The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
Despite what some women say - man is not a large rat
With the world apparently
hanging by its proverbial fingertips waiting for the development of the
wonder vaccine to destroy Mr. Porker’s virus, perhaps it is time to look at
the safety involved with new drugs and vaccines. Remember that in 1976 a
vaccine was rushed through by order of an American president, and I believe
more people died from the vaccine than died from the flu from which it was
supposed to protect the public. It also left a large number of people with a
nasty condition called the Guillain-Barré syndrome, and about 30 percent of
those with Guillain-Barré still have a residual weakness after three years.
So, have you ever wondered just how a new drug finds its way on to the
pharmacist’s shelves? Just how do the pharmaceutical companies manage to
develop newer vaccines and drugs such as ACE inhibitor antihypertensives
when there were already plenty of alternatives? Or the apparently stiff
competition in the drugs for males with Erectile Dysfunction. (I am sure you
have all been receiving emails every day offering you newer and stronger
lead for your particular pencil!)
However, when any new medication is formulated, there begins a very long
process before the new “wonder drug” is licensed for use by you and me. Part
of that process is testing the compound on live beings. Note I did not say
“human” beings. Those live beings are usually convenient test animals, of
which Mr. Rat the rodent is a prime example.
We always need to know how poisonous is the new drug. Mr. Rat is then fed
the new compound in ever increasing quantities until the dose high enough to
kill 50 percent of the rat population is reached. The scientists call this
the LD50 (Lethal Dose for 50 percent) for the new compound - but remember
this is for rats. If it takes 10 mg of compound A to kill 50 percent of the
rats, but only 1 mg of compound B, then B is 10 times stronger than A.
Pregnant Mrs. Rats are also fed the new drug and the offspring are
thoroughly examined to see if there are any abnormalities, greater than the
‘normal’ amount of expected abnormalities. Yes, no animal, including us, is
without a usual percentage of birth abnormalities. Laboratory rats in
particular are well known for being able to develop all sorts of
abnormalities if you even just look at them sideways!
Only after this exhaustive testing is the drug then used in limited test
runs on a very limited human exposure group. And, by and large, that does
not include its testing on productive age females.
All this takes an enormous length of time, so next time you read of the new
wonder drug “breakthrough” do not expect that this will appear in the
pharmacy next week. Unfortunately too, many of these new drugs will end up
never being released as further research often turns up problems that only
made themselves apparent after long term usage.
However, even the ones that do get released have to be approached with
caution. Just because rat testing appeared to show that the drug was “safe”,
does not mean that humans will also react the same way. As the caption this
week says, man is not a large rat! This is one reason why women in
particular must be very careful with the drugs they take during pregnancy,
particularly in the first three months, that time when the growing foetal
structures are susceptible to toxic chemical damage. In fact, any woman who
has to take regular medication should ask her obstetrician about the
relative risks. However, this does not mean stop taking the tablets as soon
as you miss a period. Letting the maternal problems run unchecked can be an
even greater risk to the baby than the risk from the medication taken by
Antenatal care is a very specialized branch of medicine and I do recommend
that you should check in with your obstetrician for advice. You may not be a
rat - but you don’t want to be a guinea pig either!
Heart to Heart
In response to Bart’s problem of a couple of weeks ago where he has
found he has a couple of the girls on the go and asks “Should I get a
Private Eye to keep the place under surveillance, or should I just have
it out with Number 1? Do you think Number 2 would contact Number 1 if I
do nothing?” So what do you do? You just brush him off, suggesting he
rent the condo out for 12 months and say goodbye to both Number 1 and
Number 2 and “grow up a little before you return”. Do you really think
this is justified, Hillary? By putting someone down, is this good
advice? I would have suggested that the guy just carry on as he was
doing. There’s nothing either of them can do to him. It’s not as if he’s
signed a contract or married to either of them, is it?
Dear Larry (the Lawyer),
You demonstrate the old male chauvinism, where what the man does is OK,
and the woman’s feelings are ignored as inconsequential. Your friend
Bart is cheating and wants to know how he can weasel out of the
situation. I am not going to tell him to ignore either girl at the
expense of the other. And I wouldn’t be so cocky saying “There’s nothing
either of them can do to him,” as there is plenty of things can be done,
and have been done over the years. Chopping up his suits in the wardrobe
has been featured in this column many times over in the past. Bonfires
of books. Contacts with wives in the home country have not been unknown.
And of course, there is a certain branch of home surgery with sharpened
scissors and feeding the man’s donated organ to the ducks is also well
documented. There’s lots they can do, and has been done. Don’t be so
“cocky” if I might use a phrase, Petal. You might regret it. I think you
need to grow up a little too, Larry.
I have a great little gal who has been staying with me for about six
months. When I’m away off shore she uses the car to go back to her
village and stays there until I’m due to come back, but lately I kind of
get the idea that maybe she’s not really back with Mom in the village,
if you know what I mean. Got any ideas how can I check her out, but
discreetly. I don’t want to get a PI as I can’t trust any tired old guy
to be totally invisible.
Pat from PA
Dear Pat from PA,
This is a common problem Pat my Petal, and really shows that perhaps you
have been too trusting, especially with such a short relationship. Here
you are, you know the girl for six months and “Have the car, darling, I
won’t need it for the next six weeks.” Would you do that with any woman
you met only six months ago in the US? I don’t think so. You men really
go out of your way to make problems for yourselves, don’t you! However,
there is a way you can check on where she is with your car without
resorting to getting her followed, as these days you can find cheap
tracking devices you hide in the car which will give you the location
very easily. Perhaps you could look into that. I hope you are not
You may find this a strange request, but I am an American interested in
Buddhism and wondered if it would be possible that on my next holiday
here I could join a monastery. I would only have two weeks but imagine
that in that time I could at least get the basics of Buddhism. Is this
possible? I don’t mind where in Thailand that I would go as I am
interested in the study, not the geography or tourism side. I have
always been impressed watching the orange robes going along the streets
with their alms bowls in the mornings.
There is no such thing as “strange requests” in Hillary’s letter box
these days! I think I’ve seen them all. Now, to yours. If you want to
understand the basics of Buddhism, you have to start long before you get
on the plane to come to Thailand. To begin with, have you looked to see
if there is a Buddhist temple in your region in the US? Discussions with
the monks there will assist you in your quest. Monks in America can
generally all speak English, while in the temples here, they naturally
speak Thai and you would be lucky to find someone fluent in your
I would recommend that you get the following books before going much
further, Buddhism Explained (ISBN 974-7047-28-4) by Khantipalo Bhikkhu,
Phra Farang, An English Monk in Thailand by Phra Peter Pannapadipo,
(ISBN 974-202-019-1) and The Good Life. A guide to Buddhism for the
Westerner by Gerald Roscoe (ISBN 974-8206-56-4). Read these before
ordering the saffron robes, Petal.
by Harry Flashman
Expanding your horizons?
a digital point and shoot may be your introduction to
photography as a fun pastime, sooner or later you will find that
your equipment is lacking. You can’t get close enough to get a
good portrait, or your wide angle isn’t wide enough, or trying
to take an action shot is impossible. You have reached the
restrictions produced by your equipment.
Now you will want to expand upon your current equipment, and
even when you are just starting out you should have an eye to
the future, as money spent wisely now can result in great
Firstly, you need a good camera - an SLR (single lens reflex).
The first pointer is to select a good brand. There are many to
choose from, but if you look at the pros who are out every day
shooting thousands of images you will find the same names on the
camera cases. One of my favorite brands has been Nikon, which
has served me well in the 35 mm field. Nikon equals bullet proof
and quality lenses. Others such as Canon, Pentax, Olympus, etc.,
are also excellent brands, all of which have interchangeable
lenses too, so your basic system can be enlarged upon over a
period of time, and your original lenses will still be good.
The SLR is the center of your equipment. It is this camera that
will allow you to be creative in your shots. It is this camera
that will win you awards and recognition. It will be expensive,
so choose wisely. For my money, the ideal “starter” SLR would be
a Nikon D50. A camera that has a manual mode that allows you to
make all the decisions.
Now you look at lenses. The “standard” lens that will come with
your SLR will most likely be a 50 mm. Buy firstly a wide angle
lens. Around 28 or 24 mm is good, or even 20 mm for very
dramatic shots, but the distortion problem can be a little much
at this wide angle. The next lens you should buy is around the
focal length of 135 mm - the ideal lens for portraits.
No zooms? No, I personally do not like zoom lenses. The
sharpness is not as good as “prime” lenses (though I have to say
they are much better these days), but one reason I do not like
them for new photographers is that zoom lenses make for lazy
photographers. Instead of walking in to compose the subject, the
photographer zooms in. The depth of field is lost, the flash is
too far away and the chance of a perfect shot is lost.
You should also keep your old point and shoot compact camera, or
if it needs replacement, stick to the better brands if you want
to get something which will last, and even more importantly, one
that will return crisp images. All the top brands make some very
good small point and shooters, with excellent lenses. This
camera is for those situations where you don’t want to lug all
the gear, when you need something light and pocket portable. Get
one with a 24 or 28 mm lens and built in flash which can be
The next important piece of equipment is the bag you carry your
equipment around in. My choice is a soft padded camera bag with
adjustable divisions. Waterproof in tropical rainstorms is
important, so get one that has the zip fastener covered by a lip
of material. Some exterior pockets to carry batteries, a spare
pair of fold-up reading glasses (if you need them) and a pocket
torch. Again, get a good one, even though they are expensive.
Mine is quite battered and worn, but is now over 20 years old
and has been round the world several times. It was money well
Other equipment includes filters, and I will do a separate
article on this subject another week - but do use adaptor rings
to bring all the lenses to the same size. Again a cost saving
later, when all your filters can then be interchangeable. And to
start with, one of those dinky little table-top tripods.
Money Matters: Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.
Kondratieff - Genius or Fraudster? Part 2
The Kondratieff Wave. Peaks and
are associated with major political or cultural events.
Kondratieff’s ideas should be
taken in the global perspective. The time of growth is also one of geo-political
stability. When things are no longer on the up then old alliances fracture and
new friendships are made. When the downside is nearing completion then it is the
new that will take things forward. As Ian Gordon (IG) has pointed out, in 1930,
America was the largest creditor nation on earth. They are now the biggest
debtors. China and Japan are now the largest creditors and could be the unlikely
alliance to lead us into Spring. Thus as the USA replaced the UK in the last
winter so will the two great Eastern powers replace America.
This is not the only thing that the US has to worry about. As America replaced
Great Britain as the great economic power after the last Kondratieff Winter so
the US Dollar replaced the British Pound. IG has an almost apocalyptic concept
of what may happen next: “I truly believe that the world monetary system will
collapse in the Kondratieff Winter, much as it did in 1932 and 1933 when the
world gold standard system collapsed. Britain went off the gold standard system
in September 1931 and was followed by several other countries. And eventually,
effectively, the U.S. went off too. The system, while it lasted, allowed
individuals in the U.S. to exchange paper for gold. We now have a fiat system.
Incidentally, it’s the first time, I think, in history that the entire world is
being run on a paper money system, which is a U.S. dollar system. I think that
that fiat system is going to collapse much as the gold standard system collapsed
in 1930. So it really doesn’t bode well for the U.S. dollar if that does
Gordon believes that now people have discovered the only way money is valued is
against debt then they will demand some sort of stability. Traditionally, until
after the last Winter, money was valued against gold. This could well happen
If you take these factors into account then Kondratieff’s ideas still hold good.
Maybe a less scientific way of looking at all of this is to say that when the
last generation to see a depression is dying off then it is time for a new one
Although the last sentence is a bit flippant, this still points to the whole
point of what Kondratieff was trying to achieve. When things are really down,
i.e. Winter, then this is getting towards the worst part. The only question is
how long will it be before the cycle bottoms out and things start to get better?
This is the season of debt repudiation and commodity price deflation which has
been partly brought about by, amongst other things, debt defaults. By seeing
what has happened in the past it is possible to envision what should happen in
Everyone has now accepted that it is physically impossible to maintain the
present worldwide debt and that it will take a minor miracle to buy our way out
of the situation as it now stands. The present Kondratieff Wave still has life
in it, in fact, it has lots of life. In April and May there was an increase in
world stock markets and people got excited, saying that the worst was over. This
was nothing more than a bubble and things will get worse before they improve.
Some speculate that this means the Dow Jones will drop to as low at 1,500 before
things get better.
There is also the problem that even though there is money going out of the
economy because of collapsing debt, it will be overcome by the money being
forced into it by the central banks. Somewhere out there is tens and tens of
trillions of debt which has to be “cleansed” from the economy. On top of that
there are the trillions of US Dollars which have been lost from the US stock
market alone. These are real losses. As are the ones suffered by those owning
real estate. The Federal Reserve’s solution is to print money - and fast. This
is also the solution of Gordon Brown. However, they forget that banks have to
want to lend it and there will be borrowers who have to want to borrow it. In
the present circumstances this will probably not happen. This means that there
will not be inflation but deflation.
The Winter of the K-wave is a dangerous period. But it will be eased for those
holding a good, liquid multi-asset class diverse portfolio which should
definitely include gold.
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
Life in Chiang Mai:
by Mark Whitman
‘Die fast - the way you lived’
There’s a scene in Public
Enemies, now showing in Chiang Mai, when the monstrous head of the FBI.
tells his minions, via his lieutenant, Melvin Purvis, that they have reached
a situation where, ‘As we say, the white gloves are off’. He tells them that
he wants, (needs), tough action and that future interrogation of suspects
can be strenuous.
In shorts, the Feds are getting organized against previously disorganized
crime, which has in turn given away to organized illegality. It’s the
mid-thirties, a few years into the depression, but this scene nods forward
to a much more recent administration, desperate and brutal in a fight
Two victims of the new harshness are a gang member who gives up Dillinger’s
hideout when tortured in a hospital and the gangster’s girlfriend who offers
up information that later turns out to be false – something common to
torture victims. These are the only moments of true violence in this
splendid movie and both come from the side of the law. The rest is stylised
shoot-outs with tommy-guns spurting fire like mini flame throwers and the
mayhem of chases and robberies in homage to the gangster movies which were
actually made in the period so lovingly recreated here.
Here, once again, we have the bulbous black de Sotos and Fords, with running
boards seemingly tailor made to carry gun toting gangsters and their
pursuers. As the two sides overlap, director Michael Mann reprises a theme
common to his work, the mixture of good and evil on both sides of the law.
Interestingly the public is shown to side with the ‘enemy’, not the police.
John Dillinger, svelte in Fedora and a long black coat, remains a criminal
and a killer. He lives only for the day; the past is irrelevant, the future
uncertain. He readily identifies with Clark Gable in Manhattan Melodrama,
the film he went to see just before being gunned down outside the Biograph
Cinema. Gable plays the stylish, cocky crook, loved by Myrna Loy and
unwilling to accept a reprieve and spend the rest of his life in jail. On
his way to ‘the chair’ he tells an inmate, ‘Die fast, the way you lived’.
Watching this scene, Dillinger gives a small smile of recognition.
Public Enemies is an adult movie of clarity and lucidity, albeit an
elliptical work which assumes that the audience knows something of the
period and the outcome of this particular story. The other person who is
sure of the outcome is Dillinger himself. In a tender scene, he lies to his
girlfriend Billie, assuring her that they can soon take a trip to Rio, to
dance and have fun. Their fractured, impossible affair is just one theme of
this complex work. It is also a gangster flick, a portrait of a mobster, a
brilliant evocation of an era and most importantly it tells of the traumatic
changes in America in that challenging decade.
Dillinger has unwittingly become old fashioned. This swaggering, handsome
guy with his tommy-gun and pistols, quirky spectacles and ruthless bravado
is, by 1934, an anachronism as a bank robber. He and his cohorts such as
Pretty Boy Floyd are wanted by the Feds and too ‘hands on’ and high profile
for the new syndicates, who have no room for ‘mavericks’. In a telling
scene, Dillinger is shown a betting operation and his recent haul of 70,000
dollars is sneered at: ‘This room generates that amount every day and we pay
the police to stay out, but if you are in here they won’t do that’. These
new style bosses work clandestinely, with more subtle ways of manipulating
the system. Rather like banks and big business today.
Writing about this movie a couple of weeks ago, I optimistically anticipated
a cinematic treat- and that it surely is. To be honest though, it is not a
great film and nothing in Mann’s fine oeuvre, except possibly The Last of
the Mohicans, suggests that stature. The action is too much on the surface,
carried along by his restless camera, which becomes a visual metaphor for
Mann strikes a brilliant if uneasy balance between the great gangster films
of the 1930s and ‘40s, (best of all was Howard Hawks’ Scarface), and the
revival of the genre by Coppola with his Godfather trilogy. It shares some
similarities of style and action with Mohicans in the themes of loyalty,
betrayal and a nation ‘at war’ and stands pat with his works such as Heat
and Collatoral in quality. Certainly nothing in the commercial cinemas in
Chiang Mai in recent months can hold a candle to it.
The story covers, in linear mode, the last months of Dillinger’s life as the
emergent Hoover, desperate for funds to build his empire, (‘I’m an
administrator’, he says defensively), brings in the dour and ruthless Purvis
to wipe out the high profile gangsters. Purvis in turn brings in rough neck
Texan law enforcers to back him up. Christian Bale plays the agent with
menace and iced water in his veins and it comes as no surprise to read in
the end credits that he soon left the FBI. and later committed suicide.
Billy Crudup, fattened and prissy, gives us the boss of the G-Men, as a
creepy, anxious man, pinning phony medals on young boys who help in the
fight against crime. The lovely Marion Cottilard makes much of the role of
the forlorn hat check girl, who loves Dillinger not wisely but too well.
Indeed the whole, huge cast is impeccable and the screen is a riot of
authentic faces from a by-gone era – a triumph of casting.
And that goes too for Johnny Depp who, looking a lot like Dillinger’s
photographs, adds another fine portrayal to his already impressive list that
outshines any other young actor in ‘Hollywood’. As usual with this generous
actor, always understated except when camping it as a pirate, he does not
try to dominate the movie but is the purring engine which powers the vehicle
under Mann’s guidance.
Neither he – the epitome of style – nor the director or his vast team, seem
to put a foot wrong. The special effects are unobtrusively magical and add
to the seedy glamour of the art direction. The sound track is a marvel, if
occasionally given to overscoring the visuals with its cleverness. But it
adds a touch of class throughout and if you need convincing of that just
watch for the fleeting appearance of Diana Krall, as a night club
entertainer with the song Bye Bye Blackbird, which leads to the film’s heart
stopping moment of tenderness in the last scene.
And what a final scene. I can think of no greater compliment than to suggest
that it yields a moment of almost Bressonian purity: a shot of Billie’s
passive, inconsolable face, then a quick cut to a door closing on the
departing agent who has brought her news of Johnny’s death and his last
words. It is a great moment in an accomplished and entertaining movie.
It also gives a clue to the film’s style, which though pictorially ravishing
is somehow somber and melancholy at its core. It doesn’t aim for tragedy or
even pathos but is content to ‘present’ a situation and let us make
judgements. It depicts a man whose character was ruthless and fleeting and
if it had been made a few decades ago, James Dean might have played the role
to equal perfection.
This is a guy who keeps his clothes neatly folded in suitcases, ready for
the off. When asked by Billie if he’s been at an apartment long he replies,
‘Quite a while, since before yesterday’. We learn little about his past; his
mother died when he was three and his father beat him regularly as the only
way he knew to bring him up. But there’s no special pleading here. Somehow
Dillinger has survived, anchorless, drifting but now mature, loyal to his
pals, ruthless to his enemies – private or public.
This is a must see movie, a work in a genre which, like the Western, has
sadly become all too rare. The wit is muted (the ‘hero’ asked his name at a
prison says ‘John Dillinger. My friends call me Johnny. You can call me Mr.
Dillinger’.) The only advice I can give is to suggest seeing it on the
biggest screen possible with the best sound available, probably at Airport
Major. Just hold on to your fedora, it’s a bumpy ride, indisputably scenic
and not a second too long.
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Chiang
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3: US/ UK, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – I
found it a thoroughly engrossing and exciting film, and a satisfying
dramatic experience – everything Public Enemies tried for and failed
to achieve (In my opinion.) 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 gang of four who threatens to execute the
train’s passengers unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. A
reworking of the 1974 film. Rated R in the US for violence and pervasive
language. Mixed or average reviews.
17 Again: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – A mild comedy about redoing life
over again from high school. It uses a well-worn formula, but has just
enough Zac Efron charm to result in a harmless, pleasurable teen comedy.
Mixed or average reviews.
6:66 Death Happens / 6:66 Die Not Die / tai mai dai tai: Thai, Horror –
A crime reporter starts seeing weird and scary things after someone who was
supposed to die doesn’t die, causing a rip in the fabric between life and
death, or something like that. A dreadful movie, to gauge from the previews
Public Enemies: US, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ History – I think it’s a mess,
albeit a brilliant mess, but I don’t want to unnecessarily discourage you
from seeing it, because it offers many pleasures. It’s 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. Still, it’s a hodge-podge in my opinion, and
doesn’t gel into anything coherent. Johnny Depp plays the criminal John
Dillinger and Christian Bale plays government agent Melvin Purvis in a Great
Depression-era drama about the fledgling FBI’s attempts to end a crime
wave. Rated R in the US for gangster violence and some language. Generally
Director Michael Mann has been accused of bringing what has been dubbed the
“MTV Look” to first television and then to films, a look which favors style
over substance and technique over storytelling, in the “short attention
span” manner of the MTV cable network. That’s evident to me here. The
style and the techniques are truly impressive, but Mann has said, “The
biggest struggle, for me is always: Get the story to work,” he said. “The
story has to be about the inner experience of [Dillinger], so that by the
end, it’s not about him getting shot. Is your heart with him? Do you know
him? That’s the battle.”
A battle he truly lost in this case, I think.
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, continuing his examination of
students in love as two teenage Thai girls spend a year in London, Paris,
and Rome. When they run short of money, they get jobs in Thai restaurants
for a while. Based on the director’s own experiences of living and
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: US/ UK, Adventure/ Fantasy/
Romance – This, the latest and darkest Harry Potter episode, is a dazzling
film, with brilliant cinematography, fantastic effects, and moments of
emotional power. 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. Generally favorable reviews.
Great art direction and scenic design, and it’s really well directed, with
excellent performances, and an exciting story.
Scheduled for August 6
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/
Thriller – From Hasbro we get another action-adventure film based on toys,
like Transformers. “From the Egyptian desert to deep below the polar
ice caps, the elite G.I. Joe team uses the latest in next-generation spy and
military equipment to fight the corrupt arms dealer Destro and the growing
threat of the mysterious Cobra organization to prevent them from plunging
the world into chaos.” The term “G.I. Joe” here refers to a Hasbro-created
military-themed line of action figures and toys which lasted from 1982 to
1994, and included over 500 different figures and 250 vehicles and
playsets. A series of comics were printed as part of the promotion
package. With Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans.
Sam Chuk: Thai, Drama – Based on a true story, this is a rarity for
Thailand: a social issues film, exploring the lives of seven teenagers who
are entangled with and devastated by drug use in a small province called Sam
Chuk. Their local teacher tries to teach them to cope with their problems.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
This was board 4 at the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai’s regular Wednesday bridge
session on July 22nd. My partner, John Bucher, and I were the unwary victims
of it. Our opponents were Chris Hedges and Graham Forshaw. I was sitting
North and these were the N-S hands (note that the direction of the hands has
been rotated so that South is the declarer):
South dealt and all were vulnerable. This was the
South West North East
(John) (Chris) (me)
1H P 2D
We were playing Roman Key
Card Blackwood, in which there are five key cards, the four aces and the
king of trumps. John’s 5N response shows two or four key cards and a void.
Since I had two key cards (diamond ace and spade king), I knew that he had
two, not four and we were missing an ace. In view of the length of my suit I
guessed his void was in diamonds. What would you bid at this point? I had
been thinking about bidding 6N. However, my partner’s void in diamonds made
my good diamond suit look to be of little value in no trump. Consequently I
bid six spades.
Chris led a low spade to the ace in Graham’s hand. Back came a heart, which
Chris ruffed! Excellent lead from Graham, but who would expect hearts to
split 6-6-1-0? So the contract was down one. To add insult to injury no one
else was in slam at all, even though N-S clearly should be at the six level.
After all, six no trump played by North is cold against any defence, scoring
five top hearts, four top spades after the ace has gone, two top clubs and
the ace of diamonds. Six spades only fails because of the extreme
distribution in hearts. So we bid it well and got a bottom! Is there no
justice? I can see that I’ll have to make more frequent sacrifices to the
bridge gods in future in order to get their favour. The full deal is shown
S: 653 S: A8
H: - H:
D: KJ943 D: 86
C: 98754 C: Q106
The Bridge Club of Chiang
Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site at
www.bridgewebs.com/chiangmai/home.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]