Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

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

H1N1 (Swine Flu) update

This week’s column comes from Dr Michael Moreton, my opposite number in the Bangkok Medical Center, who presents a very well thought out synopsis of the H1N1 situation. Dr. Michael has very kindly allowed me to use his report.
The H1N1 flu continues to spread. It is now present in every country in the world. It is impossible to say how many people have been infected. This is particularly true of this virus because for most people the illness is a very minor one. The relative number of patients needing hospital care remains very small. Many people who have just felt tired and achy for a day or two have had a mild attack of this flu.
In any flu epidemic lasting this long there is a fear that the virus will mutate and change its character becoming a more virulent virus that will cause a more serious illness. So far this has not occurred and the likelihood of it doing so is very small. Normally in the Northern hemisphere a seasonal flu virus appears in the late fall. It will be interesting to see if this happens. If it does we could have two different viruses functioning simultaneously.
Unlike seasonal flu which strikes the elderly and patients with weak immune systems, this virus has infected healthy young adults. With the universities all reconvening there is concern that the number of cases will increase dramatically. Eventually, and we may be approaching that point, everybody who is going to get infected has been infected and the pandemic will die out.
There have been a little over 1800 deaths worldwide from the flu or complications from it. In the USA, the country with the second highest number of deaths, after Brazil, there have been 556 deaths. In order to keep the US figures in perspective, approx 30,000 patients die as the result of the seasonal flu each winter and in the five months that the flu has been circulating 16,000 Americans have died in road traffic accidents and 6,500 from falls, mostly in the home. Canada has had 72 deaths, a slightly higher number of deaths per head of population than the US.
Enormous efforts have been made to produce a vaccine and the five manufacturers claim that they will be releasing the vaccine in about six weeks time. The first group to receive the vaccine will be those at the highest risk of suffering from a severe illness if they should contract it - those with cardiac or respiratory diseases, diabetics, patients with neuromuscular diseases and pregnant mothers. Whether they will be tested to see if they already have immunity before receiving the shot or not is being debated. Things will be complicated as there will also be the 2009 version of the normal flu shot available.
Anti-viral drugs continue to be used particularly by patients in high risk groups. It is difficult to assess the efficaciousness of preventative medications. How do you assess how many people would have got a disease and as a result of taking a medication did not get it?
The report in the USA from the President’s advisors sure grabbed the headlines. It laid out a frightening scenario which most authorities consider to be very unlikely. They forecast that half the US population could be infected, that 1.8 million would need hospitalization and that up to 90,000 may die. There are two statements in the report that should be emphasized - “This is a planning scenario, not a prediction” - this means that this is their worst-case scenario. The other statement of note is that this virus does NOT show the virulence of the 1919 virus, the worst one of all time. This statement is rather superfluous; nobody has suggested that it was.
In the mean time I would repeat the advice of washing your hands regularly. Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze, then wash them. Stay home if you are sick. Finally, follow the example of your Thai friends - a ‘wai’ is a much more civilized greeting than shaking hands!
(Thank you Dr. Michael, I concur with everything you have written here. We are not in imminent danger of dying from Swine Flu!)

 

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
It’s largely thanks to reading your column over the years that’s put me right off the bar scene here; no one likes to be thought of as a real mug; I’m allergic to bar girls now.
I am, however, approaching UK pension retirement age (the big 65!), and because living out here is good for my health I’ll happily enter into a contract of marriage with a suitable Thai lady in order to free up the 800,000 baht I’d otherwise have to leave in a Thai bank account to convince the Thai authorities that I won’t become a burden to them. Herein lies the rub, I don’t want to have to use these god-awful internet dating agencies to look for a mate; when it comes to being photogenic, my face and a battered crab have a lot in common. I would like to meet a lady through a traditional introduction agency providing it wouldn’t cost the earth; are there any such establishments here? And can you do a ‘pre nup’ here whereby the chosen candidate signs an agreement that you are marrying her and not her extended family. I’m not a ‘rich farang’ and short of a miracle I never will be.
Mr. Floppy

Dear Mr. Floppy,
They say that the blue diamonds work well for those who are walking around with a limp… but let’s be serious here, “a contract of marriage with a suitable Thai lady to free up your 800,000 baht.” Here I am my Petal. I can think of lots of things I could do with that liberated 800,000 baht.
Now back to reality. Any woman you meet through a dating/introduction agency has a problem of some type, or they wouldn’t be in the meat market, would they. These are women looking for a (well heeled) mate, so will be happy to sign anything to get you. Sure you can have a ‘pre-nup’ drawn up, but this is Thailand, Mr. Floppy. To be legal, it has to be in Thai, and who do you know that will exactly translate for you what is in the document. Going into a form of matrimony like that will cost you a lot more than the 800,000 you are trying to save.
Frankly, Floppy, you would do better just arranging for your pension to be paid into a UK bank account, which you can then draw on from Thailand (ask Graham Macdonald, our money man, how you do that) and get some tips on how to maximize your 800,000 without seeing it eaten up by the extended family. You see, Petal, the extended family is the way things work in Thailand, and no end of bits of paper will change that. Perhaps you should just marry an English girl, or find a Thai orphan with no siblings.

Dear Hillary,
How difficult/easy is it to meet your “nice girls” that you always talk about? I never hear anything but problems from the bar girls, and nothing about the “nice girls”. There must be problems there too, or don’t the guys want to admit that the grass wasn’t greener on that side of the fence?
Still Looking

Dear Still Looking,
In all relationships there is the potential for disaster, it is just that in the bar girl arena, the potential is even greater, as the relationship is built on false promises. With marriage failures around 50 percent of first time marriages in the US, why should it be any different here? As far as how easy or difficult? It depends upon how hard you look. Standing outside a beer bar isn’t going to attract non-bar girls. You have to go where they go, and that is to professional organizations such as chambers of commerce, service clubs and recreational groups. And at those gatherings, it isn’t a case of coming back with you on the first meeting. Just as in your own country, softly, softly catchee monkey!

Dear Hillary,
I have been trying to teach my Thai girlfriend to drive, but there are many problems. The first is that my Thai is minimal and her English not much better, so technical terms like “let the clutch out slowly” are impossible to get across. The second problem is that my car is very large and she has problems estimating the sheer size of the vehicle. The third snag is that she seems to have very little of what I’d call “road sense”. Do you know of any places I could send her to learn to drive, Hillary?
John

Dear John,
Ooh, Hillary loves writing “Dear John” letters, but you certainly have a pile up of problems, don’t you. Or I suppose it’s the “pile up” you’re trying to avoid, isn’t it, my Petal. The first problem is the communication thing - please, don’t let her learn to drive by Braille, even if that’s how you basically communicate. Secondly, you have to realize too, that many people here get their license first and learn to drive second, and that includes some “teachers” in the noble art of self driving. So where should you send her? Have you thought of the wide open stretches of terrain around hamlets like Korat - a lot less dangerous! And maybe buy her a jeep.


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Filters - for fun without fuss

Left side polarized, right side is not.

I spied a photo catalogue and there was a page for filters. 62 mm UV protection filter for B. 650, for example. Great! However, filters are one of the most misunderstood photographic items in the camera bag.
Before you even start considering filters, you should invest in a stepping ring or two. The reason for this is that you need to have a filter diameter larger than the diameter of the end of your lens. For example, my new camera has a 55 mm lens diameter, and I wanted 62 mm. That is where the stepping rings come into play to get 55 mm up to 62 mm.
There are a few reasons for selecting a larger diameter, and the first is to make sure the filters do not cause vignetting (the edge of the filter coming into the field of view, especially with wide angle lenses). The second reason is to give yourself a good filter diameter to standardize all your filters on.
The first filter you should buy is often called a Skylight 1A. This filter does make the sky a little deeper, but the main reason to have it is as a sacrificial piece of glass, so that your good, expensive lens does not get scratched. Once you screw on the Skylight 1A, never take it off. Of course, make sure the glass on the end of the lens is scrupulously clean and the filter likewise before screwing it on.
The next filter you should purchase is a Polarizer. I have written about these filters previously, but you will be amazed at the depth of color you will get from this filter. Now to use this filter. If you have an SLR (single lens reflex) camera, you actually look through the lens when you are focussing and What You See Is What You Get (this is called the WYSIWYG principle). Looking carefully through the viewfinder or at the LCD screen, just note the changes in the colors as the polarizing filter is rotated.
These filters are different from most others in the fact that they are made up of two distinct elements. There is an outer ring that rotates the outer “glass” relative to the inner element. This increases or reduces the degree of polarization to allow the photographer an endless range of polarized effects from one filter.
The principal behind these filters is to remove reflections, and funnily enough it is reflections that take the color out of color photography. Look at the surface of a swimming pool, for example - a shiny white, non-transparent surface. Now look through a polarizing filter and you can see right down to the tiles on the bottom of the pool. And the people frolicking in the pool!
What you have to understand now is that these filters remove reflections from any surface, not just water. The reason you cannot see through some normally transparent windows is because of reflected images on the surface of the glass. The reason some tree leaves appear to lose their color is through reflected light from the sky above.
One of the traps for young photographers is that because you know the grass is green, you see it as green when you look through the camera lens - even though it is not truly green, caused by the reflections. Look again at the scene in the viewfinder. The green grass is really a mixture of green and silvery reflections, dark shadows and pale green shoots. Put the polarizing filter on the lens and slowly rotate the outer ring. Suddenly the silvery reflections disappear and become a deep, solid green color. The grass is now made up of green, dark green and pale green. This green will really leap out at you and smack you fair between the eyes!
At your next beach scene slowly rotate the outer ring on the polarizer. Look critically through the viewfinder and you will see the sky take on a much deeper color to highlight the white clouds. Keep turning that outer ring and the sea will change to a deep blue to green luminescent hue. Experiment and find the result you like best.


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Is this really a sustained bull market? Think again

1929-1930 vs. Today

Sentiment is improving and people are feeling better about the state of the economy. Although who knows how long the bounce, I mean rally, will last. The actual indicators in the economy point to a real risk of a double-dip recession. In an economy with extreme divergence between stock market trends (up) and economic trends (down), it is smart to remember that stocks do not normally rally while the economy is stumbling. Just take a look at the simple chart here and you will see which market fundamentals are up and which are down.
By looking at this, it is difficult to understand how the stock market could actually make a sustained bull run - there are just no legitimate market fundamentals worthy of driving a long-term market rally. Critical key factors necessary to fuel a bull market are missing - high employment, low debt, high lending, strong retail sales, etc. Sure there is improved sentiment (Consumer Confidence, Stock Markets, etc.), but what does it really mean if unemployment, debt and mortgage foreclosures are at staggeringly high levels?
Again, what has actually changed to drive a bull market? Much of what has been seen so far is the direct result of stimulus, but can the economy sustain the recent growth spurt without the stimulus?
From March 2009 to August 2009, the market jumped 48%. This is almost identical to the ‘dead-cat bounce’ experienced before the bottom fell out of the market during The Great Depression.

What’s up and what’s down

Another interesting historical comparison is the S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio. Today it’s over 140, versus its historical average of 14. The last time the P/E ratio was this high was in the bottom of The Great Depression. Normally referring to P/E ratios is not really relevant because companies generally overstate earnings, but in this case it means that the correct ratio is probably even higher.
It is also interesting to look at a comparison of quotes from then and now:
“Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau. I do not feel there will be soon, if ever, a 50 or 60 point break from present levels, such as (bears) have predicted. I expect to see the stock market a good deal higher within a few months.” - Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in Economics, 17 October 1929.
“The world has been through the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression. The crisis in turn sparked a deep global recession, from which we are only now beginning to emerge.” - Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Chairman, 21 August 2009.
Let’s not let the sentiment get ahead of the market now. As clearly pointed out in this article, the market fundamentals are definitely not in place to move us out of this economic calamity and we have not even touched on what is probably the biggest hurdle to keeping the markets moving forward.
The biggest problem to sustaining this bull market is debt. Consumers have too much of it and it has been built-up over the past 25 years to unprecedented rates - American consumer debt rose to 370% of US GDP in 2007! This debt is not going to dissipate in 6 months, 12 months or even 24 months. How does it get paid back and where does the money come from? This is a fundamental element of the problem.
The US government is basically borrowing the money from the private economy which, by the way, has recently been reported that the White House is predicting a 10-year federal deficit of $9 trillion - more than the sum of all previous deficits since America’s founding in 1776, but that is another story. Now the money the government is taking from the public is put back into the banks that got us into this problem in the first place. Not only do the banks stay in business, but their managers are getting even larger bonuses.
So, instead of putting money into new business growth, it goes into the banks, which are basically not giving loans to consumers, but pressuring consumers to pay back their debts. This is not what jump-starts a Bull Market and this is a fundamental reason that there is a big risk of a quick-return recession.
The reality is that the future is very uncertain and nobody has developed a ‘crystal ball’ yet. It seems that most of the people who predicted the crisis of 2007-9 are wary of a long-term Bear Market and generally the people who got it totally wrong last time are the ones with the highest expectations now.
Bull or Bear,
We Don’t Care…
It is a very interesting time for investors. As we have seen, the dramatic fall in markets since 2007 and now a bit of a rally. The big question is what will happen next and everyone is asking, will stocks crash again? As detailed above, nobody knows what is going to happen, so the best action at the moment is diversification. Some readers might think we are prophets of doom and gloom, but our responsibility is to manage risk based and that means understanding what this is along with all the potential scenarios as indicated by market intelligence.
The best thing we can do now is to diversify. A diversified asset allocation strategy is, without question, the best protection for your wealth going forward. For those who have made nice gains in the market recently, they will especially want to protect the downside in the event that there is another crash, but also be positioned to benefit from any upside as the volatility in the markets will continue.
Research shows that 90% of all investment returns result principally from selecting the correct balance of asset classes, rather than picking individual stocks. This means good macro-economic research, a knowledge of geographical exposure, i.e. which are the favoured financial markets, sectorial and market cap bias. Once this has been done then the funds can be chosen.

As a result of this, we have focused on selecting successful fund managers with proven expertise and active management across key asset classes, rather than selecting individual companies. We are lucky in the fact that Miton Asset Management look after our clients. Scott Campbell, Martin Gray and Sam Liddle are just about the best there is and if you look at the awards Miton has won over the last few years it would seem that those who are also in the financial field agree with us.
In a rising market, almost anyone can manage portfolios, but when the markets are under pressure is when the experts are separated from the pretenders. Miton has strong opinions on the direction of the economy, which falls directly in line with our strategic investment focus. We still think we can achieve our objective of LIBOR +4% but it is only with Miton guiding us. I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “I am more concerned about the return OF my money than the return ON my money.” We heartily endorse this but also see that there are still opportunities to be able to beat the bank as well.

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

FIVE GREAT COMPOSERS: OCTOBER 3

And the super 2010 Chiang Mai Charity Calendar is out

The extended Faure festival being held at Payap University, reaches part 5 in a couple of week’s time and this penultimate concert looks to me to be the most exciting and varied so far.
Including the central figure, Gabriel Faure, there are five composers represented and all are monumental talents, truly great composers. As usual, the pianist Bennett Lerner, who devises the programmes, will be joined by friends to present the evening under the title Nocturnes and Barcarolles. It begins at 7.30 p.m. at the Saisuree Chutikal Music Hall and promises to be an exciting event.
Faure lived from 1845 until 1924 and his long life spanned a tumultuous period both in terms of world events and in musical development. Surrounding seven of his works, written between 1883 and 1913, will be further compositions by his contemporaries, Debussy, Prokofieff, Stravinsky and Webern.
Bennett will highlight two of Faure’s Barcarolles and three Nocturnes from the composer’s mature period. He describes them as, understandably, more sombre, written as they were in the years leading up to the Great War. In contrast to these will be the Impromptu No. 3 from 1883 and the lively Valse Caprice written a year later.
These will be performed by the 15 year Achira Assawadaecharit ( Ken), and they are altogether more vivacious and virtuosic. Ken will also launch the evening with a performance of an early work by the Russian pianist-composer Sergei Prokofieff, written in 1914. The five movements of Sarcasmes are all forceful and written when the composer was in his early twenties and forging a reputation in both Russia and abroad. They are a considerable test for any performer and are perhaps ideally suited to a young ‘virtuoso’.
Stravinsky was only ten years older than his fellow countryman when he wrote Three Easy Pieces in 1915, but was already a mature talent ‘at home’ in a cosmopolitan world and on his way to becoming one of the musical giants of the modern era. He wrote the three-movement work, comprising a March, a Valse and a Polka, for the amusement of his friends Diaghilev and the composer Erik Satie. Not at all daunting!
The other guest and friend at the concert will be the distinguished cellist, Apichai Leamthong, Assistant Principal Cellist of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, and he will be joined by Bennett to play a Sonata by Debussy, written in 1915 just three years before his death. They will also join forces for the briefest work of the evening, called Three Little Pieces and lasting just over two minutes. Composed by the Austrian Anton Webern in 1914 it is a characteristically intense work from the composer who was Schoenberg’s pupil and who was already (aged just 31) anticipating his teacher’s work in the area of twelve-tone composition.
Webern’s earlier work was more expansive but he gradually compressed his musical ideas and spent many months honing pieces so that even his symphony would last barely ten minutes. The musicologist Alex Ross in his magnificent book The Rest is Silence says of his (later) works, they ‘have the abstract beauty of ice crystals or snowflakes, their structures made up of symmetrical patterns’. Webern was an odd casualty of the Second World War, being shot accidentally by an American occupying soldier just after hostilities ended. Here is a rare chance to hear one of his earlier works.
The Chiang Mai Charity Calendar.
You might not thank me for reminding you, but this is the time of year when those of us who send missives ‘home’ for Christmas and the start of a new year have to think about it now or pay air mail prices. And there is simply no better greetings ‘card’ that you can send than the latest Chiang Mai Charity Calendar, now on sale at Rimping Supermarkets and elsewhere.
Not only is it beautiful, well designed and practical, it also goes to help needy children in rural areas. Over 1 million baht has been raised in the past couple of years by this annual publication. All of the work is done by volunteers and every 100 baht sale (yes, it is that inexpensive!) goes completely to the charity. It covers 14 months (December this year to January 2011) and has lots of text and information, plus charming paintings by local youngsters and photographs on each of its clearly printed calendar pages. It comes with a sturdy envelope for posting and stands well on any desk.
I sent one to an English friend now living on North Island in New Zealand and by chance he had also sent me a calendar depicting the rugged landscapes of that country. A short while after he received mine he wrote a thank you note and also apologized for the ‘inadequacy’ of the one he had sent. ‘The calendar from Chiang Mai is not just beautiful, but has a sense of spirituality and goodness about it that makes it a pleasure to look at’. I could not have said it better myself.
You can find out more either by e- mailing chiangmai [email protected] or going to their web site on chiangmaicalendar2010. googlepages.com or simply go to one of the Rimping outlets with as many 100 baht notes as you can afford. Remember.-. every little helps!


Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
Coco avant Chanel / Coco Before Chanel:
France, Drama/ Biography – The story of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, who begins her life as a headstrong orphan, and through an extraordinary journey becomes the legendary couturier who embodied the modern woman and became a timeless symbol of success, freedom, and style.  A rather lavish biopic in the old mode, well made and brilliantly acted, with plenty of sweeping vistas and grand passions.  Starring Audrey Tautou.  In French with English and Thai subtitles; at Vista only.  Mixed or average reviews.
Phobia 2 / Haa Phrang:
Thai, Horror – Literally “five crossroads,” this is a five-part horror anthology by some of Thailand’s best-known directors of horror films, and also by Visute Poolvoralaks, who is not a best-known director but is instead a best-known producer of horror films, here making his directorial debut.  The whole is a mixed bag as it would have to be, but well worth checking out if you like Thai horror films.
Actually, I can’t imagine anyone not having a lot of fun with the last of the five stories – very enjoyable – a segment poking gentle fun at the horror-movie genre.  It’s called In the End, directed by half of the pair responsible for the classic Thai horror films Shutter and Alone, Banjong Pisanthanakun, and it’s a laugh-filled horror parody.  It’s a Thai belief that there are ghosts on horror-movie sets, and this segment plays around with that idea.  For my money, the stars of the show are the four guys from the first Phobia who went on a camping trip and told ghost stories in their tent at night.  Here they are the crew trying to make the ghost movie.  Pretty funny stuff.
Another of the segments, Backpackers, features the fourth collaboration of actor Charlie Trairat and director Songyos Sugmakanan, beginning with the legendary Fan Chan when Charlie was a very young boy, continuing with the marvelous coming of age story Dorm, and the more recent Hormones.  Now 16, Charlie is here getting away from his sweet roles and exploring the darker side of his personality.
The Proposal:
US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – With Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds.  A pushy boss forces her young assistant to marry her in order to keep her Visa status in the U.S. and avoid deportation to Canada.  Mixed or average reviews.  Airport Plaza only.
The Final Destination 4:
US, Horror/ Thriller – A film I found truly repulsive and offensive.  After a teen’s premonition of a deadly race-car crash helps saves the lives of his peers, Death sets out to collect those who evaded his plans.  At Airport Plaza, it’s in the new Major Cineplex digital 3D cinema system in Cinema 3.  The price of regular seats has gone from 120 baht to 200 baht for the added dimension!  But you get your money’s worth with this one, if you like watching deaths: It contains 11 truly ugly and grotesque death scenes, the most of any film in the series.  Rated R in the US for strong violent/ gruesome accidents, language, and a scene of sexuality.  In Thailand, “18+.” Generally unfavorable reviews.
Gamer:
US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I found this an absolutely repellent and repugnant film, and I would have no problem with its being banned and all copies burned.  I think it’s just too brutalizing to exist.  By the writers and directors of the two recent Crank movies, as they continue their quest for ever bigger explosions, action which is even more “non-stop,” and plots and stories which explore the outer limits of the vile and sick.  Rated R in the US for frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity, and language; “18+” in Thailand.  Generally unfavorable reviews
Inglourious Basterds
: US/ Germany, Action/ War – Quentin Tarantino’s exceptionally bloody tale of Jewish-American troops on the hunt for Nazi scalps in World War II France.  A must-see movie, though I’m uncomfortable recommending a film that carries violence to such extremes.  But the filmmaking skill is mind-blowing.  Rated R in the US for strong graphic violence, language, and brief sexuality; “18+” in Thailand.  Generally favorable reviews.    
My Ex / Fan Kao:
Thai Horror/ Romance – Unaccountably bloody, dreadful, and confusing, even for a Thai flick.  An actor with a bad boy reputation is haunted by one of his ex-girlfriends.
Scheduled for September 17
District 9:
South Africa/ New Zealand, Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller (Language: English and Nyanja – a language of the Bantu language family, widely spoken in south-central Africa) – Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, with all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic.  28 years ago, aliens made first contact with Earth.  Humans waited for the hostile attack, or the giant advances in technology.  Neither came.  Instead, the aliens were refugees, the last survivors of their home world.  Rated R in the US for bloody violence and pervasive language.  Reviews: Universal acclaim.


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Here is a bridge puzzle. How are you going to make your (exuberantly bid) contract? North dealt and all were vulnerable. This was the bidding:            

North          East         South        West

P                  3C            Dbl            P

4S                P               4N             P

5S                P               7N             All pass 

East’s three club bid must be very weak, given the number of high card points between the North and South hands (see below). North’s response of 5S is Roman key card Blackwood, showing two key cards (in this case the ace and king of the assumed trump suit, spades) and the queen of spades. You bid seven no trump, hoping for a club lead. Unfortunately, West leads the ten of hearts, taking away your only entry to board! When you see dummy you wish you were in the lay down grand slam in diamonds. So how do you make your contract? Decide on your plan before you read on. 

                      S: AKQ10

                      H: J

                      D: J1098765

                      C: 2                     

?                                                 ?

                      S: -

                      H: AKQ42

                      D: AKQ

                      C: AQ1098           

Assume you win the first trick in dummy with the jack of hearts and play the top three spades, throwing losing clubs from hand. Then you lead the two of clubs for the marked finesse. You are now in hand and play off your winners but end up losing the fifth heart. Contract down. Can you see the mistake in this play?

The mistake lies in the cards you throw on the three top spades. Instead of throwing three losing clubs, you must throw all three winning diamonds from hand. This allows you to stay on board to cash the seven long diamonds, throwing all the clubs except the ace and all the hearts except the ace and king. Then you cross to hand with the ace of clubs (no finesse necessary) and cash the remaining two high hearts. Note that dummy takes ten tricks (seven diamonds and three top spades), while the much stronger hand takes only three tricks, the ace and king of hearts and the ace of clubs. The full deal is shown below.  

                           S: AKQ10

                          H: J

                          D: J1098765

                          C: 2           

S: J9876542                         S: 3

H: 103                                  H: 98765

D: 432                                  D: -

C: -                                       C: KJ76543

                          S: -

                          H: AKQ42

                          D: AKQ

                          C: AQ1098                 

Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site at www.bridgeclubchiangmai.com or contact Chris Hedges at:  oga.boardcardsclub @yahoo.co.uk. If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]