HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Care for Dogs

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

Liver, ethanol and health foods

Ask any man which is his most important organ and he will undoubtedly point to his bladder’s siphon hose. Perhaps the magic symbol of masculinity, but it is certainly not the be all and end all. (Though indiscriminate use can end all!)
The liver is one of the more important organs you possess. Without it you will die, whereas you can get by without a kidney, or a lung or a thyroid, or even Willy the wonder wand for example (a delicacy enjoyed by Isaan ducks, I believe)! Yes, I’d rate my liver above my thyroid any day.
Think of your liver as a filtering and de-toxifying device. Chemicals are taken up by the liver, to be broken down into non-toxic chemicals, all to protect your system. Clever organ your liver, to know what’s good for you and what isn’t.
The most well known liver toxin is our old friend Ethanol, more usually referred to as booze. There is “common wisdom” that says certain types of booze are more damaging than others, but that just isn’t so. Irrespective of the color or shape of the bottle it came in, ethanol is ethanol, is ethanol. It is the percentage of alcohol that is the important factor. That alcohol affects the liver is generally accepted, with the end result being called Cirrhosis, a fibrous hardening of the liver which then becomes unable to carry out its job correctly. Toxins build up. You feel unwell and it’s all downhill from there.
Some proprietary or prescription drugs can produce an inflammation of the liver tissues too. Or worse, produce a breakdown of the liver tissue itself. Amongst these is the headache medication paracetamol (the ubiquitous medication you can even buy in the corner stores), but before you throw them out of your bathroom cabinet, it requires some heavy and very frequent dosage of paracetamol to do this.
Other prescription items that may produce liver problems include Methyldopa, several penicillins, Simvastatin (the cholesterol lowering drug), Diclofenac (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) and Ketoconazole (anti-fungal). But it is rare - so don’t stop taking your prescriptions yet!
Prescription drugs can be dangerous (even though you can get most of them over the counter in Thailand), but that’s why they have a PI (patient information) leaflet inside the box (the bit you throw away and don’t read). Probably if you read it, you wouldn’t take it!
However, what about “Health food” preparations? The purveyors of these all cite the fact that the ingredients are “natural” so everyone assumes that this means “safe”. Not so, I’m afraid. Lead, for example, is a naturally occurring compound, and not much good for young kidneys. However, since we are talking about liver problems, hands up all those of you who have heard of Echinacea? Supposedly fixes everything from falling hair to fallen arches - but is it “safe”? Well, Echinacea, along with Kombucha Tea are two of the commonest compounds showing a well documented history of being toxic to the liver. So if you’re sipping Kombucha tea because you’ve drunk too much alcohol last night, I would suggest that you change to water, or go back to booze (stop hangovers - stay drunk)!
Others for sale in the Health Food shops with known toxic effects on the liver include Evening primrose oil, Valerian, Chaparral, Japanese Daisaiko-to (for dyspepsia), Chinese Jin-bu-huan and several forms of herbal teas such as those from Heliotroprium, Senecio crotalaria and Symphytum. Makes you think that the shops that sell them may be incorrectly named, doesn’t it!
But while the column this week seems to be spreading doom, gloom and disaster, it’s not quite that bad. The liver is a very powerful organ and is capable of regenerating itself quite quickly, so in most cases of toxicity following ingestion of chemical compounds (including alcohol), by stopping taking it the liver recovers and the patient feels well again.
So remember that if you are taking anything regularly and you feel unwell, it may be the liver - but tell your doctor everything you have been taking! And no thanks, I’ll give the herbal tea a miss today.


Care for Dogs: By Ana Gracey, Care for Dogs

Gentle dog needs a home

Vivian, a lovely, gentle and affectionate dog would make
a great pet for someone who needs a companion.

Vivian is 1 to 2 years old and, despite coming across as a little nervous at first, loves people and responds very well to kindness and affection. She is a lovely looking dog with ‘shades of honey’ coloured fur and intelligent eyes. She is very healthy with all her shots and is, of course, sterilised. Vivian is just starting to really enjoy her walks after being, at first, afraid of the lead. A quiet, gentle girl, she would respond well to similar owners – older children or teenagers would suit her better than very young children.
Have you a place in your heart and home for this precious girl? She would be a wonderful addition to any home. Contact Care for Dogs, English (08 47 52 52 55) Thai (08 69 13 87 01) or e-mail: [email protected] to make an appointment to visit the shelter and meet Vivian or any of the many other dogs waiting for you. 

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
It’s taken a couple of years, but at long last I’ve found someone like your description of a good Thai woman. She’s older than any of the bar ladies, never been married before and has traveled overseas, so knows there’s more countries in the world than Buriram. Educated in Bangkok and has a Bachelor’s degree, and a proud homemaker as well. I just can’t believe how lucky I have been in meeting her. Thanks to you, Hillary, I kept on looking. You said there were some nice girls out there and that’s what kept me going. Thanks again

Dear Rob,
I am so glad you found someone who looks like your mate. You (and I) are correct. There’s a lot of nice girls out there if you can be bothered looking. Not as immediately available as the ladies from the bars, but well worth searching for if you want someone to share your life, and not just your bed and bankroll.

Dear Hilary,
Do you believe it is possible to have a normal relationship with a katoey? I met this lady-boy who was working in a retail store and I was immediately attracted to her. I say “her” because even though I know she’s a lady-boy, she is as female as any real female I’ve ever met. It’s a bit confusing I know, and I’m still confused myself, but she has lived as a woman for the past five years and comes across as a natural female. She is what you call “pre-op”, so even though she has the boob development, she still has something left over from her male days, if you can understand what I mean. She told me everything, because she said she didn’t want to shock me later. She’s shocked me earlier, I think! We haven’t been together, and just go to restaurants and movies at present. She doesn’t dress all flashy, so people don’t stare at her, though I imagine they might suspect because she’s even taller than me, so they are looking at me too. What do you think I should do? Carry on or stop now?

Dear Confused,
This is certainly a different one for me to tackle, this problem of your relating to tackle. And that’s not rugby tackle. You don’t say how old you are, or how old she is, so I have to be a little wary, though you sound a little on the young (and impressionable) side, my Petal. There is no reason why you cannot have a friendly relationship with anyone, male or female, gay, straight or curved. However, I read into your letter that you are more than a little anxious about what other people might think of you in this relationship. It is for this reason I believe you are probably biting off more than you could chew. Or make that “should” chew. Going back to your question about “normal” relationships, yes it is possible, but it needs each party to be a psychologically secure person for this to happen. Since you are looking for help and advice, I don’t think you are secure enough in yourself, so I would stick to restaurants and movies, and keep the relationship as a friendly one only.

Dear Hillary,
Can you help please. Do all Thai people ask you the most personal questions? Things like “How much money you make? You married yet? Why not? You got girlfriend? You want me to go with you?” Apart from the fact that this is considered a very rude way of starting a relationship in the UK, I also find it very embarrassing when I am over here. How do I get these people to stop doing this? You seem to have the answers for everyone else, so I hope you have some for me too.
Shy and Retiring

Dear Shy and Retiring,
Or is that Shy and Retired? You have to look at where are these women who ask such direct questions? My bet is in a bar somewhere. From that background, they are not in the habit of issuing a gilt edged invitation to dinner, hand inscribed in Olde English and a wax seal on the envelope. Be real and be thankful that ‘these people’ as you call them are interested enough in you to even ask questions. There’s only one thing worse than being a wall-flower at parties, and that’s not being asked at all. In actual fact, my turtledove, those inquiries are the very cleverly designed “standard” bar girl questions to see if you are worthwhile bothering with at all. If you have no money all interest will be lost immediately. Likewise if you are married they will want to know if “You marry Thai?” or whether your partner is waiting faithfully for you back home in the UK, while you contemplate the unfaithful ideas. Lighten up and when you are asked next time just say, “No money. Wife take all money to boy bar,” and then laugh a lot. They’ll get the message and you will be left happily lonely, then you can write me letters asking why does nobody talk to you!

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

12 rules to improve in 2010

There are many hints/tips that can improve anyone’s photographs. With the new year almost upon us, I thought that 12 rules for 12 months might be appropriate.
These rules are for the keen amateur, and I present my Rule of 12, which if you follow them through, I will guarantee you will get better photographs. And get more fun out of your photography.
The first is simply to shoot more images. Photography, like any sport, recreation or pursuit is something where the more you do it and practice it, the better you get. With today’s digital cameras and large capacity memory cards, there is no excuse for just taking one picture of that rose in your garden. Don’t take the same photo ten times, but take several from different angles, and see the differences. Shoot more pictures!
The one major fault in most amateur photographs is taking the shot from too far away. From now on, make the subject the “hero” and walk in several meters closer to make the subject fill the frame.
Focussing! With modern auto-focus cameras the most obvious focussing problem is where the subject is off-center. The magic eye doesn’t know this and focuses on the background, leaving your close-up subject soft and blurry. Focus on the subject and use the focus lock facility of your camera.
Tripods I have mentioned recently, but one of these will expand your picture taking no end. Camera shake becomes a thing of the past, and you will take more time to compose your shots.
Don’t be afraid to convert the images on your memory card into a CD, long before the card is full. It will keep your interest and enthusiasm going. Any photoshop can do it for you, with the price around B. 150.
Keep your interest and pride in your work by making enlargements of your better photos. At around 80 baht for most places, this is very cheap and enlargements do make good presents at Xmas time too.
We all get lazy and it is too easy to end up just taking every picture in the horizontal (landscape) format. Make it a habit to always take at least two shots of each subject – one in the horizontal format and the other in the vertical. You can get some surprising results that way.
With color photography, which covers about 99.99 percent of most pictures, the one major factor to give your skies and seas and scenery some color oomph is the use of a polarizing filter. Get one and use it.
You will always miss some “classic” shots and regret it later, but you certainly will never get them if you don’t have a camera with you. With so many incredible photo opportunities in Thailand, you should be photographically ready at all times!
To give your daytime shots some extra sparkle, use “fill-in” flash. Most new cameras have a little setting that will do this automatically for you - even with point and shooters. If you haven’t, then spend some time learning how to do it. It’s worth it when you see the results you get.
To give yourself the impetus to go out and take photos, develop a project and spend your leisure time building up the images. It can be flowers or fashion, cars or canaries, but fix on something and follow it through. It’s worth it, just for the fact that it makes you become an “enquiring” photographer.
Finally, at the end of every year, give the camera a birthday by buying it some new batteries. You won’t have a problem damaging the sensitive innards with neglected battery acid and the camera’s light metering system will work correctly every time. It’s cheap insurance.
Here is the list to cut out, laminate and put in the camera bag.
1. Take more shots
2. Walk several meters closer
3. Use the focus lock
4. Buy a tripod
5. Make CDs before the memory card is full
6. Make enlargements of your better prints
7. Use different formats
8. Use a polarizing filter
9. Carry your camera with you
10. Use the flash during the day
11. Develop a project
12. Change the batteries

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

The Battle is Lost but can we win the War? Part 3

In the UK, the shadow chancellor, George Osbourne, did something that no recent finance minister has done in a long time. He told the truth. He said that “We are sinking in a sea of debt.”
He admitted that he would not lower taxes so not to increase the debt of the UK. It is refreshing to hear there is someone out there, and who may soon get into power, that actually realises what is going on.
Osbourne is brave to say this. It is not popular with the electorate or fellow politicians but the fact is that people need to be made aware of the trouble the world is now in - especially the western world. Basically, debt is at the heart of our present financial woes. Nobody likes to think about it but the fact is that the debt needs to be paid off. Creditors do not give money away. They want their money back - usually with interest. This has been the case for centuries.
Another brave man is Mervyn King, the governor of the bank of England, who basically echoed the words of George Osbourne. He said the British people would be paying for the recent financial crisis for a generation. He again implored the ostrich-like Gordon Brown to split banks and separate the retail arms from the riskier investment operations. He is horrified the banks have done nothing, despite “breathtaking” levels of support from the taxpayers. Needless to say, this sage advice has been studiously ignored.
King warned that the government would have to make public finances more sustainable and told people they should aim to be savers and not spenders in the years to come. He went on, “Our national debt is rising rapidly, not least as the consequence of support to the banking system. We shall all be paying for the impact of this crisis on the public finances for a generation… To paraphrase a great wartime leader, never in the field of financial endeavour has so much money been owed by so few to so many. And, one might add, so far with little real reform.” This last sentence was a dig at the banks who are getting ready to pay out billions in bonuses.
George Osbourne was quoted as saying, “Mervyn King’s speech is powerful and persuasive. His analysis of how the government’s system for regulating banks failed and how there has been ‘little real reform’ since, is one I share.”
These criticisms do not come at a good time for Gordon Brown. The Office for National Statistics latest report shows a record deficit in September of almost GBP15 billion and a record high of GBP77 billion for the fist half of 2009. The total net debt rose to just under GBP825 billion which is almost 60% of GDP which is way over the government target of 40%.
However, when it comes to lending to governments, things can be different. In a new book by two professors, Reinhart and Rogoff, This Time It’s Different, they point out what we all know - bankers and those in charge of a country’s money are idiots.
Ben Bernanke certainly falls into this bracket. He claimed credit (please forgive the pun) for the supposed wealth everyone thought they had a few years ago. Now he can take the blame for where we are now. As the two professors suggest in their book, debt always causes trouble. France has defaulted on sovereign debt eight times whilst Spain has managed to do this 13 times. This is bad enough but Latin America makes them look decent and honourable. What with usual banking problems, defaults and hyperinflation countries south of the Rio Grande have managed to part lenders and their money with monotonous regularity. What is just as tiresome is that the borrowers usually end up with more debt than they started with.
So, what can we glean from history? Well, in a typical crisis, the following usually happens:
- House prices fall by 36% over a six year period
- GDP per capita reduces by over nine percent
- Unemployment rates rise for five years, usually by seven percent
That is the ‘good’ news. However, this is what happens in a ‘typical’ crisis. When things really go wrong like they did in the Great Depression then things are a lot worse. For example:
- Construction fell 82% in America
- Unemployment in Germany went up over 30%
- Exports from Chile went down by 90%
- Public debt rises 86% over a thirty six month period
What happens then is that more disasters follow as there is too much debt in the public sector. Both the US and UK now have deficits of over 10% of GDP. Neither country knows what to do about this, especially the former which has its prime minister blaming everyone but himself for the present crisis. He should look in the mirror. We have lost the battle against credit and unemployment but we can win the war, although it will be a long and painful experience.
And what can the individual do to guard against these dark times? There is still money to be made out there. If it is done via good, cautious, active management then it should be safe (a lot safer than the 100 US banks that went under this year anyway) and it should beat anything you can get at the banks. More than anything, diversify, diversify, diversify.
On a final note, it is worth taking on board that Harrods is now selling gold bars. That says it all.

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

Sequins and Dance

Spectacular song and dance show at the Playhouse

With the closure of the Simon Cabaret a while ago, Chiang Mai has lacked a spectacular show as part of an evening’s entertainment. The re-opening of the theatre as the Playhouse has therefore filled a gap in the city’s night life. Called Sequins and Dance is a highly professional hour-plus show suitable as they say ‘for all the family’. Personally I doubt whether young children would warm to the rather sophisticated routines but certainly its appeal is broad based. Not to be confused with the sort of shows available at the go-go bars in town.
Put very simply, this fast moving cabaret is in a totally different class in terms of professionalism, choreography and the pace of those events. Sequins and Dance features some dozen plus ‘lady boys’ and rather more young male dancers. The routines are blissfully free from the usual clichés which dominate such ‘cabarets’ in Thailand.
It won’t be too soon for me if I NEVER hear Welcome to Thailand or any variation on songs normally sung by Liza Minnelli, Shirley Bassey, Gloria Gaynor or Barbra Streisand ever again. And this is show is free of all of those and their ilk. True there are versions of a few classics: Singin’ in the Rain, the rumble from West Side Story and so on but the evening comes up fresh and bright thanks to the energy of the performers and the spectacular costumes and lively choreography. There is barely a second’s lull in the proceedings and costume changes seem to be achieved in record time.
The former venue has been substantially revamped and there are 350 seats in the theatre – rather ambitious for Chiang Mai even in high season (if that ever happens again). Fortunately there is a space between the stage and first row which means that the young performers are all the time on stage, so that there is none of the embarrassing interaction between cast and customers which ruined Simon. Also – as yet- the dancers are still performing at full pelt. Let’s hope they can keep up the current standard.
Sequins and Dance is on every night, except Sundays, at 8p.m. and 10p.m. and lasts about 70 minutes. There is a bar outside (and ample parking) with further live entertainment until about midnight. Playhouse seemingly aims to be more than just a show place and we can look forward to Kinnaree Park there and a planned arts centre. More about this when it is under way. For now, you can find the show at 177 Chang Puak Road (not far from the Mercure Hotel and Tops Supermarket), T.Sriphum, A.Muang, Chiang Mai. Tel: 053 410 671-5. Or you can visit the web site at www.playhouse for further details. I enjoyed the show and if you are looking for an event with plenty of sparkle and pretty people and somewhere to take your visiting friends before or after dinner then check it out.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Last week I told my tale of woe about not being able to use my ticket for the 3D version of Avatar on opening day because, I was told by Major Cineplex staff, the 3D version they received was “not widescreen” and they didn’t want to show it.  “Widescreen coming tomorrow.”  So I saw 2D instead, in their big Cinema 7.  Turns out “widescreen” was never in the cards; the version they had was the one they had to use.  Which they did, starting Friday.
When I finally saw the 3D version, yes, the screen looks small.  Maybe not miniscule, but certainly it doesn’t fill up the screen like it should and as you’re used to seeing.  Here in Chiang Mai, there’s no comparison: the 2D version showing on the two big screens of Cinemas 6 and 7 is much more satisfying.
The IMAX 3D version in Bangkok is undoubtedly a different story altogether.
And there’s another problem with the 3D version used here: Unlike the 2D version, surprisingly, the 3D version does not have English subtitles for the long stretches of dialog in the Na’vi language, which James Cameron created for the natives of the planet Pandora.  At times, this dialog is crucial, and you need to understand what is being said.  Cameron even created a special font and subtitle style for the Na’vi translations, and not to have them is really a big goof in the 3D version.
Added to the fact that the current 3D technology results in a less bright image, I would have to reluctantly say that you’re better off with the 2D version here in Chiang Mai, despite the fact that James Cameron went to great lengths to create the last word in 3D effects.
Now playing in Chiang Mai
US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – From writer/director James Cameron, a major achievement and a technological breakthrough.  The story involves a band of humans pitted in battle against a distant planet’s indigenous population.  It’s a film of universal appeal that just about everyone who ever goes to the movies will need to see.  In English and Na’vi dialogue, with English and Thai subtitles as needed in the 2D version; plus there’s a Thai-dubbed version.  Vista version is 2D and Thai-dubbed only.  In 3D only in Cinema 3 at Airport Plaza. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
The film delivers on all counts.  Not to be missed.
Sherlock Holmes
: US/ UK/ Australia, Action/ Crime/ Thriller – A new take on the Holmes canon.  I’d say, once you get over the shock of seeing Sherlock played as an action figure, it isn’t all that bad.  A bit of the old Holmes shows through.  Robert Downey Jr. plays Holmes and Jude Law his stalwart partner Watson.  Mixed or average reviews.
The Storm Warriors
: Hong Kong, Action/ Fantasy – A martial arts film by the twins Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang.  It’s the first Chinese film to extensively use bluescreen, and do they make the most of it!  Shot entirely in three studios in Bangkok.  Style is truly great; substance is questionable.  Unfortunately, in a Thai-dubbed version only, with no English subtitles.  But I loved the visuals, and the fantasy.
October Sonata
: Thai, Drama/ Romance – Set against a backdrop of the October 1973 democracy demonstrations. Airport Plaza only.
The Founding of a Republic:
China, Drama/ History – This film was made for the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s founding of China.  Many of the country’s top stars were invited to star as leads, supporting characters, or just a cameo in the film, including some of the top Chinese stars like Jackie Chan and Jet Li, who only have one shot or one line in the film.  This huge political drama begins in 1945 and chronicles the Chinese Civil War, which eventually led to the Kuomintang’s retreat onto the island of Taiwan, and the Communist Party’s establishment of the new country in 1949.  The film makes no pretense of doing anything other than recounting history from the current Chinese government’s point of view.  It’s propaganda, of course, but quite well done.  Only in a Thai-dubbed version with no English subtitles, and only at Vista.
Scheduled for December 30/31
The Treasure Hunter / Ci Ling:
Taiwan, Romance/ Sci-Fi – A story about time-traveling lovers who end up in Genghis Khan’s Mongolia to search for an ancient treasure.  With pop star-turned-actor Jay Chou.
Did You Hear About the Morgans?:
US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – Starring Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen.  Grant and Parker play an estranged New York couple who have the great misfortune to witness a murder.  Becoming the immediate targets of a hit man, they’re whisked into the witness protection program and sent to Wyoming, a place populated by rodeo cowboys and bears.  Nothing much happens for the next 90 minutes.  Generally unfavorable reviews, such as “Painful to watch.”

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?: By Eric Danell, Dokmai Garden

The beloved toddy palm

Particularly beautiful scenery can be enjoyed a few kilometers south of the intersection where the canal road meets the Samoeng road. You will see Doi Suthep in the background, rice fields in the foreground, and the silhouettes of toddy palms. The toddy palm, or palmyra palm (Borassus flabellifer, ton tan), is a member of the once mighty lowland forests of India and Southeast Asia, all now replaced by rice fields. This palm is still an important part of the rice field landscape around Chiang Mai, however, and many times I have seen photographers and painters at aforementioned intersection. This tree and honey were the main source of sugar before the sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum, oi) arrived from New Guinea in pre-historic times. The sugary sap comes from the cut flower cluster. The Thai word for sugar is “nam tan”, or “water of the toddy palm”. The Thai word for brown is “si nam tan” or “sugar coloured”. The large fruits are quite ornamental, about the size of a coconut, with a smooth blackish surface and a yellow patch. Edible young fruits and toddy are available in June. To the Buddhist, this palm symbolises a long life and a noble character (other trees disturb each other with their branches). Its flowers are therefore depicted on temple details. If somebody plants a toddy palm today, he will hardly live long enough to enjoy a mature tree. However, if every generation plants trees, every generation thereafter will be able to enjoy them. So, how do you contribute to a beautiful world for future generations? Since the toddy palm has a deep taproot, the palm is difficult to transplant or to keep in nurseries. Instead you should collect the large seeds which are embedded in fibers of the fallen fruits. Plant the seed just below the soil surface at your selected site, water and mark the place with a stick. Do not move the seed, as it will first produce a root which easily breaks. After about one year you will see the first leaf. [email protected]

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

After some bidding challenges in recent columns, here is a hand to play. With no one vulnerable East dealt and opened 2H, showing a weak hand and six hearts. You are sitting South and end up as declarer in 4S. Imagine you are playing rubber bridge, so overtricks are not important. West leads the king of hearts. How do you play to ensure you make the contract? 

                                 S: J1075

                                 H: A2

                                 D: KJ1063

                                 C: J4                       

S: ?                                                           S: ?

H: ?                                                          H: ?

D: ?                                                          D: ?

C: ?                                                           C: ?

                                 S: AK964

                                 H: 96

                                 D: AQ7

                                 C: K72                      

Did you take the ace of hearts on the first trick, hoping to eventually throw your second heart from hand on the long diamond? If so, you may go down. Maybe you ducked the ace and took the second heart, then pulled trumps by playing the ace and king of spades, following the rule of eight ever, nine never. Wrong again! The full deal is shown below. 

                                 S: J1075

                                 H: A2

                                 D: KJ1063

                                 C: J4                       

S: 3                                                           S: Q82

H: K54                                                     H: QJ10873

D: 9854                                                    D: 2

C: AQ653                                                C: 1098

                                 S: AK964

                                 H: 96

                                 D: AQ7

                                 C: K72                      

If spades do not split (which is likely after an opening preempt showing a distributional hand), then you have a potential spade loser and a potential heart loser. You cannot afford more than one club loser. To make sure of this, you must keep East off lead. East is the danger hand because a club lead by East through your king will result in you losing to both the ace and queen of clubs. If you pull trumps by playing the ace and king, then East will trump the second round of diamonds and lead a club. Down one. So you must take a finesse in trumps to keep East off lead. One today’s deal, this gives you an overtrick. But what happens if West has the queen of spades? This is why it is important to duck the first heart trick. Otherwise, West wins the queen of spades, leads a heart to get into East’s hand, and back comes a club. The only way to guarantee East is kept off lead and thus to guarantee the contract is both to duck the first heart and to finesse in trumps. Congratulations if you saw the danger and got it right!
Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site at If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]