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The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Let's Go To The Movies

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Put up the umbrellas - it’s raining pigs!

You have to pity the poor old pig. Considered a dirty animal, but every last bit of it is eaten by many people all over the world. After all, an English breakfast is nothing without bacon, is it?
Poor old piglet has come in for so much abuse in the past few weeks that the Egyptian authorities killed 300,000 of them, just in case they were carrying the A/H1N1 virus, giving birth to the term “swine flu”. And there had not been one single identification of the virus causing flu in the whole of Egypt. Rough justice if you’re a pig.
The wave of hysteria spread throughout the world, with the media doing its job of bringing the news of calamities to the unsuspecting public. In fact, doing such a good job that the entire world was on high alert after the third pig in Mexico coughed twice. The hidden message was “after coughing comes coffin”.
Hong Kong quarantined a complete hotel, with all communication being done in sign language through the locked windows. The only food available to the guests was pizzas, as these could be slid under the doors. Every day the reported number of deaths in Mexico from the virus escalated. If you got an email from Mexico you prayed that your Norton, McAfee or whatever could quarantine the virus before your computer passed on the virus to you. You can see the connection already: pig to computer to man transmission. We are all doomed.
As the panic spread, but the virus didn’t, the world’s media came in for more abuse for scaremongering. But were they really? The media was simply doing what it is supposed to do - reporting on the goings on in the world.
So where does the media go to get the information about the said goings on? For medical data, it turns to the World Health Organization (WHO) which has the following in its constitution: “Unequal development in different countries in the promotion of health and control of disease, especially communicable disease, is a common danger.” And further, “Informed opinion and active cooperation on the part of the public are of the utmost importance in the improvement of the health of the people.”
So returning to our porkers, as the data became available to the WHO, it in turn made this information available to the media. For example, as the number of countries reporting the A/H1N1 virus (Swine flu) increased, the WHO increased its call for surveillance, issuing bulletins like: “Current level of influenza pandemic alert raised from phase 4 to 5. Based on assessment of all available information and following several expert consultations, Dr Margaret Chan, WHO’s director-general raised the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to 5. She stated that all countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. At this stage, effective and essential measures include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases, and infection control in all health facilities.”
The danger in the dissemination of this information was that, if not correctly handled, this would lead to panic, and fighting in the pharmacies for the anti-viral drugs. The important information in that bulletin from the WHO was that it was part of a graduated pandemic “alert”. It did not say that the world had been doomed by the pigs. It merely said that all countries should be on alert.
However, there are sections of the media that exist on shock, horror headlines, so I may as well give you one. “Center for Disease Control in the US confirms 36,000 Americans died of influenza last year.” Now that happens to be true, and has been true for the past 10 years. People die from influenza - that’s “ordinary” influenza, not Swine influenza. That is why the research people came up with vaccines to counteract the viruses, and they are now currently working on one to cover A/H1N1.
So the ‘real’ picture is that the WHO is making sure all countries are on the alert for this new influenza virus strain, not that we are in imminent danger of extinction. Hopefully it will not be as virulent as it looked initially, but we remain on alert.

 

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I missed you. Where did you go for Songkran? I thought I might have seen you in one of the sois throwing water, but nobody I asked had seen you. Are your clothes dry again?
Sam Songkran
Dear Sam Songkran,
I’m sorry I can’t say I missed you, Sam Songkran, but why are you so interested in my clothes this week (or any week for that matter)? Of course I played Songkran, it is part of Thai culture, and I can assure you that you wouldn’t see me in a floral dress and frizzy hair either (I am going to have to speak severely to that Dorian). No, I looked out my oldest jeans and tennis shoes and wearing a Chiang Mai Mail T-shirt, I blended in with the revelers. I was the one with white powder on my cheeks - and don’t get any funny ideas, Dorian Farmer!

Dear Hillary,
Thank you for publishing my letter concerning the lady (and I use the term loosely) who showers so all the world can see her nudity. I am pleased you noticed my purposely mistaken use of the word “voyeur”, as it indicates you have at least some rudimentary education.
You take me to task for writing under a nom de plume. I did not use my correct name and title as it would immediately identify and expose this 74 year old exhibitionist neighbor to public ridicule. May I also suggest you are a fine person to make such an accusation as, I am sure we all know, you publish your weekly column under an alias. A little tea money will ensure your continued anonyminity (sic).
In a sudden surge of excitement last night, that is when she bent down to retrieve the soap, I fell off that bloody stool and am currently ensconced in plaster from the groin to the hip, so what about some sound compensation advice now? And who will now keep the nightly vigil - perhaps you will kindly volunteer?
Puritanical Parishioner
Dear PP,
Firstly you wish to expose your voyeurism to the world through this column a couple of weeks ago, and now you are trying your hand at extortion notes, euphemistically referring to it as “tea money”. I think you should spend a little more time, my Petal, at learning the English language before sending off threatening letters in the lingo. “Anonyminity”? Just what language is that? Or is it just that you can’t spell “anonymity”? You also express the opinion that I have “at least some rudimentary education.” Thank you, Petal, yes I have had a rudimentary education, whilst yours on the other hand seems to have been simply a “rude” education. And spelling obviously wasn’t one of the subjects. Or if it was, you were obviously playing truant that day.
Sorry to hear that you have one of your appendages in plaster from the groin to the hip. Perhaps this may bring on a little self restraint, which will be good for you in the long run. Stops you spraining your wrist.

Dear Hillary,
A big round of applause for your two replies to the outraged ones a couple of weeks ago. What a lot of nonsense they bleat! I am one of the people you mention who has lost everything in a previous life and now have reincarnated into a loving husband (again) with a lady who has a heart of gold… literally. To all you frustrated ladies out there who think the “Thai Hussies” have stolen your man, rethink your own attitudes and you might end up actually enjoying yourselves.
Thanks Hillary for the excellent column every week.
Perfectly happy Pete.
P.S. You have become a lot less catty over the last year or so, have you found some romance in your life too or mellowed out on champagne?
Dear Perfectly happy Pete,
I am glad to hear that you have been so happily reincarnated as a loving husband. People like you do seem to be a rarity round here, but then again, the happy ones don’t generally write in for advice. They don’t have to, do they.
Now, “catty”? Me? Moi? Never! And what’s this about “romance” in my life? The only offers I ever get are from Dorian’s friend Nairod who seems totally incapacitated by venal desires and other assorted suggestions from the twisted mind of somebody called Mistersingha (and that doesn’t mean you can write in again soon). They have about as much chance of romancing as I have of getting champagne each week, as neither of them has even come good with a BabyCham (dreadful sugary stuff). And I notice your missive and its provocative remarks came unattended by champagne or chocolates.
Dear Hillary,
My boyfriend has grown a bushy mustache but every time he kisses me it leaves a rash on my face. What can I do about it?
Rosy Rash
Dear Rosy Rash,
You have only one option, explain to your boyfriend sweetly that you will have to change boyfriends unless he shaves off his mustache or wears a ski mask or balaclava every time he kisses you. You could also just try shaking hands, though it does take a little something out of the emotions.


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Bridge Cameras

One of the newer developments in the digital camera world is ‘bridge’ cameras. These look like a small DSLR, but have a non-removable zoom lens of extraordinary range, generally 30-400 mm. For this reason, these cameras are also called ‘super zooms’.

Fuji Finepix S 2000 HD

The ability to fit such a wide zoom range in one single small diameter lens makes lens interchangeability redundant so you don’t have to lug around an assortment of lenses either. However, most bridge cameras allow the use of secondary lenses to improve wide angle, telephoto or macro capabilities. These secondary lenses typically screw onto the front of the primary lens either directly or by use of an adapter tube, but image quality may be sacrificed to some extent.
One area where the super zooms have a problem is in the viewfinder imaging. In an SLR, with its mirror system and through the lens viewing, you have a ‘real time’ image. With the bridge cameras, there is no mirror and you are viewing a totally digital image. This image suffers from a refresh delay which means that the image seen on the screen will have a fraction of a second lag from the real scene being photographed. For most picture taking this is not a problem, but if you are trying to capture a moving object means that it is very difficult to end up with a centrally placed subject. This can be a major problem for fast moving subjects such as animals, sports and children.
The delay can be quite significant, and is generally around one third to one half a second. With the speed of a racing car, for example, you will get many frames with just half a car! For example, with the Fuji Finepix S 2000 HD, the shutter lag for a single photo takes 0.42 seconds and five shots takes 12.23 seconds. With the flash on, the times are 0.56 seconds for a single photo and 12.39 seconds for five. It is even worse with the Sony DSC S500 Entry Level Digital Camera with a single shot shutter lag of 1.08 seconds. This makes the Sony unacceptable if you want to be a sports photographer, for example.
The specifications of this Finepix are 10 megapixel CCD sensor, 2.7in LCD screen and a 15x optical zoom with true wide angle. It also has dual image stabilization, face detection and automatic red-eye removal. The Fuji people claim high speed shooting up to 13.5 fps (ignoring shutter lag), with 14 pre-programmed scene modes, an SD card expansion slot, and the ability to shoot movies as well. Sounds good for under 10,000 baht!
The Fuji Finepix S 2000 HD, has dedicated buttons for activating the face detection (the camera identifying and prioritizing up to 10 faces in a frame, complete with automatic red eye removal if required) and a second button for continuous shooting mode. The continuous shooting mode provides a broad range of quick shooting options. However, these are not quite as quick as it first would appear. The ultra high speed, 13.5 fps is with the three-megapixel mode, not the 10 megapixels the camera is capable of. With the camera set on this “high speed” option, you do get a rapid fire initial burst, but then you will find you are waiting for 15 seconds or so while the images are processed before you can fire off another shot. The rest of the camera shows that it has the usual modes and options, with image stabilization to make it less likely that you get ‘soft’ images. This is where the final decision must be taken, if you are in the market for a bridge super zoom. Reading the comments of users, it would seem that image quality is not perhaps quite as good as a dedicated SLR.
After my recent article on 12 months with a Panasonic DMC FZ 50, I received an email from regular reader Don Griffith who wrote, “Can’t help but think you would have enjoyed the 12 months more with a Nikon D40 (now really, really, cheap)!” But then I would have had to lug lenses, Don!
Like most purchases, I suggest try before you buy, and compare any bridge camera with an SLR, for your sort of photography.


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Where do we go now?

At the time of writing this people will either be getting wet or hiding over the Songkran. People are starting to be more optimistic. Woe betide false prophets (this can be used phonetically as well) is all I can say. That eminently sensible financial magazine, Barron’s, is slightly more pragmatic - the “End of the Rally is Nigh.”
Another realist, Marc Faber, believes there will be a 10% fall in the market before the rally gets going again. Personally, I am surprised he is this optimistic. He said recently, “In terms of fiscal spending, bailouts don’t usually work.” What we have now is one of the biggest bailouts in history. Time and time again, emperors, dictators and/or governments have tried to replace declining private demand with perceived public requirements. With one or two honourable exceptions, this just does not work. Government debt will rise and the balance sheet will get bigger.
With what the governments are planning at the moment, there is very little chance of the present mess we are in bottoming out before the end of next year. Faber thinks there is a case to be made for saying it could last for ten years. Whenever the end does come inflationary pressure will be massive and interest rates will begin to go up.
Another realist, Rick Ackerman, believes that the problem with the present rally is there is no capitulation. If there is none then there is hope and many people still remain to be sucked in. However, once there is a full surrender then we will see the bottom of market.
If you try to postpone a recession the only result you get is prolonging it or driving the world into a depression. By doing what America, Britain and others are trying to do now which is basically deficit financing then there will be enormous debt growth. As a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), debt has grown from 130% in 1980 to 360% as of now. Also, please remember that this does not include major liabilities such as healthcare, pensions or social welfare.
This is the public forum, the private one is no better, credit card debt is the worst it has ever been. Balances fell by almost ten percent in February. The situation with home loans is no better. Foreclosures and auctions will soon start to flood the market thus driving house prices down. When this happens then the collateral being held by banks falls as do the assets which hold up other financial institutions as well. Believe me, the worst is still yet to come.
People are desperate to find good in the bad. Take Fannie Mae for instance, it recently announced that they were employing 2,000 new people. Wonderful! Look a bit closer and you will find they are all debt collectors! I need say no more. Well, I should not but the evidence says I should.
There are folk out there who are arguing that markets should look beyond economic forecasts. While this is true to a certain extent, realism also has to be considered. Ackerman again, “In January 2008, when the S&Ps were in the early stages of what was to become a devastating collapse, domestic equity mutual funds were worth about $6.5 trillion. Lo, a little more than a year later, in February 2009, we see that the value of these funds had fallen by about 48%, to $3.4 trillion. But guess what: Over that time, net redemptions totalled only 2%, or about $100 billion! What that means, explicitly, is that mutual fund investors have stuck with this bear market throughout the decline.”
What this means is that even though there has been an enormous drop in the price of stocks and shares people are still holding them which means there is more selling coming up soon. Ackerman goes on, “This bear market will end, like every other bear market in history, with a wholesale dumping of stocks at prices that will make current values seem exorbitant in comparison.”
What really does beggar belief is that those who have let us down so badly are still believed. The media still quotes Greenspan as though he has all the answers. They forget he is the one who got us into this mess in the first place. He is not the only one, what about all the analysts who said it was a great time to buy when the Dow had just dropped ten percent from its all time high? Let us not forget Tim Geithner, a regulator, who completely missed what Madoff was up to. The best, though, has to go to Hank Paulson who believed sub prime had topped out at USD100 billion. We now know the present cost of bailing out the system is nearly USD13 trillion.
So, apart from Greenspan, can we blame anyone else for this lot? Reuters recently wrote that, “Paulson (is) a Wall Street insider who was looking out for his own, and Bernanke (is) an academic misguidedly trying to refight the 1930s Great Depression. Together they formed the wrong team at the wrong time whose ad hoc approach threw away hundreds of billions of dollars and more than doubled the Fed’s balance sheet.
“What you’re seeing Bernanke do is he’s trying to create a bailout reflationary bubble, which he can’t describe as a bubble, just as Greenspan couldn’t describe the housing mortgage bubble as a bubble. What we’re seeing by Bernanke is a covert attempt to rebubble.”
Someone who has called just about everything to do with this crisis correctly, Nouriel Roubini, has called Jim Cramer “a buffoon.”
“He was one of those who called six times in a row for this bear market rally to be a bull market rally and he got it wrong. And after all this mess and Jon Stewart he should just shut up because he has no shame... He’s not a credible analyst. Every time it was a bear market rally he said it was the beginning of a bull and he got it wrong.”
Roubini warned two years ago that the United States faced its worse recession in four decades. He points out that the current rally on Wall Street merely follows the pattern of other major downturns. “Once people get the reality check than it’s going to get ugly again,” he says.
All agree that what should have been allowed to happen was a short, sharp recession just after Bush got elected. This would have stopped everything that has happened since from actually occurring. There would still be a good chance that the auto industry would not need the massive injections of capital that it now needs. Also, the banks would be in a much better state. Faber believes we should let the financial institutions that need help just roll over and die. It would still be possible to protect those who had deposits and policies with these companies; however, it would “let the system, through the market mechanism, deal with the problem.”
They also concur that despite all the bad things which will follow, inflation is the only way out. People will suffer from this policy but there is no alternative now that the printing presses are working 24/7.
The only thing to do is pull in your belts and save what you can, when you can.

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]


Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
Slumdog Millionaire:
US/UK, Crime/ Drama/ Romance – A cinema is the only place to really appreciate the fantastic images, sounds, and music of this spectacular film.  It’s a breathless, exciting, heartbreaking, exhilarating story about a Mumbai orphan who rises from rags to riches on the strength of his lively intelligence.  You haven’t really seen it until you’ve seen it on the big screen.  This gem of a film won Oscars for best: picture, director, adapted screenplay, original score, film editing, original song, sound mixing, and cinematography.  Rated R in the US for some violence, disturbing images, and language. Reviews: Universal acclaim.  A must-see! At Vista only.
Angels & Demons
: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – It’s a lot of fun.  The team behind the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code returns for this tight and taut follow-up, based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown.  Tom Hanks reprises his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who once again finds that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance their goals.  Ron Howard again directs.  Early reviews: mixed or average.
Bangkok Adrenaline / Khon-Dued-Zaaad:
Thai, Action/ Adventure – A Thai action-comedy created by and mostly starring Western foreigners, many of them stunt professionals, in a story about four deadbeat expatriates trying to survive in Bangkok after getting in debt to local gangsters.  In a desperate bid to save themselves, they kidnap a beautiful heiress for ransom.  It stars the British-born, tricking stunt actor Daniel O’Neill, a Jackie Chan stunt team veteran with acting credits that include Tony Jaa’s The Protector. Shot entirely in Thailand and filmed in English, mostly, but shown here dubbed in Thai, (with no English subtitles).
Horsemen:
Canada/ USA, Drama/ Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – A strange film, with an intriguing premise and a fairly interesting relationship between father and sons.  There are some nice things in it.  Dennis Quaid plays a bitter detective emotionally distanced from his two young sons following the death of his wife.  While investigating a series of murders of rare violence, he discovers a terrifying link between himself and the suspects in a chain of murders that seem to be based on the Biblical prophecies concerning the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death.  That’s a fascinating idea to me.  Rated R in the US for grisly and disturbing content, some sexual images, and language.
Star Trek (2009):
 US/ Germany, Sci-Fi/ Adventure/ Action – All new!  And I think it’s a great deal of fun, for fans of the series, and also for those who are not.  This much-anticipated film is a reboot of the series, going back to the series’ ’60s roots by depicting the formative experiences of the legendary heroes Kirk and Spock, and their young, new crew.  It’s very well done, and I found it engrossing.  Reviews: Universal acclaim.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine:
 US/ New Zealand/ Australia, Action/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Though most reviews are lukewarm, I think it’s simply brilliant, and a superb action film for anyone who likes the genre.  Stay for two very short additional scenes during the closing credits, one of which, in a bar in Japan, is a lead-in to the sequel.  Mixed or average reviews.
Mor 3 Pee 4:
 Thai, Romance/ Comedy – A nice little advertisement for MSN: Four teenagers make friends and chat online on MSN.  Thee and Nut are brothers living in Bangkok, June and Jane are sisters who live in Phuket.  Do the two pairs finally meet?  Well it’s called a “romance” after all!
Saranae Howpeng:
Thai, Comedy – Movie version of “Saranae Show” – a popular Thai comedy TV show that has been on the air for 11 years.  Stars many well-known Thai comedians, including Mum Jokmok (Petchthai Wongkamlao), Kietisak “Hoi” Udomnak, Ple Nakorn, and Willy McIntosh.
Scheduled for May 21
Night at the Museum 2: Escape From the Smithsonian:
  USA/ Canada, Action/ Comedy – After a wacky night at the Museum of Natural History, the perpetually hapless Larry (Ben Stiller) must infiltrate the Smithsonian after shipping two of his resurrected friends to Washington by mistake.  As a result, he finds himself in the middle of a vast conflict between many of the museum’s most noteworthy historical figures.
Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and Steve Coogan are back, and this time they’re joined by Amy Adams, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Guest.  The central thrust of the film will be bringing to life the Smithsonian Institution, which houses the world’s largest museum complex with more than 136 million items in its collections, ranging from the plane Amelia Earhart flew on her nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic and Al Capone’s rap sheet and mug shot to Dorothy’s ruby red slippers and Archie Bunker’s lounge chair.  This is the first major film to be shot inside the Smithsonian in Washington, and the building may never be the same.


HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?: Stuart Rodger

The most famous garden in the world

Stuart Rodger
The National Trust in England has one of its most treasured possessions donated after Vita Sackville-West died in 1963. Sissinghurst Castle comprises the remaining fragments of a red-brick Tudor period castle - the entrance block, the twin towers, and two surviving houses which were once part pf a rectangular court surrounded by a moat. Nothing remarkable in itself - the almost derelict site was allowed to run down after it was used to house military prisoners during the Napoleonic War and ended up being used as a shelter for livestock!
When Vita and her husband, Harold Nicholson, a diplomat, discovered the ruined castle, they immediately recognised its potential as a home for themselves and their two young sons. So began a mammoth, lifetime restoration project and obsession, which transformed the wreck into perhaps the most enchanting secret paradise ever created.
How did they do this? First, they cleared the accumulated debris of hundreds of years. The next task was to demolish a shanty town of bodged outbuildings and systematically create a series of magical ‘colour gardens’, now one of the National Trust’s closely guarded secrets.

Sissinghurst Castle, England. (Photo/Public Domain)

Although not extensively publicised, the word got out, and despite the Trust’s efforts to maintain their privacy, these gardens are now the most visited in England, to the extent that entry is staggered to maintain the right number of visitors in order not to disturb the magic!
A visit is a must to anyone who is in the area of Sevenoaks in Kent, or in London, and is seeking inspiration for their own gardens. It’s a pilgrimage which should be taken by every serious gardener at least once in their lifetime.
On arrival, after receiving your entry ticket, you will be greeted by a friendly volunteer at the gate kiosk. Then - the magic begins. You proceed through a low Tudor gateway into an enchanting courtyard surrounded by Tudor brick and dominated by a tall double-turreted tower. In the tower, Vita had her study, and wrote her famous poems and diaries, recording her most intimate personal life. Her works fascinate readers to this day.
Vita belonged to one of the great noble families of England, who rose to eminence as trusted advisors to Queen Elizabeth the First. She was born at Knowle, the largest stately home in England, with buildings covering 25 square miles. Sadly, because of the ancient prescience laws, women in that position cannot inherit – as a result, when her father died, she lost her beloved home to her brother, and never recovered from an intense sense of loss. Finding out that Sissinghurst had once actually belonged to her family, her love affair with the crumbling ruin began, and never ended.
Against the sheltering walls, warmed by the sun, cosseted rare bulbs and plants snuggle up to the climbing roses, clematis and other rare and exquisite climbers, most of which have hardly been seen. Every plant at Sissinghurst is the rarest or best variety of its type. A notebook is an essential tool on a visit to this gardeners’ paradise; every plant is meticulously labelled, the labels discretely placed so that they do not spoil the beauty of the plant.
Special reference to the combination of plants used should be noted, as one cannot imagine a better choice of combinations. On your left is a glorious purple border, a perfect contrast to the orange brick tones of the wall behind, and located right in front of Vita’s sitting room, part of the gate-house entrance to the estate.
The building also contains a library of rare books and memorabilia of Vita’s heritage and privileged life. Purple was her favourite colour; perhaps because it is so rich and royal, and goes so well with black. It is, also, the most expensive dye in the world, used since Roman times by royalty and heads of state, and produced from millions of carefully selected seashells. Only as late as the Victorian era was a chemical dye invented to bring the glorious colour within the each of ordinary people’s pockets.
After the death of Queen Victoria’s beloved consort, Price Albert, at the early age of 43, purple was widely used by women to subtly decorate the black mourning clothes they were obliged to wear in support of their queen’s grief. Vita herself wanted the colour purple to be the first thing she saw when stepping into her garden.
Everything in the gardens is as it was in her lifetime; updated, however, by the planting of any startling new plant discovery, as she would have done were she still alive. This authenticity was possible for 40 years after her death because of the devoted gardening of two lesbian lovers who were employed by Vita during her lifetime to maintain her horticultural treasures, and who knew her innermost thoughts, loves and desires.
In next week’s article, we will progress further on this journey of discovery as we explore each garden.

Tip of the week
Always carry a notebook to jot down clever and pleasing colour combinations, or the botanical or Thai manes of plants which catch your eye.


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

This column was in the May 5 edition of the Chiang Mai Mail.  Unfortunately, a printing problem resulted in the hand diagrams being mixed up so that it was difficult to make sense of it.  It is reprinted below (correctly I hope!).  The hand was played in Chiang Mai recently.  It is a challenge for your declarer play.  No one was vulnerable and South dealt.  This was the bidding: 

South   West      North     East

P           P              2C           3C

3H        P              4H           All pass 

Imagine you are sitting South, with the dummy and hand below.  The opening lead was the queen of clubs.  You have a great dummy and 30 HCP between the two hands.  How do you make the contract? 

                     S: AK5

                     H: AQ6

                     D: AQ754

                     C: A8                 

??                                             ??

                     S: Q10

                     H: 98732

                     D: KJ9

                     C: J107 

At the table the ace of clubs won the first trick.  A low spade was led from dummy to the queen in hand.  Declarer finessed in hearts, with the queen losing to East’s king.  East then led the king of clubs and another club.  West ruffed with the jack, forcing the ace of hearts from dummy.  The six of hearts was led and the trick was won by East’s ten, with West discarding.  East now led a low spade, which dummy was forced to win with the king.
You have already lost three tricks (the king and ten of hearts and the king of clubs) and cannot afford to lose any more.  The situation now is shown below.  What do you lead from dummy?

                        S: A

                        H: -

                        D: AQ754

                        C: -                

??                                          ??

                        S: -

                        H: 987

                        D: KJ9

                        C: -                  

At the table, declarer tried to get to hand by leading a low diamond to his king.  East ruffed and the contract was down.  The correct lead is the ace of spades, which you trump in hand.  It is critically important to get to hand to pull the last trump.  You have plenty of winners in diamonds and do not need the ace of spades, so the correct play is to trump your winning ace!  (If East trumps the spade first, you simply over ruff.)  Now you can pull the last trump with your nine and claim the rest.  Congratulations if you found the right play.  The full deal is shown below: 

                    S: AK5

                    H: AQ6

                    D: AQ754

                    C: A8          

S: J943                             S: 8762

H: J5                                H: K104

D: 108632                        D: -

C: Q5                               C: K96432

                    S: Q10

                    H: 98732

                    D: KJ9

                    C: J107         

Chiang Mai now has an official bridge club - the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai.  We welcome new players.  For information on the Club please contact Chris Hedges at:  [email protected]  If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]