Columns
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

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Just in case you doubted the value of check-ups

Some very real case histories this week. And each one with a happy ending.
A dear old friend decided to take advantage of the cut-price check-ups the hospital was offering. Being in his 80’s and a very active 80’s, I might add, he decided to have an exercise stress test in his list of items to be checked. This was an ‘extra’ item, as his blood tests were all in the normal range. Weight, blood pressure and EKG were also in the normal range. He felt fine in himself.
He thought he did pretty well on the treadmill until he found that they had to stop the test prematurely, as his heart muscle was showing early signs of distress. The heart muscle was starving for oxygenated blood.
The next step was to go to a coronary angiogram. This is where the doctor can introduce a very small cardiac catheter via the artery in the groin into the coronary arteries surrounding, and feeding, the heart. While looking at the imaging screen, the doctor can squirt some radio-opaque dye into the coronary vessels and directly see if there are any blockages to the passage of the dye. He had one major blockage. About a 90 percent blockage. He was a heart attack waiting to happen.
The correction of these kinds of blockages is to insert a metal tube (called a stent, which looks like the spring inside a retractable biro pen) into the blocked artery, done under radiological vision. Generally, a small balloon is inserted first to dilate the blocked area and then the stent is put into place. More dye is injected to make sure the blockage has been cleared and the catheter is withdrawn. A cautionary few hours in hospital for observation is next, and provided there is no leakage at the injection site, the patient is discharged. No longer a walking time bomb!
The next case was very similar, but this was a younger man who was obviously overweight, but he played golf three times a week and had no apparent problems. He enjoyed his golf, and the beers at the 19th hole. Just like his overweight golfing mates.
This chap’s blood tests were not so good, and his diabetic tendency was now more than just a tendency. Despite the fact that he was not having chest pains, he decided to have the 64-Slice CT of the coronary arteries carried out. This is a special non-invasive radiological test and can show blockages in the coronary arteries.
The 64-Slice CT showed the likelihood of three blockages. This chap was a sure-fire candidate for a heart attack. From there it was off to the cardiac catheter lab and the angiogram confirmed the CT. Three stents later he could return to the golf course, but with urgent recommendations to get his weight down and get his blood sugar and cholesterol under control. If he does all that, he will have many rounds of good golf in the future. But he does need to look after himself a little better.
The third case history was a senior citizen who noticed she was having memory problems. At her age, approaching 70, this was just put down as having ‘senior moments’, but the problem was becoming noticeable to others.
The hospital has a screening package to evaluate this type of problem which includes an MRI, bloods and psychological testing. These tests showed that there was a significant problem, but also that the vitamin B12 level was too low. As people get older, the absorption of B12 can become impaired, and in turn affects cerebral function. Within days of receiving injections of B12 she was feeling better and functioning better. When the B12 is finally topped up to where it should be, that improvement will be maintained. Another happy ending.
And finally, one chap had the whole gamut of tests done, and everything was normal. “That was a waste of money,” he said. I disagree. How much money is a clean bill of health worth?

 

Care for Dogs: By Ana Gracey, Care for Dogs

Emily is looking for a family

Emily is a lovely female puppy looking for a new home. She is friendly and outgoing and loves to play. She has had all her shots and is well looked after. If you think you can provide Emily with a loving and caring home please contact Care for Dogs, English (08 47 52 52 55) Thai (08 69 13 87 01) or e-mail: [email protected] carefordogs.org to make an appointment to visit the shelter & meet Emily or any of the many other dogs waiting for you. www.carefordogs.org. 


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I married my Thai fiancée after a year of engagement. She is a professional lady and we have always done everything in a proper fashion. My wife is 15 years younger than me and this gives us a problem. When we go out, many foreigners assume that my wife must be, or have been, a bar girl even though she in no way acts like one. She has no tattoos or wears sexy dresses or even smokes. I realize that as high as 85 percent of all Thai-foreigner marriages are between bar girls and “sex tourists”, but this is not so for other 15 percent of Thai-foreigner marriages. Please tell your readers that not all Thai-foreigner marriages are between bar girls and “sex tourists”, and stop making false assumptions.
James
Dear James,
Now you’ve got all that off your chest, do you feel a little better, Petal? However, I think you have made a few false assumptions yourself too. Where did you get that figure of 85 percent of Thai-foreigner marriages are between bar girls and what you call “sex tourists”? Let me assure you that “sex tourists” do not come to Thailand to get married. That is why they are sex tourists - they want the fun in bed without the fun filling out forms at the local Ampur office. Honestly, James, 85 percent of Thai foreigner marriages are between people such as yourself and your wife. The foreigners who “look down” on you are the foreigners who are not in the marriage market, just the bar meat market. Ignore them, my Petal.

Dear Hillary,
I must tell you about a ceremony I attended at Wat Doi Noi a few weeks ago (which is the wat housing Khru Bah Noi, the young monk who is making diesel fuel from recycled ingredients which I have told you about before). It was where in 48 hours they picked cotton, weaved it and dyed it to make into new robes for the abbot and the monks.
I took two English ladies with me and attended a ceremony where a wooden boat was built along with two giant figures who are known as the ‘ever hungry ghosts’. People put the names of loved ones who are deceased, along with some food into the boat and then Khru Bah Noi began chanting while the boat and ghosts were set alight. An amazing thing then happened, as the flames were consuming the boat and ghosts, a really strong wind howled around Wat Doi Noi, bringing branches of trees down. All this as Khru Bah Noi was chanting to the rhythm of a big drum and the boat and ghosts were burning. Then when they had burnt and the chanting stopped it became very still, it was like magic. It had to be seen to be believed. I hope your readers might appreciate a little of the ‘other side’ of living in Thailand.
Delboy
Dear Delboy,
So nice to hear from you again, with more exploits of Khru Bah Noi. I am sorry I had to edit your letter, but I think the message has remained. So often my readers call for help because they really have not found out what life in Thailand really can give. You have found it, and obviously enjoy it. It really can be “amazing Thailand” if you look. Unfortunately, the experiences you have had are not readily found in beer bars! All the best for 2010.

Dear Hillary,
Advice needed urgently, Hillary my Petal! There I was at a new bar and met this vision of loveliness. She speaks very little English but seems like a very genuine person. She comes from Buriram, and that’s about all I managed to find out after about four hours and several “lady drinks”. The biggest problem was only that she doesn’t speak much English, but we got by OK. By the end of the night I was pretty drunk and lent her 5000 baht. What should I do? Should I keep going, or should I give up now before I get in too deep?
Nelson
Dear Nelson,
You’ve got the telescope to the blind eye. Haven’t you! After four hours of lady drinks you give this “vision of loveliness” 5,000 baht. How were you communicating with your vision? It wasn’t English, according to you, so I presume it must have been in Braille. Or was it just in mathematics? You certainly did come down in the last shower. That is 5,000 baht you will never see again. But look at it this way - there is a very grateful buffalo up there in Buriram, thinking about you. And by the way, I am not your Petal, Petal!

Dear Hillary,
Sorry to go back to the Vitamin V subject again, but while previous letters have all been full of taking it till it drops off, kind of riding the horse till it can’t go no further, has anyone done any study on just how much can you take? This is a serious subject, so a serious answer please.
Victor
Dear Victor,
Hillary give a serious answer? Just who do you think I am, Petal. This is a column for the lovelorn, not a kiss and tell in the pharmacy.

Happy New Year everyone,
from Hillary!


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

DOF

A little technical this week, but once you have mastered the technique, DOF is totally under your control. What is DOF? Quite simply, it is Depth Of Field, and mastery of DOF really is the second rule of photography in my opinion. The first rule is to walk several meters closer to the subject!

Taken at f4
The term DOF refers to an optical one and depends solely on the lens being used and the aperture selected. Altering the shutter speed, does not change the Depth of Field in any way at all.
Depth of Field really refers to the zone of “sharpness” (or being in acceptable focus) from foreground items to background items in any photograph. This is different from what the eye sees, as the eye can instantly focus on near and far objects, giving the impression that everything in your field of vision is in sharp focus. The camera, however, gives you a slice of the distance.
The first concept to remember is “1/3rd forwards and 2/3rds back.” Again this is a law of optical physics, but means that the DOF, from foreground to background in your photograph can be measured, and from the sharpest focus point in the photo, extends towards you by one third and extends away backwards from the focus point by two thirds.
For those of you with SLR’s, especially the older manual focus SLR’s, you will even find a series of marks on the focussing ring of the lens to indicate the Depth of Field that is possible with that lens.

Taken at f16
You see, for each focal length of lens, the DOF possible is altered by the Aperture. The rule here is simple - the higher the Aperture number, the greater the DOF and the lower the Aperture number, the shorter the DOF. In simple terms, for any given lens, you get greater front to back sharpness with f22 and you get very short front to back sharpness at f4.
For example, using a 24 mm focal length lens focussed on an object 2 meters away - if you select f22, the DOF runs from just over 0.5 meter to 5 meters (4.5 meters total), but if you select f11 it only runs from 1 m to 4 m (3 m total) and if you choose f5.6 the Depth of Field is only from 1.5 m to 3 m (1.5 m total).
On the other hand, using a longer 135 mm focal length lens focussed at the same point 2 meters away, you get the following Depths of Field - at f22 it runs from 1.9 m to 2.2 m (0.3 m) and at f5.6 it is 1.95 m to 2.1 m (a total of 0.15 m).
Analysis of all these initially confusing numbers gives you now complete mastery of DOF in any of your photographs. Simply put another way - the higher the Aperture number (aim for f22), the greater the DOF; the smaller the Aperture number (aim for f4) the smaller the DOF; plus the longer the lens (135 mm and up), the shorter the DOF, the shorter the lens (35 mm and smaller), the longer the DOF (just remember the ‘opposites’ - the longer gives shorter).
Now to apply this formula - when shooting a landscape for example, where you want great detail from the foreground, right the way through to the mountains five kilometers away, then use a short lens (24 mm is ideal) set at f22 and focussed on a point about 2 km away.
On the other hand, when shooting a portrait where you only want to have the eyes and mouth in sharp focus you would use a longer lens (and here the 135 is ideal) and a smaller Aperture number of around f5.6 to f4 and focus directly on the eyes to give that ultra short Depth of Field required.
Master it this weekend, and just remember that these optical laws hold good for all cameras, be they film or digital.
Take great pictures in 2010.


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

“Expect the Unexpected”

10 tips to keep your money safe in 2010

Everyone has had a tough time in the last two years except, of course, the “H1N1 for me - pay me my bonus now” bankers!
We have seen unprecedented changes at a global level - global stock market falling sharply and strong bounce backs from the lows, along with the demise and restructuring of major US and European banks. There have been street and airport protests in Thailand, along with even more changes of Government… and so it goes.
All of this craziness affects you personally - but what can we do about it? As 2010 approaches, the team at MBMG has formulated 10 tips for financial stability in uncertain times.
Expect the
unexpected - your world has changed
1) Build up you cash
The so-called ‘new normal’ doesn’t feel very normal at all. What used to be safe before is no indicator of the future. With unemployment rising throughout the world, many of us who thought that our jobs were safe should prepare for a change, just in case. Be aware of your employment rights, and factor that into your financial planning. If you are only entitled to one month’s notice and/or severance from your current employer, be smart and start now to build your cash reserves just in case.
2) Understand the industry in which you work
Many industries now face a different paradigm - more than ever before employees should try to understand what has changed for the sector that they work in, and the company that they work for. Working in a declining (the polite word is ‘sunset’) industry will not get better by copying the ostrich and sticking your head in the sand. Those who re-train now, and go looking for new opportunities, will move themselves to the front of new growth industries such as energy re-cycling, clean technology, alternative energy (bio gas, biomass etc).
3) How safe is your bank?
For a long time people trusted banks - all banks! But look at what has happened to them all around the world - more than 200 have gone broke since mid-2008. Now the banks don’t even trust each other and won’t lend to each other. That is why small businesses are still finding it so hard to borrow money at reasonable rates, why governments are still looking at further stimulus packages for economies next year.
So in 2010, why not look again at the bank that holds your money - how safe is it? How well run is it? How well protected legally is it? Thailand is more fortunate than most countries. The banking sector, generally, is in better shape than many other places. International banks in Thailand include the likes of HSBC and Standard Chartered, arguably the biggest and best run foreign banks in the world. But beyond that...take care.
4) Choose financial and banking products carefully
Picking the right banking partner is only part of the challenge. You also need to choose the right financial and banking products. As many Singaporean bank clients discovered when holding structured bank deposits promoted by a number of Singaporean banks and underwritten by Lehman Brothers, many investors were wiped out when Lehman Brothers failed. Our advice - most investors should avoid nearly all structured products and investments. This is particularly so where the security of your capital is predicated on the survival of a particular bank or other institution where there is often no, or inadequate, investor protection.
5) Make sure that you have enough credit
Right now ‘free cash’ is king. Avoid borrowing unless you really have to. But if you know you will need to borrow make sure you do it early. Let’s face it... when you really need the money, the banks won’t lend it to you. So join the counterintuitive movement and secure credit lines when you don’t need them. That way if the time comes and you need something to back you up in a hurry, you don’t have to go and beg when you are at your most disadvantaged. Borrowers should also explore the options available from the alternative banking sector. Also, don’t rely on debt unless you have to, as debt will get more difficult to service if either asset values fall next year or interest rates start to rise.
6) Interest rates that are ‘too good to be true’ generally are
Be sure that your returns on cash are obtained without compromising security or liquidity. Certain money funds invest in short dated bills and bonds from major governments, but pay higher deposit rates than bank deposits. Be very careful here...investors should look at alternative deposits.
7) Diversify and watch your investment portfolio!
In an uncertain environment diversification is accepted to be the best answer - we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Stock Exchange of Thailand Index (SET) below 300 points, the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index (DJIA) below 5000 or gold above $2000 per ounce. The best way to capture opportunities and avoid risk is not to pick individual stocks, but to diversify across investment asset classes.
8) Look for opportunities
The Chinese word for “crisis” (we are told again and again) consists of the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” Sir John Templeton, international investor and mutual fund pioneer said, “When the markets in the various asset classes are at their lowest, the opportunities are greatest.” The trick is to be ready and poised for opportunities.
9) Be aware of currencies
This volatility will extend to currency markets too - the baht may well strengthen longer term against the main western currencies but there could well be periods of volatility and weakness - trying to exploit these movements is a challenge and opportunity for everyone.
10) Be ‘truly aware’ and open minded
All too often our decisions are shaped by our experiences of the past. Normally, this is not bad advice. But this is the ‘New Normal’. It’s time to try to see and accept things as they truly are, not try to fit them into an old and redundant paradigm and expect trends of the past to be a precursor of the future. Stay sharp, be agile in your thinking and prepared to accept change for what it truly is...change.
A new paradigm and a new year... time for a new mind set! Wishing all of you a Happy & Prosperous New Year.

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

Discovering the City

A museum at the Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre

Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Center,
or the Three Kings Building, houses a must-see museum..

I bought an historical map of Chiang Mai recently and there was a fascinating caption to it, which I think is worth repeating. Just a few days later I discovered the museum at what we think of as the Three King’s building, known more correctly as Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre. The two came neatly together and I was able to find out more about the rich background to the Chiang Mai we know today and which has its origins some 700 years ago.
The print caption reads as follows: After annexing the different communities in Yonok to the Ping River Basin area to form the Lanna Kingdom, Phaya Mangrai established Chiang Mai as the capital. He invited Phaya Ruang of Sukhothai and Phaya Ngam Muang of Phayao to join with him in choosing the site for the city and in the city planning.
The layout was based on ancient military and astrological beliefs. Work began at 04.45 hours on Thursday, the 8th day of the waxing moon of the Visakha month in the year of the monkey or 12 April, 1839 B.E. (1296 A.D.). 90,000 workers began by digging the city moat which was 9 wah wide (1 wah equals 2 metres), commencing at Chaeng Sri Phum in the northeastern corner.
It then proceeded east to form a rectangular shape 900 by 1,000 wah. The city and market were established at the same time. Work took 4 months to complete. Phaya Mangrai then organised a celebration which lasted for three days and three nights. The three friends gave the new city the name “ Nophaburi Sri Nakhon Ping Chiang Mai”.
So there we have the ancient Lanna city ruled independently for several hundred years created in a matter of months and now known as the ‘rose of the north’. It is the second largest city in the Kingdom but only a 40th the size of the capital. Plenty of guide books will take you through the complicated and often bloody history between 1296 and 2010, but if you are looking for a really pleasant and informative short hand introduction to that lengthy period then look no further than the beautifully set museum in the rooms of the Cultural Centre.
This is not a dry or dusty place but a series of clearly laid out exhibitions in the heart of this colonial style building at Prapokklao Road, T. Sriphum, right in the heart of the old city and just a matter of minutes walk from Thapae Gate. It is open every day (except Mondays) from 8.30 until 5 p.m. and admission is just 90 baht, You can take part in a guided tour with members of a group of enthusiastic and charming guides or you can wander at your leisure and follow the history through 15 rooms spread over two floors. There’s a coffee bar in house so you can easily have a break during the visit.
My advice would be to go twice: first as a casual visitor and then again a while later as part of a tour where you can ask questions.
The remit of this museum is simple: it is designed to help visitors, resident farangs and locals to discover the identity of the City we perhaps take a little for granted. Their brief is to illustrate through classic and modern photographs, videos, audio histories, models, drawings, artifacts and so on, the life, custom and the culture of Chiang Mai. This is achieved mainly through permanent exhibits plus a few temporary displays and a library and occasional cultural activities.
I’ve enjoyed concerts and other events in the stunning courtyard of this handsome building but until very recently was not aware of the museum inside. The rooms are divided into a variety of ‘topics’, such a Two Rivers Civilisation, External Relations, Life in the City, Buddhism and Life on the Hill. Within a couple of hours you too can be a mini authority on the past, present and hopeful future of this fine city. I doubt whether you will spend 90 baht more enjoyably or more profitably anywhere with these ancient walls.
Further details on www. chiangmaicity museum.org or by phone on 05321 7793. Or simply head for the Three Kings Monument and enjoy a morning or afternoon out.


Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

I just saw Avatar once again – in 2D in Cinema 6 at Airport Plaza, and I am struck again by what a superb work of popular moviemaking it is!  It is very well plotted, and I particularly noted this time how efficient the script was, usually establishing character and motivations in just a few short lines.  Everything, including the screen composition, works together to keep very clear what’s happening, and what the basic situation is.

And it all wraps up as a grand adventure, with many of the mythic elements that have been working on audiences since the time of Homer.  Don’t miss it.  See it either in 2D in Chiang Mai, or 3D IMAX in Bangkok.

Now playing in Chiang Mai

Avatar: 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.

October Sonata: Thai, Drama/ Romance – Set against a backdrop of the October 1973 democracy demonstrations and the student uprising of 1976.  Sangchan is a girl working in a factory who falls in love with a young student named Rawee, a leader of student activists whom she meets on October 8th of 1970 at the cremation of the famous Thai film star Mitr Chaibancha.  Rawee then goes to study abroad, but keeps a promise to come back to see Sangchan in two years on October 8th, and on that date each following year.  But in October 1973, Rawee fails to show after being rounded up for his involvement in the October 14 uprising.  They meet again on the same October date in 1974 and 1975, but In 1976 Rawee flees into the jungle with other political activists and their love story ends abruptly.  A well-done recreation of the turbulent period of the 1970s.  It’s been called an uneven film, but with a nuanced understanding of how historical events can profoundly damage people who simply live through them.  Airport Plaza only.

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.  In a role that is tailored to showcase to the maximum the aura of ‘coolness’ attributed to Korean pop-star-turned-actor Jay Chou, it shows instead what a poor actor he really is, according to the devastating reviews this movie has received, such as, “An immensely dreary affair.”  Thai dubbed only, with no English subtitles.

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.”

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!  In this sequel, the heroes of the first film, Wind and Cloud, find themselves up against a ruthless Japanese warlord intent on invading China.  Style is truly great; substance is questionable.  Unfortunately, in a Thai-dubbed version only, no English subtitles.  But I loved the visuals, and the fantasy.

32 Tan-Wah: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Yet another Thai “rom/com” with precious little information available about it.  This one takes place on the 32nd of December.

Scheduled for January 7

Bodyguards and Assassins: China, Action/ Drama/ History – A group of martial artists attempt to protect Dr. Sun Yat-sen, popularly referred to as the Father of Modern China, from an assassination attempt at the beginning of the 20th century.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror – A young boy meets a mysterious man at a freak show who turns out to be a vampire.  Mixed or average reviews.


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

On Orchids

Many popular orchids are hybrids, i.e. they are the results of man-made crossings between different species, like crossing tigers and lions. Hybridization teaches the gardener a lot about genetics and plant physiology, and infinite numbers of interesting colours, patterns and shapes can be produced. At some point, hybridization becomes more art than biology. We forget that orchids are living beings, and that the flower serves thepurrpose of reproduction, not that of art. Some gardeners therefore consider these man-made hybrids grotesque. Such gardeners admire flowers where every blotch, every hair and every scent has a function vital for reproduction, a result of evolution, rather than a gardener’s quest for bright colours. Such original “forest orchids” are sometimes for sale along Thai roadsides. These orchids are often stolen from national parks,this desire contributes to their extermination. Instead of theft from national parks, established companies, which are certified to trade in forest orchids and multiply orchids via micropropagation. This technique stimulates cells isolated from orchids to form new orchid plants. Deforestation is, of course, the greatest threat to forest orchids.
People who have seen forest orchids growing on concrete, pine bark and plastic nets may wonder why so many forest orchids are endangered? The answer is that pollination, germination and establishment demand a very special environment, while an already established orchid often can be moved around easily. Keeping forest orchids in gardens after their natural forests are gone is not preservation, as inevitable mutations will change the plants to become genetically different from the originals, and eventually incapable of survival without a gardener’s hand. However, forest orchids kept in gardens can stimulate an admiration for nature, and an understanding for the necessity of preserving large tracts of woodlands undisturbed by man. Ignorance of plants with inconspicuous flowers, and admiration solely of radiant orchid hybrids, may eventually lead to the idea that man is better than nature or the creator. [email protected]


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Imagine that you are sitting North, you deal and hold the hand below. North-South are vulnerable. What would you bid? 

S: A

H: A54

D: AKQ10542

C: A8 

This hand comes from board 21 of the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai pairs game on Dec 23rd.
Total high card points are also 21, not quite enough to open the strong artificial 2C bid in most systems. On the other hand, you have ten tricks in hand—seven diamonds and the three outside aces. You might in principle lose a trick to the guarded jack of diamonds, but with only six diamonds out between the other three hands this possibility seems sufficiently improbable to ignore at this stage. Even if there is a guarded jack out there, it may be finesse-able. With ten quick tricks and so many high card points, every system that I am aware of allows this to be opened 2C. Your partner has eleven high card points, so will certainly give you a positive response, whatever that is in the system you play. All you need to know now is whether your partner has three tricks, in any suit, to cover the only three losing cards in your hand. You can start by asking for aces by bidding 4N. Obviously this is a formality, since you already know you have all the aces, but it allows you then to ask for kings by bidding 5N. Your partner replies that he has two kings. Now, you can count at least twelve tricks, your ten plus partner’s two kings. You are playing duplicate for match points, so making the extra points from a no trump contract versus a suit contract may be critical. Now what do you bid?
The answer appears to be a choice between a guaranteed 6N-you know that you have twelve top tricks—or a slightly more risky 7N, thinking that your partner’s positive response to your opening 2C bid must surely include at least one useful queen to give you that thirteenth trick. So what did you choose, 6N, 7N or ?? The full deal is shown below: 

                          S: A

                          H: A54

                          D: AKQ10542

                          C: A8                 

S: J832                                         S: K1094

H: 106                                          H: 73

D: J9                                             D: 73

C: J7653                                       C: Q10942

                          S: Q765

                          H: KQJ982

                          D: 86

                          C: K                     

As you can see, you have fifteen tricks available, seven diamonds, six hearts, the ace and king of clubs and the ace of spades, so a grand slam is a lay down. The strange aspect is what happened at the table. Of the six tables, there were four contracts of six diamonds, not even the lay down six no trump, and one contract of three no trump. The actual bidding on this wonderful hand seemed strangely timid!

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]