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The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

Don’t Miss

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Living with cancer

I prefer to look at the situation of ‘living’ with a terminal cancer, rather than ‘dying’ from a terminal cancer. There is a significant difference, and much more than looking at life through my rose-colored glasses.
So you have just found out you have terminal cancer. What can you do? The first thing is to sit down and take stock of your circumstances. All of us know that eventually the piece of string called “life” eventually comes to an end - but we don’t know when. The only difference with you is that your doctor has actually told you when your piece of “life” string is due to run out.
Now whilst the immediate thought is “How do I beat this?” there are many factors you have to consider in the time ahead, and one of the main ones is called ‘The Quality of Life’.
It is natural for a person with advanced cancer to feel many emotions including anger, fear, and sadness. Just as you may need time to adjust to this new phase of your life, your family and friends may also need time. Round table, frank discussions with your family and doctor are worthwhile.
This talking phase should also include your getting to understand your cancer. This you do by talking with your treating doctors, and also from information from reliable internet sites. Note I say “reliable” sites. There are always plenty of sites ready to sell you snake oil. However, I do suggest you read everything and become the world expert on your own condition. But don’t buy snake oil.
Now is the time to manage your symptoms. Your quality of life is better if your symptoms are under control. Talk to your health care team about the best way for you to manage your symptoms. Analgesics (pain killers) are important, and there are many with different capabilities. There’s a lot more than paracetamol.
Do not be afraid to ask your doctors to fully explain any proposed modalities of treatment. Getting an extra two months of life, but at the cost of the quality of life, may not be worth having. Always keep that in mind. Quality of (the remaining) life is everything.
Be as active as you can. When an illness progresses, it may be harder to do the things you have always done. If your physical health allows, continue to exercise in some enjoyable way. Or, if you find it is too much for you, take up a new hobby or find things that you can still do and enjoy, such as reading, writing, creating a photo album, or making a video for family and friends.
Make your wishes known. Making the decision to stop active cancer treatments can be a hard choice for a person with cancer and their family. These are personal choices. If you are faced with making these decisions, talk with your family and doctors about your wishes and explore all of your options. You are still able to make decisions about your life to the extent that you desire.
Maybe you want to give someone else some of the responsibilities or share decisions about what to do. You may want to create a health care proxy and/or power of attorney. This allows someone who you choose to make health care or other decisions for you. Whatever you choose, you are in control of your life and you know what will work best for you.
You may also consider creating a ‘Living Will’ or giving specific instructions on what your wishes are if your cancer progresses. This process helps make your end-of-life wishes and desires known to family, friends, and your health care team and can help ensure that your wishes are honored. These wishes may include funeral arrangements or decisions about hospice care. Discuss with your family, friends, and health care team your wishes regarding resuscitation.
Sorry if the column this week sounds a little deep and dark, but it can give assistance to those who feel as if all their options have gone. There are always options. Even deciding not to continue with various therapies is an option.


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
Bona 2009, the year of the Waggerboy! Say no more, wink, wink, nudge, nudge! Hope you manage to avoid the legionnaires disease in Tropical Gert’s!
Dear Mistersingha,
I am starting to think seriously that you are suffering from some disease, possibly brought on by over-consumption of your eponymous quaffing potion. What are you on about, man? And the reference to Legionnaire’s disease? To my knowledge, I have never met a legionnaire, nor have I ever been in Tropical Gert’s. That being the case, I probably am not high in the risk factor tables to get this complaint. And what, pray tell, is a nudge, nudge, wink, wink Waggerboy? I don’t know if you are already receiving treatment for your problems, as you are certainly too far gone for Hillary to make any difference. Perhaps if you double the dose it may assist, but please seek help urgently.

Dear Hillary,
Happy New Year and all that and I’m wondering if all the poor souls from 2008 will ever find their true girlfriends, and will 2009 bring on another steady stream of broken hearts asking what to do and where to go. You would imagine by this time at least some of them would see the light. Anyway, Hills, old bean, all the best and keep smiling.
Dear Pete,
What’s with the “Hills, old bean”, Pete my Petal? Just refer to me as Hillary, thank you, “old bean” indeed! Now as far as the army of the broken hearts is concerned, of course there will be a new wave coming. It happens every year and is something to do with the lemming leap year. Your “poor souls” as you call them, leave their cold and wintry countries and come here to waving palm trees, warmth and even warmer ladies. No wonder they all do the lemming leap off the cliff together when they find that the lovely Lek from Legs Bar Beer was just doing her job, and they have been replaced by the second wave of Scandinavians, to be followed by the third wave of Belgians. With the dearth of female company for the older (and younger, I am led to believe) males from the UK, Scandinavia, Belgium and all points West in their own countries, the happy little bunny who will sit on their knees and say, “I lub you too mut, buy me drink,” is beyond their wildest dreams. No wonder they fall for some of the oldest bargirl lines in the world. But they do, and they break their hearts. And they come back next year and do it all again.

Dear Hillary,
Hope you had a good New Years, and I just thought I’d let you and the readers know that you can have a good long relationship with Thai women, in my case, two Thai women. The first was only 18 when I met her and we had a great time here in the UK and on holidays back in the Land of Smiles. We had a couple of kids together and life was great until six years ago when she died in a road accident. That was a tough time. I met number 2 a couple of years later and we just sorta clicked. She was divorced and had a couple of kids of her own which were near the same age as mine, and we moved the whole shebang in together three years ago, and let me tell you, it works. We have a great relationship and the kids even get along with each other. I couldn’t ask for more. So for all those guys who reckon they get nothing but ripped off, they should look at themselves a bit. They might find the reason.
Dear Jacko,
Thank you for your lovely letter, Petal. I do know there are many, many success stories out there, but most don’t have that need to write in, like the lovelorns do. Obviously Jacko, your relationships have been built on mutual respect and understanding, which is the true basis for lasting relationships, not just rolls in the hay and “I lub you too mut!” as I mentioned to Pete in the letter before yours. I agree that many of the people with problems should look at themselves sometimes, but also where they are looking for that soul mate of theirs. As I have said many times, you won’t find cheese in a hardware shop (though I must admit that one of my readers wrote in to say that you could, many years ago, in America)!

Dear Hillary,
Did you get any chocolates and champagne over the break? I was going to try and bring some champers in for you, but had a little problem with customs, so I hope they enjoyed it, even if you and I didn’t! All the best and I hope that one day that stupid Mister Singha does actually come good with his promises, but I wouldn’t hold your breath, Hillary!
Dear Jimmy,
Sorry to hear your champagne didn’t make it past customs, if that is the real reason I didn’t get a bottle of bubbles from you, Jimmy. I remember you had some sort of similar excuse a couple of years back. I may be getting older, but the memory is intact.

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Digital photography - the cure for anxiety

I bumped into a fellow photographer the other day. This was a chap who had done four years of study in college and had then gone down the darkroom and the dip and dunk routine. We compared notes and reminisced about those pre-digital days.
One of the most important factors was to see if the shot had a sharp image. With a portrait, focusing on the eyes was the standard way, but until you got the negatives back and could check with the enlarger, there were many hours of anxiety. Had you really got the image that was required, because with professional photography, if you goofed, you re-shot at your own expense. And if that shoot included professional model fees, you were going to be considerably out of pocket.
Those were the days when film was king, and B&W revered for the creativity it could encourage. In the darkroom, with the magical red light, you became accustomed to the gloom and would spend time working out the correct exposure for the exposed photographic paper. This was done by successive exposures, sliding a cover paper back by two seconds at a time. You then dipped and dunked and reviewed the exposed and developed sheet and chose the best time under the enlarger head giving the best exposure.
However, it wasn’t over then. Next you exposed one sheet for the suggested time, dipped and dunked and reviewed again. This time you looked critically at the whole print (usually a 10x8) and noted areas that needed ‘burning in’ and other areas that needed ‘holding back’ (or ‘dodging’) and the process would go on again until the final, definitive print was made. This process could take several hours, but your B&W creation was part of your artistic persona.
I was lucky in that I was using a newspaper’s darkroom for my B&W work in those days, and this had an auto-processor which would take your exposed sheets and finish printing them in one minute. Sixty seconds of anxiety time was not so bad, compared to dipping, dunking and fixing, which could easily take 15 minutes.
That was for B&W, but the situation for color negatives was somewhat different - and, incidentally, the photographic technique was also somewhat different. Where you looked at light and shadow in B&W, with color you began to look at contrasting colors and hues. Blues pitched against yellows, reds against whites.
It was also the situation that very few people had access to a color printer that could produce a roll proof, and this was the province of the professional shooter. You dropped off your exposed roll of color film and you received back the analyzer report as to the exposure saturation of the negatives, as well as a roll proof taken from the negatives. This was the way you checked your expertise with the flash meter and the exposure meter. The alterations to a print were done in the camera beforehand, not afterwards as with the B&W photography. As you became more experienced you could guesstimate the settings needed to visually change the end result. It was a completely new ball game.
After this period came the scanned print directly into the computer, where color balance, brightness and contrast could be manipulated, followed by the ability to take the color negative and scan that into the computer, cutting out the negative to print step, which came with its resultant lowering of sharpness.
But now we have the fully digital phase of photography, available to everyone, not just the professionals. Your digital SLR even gives you a choice of resolution and file types such as RAW or JPEG. And on top of all this, there is that magical ability to review your photographs while they are still just electronic images on your memory card.
However, you should not just take the image for granted. You should still critically review your images and work out what should be done or changed. Just because you have a DSLR does not mean that you will never get another picture with trees growing out of people’s heads. The photographer has the “eye”, not the camera!

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

To cut or not to cut? Now that is a question - part 2

So should investors who’ve seen equity holdings fall by 50% or more this year now act, making changes to their portfolios or should they sit tight and wait for recovery?
We continue to believe that the two key factors remain diversification and active asset allocation.
Diversification means not betting the ranch on any single outcome. Investors need to understand that a range of outcomes are possible and these all need to be allowed for. One obvious example of this is the use of gold as portfolio insurance. A serious financial meltdown in 2009 will cause further weakness in financial assets and a dramatic recovery in gold. Gold therefore serves the purpose of acting as portfolio insurance allowing us to take market exposure on the grounds that the risks of this are offset by gold’s defensive properties.
Active management means adapting asset holdings to the risks and rewards of the markets. Typically a holding might be the best way to exploit a market situation for a 3-5 year period but rarely longer than that. Occasionally shorter term opportunities may arise and while day trading is not a serious investment methodology for us; investors shouldn’t be blind to short term opportunities either.
In short, our thoughts on this debate:
Most of those recommending making no portfolio changes are doing so because they have a strong conviction that there’ll be recovery in 2009. Isn’t this just betting the farm on a single outcome? What if they’re wrong?
Recovery in 2009 seems to be based on the take that many of these advisors have of the current market.
But not one of these advisors saw the downturn coming. If they missed something as serious as this, what’s chance that they will be right now? Those analysts who saw the crash and the crunch coming are much more diffident about the prospects for next year.
Much of their confidence stems from their view that markets are now cheap.
They’re obviously cheaper than they were but we know that the credit bubble created an asset bubble - if an overpriced asset falls by 40% that doesn’t automatically make it cheap.
The ‘do nothing’ brigade seem to be trotting out well-worn mantras in support of their position.
To us it’s almost a conspiracy of self-interest. If an advisor got you into this mess following a strategy, is he likely to turn around and admit this now? Luckily, there is a ready supply of platitudes.
They frighten investors with the fear that if investors act now, somehow they will miss out.
Miss out on what? Leaving portfolios the way that they were in 2007 is leaving them with an asset allocation predicated on assumptions that have long since been torn up. Even if market recovery is imminent, the chances are that the 2007 portfolio is not ideally placed to exploit that anyway. Look at your holding of corporate bonds - how significant is it? Corporate bonds are current priced for a 1929 scenario - if this unfolds, it’s already factored in. If it doesn’t then don’t be surprised to see corporate bonds rally more than equities as it becomes apparent that they are mispriced.
Equities look relatively unattractive in a falling or rising market. Whatever happens, your portfolio should not stagnate holding out of date holdings, simply because those holdings have fallen in value. It should be managed according to the best rewards and opportunities available in 2009, not cryogenically frozen at some point 2 years ago.
To us, freezing your portfolio because you don’t want to admit that you made mistakes 2 years ago is a bigger error than the original mistakes. The relief rallies in the markets and the USD are giving investors an opportunity to salvage some hope. Ignoring that would be the worst mistake of all.
But one final thought to those investors who pursued strategies that have suffered during the downturn - who would you trust to get you out of a mess like this - someone who has no loyalty to any asset class but only to performance or those who can only trade one asset class such as equities? In days like these it has to be the former.
Let’s expand on this. There are opportunities at the moment but, first of all, where NOT to put your money. Despite what Warren Buffett said, one place not to put your money is US equities. Why?
For a start, Chinese manufacturing recently suffered its worst recorded contraction. That may just be the single most important fact to emerge so far during the current crisis. It reflects the fact that US consumer demand has collapsed totally. This is further proved by the fact that:
- US Auto sales haven’t been lower since the end of the 1980s
- Circuit City will close 155 stores
- National retail chains have already gone out of business and disappointing December sales could see Chapter XI lawyers enjoy a record start to 2009.
- US oil consumption will likely end the year around 10% down on 2007.
And there is so much more. Even Polaroid has filed for Chapter XI. And the real significance of all this will play out next year.
If the US stops buying Asian consumer goods and OPEC oil in meaningful quantities why should China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and OPEC continue to provide funding to America and support to the dollar?
A plunging Greenback in 2009, ongoing liquidity problems for the #1 global economy and no more tricks up the Fed’s sleeve? It all sounds eminently plausible and it sounds ugly for US and global equity markets, western property markets and the US dollar. The US financial sector could come under such stress that a Chinese bailout on Chinese terms might be the only option and our oft stated target for the Dow of 3500-5000 could easily come into play.
The opportunity would be to hold gold, hold yen (remember Japan is still running a current account surplus), look at opportunities arising from the lack of liquidity and at this stage really keep powder dry for the right moment.
Going back to the question that we started with - should investors who’ve seen equity holdings fall by 50% or more this year still act or should they just sit tight and wait for recovery?
The right answer is always that investors should hold the assets most suitable for the prevailing investment environment and their own personal situation. This should constantly be re-examined and questioned.
Our portfolios have held up this year but we’re still asking those same questions. Any portfolio that’s down this year, especially ones that have fallen heavily should have even more reason to ask that question shouldn’t they?
Even if you believe Warren Buffett about buying equities, Warren has undertaken a flurry of buying and selling that is almost unprecedented and is expected to continue. The only reason for doing nothing now is that either the investor or their manager is in complete denial about what has happened in the last year or so and by not dealing with the problem can pretend it hasn’t happened. That’s not a good reason and won’t lead to a good outcome.
Every investor needs to review their portfolio RIGHT NOW in light of what could happen this coming year. Anything else is just rank bad advice! Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of that going around right now. Just as there was this time last year!

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

Time for the tourism business to wake up

This article is prompted by a couple of unnervingly complacent responses I have received from hotels and resorts I planned to visit recently. The first came from a resort in Chiang Mai, which was phoned by a Thai friend to check on room availability for four of us who were travelling there in early January. Rooms were available (unsurprisingly) and the price per room quoted. Then came the question. Is it only for farangs? If so, the price is 800 baht a night more than if it is two farangs and two Thai!
The other responses came when investigating rooms in Pai a week or so later. High season, of course, in mid January. No concessions for second and third nights and prices all quoted at above those published on the internet. And this in a period when visitor numbers are reputedly at an all time low. It is an echo of an experience of a friend in Phuket in December when he had a meal at his regular favourite, a rather smart Thai restaurant. When the bill for two came it was far higher than he expected – so much so that he queried it, only to be told that they had put up prices because they had so few customers. Smart move, chaps.
With tourism seemingly accounting for between 8 and 10 per cent of the Kingdom’s income it must be one of the major industries here. Given that much of it is centred around Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, the islands and Chiang Mai, their percentage must be well above the average. The devastating effect of the action at Government House and later at the airports is quoted as having cost the country over 8 billion dollars. That’s 280 billion baht. Not millions. Billions.
It goes far beyond that if the effect of so-called political actions and unrest staggers on into the next high season. And the money that flows into the country from abroad, sent by family members working away from home and the tens of thousands of farangs who send money regularly to support the young men and women they befriend in Thailand, has also decreased. The resultant increase in the crime rate has also been alarming, especially theft in Pattaya.
The knock-on effect of the world wide economic downturn, along with the bad publicity that has been recycled world wide, is that as hotels and other accommodation remain empty, or at best with 15 or 20 % occupancy, more and more workers are laid off or, as is the case in some hotels in Bangkok, they are asked to work only 20 days a months at a corresponding rate of pay. Preferable to losing a job, but hard when it comes to paying the rent.
There is already some movement back to smaller towns and villages and family homes, where life is cheaper. But this normally occurs after Songkran, when the workers from holiday areas are expected to return home with a decent bank balance to keep them and family members in the hot and rainy seasons. A bank balance of between 20 and 40,000 baht helps pay for the necessary fertilizers and other costs to ensure a rice crop and simply to pay for food.
As the shops, bars, restaurants, tours and other tourist attractions cry out for customers, one might hope that a real attempt would be made to encourage tourists back, and those who are here might be encouraged to spend what money they have. Admittedly, with so few visitors, that is not easy, but it seems that there is little in the Thai attitude that makes ‘encouragement’ a way of life. And within a couple of months the so-called high season will be over. There has been positive action on the part of both Air Asia and Thai Air to encourage travel, especially internally, but go to one of the car hire firms and try to rent one of the many cars standing idle and you will find that rates are quoted as for high season. Some 20-25 % more than in, say, October. And there is simply no acknowledgement of the fact that visitors are at the same level – or lower – than they were four or five months ago.
Perhaps the reality of what is happening here as in other countries has not sunk in. Perhaps, with good luck and good harvests and favourable weather and a stable government for the rest of the year and beyond, Thailand (including its tourist industry), may weather the storm. Perhaps.

Let's Go To The Movies: : Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
The Elephant King:
US/ Thai Drama/ Romance – Filmed for the most part in Chiang Mai.  Two American brothers – one domineering and nihilistic, the other guileless and introspective - as they binge on drink, drugs, and women in Chiang Mai, in our beloved Space Bubble Disco, among other local sights.  A domineering mother dispatches her young, introverted son Oliver off to Chiang Mai to do everything he can to lure his reckless, older brother Jake back home to the U.S. to face pending fraud charges.  Oliver finds the intoxication of Chiang Mai hard to resist – as he falls deeply in love for the first time, Jake slips deeper into despair, and the seams of their relationship begin to come undone.  When the true extent of Jake’s decadence and self-destruction is revealed to Oliver, he is forced to decide whether he will save his brother’s life or his own.  Rated R in the US for sexual content, drug use, language and some violence.  Mixed or average reviews.
Blue Sky of Love / Fah Sai Jai Chuen Ban:
Thai Drama – A supposedly comic view of the bloody events of 6 October 1976, when student protests created a revolutionary period in Thai history.  It’s the story of a university girl who leaves her comfortable life in Bangkok to join a Communist Party army in a remote forest.
The Fatality / Tok Tra Phee:
Thai/Taiwan Mystery/ Horror – An unsuccessful man in Taipei commits suicide, only to wake up in the body of a coma victim in Bangkok.  His new life is almost perfect – he now has a stable job, a healthy body, and a beautiful wife, but as the two souls fight for control of the body they start developing supernatural powers over life and death itself, leaving havoc in their wake.  A Thai-Taiwanese co-production.
Australia Drama/ Adventure – Set against the backdrop of World War II, this is Baz Luhrmann’s epic, sweeping tale of an English woman (Nicole Kidman) who inherits a sizable cattle ranch “down under.”  With the bombing of the city of Darwin on the horizon, she teams with a cattle driver (Hugh Jackman) to save the ranch.  Mixed or average reviews.  Vista is showing it in a Thai-dubbed version only.
The Happiness of Kati:
Thai Family/ Drama – Based on the best-selling novel by Ngarmpan Vejjajiva.  Not enough believable conflict in the script to make it a compelling drama, but it is well-acted, and beautifully and lovingly photographed.  Best described as a loving tone poem of a film to a certain Thai way of life and living.
US Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – A television reporter and her cameraman are trapped inside a building quarantined by the US government after the outbreak of a mysterious virus which turns humans into bloodthirsty killers.  It has the single hand-held camera style of such recent movies as Cloverfield.  Some people find the “one actual camera” trick leads to heightened reality; others find that the constant jiggling of the picture and rough-shod editing gives them a terrible headache.  If you think you can put up with it, you will find this to be a quite frightening movie, as I did, once the introductory first 20 boring minutes are over.  Rated R in the US for bloody violent and disturbing content, terror, and language.  Mixed or average reviews.
Deep in the Jungle
: Thai Horror/ Action/ Fantasy/ Romance – A soldier falls in love with a woman who is actually a snake.  Largely incomprehensible, jumpy, much gratuitous bone-crunching violence.
Yes Man:
US Comedy – Jim Carrey as a man who signs up for a self-help program based on one simple principle: say “yes” to everything for an entire year.  Mixed or average reviews.
Bedtime Stories:
US Comedy/ Fantasy – Starring Adam Sandler.  A surprisingly pleasant and amusing family-friendly movie about a hotel handyman whose life is changed forever when the bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start to mysteriously come true.  The director is Adam Shankman (Hairspray).
4 Romances:
Thai Romance – Four love stories directed by four Thai filmmakers.  At Vista only.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa:
US Animation/ Family – A delightful animated picture, with the animals of the original Madagascar in new adventures and breath-taking exploits.  I had a lot of fun with it, but then I like cartoons.  In the vast plains of Africa, the members of the Central Park Zoo-raised crew encounter species of their own kind for the very first time.  Generally favorable reviews.
Scheduled for Jan 22
High School Musical 3:
US Musical – A continuation of the hit musical series.  The kids are now seniors.  Again, terrific singing and dancing.  Mixed or average reviews.
Red Cliff Part 2:
Hong Kong War/ Action – The second and final half to John Woo’s magnum opus Red Cliff, and an epic of grand scale in the Chinese manner.  Produced and directed by John Woo.

Don’t Misss : by Andy Archer

One Anniversary certainly not to be missed is the 1st Anniversary of Chiang Mai Friends which is on January 22 at JJ Markets, behind Tesco Lotus and Kam Thieng flower market. Meeting place is opposite the Steak House by Le Crystal.
The theme is a ‘Pot Luck’ party, held from 5.30 until 8.30 p.m. with many surprises! For further details contact [email protected]
On Saturday January 24, in the Saisuree Hall of Payap University, the Piano Club of Chiang Mai will hold a recital entitled ‘Pianists Old and New’. This club, with Ajaan Bennett Lerner as its president, was created to bring together all piano teachers and piano students in Chiang Mai in a spirit of cooperation. Students who have played in the various concerts so far come from many different schools in Chiang Mai and a significant number, old and young, will be performing with their teachers at this interesting concert. Admission is free and it starts at 7.30 p.m.
The College of Music at Payap University presents a guitar recital, given by Panitan Punpuang, on January 30 at 7.30 p.m. at the Saisuree Chutikul Music Hall on Payap University ‘s Mae Kao Campus. Admission is free - this looks as though it is going to be a very interesting and enjoyable performance.
The Conservatory of Music at Rangsit University, together with Payap’s College of Music will present ‘Road Show 2009 in Chiang Mai’ for the city’s music lovers.
On January 27 from 2.30 until 4 p.m. there will be a Violin/Cello Master Class at Montford College, followed by the Denny & Friends Jazz Concert at Payap’s Saisuree Chutikul Music Hall, from 7 p.m. until 8.30 p.m. On January 28 from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. another master class; this time for Jazz Ensemble at the MB1 Room, College of Music, on Payap’s Kaewnowarat Campus. On the same evening, from 7 p.m. until 8.30 p.m. there will be an RSU Piano Trio Concert at the Saisuree Chutikul Music Hall.
On the final day, January 29, from 4 p.m. until 5.30 p.m., there will be a Violin/Cello/Brass Master Class at the Dara College School, with a repeat from 6 p.m. until 7.30 p.m. at the Education Mall Music School on Nimmanhaemindha Road. Admission is free.

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

This column came out in the 6 Jan issue. Unfortunately, because of a problem in the printing, the last half of the column, with the solution to the hand, was left out. This is the full column (unless the printing bug strikes again).
Opening with a weak two bid, showing a six card suit and (depending on partnership agreement) about 5-11 points, is a useful way to make it difficult for the other side to bid and find the correct contract. This is particularly true if you open two spades, forcing the opponents to the three level. However, weak two bids have the disadvantage of revealing the distribution. Sometimes this can make it easier for declarer during the play. Consider the deal below and imagine you are sitting South. With neither side vulnerable and East dealing, this was the bidding:
East              South      West          North
2H                  P              P                 Dbl
P                   3S            P                 6S
All pass                                            

The full deal is shown below:
                        S: KJ982
                        H: A85
                        D: AK
                        C: AK8        
S: 753                                  S: 4
H: 3                                     H: KQJ1094
D: 9765                                D: 10843
C: J10942                             C: Q7
                        S: AQ106
                        H: 762
                        D: QJ2
                        C: 653            

East opened a weak two hearts. This was passed around to North, who made a takeout double. South showed his good spade holding by bidding 3S. North, with his strong hand, raised to six. West led the three of hearts. Now you are stuck with playing 6S! You have 11 easy tricks – five spades, one heart, three top diamonds and two top clubs. What is your plan for making one more trick and taking the contract? It is not easy, but the clue is in the bidding.
You have a potential club loser and a potential heart loser (you can throw one heart from dummy on your queen of diamonds). You know that East has six hearts and therefore West only has one. So you win the ace of hearts. Then, if you can eventually arrange to lose the lead (in clubs) to West, he will not be able to lead a heart. If you take out trumps and the minor suit winners first, before losing the lead, West will be forced to lead a club or a diamond and allow you a ruff and a sluff for your twelfth trick. This is the situation after you win three rounds of spades, one heart, three diamonds and two clubs:

                   S: K2
                     H: 8
                     D: -
                     C: 8                
S: -                                       S: -
H: -                                       H: KQJ
D: 9                                      D: 10
C: J109                                 C: -
                     S: 10
                     H: 62
                     D: -
                     C: 6                

You lead dummy’s last club. West is forced to win. Now, whatever West leads will allow you to throw the last heart from dummy and trump in hand. Then, dummy has only good trumps and you have made your contract. If this was your planned line of play, congratulations! Please send me your interesting hands at: [email protected]