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

Exercise - keeps you fit or wears you out?

One of the doctors at work asked me the other day if I do regular exercise. I said “No,” but I then qualified that by saying that I walk all over the hospital, all day and every day, and while not structured exercise, I am still very active (and what’s more, I am older than he was).
We medicos are good at handing out advice, but not too many of us follow our own wise words. Of course, we have an excuse - we are so busy telling people what to do, that we haven’t got the time to do it ourselves. Exercise is a classic example of this. I tell everyone that they should build in an exercise component into their lifestyle, but not too many of my mates actually do it. For many of us, the excuse is that we don’t know how much.
My next door neighbours had a concession on Jomtien Beach. You know, the usual beach chairs and tables, umbrellas and drinks. They also had what was probably Thailand’s oldest truck. It was around 50 years old and crawls down the street every morning and evening, laden down with ice, bottles and deck chairs. Many times I have had to help the old girl into the driveway as it has wheezed to a halt half way in. But it continues to stagger on. Good enough for the job it has to do. After all, it is 50 years old.
Every morning I also see the 50 year old joggers along Jomtien Beach as I go to the office. They appear to be held together anatomically by leotard and lycra, or even older men doing what I call the “cardiac shuffle” having been advised by their doctors to get some exercise following their heart attack. I also ponder in the mornings as to whether these people are really going (jogging) down the right track?
The question, “How much exercise should I do, Doc?” is one that I have had to parry all my medical life. When I was a young buck it was easy. “You can’t get too much of it,” was my usual reply (and that just about covered everything in life!). However, now being ten years older than my neighbour’s truck I tend to be a little more conservative. More and more I have learned to look at the animal kingdom for a pointer.
What is the difference between your new puppy and the old dog it replaced? Or the kitten and the 14 year old tabby? Or the lion cub and the lord of the pride? One thing is for certain, the older animal is less active than the younger, exercises less and sleeps more. If we accept that the older members of the animal kingdom have not been advised by their vets to take up training for the Octogenarian Animal Olympics, whose advice are they following? Nature, that’s who. Mother Nature has told the old lion to lie under the tree.
Now with regard to the human animal, is Mother Nature wrong, or are the doctors on the wrong track? Actually neither is “wrong” - the correctness comes in the sensible application of advice, be that coming from within yourself or given to you. Your body, by the time it is as old as my neighbour’s truck has already told you to slow down somewhat. Even in the “what you used to do all night now takes you all night to do” department. This is all very natural.
However, we do also know that activity is good for you, and even protective against some of the more terminal conditions that we can get, like the aforementioned heart attacks. So, sounds like plenty of jogging is good for you at any age. Not necessarily so! The secret is in the balance.
As we get older, we must stay “active” both physically and mentally. Staying “active” does not mean pushing your 50+ year old joints beyond the limits that Mother Nature intended. It really is all things in moderation. Think about it before you buy those expensive jogging shoes.


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
Great to see you are still around. You’re what keeps some of us blokes in the desert from going insane, reading about people who are insane already. Me? I’ve been away from civilization, freezing my cashew nuts off-shore and so far out of touch it isn’t funny. I’m back for the next three months and would like a little of your expert advice. Can I buy a condo in that time? Would it be advisable to put someone (small, brown from the Esarn region - there’s lots available in the bar area) in the place to keep it while I’m away for the next two months after that? If I’m going to be buying a place, I want it to be safe while I’m away.

Dear Neil,
Sometimes I don’t believe what I read, Petal. Here you are proposing to spend your money on a condominium (furnished I presume) and then employ a “caretaker” whose only training has been taking the tops off beer bottles. If you’re worried about having enough time to buy this condominium, do you think it’s also enough time to check out the caretaker? Be real! You don’t actually need a caretaker in a condominium block with full security, and your suggestion is just inviting trouble. Talk to your realtors, they can advise. And if all else fails, fill the fridge with French champagne and I’ll stay there until the fridge is empty.

Dear Hillary,
As I’m getting too old for the chase and capture thing, I’ve been talking to a few local women through one of these online chatting programs. I’ve got friendly with two or three, but when I get to meet them face to face, it’s a different matter. Sometimes they just don’t look like their photo at all, and I’ve had troubles recognizing them. Sometimes they don’t show up at all. I’m serious about finding someone to spend my remaining years with, but some of them have got less years left in them than I have. Any suggestions, Hillary?

Dear Josh,
You are kidding me, aren’t you, Josh? You are sitting banging away on the keyboard and fully expect Miss Right to pop up on your screen. She’s going to be so right that when you meet, lightning will flash, stars will spin and after sweeping her into your arms, you will be instantly the finest couple that Thailand has ever seen. What sort of funny tobacco have you been smoking, Petal? This is reality time now. The women you chat to on these online programs are just as desperate as you are, Petal. These are not the cream of the crop’s first picking. These are the ones left behind in the bottom of the basket. They’ve all got a history - just like you will have. And they’re not telling you the whole history, just like you do. I can tell you that you don’t find “someone to spend your remaining years with” in this way. For that to happen, and it’s a very slim chance that it might happen, there has to be some chemistry between you, and online chats are so far from reality (as you have already found out), that the chances of a successful meeting are virtually zero. Go online if you must, but be real in your expectations. Right now you are only fooling yourself (and the girls if the truth be known).

Dear Hillary,
The story I am writing you is true and I think everyone needs to know there is good and bad everywhere in the world. Not just bad here. I get sick of all the moans and groans that come from all your writers and how they have been ripped off or left in the lurch by some Thai girl. Perhaps they should be more careful. I met a Thai lady when I was on holidays a couple of years back and she asked me for a loan of several thousand baht. I looked into her background and why she was in debt and how she was going to pay me back. She promised that she would give me all the money when I returned to Thailand six months later. I came back and guess what? She repaid me, plus interest that I didn’t ask for. I think a lot of the people who get ripped off ask for it.
Financial Freddie

Dear Financial Freddie,
First off, I do appreciate letters that show the other side of the coin. As you correctly point out, there is good and bad everywhere and Thailand is no different from anywhere else as far as that is concerned. The difference here seems to be that the foreigners come here, leave their brains in the locker at Suvarnabhumi and then forget all good business sense, such as a few checks as to how the girl in question is going to repay the loan just for starters. Perhaps they are all blinded by the bevy of beauty that surrounds them? Checking one’s brain in at the immigration counter in Bangkok seems to be a very real situation. I often wonder if they remember to pick it up again when they leave.

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Intensive Care for Cameras

Cameras are expensive - even small point and shooters will set you back a few thousand baht. A digital SLR will have cost you anything between 20-40 thousand baht. I can’t afford to throw away that kind of money, even if you can.
A camera is a highly sophisticated instrument, encompassing both physics and electronic technology. It does not like disuse and it certainly does not take kindly to physical abuse.
The first, and often the most common, is dropping the camera. Cameras are very complex devices. The shutter on even the cheapest camera can open and close in 1/500th of a second. You can imagine that it doesn’t take much to knock the delicate shutter around.
The camera is also a lightproof box, dropping it and distorting the case will soon let light in. And that goes for both film and digital cameras.
So what should be done beforehand? First is to have a decent padded camera bag. It has to keep the camera safe in the situation of it falling out of the car or slipping from the shoulder. Throw the silly leather case, that many cameras come with, as far as you can, or feed it to a goat.
OK, so you have the camera hanging on the strap around your neck, ready for action. What can go wrong here? Well the strap can slip or the eyelet rings can break, and the whole lot hits the floor unless you have lightning reflexes. Answer? Check and make sure that everything is correctly attached and not worn, especially the eyelet rings. When did you check last? Replace regularly.
So it did hit the floor, what now? Turn it on. Is it still electrically OK? If no power, take the batteries out and then put them back in - they may just be jolted out of position. Unscrew the lens and put it back on. Look through the viewfinder - if it looks normal, then try to take several shots at different shutter speeds and apertures and rush to the closest 1 hour processor or to the computer if it was a digital. Pray a lot. You may be lucky.
After dropping, the next disaster is water. Cameras are not like children, you cannot “drown proof” them. They stay drowned. If you are going out to photograph in wet (or Songkran) weather, then you must take precautions. A plastic bag wrapped around the camera with just the end of the lens poking through, and held on with rubber bands is one way to “safe photography”. Even then, as soon as possible you should take the camera inside and dry the outside of the case thoroughly. Take the lens off and dry carefully around the lens mount too, making sure you do not touch the mirror. Take the batteries out and thoroughly dry the battery compartment and the contacts. Batteries and moisture do not go well together.
Now we should think about the great shots you can get on board the speedboat and similar situations. Resist the temptation to take your good camera - you can buy a waterproof disposable Kodak or Fuji for very little money and you can relax with peace of mind. Do not take your good one!
So what do you do when you have ignored the above advice and drop the whole camera in the drink? If it is a modern electronic camera you have probably just lost your investment - especially if it is salt water you drop it into. One camera technician’s advice under that circumstance was, “Leave it there!” However, you can try flushing the camera in running tap water for at least an hour, then drying it and taking it to the repair shop. An audience with the Pope would be a good move as well.
Drowning the camera in fresh water is not quite so bad, but you have to pull it apart as much as you can and then dry it out as thoroughly as you can - a hair dryer set on “No Heat” can help, but again your chances are slim. This time it’s three Hail Mary’s and hope a lot.
First Aid is possible, but preventive maintenance is much better!

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

How can we get out of this one?

Ludwig von Mises, an Austrian economist, said it all when it comes to the credit crunch. He stated, “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” When did he say this? Fifty years ago in 1949. So it does not take modern day finance ‘speak’ to see that what John Cleese would call the “bleeding obvious”, has been around for many decades for us all to look at, sit up and take notice of.
However, this is exactly what the brilliant leaders of the west chose not to do. They have ignored all the warnings so as to save their own respective skins and so now their currencies are going to be really hit for six. It is an irony that von Mises lived in a post-war country that almost became a communist one when the Allies were dividing up Europe. Why is this? Because the western governments now have interfered so much with the markets that it makes them look like the Reds on the other side of the Berlin Wall before it collapsed twenty years ago. Indeed, it seems to be the ultimate paradox that the Eastern bloc and China are now more free thinking than the west.
Russell Napier, who works for CLSA (Credit Lyonnaise) highlights the problems brilliantly in one of his more recent research papers. He acknowledges that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the people who got us into this mess to get us out of it without causing severe damage to the economy.
To go back to what we said above, what these little geniuses have done is nothing more than nationalize anything that looked as though it could cause the governments any embarrassment. What was really needed was for nature to take its course, if the likes of General Motors had to go then “Hasta la vista, baby.” Cruel? Yes. However, a short, sharp pain is better than the long, protracted agony we will now have to endure. Napier calls the former “creative destruction” and shows a good argument that from the ashes will grow a meaner, leaner and fitter economy that will knock everything else into touch.
What we will now get is fiscal spending gone mad and governments directing what goes on as opposed to the natural cycle. The ultimate irony is that ‘creative destruction’ will still come but in the shape of government debt markets. This will happen because the governments of the western world will, in the end, have bailed out so much rubbish that should have been allowed to go to the wall that those countries will no longer hold the credit quality they once had.
Some people ask how this can be. It is very simple. For the sake of ease, let us just look at the US bailouts. What has happened is that when things started to go wrong the US government charged in and saved Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This then grew more and more until, practically, the whole banking system had to be saved. As we all know, the automotive industry was not exactly immune either.
So, what does this mean? Basically corporate and commercial credit risk has, almost overnight, been turned into sovereign credit risk. In turn, this is being passed on by the government backed banking sector to the property market and elsewhere.
What has happened in the past, i.e. the natural cycle of depression and deflation, was considered to be politically beyond the Pale. It was deemed that if ‘creative destruction’ was allowed to act its own course then the government in power would not stand a cat in Hell’s chance of getting re-elected. Well, look what happened to the Republicans. Due to the foreign policy of George W Bush, the Republicans had no chance of getting back in.
However, if they had bitten the bullet and gone for creative destruction then America would not have to suffer as much as it is going to now. Government debt could spiral out of control if these people are not careful. What this, in turn entails is not now how ‘creative destruction’ will work on private enterprise but how the markets will cause it to happen via government debt markets.
What makes this is even worse is that the people that caused this mess in the first place, i.e. the banks, could be the people who really benefit from it the most. Despite the fact the banks refuse to take any of the blame for the chaos we are now in, it is they who will get more from various forms of government stimulus than anyone else. So we will then have the banks, which have been robbing us blind for decades, being bailed out and underwritten by the tax payers yet again.
Obviously, the above does not bode well for those people who hold western market government bonds. However, the real poser is when will the bomb drop? Napier believes that equity markets could continue to do well until inflation gets to around about the four percent mark and the yields on ten year treasury bonds start to offer five percent plus. The USD64,000 question is when will this happen. If anyone knew for sure then they would be sitting on a beach in Bermuda so the real answer is using diversification as protection of assets.
Things do not get better as can be seen by report by Sprott and Franklin in June of this year. In this, they show that owners of US government debt as of September 2008 would have to purchase three times the debt they bought then by this time in 2009. And this is just to balance the accounts.
As they said, given how poor the economy really is, “It seems frighteningly apparent that a threefold increase in debt purchases by [current bondholders] is a mathematical impossibility.”
The problem is made even worse by the fact that over half of the US Treasuries out there are not owned by Americans. This means that foreign governments can use this debt to manage their own FX reserves so as to keep their own currencies in line with whatever the in-house political requirements are. This does not bode well as politics may be used as an excuse for default. Whilst it would damage the reputation of the US and cause problems with the overseas investors the people who will be really hurt is Joe Public.
What are the chances of this happening? Well US debt to GDP ratios have not exactly been healthy and default may well happen as inferred by the chart on this page.
So, what can be done? As stated above, the problem is in the timing and this will not be helped by any political curveballs the overseas investors may want to throw up.
Last October, we saw the perfect storm when every single asset class depreciated. This did not happen in 1929 and not even when the South Sea Bubble blew up. In fact it has never happened in economic history before. Therefore, the chances of it occurring again in the foreseeable future are extremely small.
Without doubt, we will get out of this mire, it is just a question of when. Thus the question is, what to hold? Equities? Property? Bonds? Cash? Commodities? Alternative Investments? If you are not sure about this then diversification is the only solution and have a bit of something in every pie or, as we said in an earlier article, put all your eggs in as many baskets as possible.

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


Any chance of a high season for 2009/ 2010?

Late last year one of Chiang Mai’s glossy monthlies published its regular ‘archive’ piece from 10 years previously. This one stayed in my mind because it was so wonderfully crass and idiotic that it might have been written as satire. The gist of it was a plan (that had been thankfully chucked out at a higher level) for getting rid of the moat and, I think, much of the wall in the city. The idea was to accommodate parking and ease traffic congestion.
Truly one could not have made it up. A plan from city ‘planners’ to desecrate Chiang Mai and bring tourism and local life to its knees in one fell swoop. And what now? A notion ten plus years later to plan something only marginally less destructive all in support of the motor car. The mind set of urban planners the world over seems to be rigid, conservative and without a hint of imagination.
Faced with the increased volume of traffic here (as everywhere else in the developed world) they can think of nothing more novel than to widen roads, make narrow pavements narrower, demolish buildings and savage monuments as a short term solution to the ‘traffic problem’.
No thought is given to the environment, the long term reality that they will simply increase volume and be back where they started within five or six years. Rather than the possible alternatives. One of which is to put people, their livelihoods and their surroundings ahead of favouring vehicles. Happily there is opposition to this notion too. It may not seem as foolish as the ‘plan’ of a decade ago but is ultimately as destructive.
I must admit that I am a car owner, a frequent pillion passenger on motor cycles, an occasional user of red cars and of tuk-tuks or taxis. And, of course, a pedestrian. But I do not ask for any concessions to make life ‘easier’ in any of the first categories. I would welcome better pavements and a strict ban on vehicles being parked on them and their use as an extra motor cycle lane. I do not ask or expect town planners or highwaymen to ruin our local environment.
Rather than make life temporarily smoother for drivers, they must enforce restrictions and adopt an intelligent approach, which may not be popular with gas guzzlers but will ultimately keep the city’s character and not increase pollution. Many ideas have been tried in other cities and the one demand made is that we motorists will have to pay more, expect restrictions and be less selfish in our demands.
The introduction of a congestion charge where payment is required to enter specific areas has worked well in London and is now planned for other cities, including Manchester. It is complicated and expensive to initiate but ultimately cost effective and efficient in reducing traffic (taxis and buses are not affected and smaller cars are penalised less).
Parking meters and other charges also limits the use of vehicles in crowded areas and whilst these are ugly and do not actually stop traffic coming into town they – in common with congestion charges – inhibit often unnecessary journeys. They also raise cash for much needed improvements to the infrastructure.
In Athens among other cities, the limitations are put another way. Cars with number plates ending in an odd number are allowed in only on odd dates and those with even numbers on even dates. People with two cars get away with it, but then no system is fool proof and sadly those with ready cash will always win. Such plans have to go hand in hand with a decent bus service and more control on hire vehicles, including exhaust emissions which are not enforced properly in Chiang Mai.
Sadly the city is not geared to helping cyclists that much and the use of cycle lanes seems difficult. But at least parking in them could be restricted, along with other hazardous parking. What is needed is not demolition of buildings and road widening but the acceptance that the motor car can no longer be sacrosanct. In Britain the former Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, made the car God and based much of our economy on it. The result was one of her many disasters.
At a purely local level Chiang Mai should not make the same mistake. By all means facilitate movement of traffic and adapt to demand but do not make further concessions. The protestors are right.
September is the cruellest month
September is traditionally the end of the low season, bringing in a dip from even the plateau of the preceding months. There is a hoped for up-turn from mid-October, followed by Loy Kratong and the ‘high season’. This year, the slump is even more doleful than usual, with hotels, guest houses, businesses, the Night Bazaar, restaurants and entertainment centres quieter than usual. Non-existent tourists from abroad are not being countered by the arrival of ‘locals’. The cause of this malaise has been well rehearsed: the world wide slump, the flu ‘panic’, the closure of the airport (a true disaster), and other negative political actions which have led to equally negative and doom-laden press.
But at the heart of the problem is an over-strong baht, intense competition from neighbouring countries and a perceived lack of welcome for visitors to Thailand. Until the confusion about visas is finally resolved and the system simplified this too will remain a problem, akin to the dubious practice of double pricing, which should be made illegal.
The problems at the Bangkok airport are seemingly being tackled, but how can it be possible for tourists to have been hassled into paying money simply to get on their plane having been ‘charged’ with non-existent crimes? Sadly, Thailand is pricing itself out of the ‘local’ market mainly because of the exchange rate but also through exorbitant costs in some areas.
Tourism supposedly contributes nearly ten per cent of income to the Kingdom and in some towns and cities it is a vital part of survival. Not least in Chiang Mai. Personally I do not feel too optimistic about the forthcoming season. I hope I am wrong.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
District 9:
South Africa/ New Zealand, Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, with all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic. Twenty-eight 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 turned out to be refugees, the last survivors of their home world. Rated R in the US for bloody violence and pervasive language. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
Coco avant Chanel / Coco Before Chanel:
France, Drama/ Biography – The story of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, who began her life as a headstrong orphan, and through an extraordinary journey became 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.
The first piece is called “Novice,” directed by Paween Purikitpanya, who directed the “Tit for Tat” section in the first Phobia, and the popular Body #19. It features the very talented Jirayu “Gao” La-ongmanee, the child star of the two Naresuan films and the young Tong in Love of Siam. He plays Pey, a motorbike-racing, rock-throwing windshield-smasher whose mother sent him into hiding as a novice in a spooky forest temple. It’s all very atmospheric as we watch Pey having his head shaven and taking his vows, everything fraught with unspoken menace. Notice the big bruise on Gao’s mouth, which comes and goes. I don’t know why, but there’s certainly a nice feel to the movie.
Then comes the piece called “Ward,” and there were a lot of screams in the theatre with this one, as the teens in attendance jumped, screamed, and then turned to their companions and laughed. It’s the time-honored ritual, and this segment did its duty well. Also known as “Shared Room,” this is the one by first-time director and studio executive Visute Poolvoralaks.
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 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 their new digital 3D system in Cinema 3. The price of regular seats has gone from 120 baht to 200 baht for the added dimension! You sort of 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 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
Scheduled for September 24     
Pandorum: US/ Germany, Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – The terrifying story of two crew members stranded on a spacecraft who quickly realize they are not alone. Rated R in the US for strong horror violence and language. Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. They can’t remember anything - who are they, what is their mission? The only way out of the chamber is a dark and narrow airshaft. Ben Foster, playing the younger of the two, crawls inside, while the other, Dennis Quaid, stays behind for guidance on a radio transmitter. As Foster ventures deeper and deeper into the ship, he begins to uncover a terrifying reality: the ship is teeming with mutants who are super-fast, super-strong, and super-loud.

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Here is an interesting hand from the Brighton Pairs in England, which illustrates the importance of the opening bid. It was reported by Andrew Robson. E-W were vulnerable and West dealt. Take a look at the hands and decide who was declarer and at what level.

                       S: 764

                       H: -

                       D: AJ854

                       C: KQJ105  

S: -                                      S: Q952

H: AQJ98632                      H: K1054

D: KQ106                           D: 3

C: 3                                     C: 9842

                       S: AKJ1083

                       H: 7

                       D: 972

                       C: A76          

The bidding at Table One was as below. West opened a forcing (but rather weak!) 2C, counting the hand for eight or nine tricks, and hoping to keep the opponents out of the bidding. East’s two diamond bid showed up to seven points. West went to game over South’s 2S overcall and East went to five hearts over North’s 4S. Having pushed the opponents to the five level, N-S passed. Five hearts by West was easy. The sole trump was pulled in one round and the hand then cross ruffed. The only losers were the aces of diamonds and clubs. E-W +650. 

West    North     East        South

2C         P              2D           2S

4H        4S            5H           All pass 

The bidding at Table Two was very different, see below. West opened one heart. North’s two no trump bid showed at least five-five in the minors. South’s 3S bid, in the face of a partner bidding length in the minors, showed length and strength in that suit. West tried to shut out the opponents from further bidding by going to slam, but it was too late—North pushed on. West competed further, not wanting to defend with such a hand, but South continued. Not unreasonably, East doubled, holding four spades to the queen and with a partner who opened the bidding. So the final contract was 7S doubled by South. 

West    North     East        South

1H        2N           3H           3S

6H        6S            P              P

7H        P              P              7S

P           P              Dbl          All pass 

West, sure that the ace of hearts would be ruffed, led the king of diamonds, taken on board with the ace. South, listening to the bidding, decided West was probably very short in spades and took a first round finesse in trumps, winning with the ten in hand. The seven of hearts was ruffed on board and the trump finesse repeated. East’s remaining trumps were pulled with the ace and king. Then five rounds of clubs allowed South to throw losing diamonds. Doubled grand slam made for +1770 for N-S. Quite a swing (2420 points) between the two tables!
Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site at or contact Chris Hedges at:  oga.boardcardsclub If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]