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

Travel insurance? Who needs it?

Many people have a somewhat cavalier attitude to insurance and I’m just as guilty! A few months ago I did mention medical insurance in this column and it was amazing the response that this brought. When people began to see just how much they were financially “at risk” by not having insurance, the better brokers were inundated. Let’s see what the response to this week’s column will be when I look at travel insurance. By the way, this is not travel insurance to cover your lost baggage, but to cover medical emergencies.
Unfortunately many people travel under the misconception that the travel insurance they took out with the travel agent is going to cover them for all eventualities. Sadly it is not. The following is a true story, taken from one of my medical journals from Australia. A gentleman with a leaking heart valve, which was under investigation and examination by a cardiologist, has to make a business trip to America. He takes out travel insurance from the travel agent, but says nothing about the on-going cardiologist’s review. Two days after getting to San Francisco he gets very short of breath and is admitted to hospital. The insurance company was contacted which then gets a report from the American hospital, and a report from the patient’s usual doctor in Australia.
The history of the cardiac condition now comes to light, and the insurance company state (justifiably) that if they had known of this situation, they would not have accepted the man as a reasonable risk and would have refused cover. Meanwhile, the man deteriorates rapidly and has to have an emergency heart valve replacement. All was not plain sailing and he ended up having 42 days in intensive care. Total cost came to USD 576,500, for which the businessman was totally liable. To raise the sum of over half a million dollars he had to liquidate his company and sell his house at “fire sale” prices.
Like another horror story? A young woman is going to the UK for a working holiday. Like many people, she has asthma, but it is reasonably well controlled. Since she was flying directly to the UK and there is a reciprocal medical agreement between the UK and Australia, she decides she “logically” doesn’t need travel insurance. Six hours into the flight she gets an acute attack of asthma and has to be off-loaded in Singapore. Complications occur and she ends up being in Singapore for six weeks and then has to be medically evacuated back to Australia with a doctor and nurse escort team. Her stay in Singapore and the medivac came to AUD 390,000 and her parents have to sell their farm to raise the money.
So you can see, just because you are covered at the other end of your flight doesn’t mean to say you are not “at risk”. The moral of these two tales is simple - take out good travel (medical) insurance and make sure you declare any pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies are in the business of “risk” assessment. Forgetting to declare your medical history is not thought of as being an acceptable risk. This omission could prove deleterious to both your health and your wealth.
But there are even more snags for the overseas travelers, and one is personal transport. Those big bikes for hire at the side of the road just look so tempting for the average young adventurer and the hiring process is so simple. Leave your passport as security and ride away.
Ignoring the stupidity of leaving your passport with anyone, do you have a license to ride a big bike in your own country, for example? And is that license valid in Thailand? I have seen the same young chap who hired from the side of the road brought into the hospital by ambulance with broken legs. The intrepid rider then finds out that his travel insurance has refused to accept the claim as he did not have a license issued from anywhere to ride a 1,000 cc motorcycle.
Think about ensuring you have appropriate travel insurance before your next trip!


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
This one’s a bit different from the usual letters you get. I’m quite happy in my relationships, but I wonder just why Thai people seem to have no civic pride. In major tourist cities like Chiang Mai and Pattaya, the buildings are dirty, with peeling paint and mold growing on the outside of them. Compared to Greece or even Spain, the local buildings look downright uninviting. A coat of paint every year would brighten up your tourist resort cities no end. Do you agree with me, or don’t you see how run-down the place looks, like all the other people I speak to?
Civic Pride

Dear Civic Pride,
I do agree with you, Petal. An annual painting spree would be very beneficial, and I believe it would be a very worthwhile project for the city fathers. Now, who knows someone’s uncle with a paint shop?

Dear Hillary,
Is it usual to get ripped off in the bars round here? I have gone to spend a night with some mates at a bar and find that when the bill comes it is more than all three of us reckon it should be. By the end of the night, it’s just too difficult to go adding up all the bar chits, but we’re all sure there’s drinks in there that we didn’t order, maybe even a few lady drinks that have been slipped in as well. Does this happen regularly? How do we stop it?
The Three Lads

Dear Three Lads,
I’m not going to say that it doesn’t happen, The Three Lads, but at the better bars they will get you to sign for your drinks, and the lady drinks. But if you are all legless after a night out, then you are making yourselves targets ready to be fleeced. Why don’t you make one of you the ‘accountant’ for the evening, counting all the beers and the lady drinks. I think you might be surprised at just how much three lads can consume in one evening.

Dear Hillary,
I am a professional man, working here, and OK, I have found a “good” woman I would like to take out, she’s from the glasses shop, not the bar. I believe it is going to be more difficult, but I’m up for it. So how do I go about it? It better work. I want guarantees. I don’t want any knock-backs.

Dear Valentine,
What sort of wimps are the hallowed halls of academia sending out into the world these days? I presume you have actually been into the glasses shop and spoken to this woman upon whom you have designs? Sure it is going to be “more difficult” as you say, but all you do, my panting little Petal, is go in and start talking to her and ask her out. It’s not difficult and it isn’t rocket science either. I can’t give you any guarantees, but she will either say yes, or she will say no thanks. That’s a one in two chance of success. Or if you are a pessimist, that’s a 50 percent chance of failure. But just give it a go, there’s a good chap, it’s not the end of the world if she says no. Is it?.

Dear Hillary,
I was told many years ago that you shouldn’t let your wife’s family come to stay with you, even just for a few days, as it always ends up for weeks or months. I thought I was lucky because it never happened to me. Relatives might stay one or two nights, but that was it. Recently things have changed a lot now with her brother and her cousin and her mother all staying in the house with us. They all stay in the one room which I think is a bit unhealthy, and they’ve been here for three months and there’s no sign of them leaving. They are quiet and do help around the house and garden, but this wasn’t what I really expected. I asked my wife about it but she just says it’s OK and they’ll be going soon after the brother and cousin have got jobs and mother is just having a holiday. Well I wish I could have three month holidays. What’s the next move, Hillary? Enough’s enough, surely. I have a close family in the UK, but they wouldn’t come and stay forever.
Horace the House Husband

Dear Horace the House Husband,
You are now starting to see a little of what Thai society is all about, my Petal. Family reigns supreme, and it is usual for them all to sleep in the same room. It’s not unhealthy. It is Thai. When you got married, you joined a Thai family, much more than your wife joining your UK family. After all, you married a Thai lady and chose to live in Thailand. You would have to expect that Thai culture will be dominant. You can try voicing your reluctance to have them there, but be prepared for difficulties. This is your wife’s immediate family. You can always try to find them jobs - in a far away city. Lots of luck!

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman


I was reminded about helicopters this week when I overheard a young lady saying accusingly to her male partner, “You not butterfly, you helicopter!” To which the quick-witted young man replied, “And you international airport!”

Typical aerial shot.
From the outset, I have to admit that I have no head for heights. Dizzy when standing on a chair is close to my aerial abilities, but in the life of the pro shooter, you sometimes have to face your greatest fears to get the shot that the art director wants. If you don’t do it, some other photographer will, and you have lost a client - forever!
The brief was simple. I had to shoot a vacant allotment where a hotel and resort was (hopefully) going to be built. The client had the ground and an architect’s model of the proposed resort. My job was to end up with an aerial shot showing the hotel in position, relative to all the other buildings, as if it had been there for some years. Just another example of why you should not believe everything you see.
Technically, shots like these are very difficult, as you have so many factors which have to be taken into consideration, lighting being just one of them. It is a situation that requires a notebook and pen, just as much as a camera.
Working on the principle that we would need some nice warm lighting and good shadow definition, it was decided we would do the aerial shot at 3 p.m. and a helicopter (with doors removed) was booked for 3 p.m. for one hour. Helicopters are not cheap to hire, and since the photographer is paying, I took the one hour minimum.
With all camera gear on board we reviewed the site from the air. I had to decide from what height we needed to do the shooting, and 600 feet seemed the best. We then circled the vacant allotment until the best viewpoint was reached, as we also had to show the beach and some Pacific Ocean, to show the locality of the proposed resort. At the same time we noted the focal length of the lens I would use and did a couple of test Polaroids to settle on the exposure details. The camera, by the way, was a Hasselblad as we had to shoot in medium format, which with its removable backs allowed for Polaroid test exposures.
Then came the first of the problems. It was a windy day and the pilot could not hold the position to allow me to shoot from inside the helicopter and I was going to have to go outside of my little cocoon of safety to get the shot.
This meant wearing a harness with a rope attached and getting out of the helicopter and standing on the landing struts while leaning into the wind and don’t drop the camera! For someone dizzy at one meter above ground level, this was a fearsome task. And did mean I had to trust the photographer’s assistant implicitly.
In around 10 minutes of being buffeted outside the helicopter, I had shot several rolls of film and I was pulled back in and we headed for the airport.
After processing the transparencies, the next part of the job was to shoot the architect’s model in the studio. This meant replicating the lighting direction and the warmth of the light. It also meant shooting from a height in the studio that was the equivalent of 600 feet in the helicopter. This was done by reading the architect’s plans and working out 600 feet relative to the height of the proposed building and then using that formula with the height of the architect’s model. There is several hours involved in just doing that and then more hours in setting up the lights and the camera position.
The following day we began shooting Polaroids, looking at the relativity to the helicopter shots. These were the days long before Photoshop and everything had to be in the correct scale before we would send background and resort model shots to the retouchers.
Only after everything was right did we shoot the transparencies of the architect’s model. In total three days of intense shooting. I earned my money with that shoot.

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Oh, for a crystal ball

Some people say this column is too negative. I say it is realistic. All I look for when discussing finances is for common sense to be applied. Therefore, let’s look at the state of things at the moment and see how things may pan out in the near future.
As I write this, the demand for high risk assets has returned with people buying left, right and centre as they think low valuations are over and done with. At the moment, if there is a small downturn then it will probably sucker in yet more buyers who think they may miss out on what Martin Gray of Miton Asset Management calls, “This risk-will-be-rewarded rally”.
Unfortunately though, it is a bubble sponsored by governments and central banks. However, as Martin also says, “Reality may have to be faced later in the year, as deflation takes a grip and unemployment continues to rise,” even though it will probably do this at a slower rate than we have at the moment.
The western world has enjoyed over twenty years of falling inflation, falling bond yields and falling interest rates and as the availability of credit increased and the cost of servicing debt decreased, consumers and governments went on a spending binge. The debt bubble has not burst or lessened in the last eighteen months; it has just been taken from the private sector (banks) and nationalized.
Most of the economic growth seen so far in this recovery is on the supply side; the result of government spending and cash injections which have built inventory levels from incredibly low levels.
The de-coupling threat has come around again after falling flat on its face towards the end of last year. The recent rally in a lot of the commodity prices has set this off and there is now an awful amount of money being invested into emerging markets. The problems will come when restocking slows down later on in the year. Therefore, unless Western demand can pick itself up from the floor, the sudden faith in this asset category is very likely to unwind again.
Without doubt, higher inflation will come but the expectations for 2010 do seem to be way over the top given the huge shocks given to the financial system. Although it is true that the bounce in the price of oil may keep the number a wee bit higher in the short term, the fact is that with unemployment still on the rise and household debt not getting any less there will be little demand for goods or services. This, if anything, should make prices go down.
The West is still in a deflationary mode for the moment but, as implied above, the central banks will have to react accordingly as deflation could well be worse than inflation. Where the problem lies is the fact that there is little room for error and if people get it wrong then the present situation will look like a walk in the park to what will come if they get it wrong.
Many analysts have stated that governments have been quick to tackle the banking crisis by providing cash as and when it has been needed. They have also come to the rescue of many companies by either providing money directly or nationalizing them. This was the easy part. The real problem is going to be what will happen when this money runs out.
With the incurred budget deficits we have now (they have only been more in wartime), the only way they can be re-paid is via higher taxation and cutting benefit programmes for many years to come. What does not make this any easier is that this comes at a time when the people of the Western world are getting close to retiring just when the pension funds are struggling for survival and the household balance sheets have not been weaker for decades. As Martin Gray says, “Demand could remain sickly for a lot longer than is being priced into many assets.”
Concerns over the lack of demand also apply to the rally in stock prices as it appears that much of the recent recovery in earnings is the result of cost-cutting rather than a rise in growth through increased demand for goods.
The reality is that we are just putting off the inevitable. The debt we have built up over the years has to be confronted and dealt with. The real question is what will happen when the quantitative easing is withdrawn.
Without doubt, this rally is being driven because of the liquidity being poured into the markets. It has nothing to do with fundamentals. This is proven by the fact that bonds, equities and gold are all going up at the same time.
However, I believe the former two will both suffer over the next year or so at least as the supply in both will increase dramatically. This is because a lot of companies have a present line of credit that will be called in for renewal over the next twelve months. The lending houses (banks) will not give the same terms as before due to their margins having expanded. There is also the unspoken problem of banks being required to reduce their balance sheets.
The only way to solve this lack of finance is for the companies to either issue bonds or shares/stocks. Markets are not the place to be at the moment. The danger is to invest in them just before the next downturn which, when it comes, will be massive.
Another fund manager at Miton, Nick Greenwood, heard a good analogy the other day, it “likened the financial system to two baths, one in the East and one in the West. In both regions, the authorities have turned the liquidity taps fully on. In the West, the plug is absent despite the vast sums being injected in, even GBP175 billion of quantitative easing is small beer relative to the shrinkage needed in bloated balance sheets. Therefore, the bath is far from overflowing as the cash is draining into bank vaults and not escaping into the markets. Conversely in the Far East, the Chinese have their own taps just as firmly on full flow; however, as the local sector is not afflicted by the excesses of the bubble in that local banks are sound, the plug is firmly in and the water is flooding everywhere.”
What this means is that these actions by the Chinese government are driving the short term direction of the markets. The problem for fund managers is that it is almost impossible to predict what the next actions of Beijing will be.
Management of the global economy represents an enormous experiment and the conclusion cannot be forecast with any degree of confidence. Life will remain far from relaxing for the foreseeable future. The solution? Diversify, diversify, diversify and have no loyalty to any one asset.

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

Chiang Mai’s ‘Pride’

Ask a Chiang Mai resident – Thai or farang – about this city’s ‘gay scene’ and the initial response might be a puzzled frown, giving way to a half smile. The sort of look perfected by a salesperson at one of those places where the ambience suggests, oh so discreetly, that should you have to ask the price you can’t afford it.
The truth is that there is no closely defined scene here. Chiang Mai is a city where the gay scene blurs the edges, seeping through all aspects of life. And the ‘locals’ are rather proud of that.
Discounting the rather tawdry bars in the Night Bazaar area, there is no cluster of activity. But go to a concert, a play, one of the many charity events such as the 200 Club or the upcoming Garden Party at City Life or a special event at one of the premier restaurants such as Moxie Restaurant at D2 or The House and it will inevitably be – well – rather gay.
It is no accident that one of the recently opened bars is called Metro. Short not for the Paris subway but for metrosexual, an all embracing notion epitomized by the likes of David Beckham. I get the sense here, more than anywhere in Thailand and plenty of other countries, that this is a convivial city in which to be ‘out’, whether as a student or a farang who has made it his home.
A good example might be area around the busy Huay Kaew Road, with its shopping mall and cinemas, schools, hotels, coffee bars and so on. Start at the bottom end and you will find the recently opened Lavender Lanna Hotel, which has a cabaret, a go-go bar, an all night diner and, now, a roof restaurant.
Carry on up the road and there’s Soho Bar (also with an American owner) with its sparky waiters and a mainly gay clientele, boosted by visitors from the near-by hotels who find the mood sympatico. About 300 yards further on and you’ll find the discreet P.J.s, a charming guest house catering for gay holiday makers.
Make a detour across the road to find two gay -owned restaurants, Krit’s and West, which have as mixed a bag of customers as any eatery could wish for. Next door is another example, the stylish La Vie en Rose, and directly facing them a large condotel.
Nestling behind this building is a Thai shop-house offering massage for men by men. BBeez has been there for five years and is just one of over a dozen such places in the city offering this service. Oddly there is only one gay sauna in town, House of Male, but this long established venue is popular with both Thais and visitors and is just a ten minute walk away from any of these other venues.
These, and others, are dotted throughout the city and have grown Topsy-like over the years. Some are explicitly gay, others just orientated that way. This applies to the many designer shops such as Nomad (at Ginger’s) or those on Nimmenhaeminda Road and to many of the restaurants, which collectively offer the best choice of food in all Thailand. The best and most important thing about this ‘non existent scene’ is that it assimilates gay culture, rather than flaunts it. Chiang Mai with its population of 200,000 is not big enough to be unwieldy, nor so small as to be insignificant. It may not boast Bangkok’s millions, but is much more pleasant and manageable.
Take the long and winding road 700 kms. north west of the capital and you’ll find our lady -like conurbation aptly titled ‘The Rose of the North’. It happens to be the Kingdom’s second largest city yet only a fortieth the size of the biggest.
Supposedly it is home to some 20,000 farangs, though it seems more. Perhaps that’s because many of them settle here and find companions. Ask why and the reply is usually simple, ‘I couldn’t live anywhere else in Thailand. Life’s so easy here’. There will often be a caustic remark about other more blatant towns, but that is another matter.
Nong, a 30 year old local, put it to me equally simply from the Thai perspective: ‘The people here are nicer. We live together without problems, gay or straight it is not a worry, because no one can see a difference and if so, no one cares’.
It is surely no accident that lady boys or katoeys also gravitate to Chiang Mai, where they find employment more easily than in other towns. A few gawking tourists may snigger, but for the rest of the population it is hardly an issue.
This laid back atmosphere may seem a little casual for those used to the more raunchy aspects of Thailand’s gay life. There are only a handful of shows for example: the stylish New My Way and the Circle Bar, plus the more earthy Free Guys (that’s a misnomer here as anywhere else!). They are all ‘less in your face’ than the lady bars around Loh Kroh Road for example.
Recently they have been joined by the Power Boys cabaret and Adam’s Apple show. The latter is situated directly opposite The Lotus Hotel and its popular Garden Bar. Once again they are part of a mainstream soi, crammed with eating places, condos and conventional shops, all contributing to the overall casual tone. The latest attraction to open is the Playhouse Entertainment complex on the site of the old Simon Cabaret at Changpueak Road and although they stress ‘sequins and dance’ it is also advertised as suitable for ‘the family’.
This diversity may sound daunting to a holiday maker and so it would be in bigger environment. But the centre of Chiang Mai, as opposed to the urban and country sprawl, is easy to get around. The lack of extreme concentration is hardly an issue.
And compensation comes in the form of the metrosexual tone, which accounts for the overall harmony, the conjoining or blurring of sexuality. This is true of younger Thais in general, at least in the more sophisticated areas. In Chiang Mai the huge student population (there are numerous colleges and five universities including the biggest, CMU) helps create this sense of unity.
There is no gay disco in town for example. But wander in to Mandalay and you’ll be forgiven for mistaking it for just that. The same goes for the many karaoke bars and, at the other end of the scale, for the elegant wine bar The Glass Onion, off the smart Nimmenhaeminda Road. It is just another intriguing aspect of the city. Chiang Mai, like a true friend, takes a little time to get to know. But like a true friend it does not question one’s behavior. Of course, some less friendly people DO question the behavior of others, but my credo is ‘judge not’ and I wish it were theirs too and that tolerance was their by-word.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
The Twilight Saga: New Moon:
US, Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance – It’s a phenomenon for sure, but it’s not for me; I’m sorry to report I was bored.  It’s for teenaged girls with raging hormones who want romance, not sex – very safe romance, with the vague threat of danger.  Of the three main characters, I really dislike two.  Both Bella, played by Kristen Stewart, and Edward, played by Robert Pattinson, I find boring, unappetizing, profoundly uninteresting characters, and actors.  Also, there’s sloppy speech work done by both – they cannot be understood most of the time, partly because they don’t bother to enunciate, partly because the sound technicians are messing up on the job.  The dialogue is particularly unintelligible at the very important (in the film’s terms) Red Shirt rally in Italy.  (Yes, there’s a Red Shirt rally!)
I think Bella and/or Kristen Stewart is a black hole, sucking the life out of whatever scene she’s in.  I don’t for the life of me see why the two male leads find her so desirable.  She’s everything you hate about a teenage girl moping over unrequited love.
However, maybe it’s just me.  The Variety reviewer enthused: “Kristen Stewart is the heart and soul of the film – she gives both weight and depth to dialogue (‘You’re just warm.  You’re like your own sun’) that would sound like typical chick-lit blather in the mouth of a less engaging actress, and she makes Bella’s psychological wounds seem like the real deal.”  And here’s another: “Kristen Stewart brings such raw vulnerability to the screen that she makes moping attractive.”  Some people think there’s a lack of sparkle in the relationships; some people think the relationships are deeply-felt, simmering, and meaningful.  So I have to be careful with what I say, and not give full rein to my negative feelings, because great numbers of people think quite differently than I, and it’s really just a matter of taste.
The third of the three main characters, on the other hand, is terrific!  In my opinion, you understand.  This of course is the actor Taylor Lautner, a young man who has a lot of American Indian blood in him.  He plays a member of the Quileute (pronounced KWIL-ee-ewt) tribe, and in the course of the film Bella uncovers frightening secrets about him and his tribe.
The Quileute tribe is an actual tribe living in western Washington State.  Legends hold that a supernatural transformer fashioned the Quileute from wolves.  The tribe’s ancestry reaches back to the Ice Age.  Quileute were stubborn fighters when attacked, and if they won a battle, the losers were taken as slaves.  This also happened during the first few encounters with the white man; the first time, in 1775, a Spanish ship got lost and accidentally landed on their territory.  The Quileute simply took them all as slaves, which is a nice switch from the usual scenario!
In the story, some members of the Quileute tribe are capable of shape-shifting into wolves, becoming spirit wolves, which are similar to werewolves.  They are natural enemies of vampires.  Therefore, Jacob is an enemy of Edward.  That of course leads to endless complications, because Bella falls in love with them both.
At any rate, despite what I or anyone else may feel, this film may be critics-proof.  It’s very well calculated to appeal to its target audience, virgins dreaming of safe love.  Exciting and thrilling, but not particularly threatening.  It will undoubtedly be a hit.
So bottom line: if you’re a teenaged girl with raging hormones, you’ll love it!  As you will the next in the series, Twilight Saga: Eclipse, directed by yet a third director, David Slade, which completed shooting three weeks ago.
Mixed or average reviews.  The Vista version is Thai-dubbed only, both languages at Airport Plaza.
US/ Canada, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – The end of the world, as only Director Roland Emmerich can show it.  Very well done disaster movie to end all disaster movies.  Mixed or average reviews.  A Thai-dubbed version is available at both locations.

Scheduled for November 26
Julie & Julia:
US, Biography/ Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – Meryl Streep gives a charismatic performance as Julia Child, and Amy Adams is Julie Powell in this adaptation of two bestselling memoirs.  Generally favorable reviews.
Disney’s A Christmas Carol:
US, Animation/ Drama/ Family/ Fantasy –  Starring Jim Carrey, this animated adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic – one of literature’s most haunting morality tales – uses the motion capture technology previously seen in The Polar Express.  Mixed or average reviews.
Ninja Assassin:
US/ Germany, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – Features a warfare innovation – the slicing of bodies in half by whizzing five-pointed stars.  A blood-soaked combination of physical stunts and digital trickery, with Korean pop star Rain, who here is only a mild drizzle.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody stylized violence throughout, and language.

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

This was board 4 from the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai pairs game on Nov 11th. It poses a bidding challenge for EW. Both sides were vulnerable and West dealt. Imagine you are East. The bidding starts as shown. So, what do you bid now? 

                      S: Q107

                      H: QJ4

                      D: 532

                      C: 10832   

S: 82                                S: AKJ95

H: A10862                      H: 75

D: KJ1097                       D: AQ84

C: 6                                  C: AJ

                      S: 643

                      H: K93

                      D: 6

                      C: KQ9754      

West    North     East        South

P           P              1S            3C

3D        P              ?             

Your partner is a passed hand, but is willing to mention a new suit vulnerable at the three level, so must have something good. With your diamond holding, there surely should be no diamond losers. You have 19 high card points, excellent spades and the ace of clubs. Your partner must have some values outside diamonds to justify bidding at all, since he certainly does not have more than one of the top three diamonds. So what do you bid now?
What did you decide? There were all sorts of contracts at the table. With all the points in your hand, you cannot stop short of game, but which game? With your club stopper, three no trumps is a possibility (hoping your partner’s points are in hearts to provide a stopper there). At the table, Penny Ellis and Rado Nordtveit took this route and made all thirteen tricks, for a top. Five diamonds is probably a safer choice. Dennis Hudson and Martin Bagnall bid this and made an overtrick. Four spades is a riskier contract, since there are only seven trumps between the two hands. Phil Watts and Mark Barber-Riley chose this and took all thirteen tricks, with the spades splitting three-three and the queen onside. However the best bidding came from Kob Cavin and Toom Vijaykadga, who got to six diamonds, which is the optimum contract. Now you just have to make it, but that is a different column.
Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site at www.bridgeclubchiangmai. com. If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]