though his follow up movie Friendship proved a disappointment). No, ‘oddly,’ because to me it seems impossible to divide the performances of the two young leads, who together carried the emotional highs and lows of the movie with a panache that would be the envy of many more experienced actors. The director and screenplay writer Pimpaka Towira must take a lot of the credit for that. I know, from experience on film festival juries, that the idea of dividing prizes is much disliked (we did it at Mannheim one time with the ‘two best’ movies and nobody was happy), but in this case selecting Mario alone and not his co-star, the enchanting Witwisit Hiranyawongkul, seems like giving an award to Stan Laurel and not Oliver Hardy. Where would Tong (Mario) have been without Mew (Witwisit) and vice versa?
The other news about the movie is that it has been submitted for selection to next year’s Oscars in the ‘best foreign film’ category. It has not reached that stage yet and even then would be on a short list of five or so films. Still, it is encouraging that the film has been some sort of success outside Thailand. I saw it three times on its release and a friend brought me the British released DVD recently which has sub titles (not available in Thailand).
It stands up well on the small screen. But I read that the crucial kissing scene between the two lead actors has been cut out on some cable television screenings. How pathetic such censorship is. Indeed all censorship of anything that does not break the law. There was some mild censorship of another kind in the packaging of the British copy, in that the marketing people had seen fit to write a blurb about the movie which was inadequate and inaccurate. What were they afraid of, I wonder, in not mentioning that the central theme and story concerned the highly charged and superbly handled relationship between the lead actors?
I went to the cinema recently to see Ridley Scott’s political thriller Body of Lies and found it a gripping, intelligent and exciting movie. Just as well, since if it had been less engrossing I would have left the cinema. I had gone prepared, wearing a long sleeved shirt, trousers not shorts, socks and shoes. Even so I felt the icy blast of the air conditioning and my hands were like ice. It was a relief to get into the foyer.
Why do those in charge of the cinemas at Airport Major insist on keeping the auditoria at such ridiculously low temperatures? No farang or Thai that I know finds it comfortable and it has two negative effects. Firstly, people literally refuse to go there and revenue is lost. Secondly, it must cost a fortune in electricity. A double loss. I try to go to Vista at Kad Suan Kaew, if possible, but for some reason Body of Lies was not showing at this complex, which cools the cinemas but does not make them into an ice box. Luckily the forthcoming EU Film Festival is to be held as always at the Vista complex. It is scheduled – I heard from our film critic – for December this year, not the usual November.


Let's Go To The Movies: Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
007 – Quantum of Solace:
UK/US Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – Starring Daniel Craig and Judy Dench. Really a continuation of the 2006 Casino Royale, which was a reinvention of the James Bond film series for present-day audiences. Here, with a different director, I found the undertaking greatly diminished in charm and style and elegance, with the action sequences more mindless and muddled, the plot vastly more convoluted and confusing, but with much to still like if you’re a fan of Bond films. The locations, for example, are grand, as are Bond’s female foils and villains. Generally favorable reviews.
Coming Soon: Thai Horror – Perhaps to replace the cancelled Saw V, the Thais offer up their own version of a bloody scream-fest. This one is about a young projectionist who decides to help a friend illegally film a newly released horror movie, with dire consequences. Film pirates and illegal copyists take note!
Body of Lies: US Action/ Drama/ Thriller – Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe has been resurrected and is playing a regular engagement at Vista. I’m happy about that, as I like this film very much. It’s an exciting spy movie as dark as night and as ruthless and vile as Abu Ghraib. Smart and tightly drawn, it has a throat-gripping urgency, with some serious insights. If you like an action movie with some thought behind it, you should see it.
This film succumbed to the curse of all recent movies revolving around Iraq and the war on terror: It has not done well anywhere; in fact, it’s turning into a huge commercial failure. It seems that moviegoers here, and in America, and around the world, seem to be allergic to matters revolving around Iraq and the war on terror. It would be a shame if such sentiments kept you from seeing this really quite excellent, thinking-person’s action drama, that unapologetically raises issues concerning terrorism and the fight to combat it. At Vista only, and thanks to Vista for bringing it back.
Tropic Thunder: US Comedy/ War – I heartily recommend this, but only for those not easily shocked. You might just have the best laughs you’ve had in years. Robert Downey, Jr. gives another amazing performance, this time playing a black. It’s an action comedy about a group of self-absorbed actors who set out to make the biggest war film ever. It’s full of low comedy and much dirty talk. Rated R in the US for pervasive language including sexual references, violent content, and drug material. Directed by Ben Stiller. Generally favorable reviews.
Queens of Langkasuka: Thai Adventure/ Fantasy – Nonzee Nimibutr’s 200-million-baht historical action-fantasy, more than three years in the making, is for me an entertaining Thai blockbuster – big stars, loads of special effects, lavish costumes, and an exotic seaborne setting.
Max Payne: US Action/ Thriller – Starring Mark Wahlberg. Based on the popular interactive video game, it’s the story of a maverick cop determined to track down those who murdered his family. Basically for fans of the game and action movies, but it has some striking and stylish visuals in a somber mood that I really liked, and an intense performance by Wahlberg.
Scheduled for Nov 13
Sex Drive:
US Comedy – With Josh Zuckerman and James Marsden. Eighteen-year-old Ian Lafferty sets out on a cross country drive with his best friends Lance and Felicia in order to lose his virginity to a red-hot babe he met on the Internet. Randy and raucous, Sex Drive follows three friends on the road trip of a lifetime!
Burn After Reading: US Comedy/Crime – I really enjoyed this interesting movie which is scheduled for either November 13 or 20, and which stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton, and John Malkovich (the whole team of serious anti-government, anti-CIA rabble-rousers) in another expose of dirty dealing and incompetence in high places. But this time it’s a comedy! Clooney, for example, seems to have a hobby of building homemade sex toys in his basement. I found it very funny indeed. With Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins. Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen.
Teeth: US Comedy/ Horror – Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein (son of Pop artist Roy), with Jess Weixler and John Hensley. Dawn, a high school student, works hard at suppressing her budding sexuality by being the local chastity group’s most active participant. A stranger to her own body, innocent Dawn discovers she has a toothed vagina when she becomes the object of violence. As she struggles to understand her anatomical uniqueness, Dawn experiences both the pitfalls and the power of being a living example of the vagina dentata myth. More enjoyable than I thought it would be, it is still pretty sick and unpleasant, and with the number of appendages that eventually litter the ground, I think Teeth bites off more than it can chew. Mixed or average reviews.


HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?: Stuart Rodger

Look-alike flowers

There are many plants which, when first seen, you would swear you recognised, but, on reading the label, find to your surprise a completely different name! You may even imagine that the plant has been wrongly labelled. But, by studying the second part of the name, you may notice that the botanist has honoured the similarity by giving a specific name and recognising the look-alike plant by ending the name with the suffix, “oide,” meaning “like”.
There is, for example, a gardenia that is white and scented like a jasmine – it’s called Gardenia jasminoides. When such plants were fist discovered by botanists, they themselves were often fooled at first, only to find they were wrong after closely examining the flower in detail.
In the insect world, it is a clever strategy to copy the appearance of a dangerous or poisonous relative in order to avoid being eaten. In the plant world, the evolution of such similarities is coincidental, but they no doubt attract the same type of pollinator.
I have to say that I become rather embarrassed when I look at books showing the great diversity of wonderful and unique plants cherished and loved by the Thai people for centuries, only to find that the scientific name honours a no-doubt worthy and industrious scientist or a prominent and eminent Westerner from the arrogant age of colonisation. I should imagine Thais may be slightly resentful to have to use these names, and there are very few plants remaining to be discovered that could pay tribute by their naming to a Thai personage. It should be a matter of national pride for labels to also proudly display the name the plants have been known by for centuries here in the Thai language. Who are we to complain, when a simple enquiry will provide us with the Thai name for a plant!

Tip of the Week
Always choose a plant which is in flower. Then you won’t be fooled by a look-alike which isn’t what you really wanted!


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Imagine you are sitting East with this massive hand and you hear the bidding below:
S: AKQ
H: AKQ
D: AKQJ
C: KJ9
South       West      North        East (you)
3S             P              P                Dbl
4C             P              5C              Dbl
6C             P              7C              Dbl
Redbl         P              P                ?

What are you thinking at this point? Maybe you think the opponents are out of their minds and you are looking forward to gaining a huge number of points. What you should be thinking is that someone fixed the cards, for you have been dealt a hand famous from the days of whist, 200 years ago. Last week I wrote about a hand that cost declarer his life. This one cost the Duke of Cumberland 20,000 British pounds – a large fortune 200 years ago. The Duke’s opponents at whist wagered that, with the East hand above (or a slight variation of it – sources differ) and clubs as trumps, the Duke would not take a single trick. Unwisely, he took the wager. In fact, declarer can always take thirteen tricks, no matter how the defence plays. This was the full deal:

South dealer:
                           S: -
                           H: 5432
                           D: 5432
                           C: 65432     
S: J10                                    S: AKQ
H: J109876                             H: AKQ
D: 109876                              D: AKQJ
C: -                                        C: KJ9
                           S: 98765432
                           H: -
                           D: -
                           C: AQ1087  

West leads a diamond or a heart and declarer trumps. Declarer then ruffs a spade in dummy and returns a club finessing East. Next comes another spade ruff and another club finesse. A third spade ruff in dummy sets up declarer’s spades. He returns to hand by ruffing a heart or diamond and pulls the last trump with his ace. His hand is now good. Another routine six point grand slam!
Send me your interesting hands (whether or not involving large fortunes) at: [email protected]



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