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The Doctor's Consultation

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Camera Class by Snapshot

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Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

Don’t Miss

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

The Great British Bottom

I have just returned from a week in the UK, and Scotland in particular. I was joined by my eldest son, Dr. Jonathan Corness, for the trip to visit my 91 year old Mum, and after being subjected to temperatures of minus four degree at night and relatively tropical temperatures of between four and six degrees in the day plus constant rain, we were in complete agreement on one subject. Why did our forefathers decide that the north of Scotland would be a good place to settle? Or for that matter, the UK. They should have been locked up in a maximum security home for those people with psychiatric problems. They used to call them ‘lunatic asylums’ in those days, and that is where our lunatic ancestors should have been residing, and not trudging around the wet and misty moors herding sheep while wearing a hairy skirt style thing and no undies.
However, there was something else we noticed, in between shivering and trying to get into any place that was warm. (As an aside, it is amazing just how long you can make a cup of coffee and a bun last, while hovering near the fire in Annie’s Tea Room.) No, what we noticed was the Great British Bottom.
This anatomical aberration is owned by at least 20 percent of the bonnie lasses in Scotland, and an equal percentage of English ladies. How some of them manage to get into the small cars which abound on the wet British roads is beyond me. There is no way a standard seat could accommodate a 40 pick handle beam. The overlap must hide the gear lever, or perhaps they all drive automatics.
To compound the problem, and at least draw attention to it, the British female likes to wear very low hipster jeans, or the new fashion ‘ra ra’ skirt with tights. These garments are worn to display a fatty apron in the front and a bottom cleavage which exceeds the one on their chests.
Now why they should think that these sights are alluring and attractive, I do not know, or perhaps the British government has banned the sale of mirrors? They seem to have banned everything else in the name of Health and Safety. For example, I believe they were thinking of banning the Noddy and Big Ears books we all read as children, because it has been presumed that Noddy is gay because he didn’t have a girlfriend in Toyland, and you are not allowed to make fun of people with physical deformities!
But back to the Great British Bottom. In the cold climates (read ‘freezing’), a high carbohydrate diet does help the metabolism, but it does also help stack on the weight. (The British Army ration packs for cold climates are 55 percent carbohydrates, for example, and the current U.S. Military Recommended Dietary Allowance (MRDA) for males in environments that are colder than 57°F (14°C) is 4,500 kcal/d.)
Now looking at the ensuing weight problem, I am not sure if this concept can be applied to our subcutaneous fat, but gravity does pull everything downwards, as noted by Sir Isaac Newton in 1687, and it settles to the bottom, one might say. And that just may explain the Great British one.
Official obesity figures in the UK indicate 17 percent of men and 21 percent of women are obese (a body mass index of more than 30 kg/m2). Frightening thought - one in five British women could crush you.
So what should these women do? First I would suggest they get out of the UK, and if the PAD allows planes to land, here is not a bad sort of a place to live.
Now, no matter how much excess weight or fat you have, if you want to lose weight permanently, your diet program should be directed toward a slow, steady weight loss. According to official UK government dietary guidelines, you should lose no more than one kg of fat a week, giving the skin a chance to take up the slack.
See a dietician, get a simple regime and follow it and wave goodbye to your bottom (and your belly)!


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
Yes you can buy cheese at the hardware store! I am an American who was raised in Mississippi in the late 1940’s. When visiting my grandmother during the summer, I often went to the local hardware store to hangout and look at all of the neet (sic) stuff. For a 6 year old boy, this was heaven. While there, I would all ways buy a chunk of cheese to eat. There was a large hoop, maybe 25 kilo, sitting out in the open, no cover, no refrigeration, cut it yourself and take to the counter for payment. Whenever you tell someone they will not find cheese in a hardware store, it brings back fond memories from my childhood. Thank you for the reminder.
Dear Robert,
I am glad I help bring back those childhood memories even though it was some time ago, wasn’t it, my Petal. I wonder if you can still buy your cheese from the local hardware store in Mississippi, or did that go the way of button up boots and Santa Claus? By the way, Robert, I know that American spelling deviates from the UK spelling, but what is “neet”? Surely, that should have been “neat”?
Dear Hillary,
Reference Archie’s recent letter. Even if a UK pensioner living in Chiang Mai has a legally registered Thai wife, I would imagine if she is not a resident of the UK you could not claim a married man’s pension. Is that right?
Dear Mike,
I am sorry I can’t help you there, Petal. The UK Pensions Department is well out of my sphere of activity, but perhaps some of my other readers can give us a clue. Can you claim? Are you in that situation? Archie says he is and does get the married pension. Let me know.

Dear Hillary,
Do tell Archie that as an ex-NHS (now Ministry of Work and Pensions) civil servant, I know of no rules to qualify what he says.
Dear WLR,
Hasn’t Archie brewed up a storm! It really is time that people who know about these things told us all the definitive answer, before there’s a queue at the local Amphur with British pensioners and young Thai ladies all hoping for the UK handout. To remind you all, I publish Archie’s letter again below.

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.
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.
Dear Hillary,
After reading that you have been getting success stories lately I thought I could tell you about mine. Finally I have been successful, but there were a couple of mistakes on the way to getting there. It certainly wasn’t plain sailing. Like many young fellows arriving in Thailand, I could not believe my eyes at first. So many beautiful girls, so available and so difficult to choose! My first choice was Nid but she had to choose between being faithful to me or to the two guys she had on the string from America and Holland. She was not willing to tell them what was happening and chose the regular double income by bank transfer, rather than my cash in the hand. The second girlfriend wasn’t much better. She took the cash, plus anything else that wasn’t nailed down. You would think I would have called in quits by then, but I didn’t. Number three ripped me off too, but this time it was only a motorbike that went with her.
It was shortly after that when I began to think I was looking for my princess in the wrong places and so I gave up the easy bars and the easy girls and met my next lady in the glasses shop where I went to have my eyes tested. We went out the next week and now, after two years we are married. I have never been happier. To all the guys out there I say, don’t be a sucker. There are girls in Thailand and there are ladies. They don’t live under the same roof. It will take you longer to find your lady, but believe me it is worth it.
Dear Happy,
It sounds as if you should have had your eyes tested much earlier in the piece, then you wouldn’t have stumbled around blindly for the first three times, Petal. As you have correctly mentioned, life was not meant to be easy. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a princess you sometimes have to kiss a lot of frogs. Toads are even worse! Thank you for your success story and I am truly glad you found the secret to life with a lady in Thailand.

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Digital time exposure for beginners

Digital photography is the ideal camera for time exposures. However, talk time exposure and most photographers will run away. How many times have you used the “time exposure” facility on your camera for example? How about “never”! That’s the usual response to that question. And the reason? “Looks too complicated or too hard to work out the exposure.”
Let’s address the “too technical” aspect first. A camera is purely a device that lets a certain amount of light fall onto a sensor (digital remember) for a predetermined amount of time. This is the old “f8 at 1/60th” sort of routine. The number of the “f” stop (the aperture) tells you how large the hole is that lets the light in, and the 1/60th denotes how long the hole was left open. Sounds technical - but it’s not!
Way back, when photography was in its infancy, the film material was so insensitive that the exposure times were nowhere near as “short” as today. 1/60th was unheard of - it was more like a three weeks at f4 in those days! With today’s super-sensitive film materials and printing papers you can get away with “short” time exposures and you don’t even need to be accurate any more. Near enough is good enough!
What do you need for digital Time Exposure photography? Well, a digital camera is a good start, but it has to be one with “T” or “B” settings. The “T” setting stands for Time Exposure - one “click” opens the shutter, the second “click” closes it. “B” originally stood for “bulb” and the way that works is by holding the shutter release down keeps the shutter open until you take your finger off, which closes it. Why two settings? Simple, use “B” for time exposures up to a minute and “T” for longer ones (mainly because your finger will go numb holding the button down for 20 minutes!).
Yes, time exposure photography is fundamentally the same as ordinary daylight photography, but there are some constraints, caused by the very long exposures necessary. The main one is one of “noise” being simply a breakdown of the light to produce blown out areas of the image. This is in some ways similar to the production of ‘grain’ with film at high ISO readings. So for best results in digital photography, keep the ISO setting at 100 ASA (or ISO).
For night photography in cities it is best to use a low ISO setting to reduce noise, an f/stop that gives enough depth of field and sharp images, and a few different exposure times in seconds. As a rough guide, 20 seconds should be in the ballpark.
The last thing you need is a tripod, unless you are good at standing motionless for twenty seconds or so. And a strong sturdy one, not one of those lightweight skinny aluminium models that will blow over in the breeze. However, if you have not got a tripod, it is not the end of the world, but you will have to find some way to keep the camera steady. I have taken 30 second time exposure with the camera sitting on a table, or the roof of a car.
The important point to grasp is that all Time Exposure photography is “hit and miss”. There’s no real way anyone can tell you exactly “f8 and 24 seconds”. The camera’s exposure meter doesn’t help here either. There’s too many variables, but all you have to do is to take the same scene or picture with several different exposure times - one of them will be right. Believe me! And you don’t have to wait long with digital photography to see the results.
Make a note of the order your time exposures were shot in, and jot down the “best” result and then take another at that exposure. You may just surprise yourself.

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

A brief introduction to life assurance

What is it? Do you need it? And if you do, how much for how long?

Given the state of the markets, you may be considering heading to the tallest building and taking a running jump off. Before you do then you may want to consider Life Assurance.
Basically there are two main types of life insurance, Term Assurance and Whole of Life Assurance. You only need life assurance if a person, persons or third party will suffer financial hardship in the event of your death.
How long you effect a policy for will depend entirely on the purpose of the policy. If you are a parent wishing to provide for children in the event of your death, typically you will be covered until your youngest child is 21 or 25 years old, depending on when you deem them able to stand on their own financially.
Whole of Life is, as the name suggests, until you die, and the reasons for taking this in preference to Term Assurance are many and varied, it could be to pay inheritance tax, to guarantee your children a capital sum in the future or, if taken in conjunction with critical illness, to cushion the blow in the event of being diagnosed with a “dread disease”.
What is Term
Term Assurance provides cover for a fixed term with the sum assured payable only on death. There are no investment benefits or payments on survival. Term Assurance premiums are based primarily on the age and health of the life assured, the sum assured and the policy term. The older the life assured or the longer the policy term the higher the premium will generally be.
Types of Term
Term Assurance policies can be written on a single life, joint life (first or second death) or on a life of another basis.
The most common form of Term Assurance is Level Term Assurance where the premiums are fixed for the duration of the insurance term and a payment will only be made if a death occurs during the insurance period. A Level Term Assurance policy is taken out for a fixed term. This type of term assurance policy can be a useful for providing security for dependents up to a certain age.
You must have a financial interest in the person that you are insuring when taking out any Life of Another policy and the provider may require proof of this before cover is given. It is this type of policy that is usually used for Keyman Insurance or Cross Partner Protection. These types of policies either insure a valuable employee who, if they suffered a fatality would be a serious loss to the company, or to give partners/co-directors the opportunity to buy out the other partner’s company share in the event of death or serious disability. Premiums for these types of policies are usually tax deductible. However, depending where you are in the world then, in the event of a claim, the capital sum may be taxable.
What is Whole of Life Assurance?
Whole of Life Assurance policies give you protection for life. Unlike Term Assurance that only pays out if you die during the term of the policy, a Whole of Life assurance policy always pays out eventually.
For this reason Whole of Life assurance can be more expensive than term assurance, although this is not always the case.
The main type of Whole of Life assurance used these days is a unit-linked product which offers a variable mix between investment content and life cover.
Whole of Life
Assurance premiums
The initial premium is usually fixed for 10 years and is generally reviewed at that point to see whether the growth of the investment fund is sufficient to maintain the same premium level. It is possible that the premium may have to increase, or sum assured reduce, at that point.
What is Critical Illness Cover?
This can usually be written as a stand alone policy or combined with a life assurance policy. A Critical Illness policy will cover you in the event of a pre-determined illness or disease. Not all Critical Illness policies are the same and policy conditions will vary. It is vitally important to understand exactly which conditions are covered before you proceed with a particular policy or insurance plan.
With most Critical Illness policies a capital sum is paid out on diagnosis of a specified medical condition or occurrence of heart attack, most forms of cancer, kidney failure, major organ transplant, stroke, etc.
Critical Illness lump sum benefits
The lump sum benefits derived from a critical illness insurance policy are not taxable.
By the way, those who do take the jump will not be covered so keep on in there. The markets will get better.

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

News and Views

Concert at the Kad: The big event on Saturday 13 is the Classi-Jazz concert being given twice – first at 2 p.m. for students (only 100 baht) and again at 7.30 p.m. for a general audience (100-500 baht). The first half of the performance comprises music by Bizet, Brahms and Mozart. After the interval, Gershwin gets the spotlight with some songs, followed by a performance of his most well known large scale work – Rhapsody in Blue, with soloist Bennett Lerner accompanied by the Chiang Mai Philharmonic Band.

Movies at Vista Central: Also a reminder of the EU Film Festival (detailed last week by my film colleague), which open two days earlier on the 11th in the same building at Kad Suan Kaew. The programme will also be available at the cinemas on the fourth floor and all the movies are in the original languages with English sub-titles. Tickets are a mere 70 baht and all of the 16 movies will be new to Chiang Mai.

DVD Film and Music: Writing about cinema reminds me that there is one indispensable shop in the city for a film enthusiast. It’s been open for about a year and is situated just off Suthep Road (turn right at the lights at the end of Nimmanhaeminda Road where the CMU Art Gallery and complex is sited, and left again at the first set of lights in the main road). This oasis (perhaps Aladdin’s Cave is a better description) is located about 20 metres on the left, and is open from 9 a.m. It stocks thousands of DVDs and at a rough guess, I’d say that over 90 per cent of them are worth viewing, with a goodly number of great movies and a fair share of masterpieces from directors including Bresson, Ozu, Dreyer and Mizoguchi. There are classic westerns nudging recent releases. Films about film and about music. In the movie desert represented by the commercial releases we get to see here, this is surely the most essential shop in Chiang Mai. (Phone 053-808-084)

Rambow: One of the ten per cent of their stock not worth booking out is the British film about children, which is also on view at local cinemas. This is a tedious and amateurish piece of work which many lazy critics (not the Mail’s though – he has been kinder to it that I would be) have compared with Stand by Me. In fact, this guileless work bars no resemblance to the American movie, except that the central characters are youngsters. Stand by Me starred the highly professional River Phoenix and Will Wheaton among others and was a moving rites of passage movie. The new one looks as though it were shot in the director’s back garden and budgeted on a shoe string. British cinema is populated with fine films about childhood, Lord of the Flies, The Fallen Idol, The Go-Between, Sammy Going South, A High Wind in Jamaica and the trilogies by Terence Davies and Bill Douglas among so many others... And yet this lack-lustre work has attracted praise. It is part of the assault on excellence that characterizes criticism these days, calling it elitism simply because it dares to set standards rather than pander to the lowest common denominator and lazy viewers. Of course, television is largely to blame and I regret that British TV, once accurately described as the ‘least bad television service in the world’ has also dumbed down in recent years. I gave up my set years ago and use the one in Thailand solely to look at DVDs – currently Malle’s Lift to the Scaffold, the Dardenne brothers’ Rosetta and La Promesse and Dassin’s Thieves’ Highway.

Jade: What a sad comment on greed the recent auction of jade from Burma has been. The generals and their criminal cohorts netted around 175 million dollars from 2,650 buyers – well over 2,000 of whom were dealers from China. Despite a complete embargo from many countries on these sales, buyers came from far and wide, including Canada. Shame on them and the people who will buy the jade and rubies which benefit a dictatorship and not the people of Burma.

City Life: On a happier note, what a pleasant event the annual garden party at the magazine’s offices always proves to be. Sad there was no dancing and entertainment this year (unless it was early) and that the musicians who were there did not get more attention. Still, there were lots of stalls and charities represented and plenty of food and drink and things to buy. Plenty of friends and acquaintances to meet as well. The charities such as Lanna Dog Rescue seemed to attract some attention and much of the other proceeds went to the Hillside Rooftop Party total. And that as you may know already is looming…on January 10. See you there.

D2 International Buffet: Writing of super events, the highlight for me recently has been the candlelit event at Moxxie’s. Each month they have continued to provide the best buffet (by far) in town and this well attended event on November 29 was no exception. In fact, thanks to the quality of the free flow Australian wines from ItalThai, it certainly seemed the best yet! The staff – as always – excelled themselves and the food was memorable. Quality tells…

PAD: I was tempted to suggest that too much has been written about the chaos and crisis caused by the actions of PAD and their lame brained supporters to warrant further comment. By the time this appears, some sort of resolution will have been achieved I guess but at a cost to Thailand that will take years to recoup, both in terms of finance and the ‘credibility’ of the country. It is certainly impossible to think of the situation being left to fester as it has been in any other country – would JFK, Charles de Gaulle or Heathrow Airports have been left occupied? Of course not. But I end the column with a further question. Given the choice between the recently ousted feeble ‘leadership,’ the dubious notion of PAD, the coup of a couple of years ago or the Thaksin-led government which they replaced, which do you think the majority of Thai people would wish for? I think I know.

Let's Go To The Movies: : Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
Beverly Hills Chihuahua:
US Comedy/ Adventure/ Family – In this Disney talking-animal comedy (not an animated movie) a pampered Beverly Hills Chihuahua finds herself accidentally lost in the mean streets of Mexico. Alone for the first time in her spoiled life, she must rely on some unexpected new friends to help her to find her way back home. Critical reaction seems to be very mixed, with people either loving it or hating it. Overall, mixed or average reviews.
You must know fairly well at this stage whether or not you and your child enjoy talking animal pictures. I found it amusing with parts quite a lot of fun. It’s well done of its kind.
Ong-Bak 2:
Thai Action/ Adventure – With Tony Jaa. The first Ong-Bak was one of the better Thai action films of recent years, and expectations are high that this one will be very good entertainment indeed. It’s set in the times of King Naresuan. I must admit I enjoy watching Tony Jaa in action, and marveling at his outrageous stunts.
  US Vampire love – Yes, it was a phenomenon, the opening weekend of Twilight – somewhat akin to the Beatles frenzy, at least for heartthrob Robert Pattinson, who is a handsome, smoldering devil as the vampire. Here in Chiang Mai there were squeals from a few patrons at the first appearance of Pattinson on screen when I saw it, but apparently nothing like the near hysteria that greeted his visage in every new shot in American moviehouses and where girls were getting injured in the mass near-rioting wherever Pattinson had a personal appearance.
It’s a heavy-duty love story, quite well done overall, with a few interesting twists, and I rather enjoyed it. In the story of Twilight, you have your against-the-odds teen love, your woman in peril, your vampires, and your cult following. Mixed or average reviews. Vista has a Thai-dubbed version only, with no English subtitles. Airport Plaza has it in the original English, with Thai subtitles.
US Drama/Thriller – With Don Cheadle. An uncommonly intelligent espionage thriller that explores the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by agents who go deep undercover in the service of their country. As a thriller for adults who don’t require manic chases, frenetic shoot-outs, and ten cuts per second, Traitor is smart, effective, and at times suspenseful. It’s one of a very few terrorist-themed movies that presents its situation without resorting to exploitation or oversimplification. I am a lot more fond of this movie than most reviewers: I think Don Cheadle gives another outstanding performance in this film – really a great person to watch. And I found the story very engrossing. Mixed or average reviews, but I urge you to give it a try. Probably in its last days here, at Airport Plaza only.
Son of Rambow:
France/ UK/ Germany Comedy/ Drama/ Family – A nostalgic look at the comradery, the coming of age, the bittersweet vulnerability, and the fantastic humor of childhood. The film’s two boys have, along with writer-director Garth Jennings, turned a coming-of-age story into a treatise on both the fragility of artistic vision and the danger of popular opinion .Generally favorable reviews. I recommend it: A real charmer!
Twentieth Century Boys:
  Japan Fantasy – A live-action film based on a wildly popular long series of manga comics that seems to have been inspired in part by the works of Stephen King, and I find many allusions to “It” and “The Stand.” The main character is Kenji, who stumbles upon a cult behind a series of mysterious incidents that have bizarre similarities to those in a book that Kenji himself wrote as a child. This is a big Japanese extravaganza with many of Japan’s top stars. Unfortunately, it’s in a Thai-dubbed version only, which is a real shame.
007 – Quantum of Solace:
UK/US Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – 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. Generally favorable reviews.
Headless Family / Hua Luud Family:
Thai Comedy – The usual, this time about a family that has a freak accident that leaves them able to detach their heads without ill effects.
The House Bunny
: US Comedy – About the travails of an ex-Playboy Bunny. I did see it, and it is appallingly nauseous. Only for those who enjoy dumb blonde jokes. Mixed or average reviews.
Scheduled for Dec 11
The Day the Earth Stood Still:
US Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A remake of the 1951 classic sci-fi film about an alien visitor and his giant robot counterpart who visit Earth. Starring Keanu Reeves.

Don’t Miss – This Weekk

Michael Davies
December 10: The Manderin Oriental Dhara Dhevi plays host to the Citylife Ladies’ Night Christmas Party at the fabulous Horn Bar. Citylife will put on a delicious canapé spread prepared by the resort’s superb chefs plus all ladies get a complimentary welcome cocktail. A free raffle for all to enter and many reductions on selected drinks will make this night one to remember.
December 11: A very special Expat Ladies’ Lunch, arranged by Sally, at the Coq d’Or, starting at noon, and open to all, including husbands and ‘significant others’! A welcoming Kir Royale is included in the price of 600 baht, and the menu includes a vegetarian option. The gossip may be a little subdued, with ‘significant others’ listening in, but the food, of course, will be superb!
December 12: The much-acclaimed Chiang Mai Choral Society gives their free winter concert, ‘A Winter Pot-Pourri’, at Payap’s Saisuree Chutikul Music Hall on Mae Kaow campus at 7.p.m, with a mix of Christmas songs, Broadway hits, Opera choruses and much more, including, as guests, the Spirit House Singers, who are having a busy time this December!
December 13: Classi-Jazz, presented at 7.30 p.m. by the Chiang Mai Youth Philharmonic Band & Symphony Orchestra at Kad Theatre, featuring Chiang Mai’s own Bennett Lerner on piano, playing his superb rendering of Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. Other treats include Bizet’s ‘Carmen Suite’, and Mozart’s ‘Divertimento’. Tickets cost 750 / 400 / 250 / 150 baht. There is a matinee performance at 2pm but this is for students only at a price of 100 baht. The orchestra is promoted by Payap and several CM schools, together with commercial sponsors, all aiming to further the musical talent of these young people, with the aim of, one day, forming a full-grown Chiang Mai Symphony Orchestra. This is due to be a real ‘don’t miss, and the young musicians truly deserve all the encouragement they can get!
December 20: The Spirit House Restaurant on ViangBua Road presents the Spirit House Singers in a concert of Christmas music entitled, ‘Just a Few Carols’. Carols ancient and modern, plus one brand new one, should satisfy our traditional longings at this festive time! Audience numbers a re limited to 60, tickets are 200 baht, including a light buffet after the performance, and all profits go to FERC. Tickets at the door, (come early!), or reservations at [email protected]

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

This week, back to defence, the most difficult part of bridge because you cannot see what your partner has. I have just been kicking myself about some poor defensive plays that I have made recently. This hand illustrates one. This was the bidding:

West       North          East           South
P              1D                P                1N
P              3N                All pass   

Now, imagine you are sitting East. Dummy and your hand are shown below:

                    S: Q52
                      H: AQJ
                      D: AKJ98
                      C: Q2              
S: ?                                       S: AJ93
H: ?                                       H: 63
D: ?                                       D: 7532
C: ?                                       C: A109
                      S: ?
                      H: ?
                      D: ?
                      C: ?                 

My partner led the seven of hearts. Dummy played the jack, which won the trick. Declarer then led a low club from board. Which card do you play? If you played the ten or the nine, this is the same as I did. If you played the ace – congratulations – you are probably already a skilled defender and do not need to read on. If, like me, you played low, maybe you are wondering why it is wrong. After all, the bridge maxim says “second hand low.”

The reason it is wrong to play low here is that you can see eight tricks in dummy. Three heart tricks – from the lead your partner probably has the king, but this is trapped by dummy’s holding. Five diamond tricks – even if your partner holds the queen, it will not score because it also is trapped under dummy’s holding. Based on the bidding, South has at least five points, and probably more. If you let declarer get a club trick, then he has nine tricks and scores 3NT. The only chance to defeat the contract is in spades. If your partner has the king of spades, there is a chance. If declarer has it, or if you delay until declarer wins a club trick, then there is no chance to defeat the contract. So, you must rise with the ace of clubs and lead a low spade to your partner’s (presumed) king. When you partner wins and leads back a spade this traps the queen. With a good split in spades, you will take four spade tricks to go with the ace of clubs. The full deal is shown below. If you play low in clubs, declarer makes 3NT. If you go up with the ace, you beat the contract.

                        S: Q52
                          H: AQJ
                          D: AKJ98
                          C: Q2           
S: K84                                  S: AJ93
H: K10872                             H: 63
D: 6                                       D: 7532
C: 8643                                  C: A109
                          S: 1076
                          H: 954
                          D: Q104
                          C: KJ75       

The lesson I learned is about counting declarer’s tricks. If declarer is about to win sufficient tricks for the contract, do not duck, even if you are second hand. Win and play to try and make enough tricks to beat it. Please send me your interesting hands at: [email protected]