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The Doctor's Consultation

Alliance Francaise

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

I’ll just go to sleep for a minute

A lovely young lady called Karen (and I won’t say which particular Karen) bumped into me at the hospital the other day and asked if I had written an article on Sleep Apnea recently. I hadn’t, so this one is for you Karen. Or is it for your bed partner? (I didn’t ask, there’s a limit to how personal you can get walking past the escalators.)
Put very simply, Sleep Apnea is when people stop breathing for some seconds while asleep. They are usually not aware of this fact, but bed partners are! People with Sleep Apnea stop breathing repeatedly during the night, sometimes hundreds of times and often for a minute or longer.
It is a worrisome situation when the person lying next to you just seems to have stopped breathing. Was that last breath really their last breath? Should you start CPR?
“Apnea” comes from the Greek and literally means “without breath”, so it is an apt word for the condition where people stop breathing when asleep.
Like so many conditions in medicine, it is not quite cut and dried simple, as there are three types of Sleep Apnea. These are called Obstructive, Central and Mixed, with Obstructive being the most common.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by an obstruction producing a blockage of the airway, usually caused when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep.
In Central Sleep Apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Normally as the oxygen level drops, a reflex in the brain tells the body to breathe to increase the oxygen saturation. This reflex is normally very powerful. For example, try holding your breath, and you will find that you breathe again involuntarily. You cannot over-ride your brain.
Mixed Apnea, as the name suggests, is a combination of the two. With each apnea event, the brain briefly arouses people with sleep apnea in order for them to resume breathing, but consequently sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality.
Sleep Apnea is much more common than you would have thought, being as common as adult diabetes, and affects more than twelve million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Risk factors include being overweight, and over the age of forty, but sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children. Males suffer from this more than females, yet still because of the lack of awareness by the public and healthcare professionals, the vast majority remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious disorder can have significant consequences.
Untreated, Sleep Apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches. And I think I don’t want any of them. It is also stated that untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes.
The symptoms of Sleep Apnea include frequent silences during sleep due to breaks in breathing, choking or gasping during sleep to get air into the lungs, loud snoring, sudden awakenings to restart breathing or waking up in a sweat and feeling un-refreshed by a night’s sleep, including falling asleep at inappropriate times during the day. While snoring can accompany Sleep Apnea, snoring is not in itself harmful (other than keeping your bed partner awake).
Fortunately, these days, Sleep Apnea can be diagnosed and treated in Sleep Labs, where the respirations, oxygen saturation and other parameters can be measured.
Several treatment options exist, and research into additional options continues. For mild cases, lose weight. Stop using alcohol, tobacco, and sedatives, or anything that relaxes the muscles of the throat and encourages snoring. Sleep on your side. Elevate the head of your bed 150 mm. Use a nasal dilator, breathe right strips or saline nasal spray to help open nasal passages. Surgery may be needed to open the throat.
However, the main route for treatment is the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine which forces air into the lungs through tubes feeding a face mask. It is cumbersome, but may be necessary, when all else has failed.
And lots of luck, Karen!



Friday, August 7, 8 p.m.
by Régis Wargnier with Catherine Deneuve • Vincent Perez • Jean Yanne • 160 mn • Eng. S.Titles
Indochina during the 30’s. One of the largest rubber-tree plantations is owned by the French colonist Eliane, a proud but imprudent woman. She lives with her father and her native adoptive daughter Camille. At an auction Eliane gets to know the young officer Jean-Baptiste; after a short affair she refuses to see him again. But in the meantime Camille falls deeply in love with the young man, so Eliane takes the necessary steps to cause a transposition of Jean-Baptiste to a far island. Though Camille gets married to another man, she goes on a long journey throughout the country in order to find the one she loves…
Friday, August 14,  8 p.m.
by Julien Duvivier with Jean Gabin • Mireille Balin • Charpin • Line Noro • B&W • 93 mn
‘Pépé le Moko’, a famous gangster chased by the police of Algiers, hides in the Kasbah… One night, after a fight between his men and the police, Pépé, slightly injured, takes refuge in a house where he meets a young woman, Gasy…
Friday, August 21, 8 p.m.
by François Truffaut with Gérard Dépardieu • Catherine Deneuve • Jean Poiret • 130 mn • Eng. subtitles
Lucas, a German-Jewish refugee, wants people to believe he went into exile leaving the management of the famous ‘Théâtre de Montmartre’ to his wife, Marion. Actually, he is hiding in the basement. Daxiat, a theatre critic and a pro-Nazi journalist, suspects something…
Friday, August 28, 8 p.m.
MELO (1986)
by Alain Resnay with Sabine Azema • Fanny Ardant • Pierre Arditti • André Dussolier • 140mn • Eng. S.Titles
Two violinists, Pierre and Marcel,  have met at the Academy of Music. During a friendly meal, Marcel makes the acquaintance of Pierre’s wife. They become lovers but Romaine can’t answer Marcel’s demand - he wants her to leave her husband…

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I bought the books. I read the books. I swore I would never fall for the cons that are done on the unsuspecting men that come over here. I was wise. I knew the plots and the pitfalls, and yet I fell in the hole just like as if I was a first-timer. Hundreds of thousands of baht later, I am back in Blighty and wondering just how it happened. How did I manage to give away over one million baht and have nothing to show for it, other than another email saying she has got married to a Swiss guy, thank you and goodbye? We need more than books, Hillary.
Rip Toff (1)
Dear Rip Toff (1),
Unfortunately men in your situation are not really ripped off, but you come over on holidays and commit financial suicide, voluntarily. What you have to remember is that the bar girls, the ladies of the night, the twirlers around the chrome poles, are some of the best sales ladies in the world. Bernard Madoff in the US was found out where he was cheating people of billions of dollars. If he had only employed some of our girls he would have made even more money, and the people ripped off would not have complained to the authorities, only to people like me, knowing their indiscretions are kept confidential between themselves and me, and half a million readers! Chalk it down to experience, my Petal. And don’t do it again! As you say, you need more than books - you need a total re-education! But don’t worry, the girls can do that for you too, if you keep your eyes open. And if you learn Thai and keep your ears open, you will be educated even further.
Dear Hillary,
In a recent Heart to Heart column, Hillary and a reader discussed Khru Bah Noi’s Rice Planting Machine. Is there some way I can get more information about this labor-saving device?
Dear Len,
I will get Delboy to contact you through your personal email with the details for Khru Bah Noi. I have to check first that my reader is happy with this proposal. Hope you understand.
Dear Hillary,
Or as antipodean sorts might say, “G’ day, Aunt DD.” Peasmold Gruntfuttock has decided to call his book about the lovely local ladies, Yings and Things. You will, of course, receive a mention, together with some revealing and endearing anecdotes from Rambling Syd Rumpo. I love the one when you leapt onto the stage during a variety performance at the Gaiety Theatre and brought the house down. Down with itchy bottoms!
Dear Mistersingha,
So you are antipodean now, are you? You were staunchly British before. Probably ‘before’ the alcohol caught up with you so that these days you can’t really remember anything. That which you can’t remember, you just make up. It’s called ‘confabulating’ (look it up, Petal), and that includes ideas that I leapt on to a stage anywhere and brought anything down. I hope you do not spend too much of your time writing these Peasmold and Rambling Rumpo epics, as otherwise it would be a complete waste of your day. Have you tried going for long walks along the cliffs instead? Hopefully you might stumble. By the way, what was the “Aunt DD” reference? If it were bra size, then you are once again, very mistaken.

Dear Hillary,
I’ve done it again, falling in love with a Thai woman who has happily ripped me off, while smiling. No wonder they call this place the land of smiles. With what they’ve got out of me, half of Isaan should be smiling, or at least financially better off. I thought I had met Miss Right. She always seemed so pleased to see me, but I think it was my bank account she was smiling at. I know I did not know her very long, but I honestly thought it would be better for us to be together while we got to know each other better, and keep her away from the bars. That was a dumb idea, as all it did was get her to know my financial state better, which is now a lot worse when she left taking as much as she could carry, and then some, what with motorcycle and house in her name. This is really just a warning for other poor saps, as I know you can’t get the money and stuff back for me. But how do you get some honest company round here?
Rip Toff (2)
Dear Rip Toff (2),
It is a pity that the letter from Rip Toff (1) did not come in a few months ago and save you all this heartbreak, and broken piggy bank too. Some people are slow learners, my Petal. There is nothing wrong with that, but you should know yourself better by this stage in your life. I am sorry that your Miss Right turned into Miss Left Nothing, and I appreciate your trying to warn others to be more careful, but you are the person you should be warning, before all others. And to meet “honest company”? The same places you do in your country, and that’s not the bars either.

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Be brave! Take the camera off “Auto”

Photography is still, despite the digital revolution, all about handling the variables involved in producing an image. And by handling all the variables yourself, you have total control over how that image turns out. And that entails mastering the M or Manual mode.
Now there are people who say that this is not necessary. Today’s cameras are smarter than we are, etc., etc., etc. You can twirl a knob, or select from a pull-down menu, the “portrait” mode or the “action” mode, and let the camera do the rest. That is all very fine, but you will get the portrait, or the action, that the camera ‘thinks’ is right. Not what you necessarily want, and there’s a big difference.
Improving your photography is not really all that difficult, and you don’t even need to go to school. There are many world class famous photographers who never had a lesson in their lives. But they did read, and they did experiment, and they did learn from their own work.
There are really only two main variables, and after you understand them and what they do to your photograph it becomes very simple.
The first thing to remember is that the correct exposure is merely a function of how large is the opening of the lens and how much time the shutter is left open to let the light strike the film. That’s almost it – that is photography in a nutshell. No gimmicks or fancy numbers – a straight out relationship – how open and for how long – this is known as the “Exposure”.
Now I will presume, for the sake of this exercise that you have an SLR and use it in the automatic, or “Programme” mode. Let’s go straight to the “mode” menu and look up “A” or “Aperture Priority”. In this mode it means that you can choose the aperture yourself, and the camera will work out the shutter speed that corresponds to the correct exposure. Simple.
So let’s play with this facility to give you some better pictures. Select “A” and then look at the lens barrel and you will see the Aperture numbers, generally between 2.8 and 22. To give you a subject with sharp focus in the foreground and a gently blurred background, you need to select an aperture around f2.8 to f4. Hey! It was that simple. To get those “professional” portrait shots, with the model’s face clear and the background all wishy washy, just use the A mode and select an Aperture around f4 to f 2.8.
Now, if on the other hand you want everything to be nice and sharp, all the way from the front to the back, like in a landscape picture, then again select A and set the lens barrel aperture on f16 to f22. The camera will again do the rest for you. Again – it’s that easy!
Flushed with creative success, let’s carry on. The next mode to try is the “S” setting. In this one, you set the shutter speed and the camera automatically selects the correct aperture to suit. Take a look at the shutter speed dial or indicator and you will see a series of numbers that represent fractions of a second.
First, let’s “stop the action” by using a fast shutter speed. For most action shots, select S and set the shutter speed on around 1/500th to 1/1000th and you will get a shot where you have stopped the runner in mid stride, or the car half way through the corner or the person bungee jumping. Yes, it’s that easy.
So this week you have learned that to get a good portrait shot use the A mode and set the aperture on f4 to f2.8 and forget about the rest of the technical stuff. Just compose a nice photograph and go from there. (Do remember to walk in close however!) To get a great landscape shot, again use the A mode and set the aperture at f16 to f22.
Finally, to stop the action, choose the S mode and around 1/500th of a second and you won’t get blurry action shots ever again.
Certainly there are other aspects to good photography, but master the A and S modes and you will produce better pictures.

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Kondratieff - Genius or Fraudster? Part 1

To begin, we must explain who Kondratieff actually was. Nikolai Dmyitriyevich Kondratieff was a Russian. He was born in 1892 and died at the young age of forty six after being sent to a Gulag in 1930.
He became a professor and was also Director of the Institute for the Study of Business Activity. However, in 1926, he published a paper called, “Long Waves in Economic Life”. This was deemed to be a criticism of Stalin’s Soviet economic policies, especially agriculture, and this is why he was arrested.
The major topic of the paper was that economies that based themselves on capitalism showed boom and bust cycles that ranged between fifty to sixty years. The time period in question was 1789 to 1926 and the main premise of the argument was based on prices, movement of capital, international trade, interest rates, wages, bank deposits, and other relevant information. Using his own theories, Kondratieff was able to predict the Great Depression a few years after writing his thesis.
The basic thoughts of Kondratieff are that there are times when people accumulate things and periods where they consume too much. Putting it more succinctly, when things are cheap, people buy them and then assets build up. When prices begin to go up then people start to eat into these savings in order to keep up a certain standard of living. When new production cannot keep up with consumption because of higher pricing then the economy goes into decline until we start with cheap prices again. At the point the new growth cycle starts all over again. This is explained in greater detail below.
The Kondratieff Wave Cycle goes through four phases:
Spring - Economy is kick-started. Unemployment falls, production and income starts to go up and the cost of living is quite stable. The feeling is no longer of deprivation but accumulation. Manufacturing starts again in earnest - especially that of innovative new products.
Summer - Economy doing well and inflation is on the up and up. However, growth cannot go on indefinitely. Resources, both human and material, begin to grow short. Companies and people have become lazy with accumulated wealth.
Autumn - Economy is not doing so well but things still feel okay. Flat growth occurs but consumption continues. Increased debt sets in but buying is still on the up. The economy is on the way down.
Winter - Economy is not doing well at all, large debt is retraced so things can start afresh with a new Spring. The words are Depression and Deflation.
Whilst the latter season is not where anyone wants to be, Kondratieff was quite right in thinking that this was when all the rot was cleaned out and the economy was brought back to reality. Ian Gordon (IG) is one of the world’s leading experts on Kondratieff, and he says, “I don’t think that there can be any doubt that we’re now in Winter. We’re in the period when debt is cleansed from the economy, so, as I say, that the economy can be renewed with little debt in the system”.
IG continues, “The 1921-29 Bull Market occurred in the 3rd Kondratieff Autumn and what we’ve just gone through was the 4th Kondratieff Autumn. They were both once in a lifetime experiences for investors. Basically, the Federal Reserve did exactly the same as the current Federal Reserve has done and is doing… the Federal Reserve flooded the economy with money.”
Kondratieff believed that by studying cultural, economic and social life over a period of time this proved there was a long term economic cycle that could be used for forecast future economic peaks and troughs which would enable the people in power to plan accordingly. This is because he worked out there were certain traits which were always there during the phases of the ups and downs of the Long Wave.
The diagram shows how the cycle works. It starts with things on the way up where prices start to increase slowly in pace with new economic growth. At the end of this period, inflation is very high and when it tops out then the world knows to expect a recession. After a few years things start to improve. People think that the good times are back and get reckless with money again. However, things are not as they seem to be and the reality is the economy never recovered. This leads to financial panic and massive losses on stock markets worldwide. Deflation sets in as does economic depression.
Anyone can see that this is exactly what has happened over the last decade or so. Therefore, why do people believe Kondratieff to be a fraud? The reason is they give no room for fluidity. The Theory was devised over eighty years ago. At that time the average age of a man’s lifetime was about sixty in the Western world and a lot less elsewhere. Also, there were a couple of world wars that did not help the normal economic cycles. On top of this, most of the major European currencies were taken away in one go with the creation of the Euro.
To be continued…

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please contact Paul Gambles on [email protected]

Life in Chiang Mai: by Mark Whitman

Redundant Movie Remake

Remakes, sequels, prequels and the like are often a sign of feeble imagination on the part of film makers or at best an attempt to minimize risk. The same goes for series, where the producers carry on regardless of the fact that inspiration has long disappeared. In a Chiang Mai cinema near you there’s a classic example of an overblown reworking of a very minor classic of the 1970s, which in its day had the virtues of comparative brevity, a sense of ‘reality’ so necessary for such an urban based thriller and two central performances of some wit and originality. The film was called The Taking of Pelham 123 and only the title remains intact.
Now on show is a new version, directed by Tony Scott, who is the younger, less talented brother to another showy director, Ridley. He has chosen to replace subtle actors with two preening peacocks who commit the unforgivable act of cheapening their talent and join in a show of contempt for the audience in this mindless work. The common characteristic of this and so many other remakes is the overblown quality the new makers bring to them.
It’s difficult to pick the worst of many examples, but top of a list might be Brief Encounter, (David Lean, 1947), which suffered the indignity of being ‘updated’ with Richard Burton and Sophia Loren. This British masterpiece was rooted firmly in the austere post war era and was a delicately observed portrait of the unconsummated love between a doctor and a loving suburban housewife. Glamour was not in sight and whatever one thinks of Burton’s abused talent he did exude power and Sophia Loren is arguably one of the most radiant actresses in screen history. A rapier was replaced by a cutlass.
It would be possible to fill the Mail’s pages with a list of such travesties, but this handful spring to mind on a level with Scott’s work. The Coen Brothers’ astonishingly ugly The Lady Killers transformed one of the two wittiest, most elegant black comedies ever made in Britain into a crass and vulgar betrayal of Alexander Mackendrick’s original work. Clint Eastwood did not actually remake Shane with Pale Rider but there were enough echoes of the original western to make his movie an embarrassment.
There was a colour version made of Stanley Kubrick’s version of Nabokov’s Lolita and this is often considered enough to justify a remake. In fact, magnificent though the original is, (mostly thanks to James Mason as the besotted Humbert Humbert), it had one glaring problem in the fact that the Lolita was too old. If the remake had made the character 12 as in the novel, (something impossible for Kubrick in 1962), this would have been a valid reason to rework it. They didn’t.
The most frequent reason for failure is the lack of talent of the new film makers and nowhere was this more the case than in Michael Winner’s attempt to rework Howard Hawks’ great thriller, The Big Sleep. Now Winner is one of those for whom David Denby’s comment on another director Michel Bay springs to mind, ‘a stunningly, almost viciously, untalented director’ and whilst this is not his worst film it seems so in relation to the original. He has attempted other remakes, equally dire, including The Wicked Lady.
But if you are in the DVD shop, (I recommend the one at the top of Suthep Road or you can also take out videos from the AUA Library), and want to sample a really strange remake then try Gus van Sant’s version of Psycho, which apart from being in colour attempts a shot by shot copy of Hitchcock’s classic. There have been other similar follies where the original directors have been taken to Hollywood to rework their original European films.
In the case of Haneke’s Funny Games, the director actually shot it as a copy of his fearsomely cruel original. The mysterious end result is that whilst one version is almost unbearable to watch because of its power and bleak terror, the American version is just a bore. In the case of the superb The Vanishing by George Sluizer, he also got to revamp his classic thriller, except that the new producers gave it a happy ending, in place of the bleak horror of the Dutch original. For anyone interested in movies, looking at both versions can be illuminating and a kind of perverse fun. And sometimes a new version, (The Outrage instead of Rashomon), smacks of integrity.
There are cases when a director has not remade the original but simply used it as a jumping off point. Paul Schrader has done this several times, almost as a homage to a great film maker: Bresson, (Diary of a Country Priest ‘became’ Light Sleeper), John Ford’s The Searchers ‘became’ Hard Core, and his American Gigolo copies the dialogue and action from the end of Bresson’s Pickpocket. We might pass a veil over his remake of Cat People.
So, take a look in the excellent DVD and Music shop just across from the CMU art centre and check some of them out. The good news is that a few works seem immune from vandalism: Singin’ in the Rain, Los Olvidados, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Paths of Glory, Apocalypse Now and others too expensive, (Gone with the Wind), or revered, (Citizen Kane) to be attempted. But few things are sacred to Hollywood and I saw only recently that a ‘new’ version of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock is on the cards. A novel and a film that is entirely rooted in and indigenous not just to England but also to the period, (post war UK), and the sleazier parts of the seaside town, simply cannot have any resonance and validity when remade. Disaster ahoy!

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
Public Enemies:
US, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ History – With Johnny Depp as the criminal John Dillinger and Christian Bale as G-man Melvin Purvis in this Great Depression-era drama about the fledgling FBI’s attempts to end a crime wave. An impeccably crafted film, with some fine performances, vast attention to period detail, an innovative use of high-definition video instead of film, and a fascinating era recreated. Rated R in the US for gangster violence and some language. Generally favorable reviews.
Despite the huge attempt at accuracy in general, it plays pretty fast and loose with some facts. There are so many characters that it feels like a survey of the book it was based on, and which you need to read to know who is who. Missing, for me, is the reason why I should want to know all this in the first place.
Dear Galileo:
Thai, Comedy/ Drama – A pleasant enough diversion about girls on their own in Europe – low-keyed and low-powered, slow and meandering. From Nithiwat Tharathorn, one of the famed “Fan Chan Six” who collaborated while in University on the enchanting Thai film, Fan Chan. This is Nithiwat’s second film on his own, continuing his examination of students in love as two teenage girls spend a year in London, Paris, and Rome. When they run short of money, they get jobs in Thai restaurants for a while. Apparently based on the director’s own experiences of living and working abroad.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
: US/ UK, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Mystery/ Romance – This, the latest and darkest Harry Potter episode, set a new worldwide opening day box office record, with an astounding one-day global box office gross of more than $104 million. Generally favorable reviews.
I think it’s a dazzling film with brilliant cinematography, fantastic effects, and moments of emotional power. But I think you’ll find it incoherent unless you’re a close follower of the previous films, or have immersed yourself in the books. If not, large sections of the film will make absolutely no sense whatsoever, because all the characters seem to know things the audience is never privy to.
And you’ll also be at a disadvantage if you have problems with rapid-fire British accents, particularly lower class Ron Weasley’s. And Hermione, who seems hell-bent on blurting out whole speeches in as few nanoseconds as possible.
This movie sends shivers up and down your spine even before it begins! The moment the Warner Bros. logo appears you’re overwhelmed with foreboding – never have a seen a logo with more menace to it. And then comes the fantastic opening sequence of a world being attacked by random terror. This opening part has been filmed in IMAX 3D, and I do want to see it at the IMAX theater in Bangkok just for this sequence alone.
The appearance of Dame Maggie Smith in the film, again as schoolmistress Minerva McGonagall, was a mixed delight for me. She is one of my favorite actors, and I love the way she has delicious fun with a line. But – sadly and shockingly – she struck me as being extremely frail and, beneath all the makeup, not at all well. Being the trouper she is, she worked on this film whilst undergoing radio-therapy as treatment for breast cancer; she has had a tumour removed and undergone chemotherapy.
The author, J.K. Rowling, when reading through the script for the film, came upon a line where Dumbledore mentioned a girl he had a crush on when younger. She informed the filmmakers that in fact Dumbledore was gay and that his only romantic infatuation was with the wizard Gellert Grindelwald, whom he later had to defeat in a wizard duel. According to Daniel Radcliffe, after Rowling ‘outed’ his character, Sir Michael Gambon began ‘camping it up’ on the set. Sir Michael once said that he lies during interviews to make them more interesting. When an interviewer once asked him if he had problems with playing a gay man he replied by saying it was easy because he used to be a homosexual but was forced to quit because it made his eyes water.
Scheduled for July 30         
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
: US/ UK, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – Denzel Washington plays a New York City subway dispatcher whose day is thrown into chaos by an audacious crime: the hijacking of a subway train. The criminal mastermind, played by John Travolta, is the leader of a highly-armed gang of four who threatens to execute the train’s passengers unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. As the tension mounts beneath his feet, the dispatcher employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit the criminals and save the hostages. A reworking of the 1974 film. Rated R in the US for violence and pervasive language. Mixed or average reviews.

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

The Bridge Club of Chiang Mai has a regular Wednesday duplicate game, directed by Martin Bagnall. I picked up the hand below, distributional but weak, at a recent such game.

S: -

H: K10643

D: 976542

C: 98

I was sitting East. We were vulnerable and NS were non-vulnerable. South dealt and passed. My partner opened 1H. North doubled for takeout. What would you bid? I chose 3H because we were vulnerable—if we go down two it is already better for the opponents than them making a non-vulnerable game. If we had not been vulnerable I would have bid 4H, to try and prevent the opponents finding their certain spade fit (and in the light of the subsequent bidding I wish I had). The bidding proceeded as follows:

South      West         North             East

P               1H              Dbl               3H

3S             4H              4S                 5D

P               5H              5S                 P

P               Dbl             P                   ?

With my distributional hand I decided to show my second suit over North’s 4S bid. At least this pushed them to the five level. My partner doubled and I passed. The hand diagram is shown below (reconstructed from memory, but accurate in essentials):

             S: QJ8762

             H: 6

             D: A

             C: AK632              

S: AK9                 S: -

H: QJ982              H: K10543

D: KQJ                 D: 976542

C: 105                   C: 98

             S: 10543

             H: A7

             D: 1083

             C: QJ74  

With his strong hand and the ace and king of trumps it is not surprising that my partner doubled. However, 5S is cold—with North’s distribution the only possible losers are the ace and king of spades. Can you see what my best bid would have been over 5S doubled? Six diamonds! Provided my partner left it in and that South led a spade, I would have been able to throw my two clubs on the high spades and would only have lost the two red aces for one down. Of course such a bid is only really possible when seeing all four hands, not at the table, but I wish I had made it if only because it would have been such a showy bid on three points! Six hearts, rather than six diamonds, would not have worked because North would have been on lead and would likely have cashed high clubs first.
5S doubled and making by the opponents looks like a very bad result for us. In fact it was a middle, because the same thing happened at another table. Furthermore, Martin and Sheila Bagnall got a top for NS by bidding and making 4S redoubled with an overtrick. Redoubled contracts are rare and redoubled overtricks rarer still, so well done Martin and Sheila.
Chiang Mai now has an official bridge club—the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai. We welcome new players. For information on the Club go to the web site at html or contact Chris Hedges at:  [email protected] If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]