HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Care for Dogs

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

DVD of the Week

Let's Go To The Movies


Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Go to bed with a good cook!

Sorry about the headline, I meant to write “Go to bed with a good book!” however there is good scientific evidence that the “good cook” advice is actually good for your mental health. Being married to the good cook can actually stave off Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
As we get older, and we are all living longer (especially those who read and follow the advice in this column), we become more likely to suffer from aging of the brain and a decrease in cerebral function. A severe drop in cerebral function may be just called Dementia or one particular variant is called Alzheimer’s Disease.
Now we have known for some time that if you don’t use your muscles, they waste away. By not using your hands for physical work, the skin on your hands gets thin. However, we also know that if you use your muscles again, the muscle tissue builds up and becomes strong once more. If you use your hands again, the skin builds up and becomes thicker. The message is that all is not lost! Recovery is possible.
However, we were always told that the one organ of the body that could not reverse the wasting process was the Central Nervous System. Once it started to fail, that was it. Dementia was just around the corner.
That view has recently been challenged and the results are comforting, to say the least. Experiments have been carried out that showed that by inducing stress in an animal resulted in chemicals being released. This on its own was nothing new, but what was new was the fact that some of these chemicals produced a difference in the brain’s anatomy! The idea that the brain could not change was incorrect! It could be ‘short-circuited’ resulting in a new wiring pathway.
What was even more exciting was that if the animal was restored to its own ‘safe’ and non-threatening environment, then the brain reverted to its pre-stressed anatomy! It was possible to ‘re-wire’ the brain.
In turn this has led to much research into the effects of stress and its reversal, and then on to Alzheimer’s Disease (if I have remembered to spell it correctly)! And if it were possible for its reversal too!
Returning to the research, we have shown that stress can physically damage nerve cells used in storing memory. We have also found that mindless watching of the goggle-box also produces a decline in brain function. In fact the numbers are more worrying than that. It has now been found that people with no stimulating leisure activities, and who are couch potatoes instead, are nearly four times more likely to develop dementia compared to those people who have leisure stimuli and do not waste hours in front of the TV.
Taking that a step further, and turning the scientific data around to be useful, it has been found that in being the converse to the couch potato, intellectually stimulating leisure activities had a ‘protective’ effect for the brain and its capabilities. What is more, they have also found that if you are doing a job you enjoy, then this was again protective, but a dull job with no stimulus or challenge was another way to head downhill.
This does not mean that we all have to take up chess tomorrow, because in place of intellectually stimulating hobbies, it has been found that even physical exercise itself stops memory loss and stimulates growth of nerve cells.
And so to the “good cook”. Another protective factor appears to be marriage! Those who have never married have twice as high an incidence of dementia than those who are married. So there you are, rather than say that your wife is driving you insane, it appears that she is driving you towards sanity instead.
So the secret towards staving off dementia and Al whatsisname’s disease is to have a job you enjoy, get some exercise, watch a very limited amount of TV and settle down with that good cook (sorry again, that should have read “a good book”).


Care for Dogs: By Ana Gracey

Care for Dogs dog of the week

Introducing Frodo. This beautiful blonde is a healthy sterilised female of 1-2 years old with a silky golden coat and characterful face. She is a gentle loving dog with lots to give to her forever family. She would be a wonderful addition to any home - why not come down to the shelter and meet her TODAY? 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 & meet Vivian or any of the many other dogs waiting for you.

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
It’s nice to read about a lady farang being ‘taken to the cleaners’ instead of the usual suckers in this ‘land of smiles’ where money talks really loudly and losers (like myself) can’t even afford to take a baht bus ride (farang price; which is a bit ironic because I guestimate that many Thais in Chiang Mai are a lot better off than a farang on a pension) to where they want to go, and have no choice other than to walk to their destination or stay put.
Having said that, I do think that bar girls and sex workers in Thailand are badly ripped off by greasy old sex tourists. If a pot-bellied, bald 60 year old male wants to sleep with a beautiful 20 year old girl (and younger), he should pay accordingly; at least 5,000 baht a night and not the derisory 25 euros (1,000 baht) he is now getting away with. The Thai authorities should step in and safeguard these girls’ interests. That same greasy old sex tourist would be paying a heck of a lot more for similar services in Europe.
Yours, a sad old walker (that is ‘walker’)

Dear Sad Old Walker,
Are we reading from the same hymnbook, my Petal? “Lady farang being taken to the cleaners”? I know I’m getting woolly-headed in my old age, but I don’t remember that letter.
Now to the second part of your letter, where you are suggesting that 60 year old overweight bald male tourists should be subject to a 500 percent escalation in dormitory fees - I don’t quite understand this at all. Firstly, there are no “sex workers” here and you can verify this by asking any policeman. Secondly, it is against the law - you can check the statutes on this fact. So you see, the “Thai authorities” (the police) are already safeguarding the interests of those girls who work in the bars, so you can stop worrying. Incidentally, this is a type of discrimination you are proposing. What about 60 year old tourists that still have hair, or who are not overweight? Will they be made to pay your new schedule of fees too? Your “new order” needs refining, Petal.
By the way, I’m sorry you have to walk everywhere, but I’m sure the exercise is good for you.

Dear Hillary,
I’d like to add my bit to the letter from the chap calling himself “Your fan from the USA”. You’ve got a lot of fans out here in the sandbox too, but there’s no bubbly allowed out here, French or otherwise, and I’m sure a bottle of distilled water from the cooling tower wouldn’t do much for you. We read you on line every week, and yours is the first column we read. All the best for 2010.
Gary from the Sandbox

Dear Gary from the Sandbox,
Well, isn’t that just the nitty-gritty of it all out there in the sandy country. Such privations! No bubbles! I certainly couldn’t live there, my Petal, even though the bottles of bubbly were not too thick on the ground in Thailand in 2009 either, I can tell you. We all had to tighten our belts, even me. Keep reading, and I’ll think of you each week. (I tell such terrible lies some days!)

Dear Hillary,
Have you ever tried crossing the road here in Thailand? You take your life in your hands as nobody slows or makes any effort at avoiding you. Three times this week I have had to jump out of the way of those dreadful public taxi buses and I feel this can do the image of Thailand no good at all. What do you think, Hillary?
Pedestrian Paul

Dear Pedestrian Paul,
Have I tried crossing the road? What a ridiculous question! Of course I’ve tried crossing the road. That does not mean to say that I have always been successful though. Honestly, you men do amaze me at times! I agree that the sight of people like you jumping ineptly out of the way of rampant taxi buses will do our image no good at all. Perhaps you could try ballet lessons? However, if you find that crossing the road is totally impossible, then just take the arm of one of our old folk, and then using them as a shield, force your way through the belching buses.

Dear Hillary,
Why are there so many lady-boys in Thailand? Everywhere you go there seems to be a lady-boy these days. Every bar has at least one, they are soliciting on the sidewalks and there are complete shows made up of them. Now I have one in the office next door. When will it stop? What’s the answer Hillary, as I am sure you will know what to do.
Katoeys R Us

Dear Katoeys R Us,
Hillary will know what to do about what, my Petal? About the soliciting lady-boys at the side of the road? My advice is to have nothing to do with solicitors who work on the sidewalks, use only qualified solicitors that work in legal offices. Either way you are going to be out of pocket (I was going to say ‘screwed’ - naughty me), but at least with the ones in the law offices you can complain to the Law Society.

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Sun-lighting or electronic-lightning?

I was given a very interesting DVD the other day. Produced by the Nikon people, it was a video on how to manipulate the available light to produce the best possible photographs.
Being a Nikon produced video lesson, there was a very strong message to use Nikon equipment, and I will admit to using Nikon myself until I was seduced by the ease and simplicity of the Panasonic Lumix.
The video began with using available light (the sun), but then showed that in many instances to make the photograph record all the details, it may be necessary to use additional flash(es) to get rid of shadows which are too deep. The flash units being touted were from the Nikon Speedlight series, and the final shot of a gnarled old fisherman on the docks beside a fishing boat at sunset took eighteen (yes, 18) flash units selectively lighting the foreground with the fisherman, the middle ground, the background, the fishing boat and then the boat captain.
The result was sensational, and having been previously involved in marathons required in producing such a shot, I could appreciate the vision of the photographer and his skill in balancing all the light sources. However, 18 Speedlites at around 20,000 baht each comes to around 360,000 baht. Now you can see why pro photographers charge such high fees. For the photograph itself 1,000 baht. For knowing how to do it 99,000 baht! By the way, most pros don’t own such equipment, but lease it for the shoot, with the leasing costs naturally being passed on to the client.
Today I want to mention a very common lighting problem, and how to get around it without 18 flash heads. This is where the background light is very much more bright than the lighting for the foreground. This will always occur when taking photographs indoors in the daytime, particularly if there are large picture windows lighting the interior of the house. Ever tried taking shots of the interior of a room at noon? The garden, through the window, comes out perfectly, while the interior of the room comes out so dark you are lucky to distinguish anything. The other time this happens is when you are photographing ‘contre jour’, that is when the camera is facing to sun, so the subject’s face is in shadow.
In both these situations, the camera’s electronic brain selects aperture and shutter speed settings to allow the bright source to be ‘tamed’, but this unfortunately makes everything in the shadow end of the photograph even darker.
The simplest way around this is to lessen the difference in light levels between the background and the subject in the foreground. There are many ways of doing this. Here are a few.
In the room situation, increase the lighting in the interior of the room by turning on as many lights as you can. Now decrease the lighting coming in from the windows by drawing the curtains! This is best if the curtains are made of gauzy material. They still let light through, but not in the same intensity. Set the exposure details from the room itself and shoot away.
Now the contre jour problem. This is where you can use the photo technique called ‘Fill-Flash’. This is done by using your camera’s flash to remove the deep shadows caused by the sun being behind the subject. The secret is not to have the flash overpowering the sun, but just enough to almost balance the light intensities between sun and flash, but sun must be the greater to ‘back light’ the subject.
Without getting too technical, if the aperture for the background is f11, then select f8 in the flash. With digital cameras it is even easier to strike the right balance. Just review each shot as you take them. If the flash is producing the ‘rabbit in the headlights’ appearance, then progressively wind down the strength of the flash until the face is lit, and the background is still recognizable.
Finally, you can always just zoom in until the face almost fills the viewfinder and the camera will give you the correct settings without any flash at all.

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Is China helping or hindering? Part 2

The global economy is not exactly strong at the moment. The West has an over-supply of debt and the East has too much production. The crisis has been hidden by almost zero interest rates and governments printing money which has done no good for their country’s balance sheets. Even as the West cuts its spending, the East is not creating as much as it would have hoped for. Worse, it is adding more production to boot.
If we just look at China, we can see it has too many people with not enough money and too few with too much. The immediate future will govern what happens to it for decades to come. Is the economy beyond help? No, definitely not but it is difficult to read. Just look at the views of two of the world’s greatest investors:
1. Jim Rogers - He is very bullish on China and believes that, “China is going to be the most important country in the 21st century.”
2. Jim Chanos - He is very bearish on China and believes that, “China is Dubai times one thousand, if not a million.”
Now if two such eminent gurus have such diametrically opposed views what chance do the rest of us have? If you just looked at basic facts as shown by China then you would have to think Rogers was right. The population is massive and they are so competitive in everything they do. The numbers speak for themselves. America has nine cities where the population is over one million people. The UK has three. China has 160. The Chinese government plans to build twenty more cities that will each cater for more than 20 million people EACH. This would then mean China has to oversee the biggest migration the world has ever seen. China’s GDP went up with double digit growth each and every year.
Given all the above, how can Rogers be wrong? The production and manufacturing plants worked 24/7 and the West bought almost everything China threw at it. The Chinese were so happy with this situation they even lent the West money with which to buy more of its products. It seemed like Utopia as China produced exactly what the West wanted at an incredibly low price. Apart from borrowing money from China to keep this going, the greedy consumers in the West mortgaged their own properties to continue financing the dream.
This is where Chanos comes in. When things started to go wrong in America and the rest of the Western world, the Chinese boat started to rock as well. In less than a year, the Shanghai CSI 300 fell by nearly sixty-six percent. Vital Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) dried up as companies and investment funds found out the money was needed more at home. Suddenly China was hit with what we had suffered in the West. How could all this be sustained? How would they cope with all the overcapacity? What would happen to the export market on which the Chinese economy is so reliant?
People who support the Rogers argument come back with such facts as retail spending is up sixteen percent year on year and industrial production is up by almost the same as well. Even more impressive is the fact that housing startups increased, for the second year running, by over fifty percent in 2009. Also, they point out that domestic consumption is on the rise with over 900,000 cars being sold each month. Exactly the same is said for household appliances and personal items such as mobile phones. Finally, the Rogers followers point to the USD2.3 trillion that China has in foreign reserves all over the world.
Things look good yes? Er, no. China has more problems that it likes to admit. Hundreds of millions of the population live on less than five US dollars a day. It is an environmental disaster in the making with people already suffering illnesses caused by excess pollution. Then there is what happened in Hunan where the local government ripped down nearly four kilometres of a perfectly good modern flyover - so they could build it again and take advantage of central government handouts. My personal favourite is the brand new city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia. It is standing completely empty.
The author of China’s water crisis, Ma Jun, reckons that two thirds of China’s six hundred cities are facing water shortages of various degrees of severity. To solve this, Ma reckons China needs another 40 billion cubic meters of water each year to keep the urban areas supplied properly. It is impossible to work out how much more is needed for rural citizens.
So, who is right and who is wrong? Well, both Rogers and Chandos have good arguments to support their ideas. China’s problems are not small but neither is their desire to be THE nation in the 21st century. As with everywhere else people will make a lot of money and lose a lot as well. It is the nature of things and this applies to China as well.
I make no apology for re-stating that I believe the markets are still sticking their heads in the sand about what has happened since the credit crisis began. The recent surge in the world’s indices since the lows of March 2009 are due to governments printing money, not because things are getting better naturally. We need to be careful about China’s investment bubble but this should not be too much of a problem if we know what is going on. The much bigger problem is the banking cover up in Europe - more of which later. Once this has been done then we can start afresh.

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]

DVD of the Week: By Mark Whitman

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Tom Ripley plays the classical piano at a fashionable party and is liked by the host, Mr. Greenleaf (the real villain of the piece) and paid to bring back his wayward son, Dickie, from the ‘playgrounds’ of Europe. Tom’s chance mission allows him entry to a world of opportunity – with deadly consequences.
This second treatment of Patricia Highsmith’s classic (see also the earlier Plein Soleil with Alain Delon) stars Matt Damon as the eponymous anti-hero. The sparkling adaptation is by Anthony Minghella, who also directs, adroitly fusing the themes of crime and sexual tension with a scathing critique of American class (i.e. money) consciousness, integral to the 1958 setting.
Minghella, whose films could be stilted, even a little dull, seems magically at ease with his material and the flawless credits reflect his and Sydney Pollack’s stylish production input. Sadly, both the director and producer have both died since this film’s great success.
The movie lapses into mild imbroglio during the denouement (a not uncommon fate of intricately plotted novels, especially thrillers) but is impeccably crafted – note the complex soundtrack – and the wonderful cast.
Jude Law as Tom’s first victim, Dickie, is jittery, shallow, subtly androgynous and lithely camp, offering the perfect foil to the initially unprepossessing Tom, who emerges into frame on the beach in nerdy spectacles, yellow swimming trunks and black shoes – a pale a-sexual contrast to the sun-lizard glitterati.
Tom progresses from hesitant gawk to elegant doppelganger with insouciant charm in a believable tribute to the aphrodisiac powers of poverty blended with ruthless ambition. From the wings emerges Philip Seymour Hoffman, as another bludgeoned victim, the egregious Freddy, stealing scenes with impudent ease from this brilliant ensemble cast, even the talented Cate Blanchett.
Several decades on from publication, Tom’s opportunistic bi-sexuality is allowed full rein so that Minghella can steer the drama at full throttle allowing Tom first to be propelled by chance until fully entrenched in the vacuous life-style he covets. Once given the opportunity he is willing and eager to scramble up the pole made greasy with the blood of others.
Another Highsmith novel in the ‘series’ is called Ripley’s Game and the noun aptly suggests Tom’s attitude to life as a deadly competition of chance and skill which here leads to multiple murder and a fall from grace. A fall from which he will- Astaire style – pick himself up, dust himself down and start all over again. Redemption is not for the likes of the wickedly talented Mr. Ripley.
All in all a glamorous, sexy movie full of twists and turns, boasting great locations and a fine sense of period. Anyone who enjoys intelligent, fast moving and witty entertainment (not to mention Matt Damon singing My Funny Valentine to Jude Law) will enjoy this stylish thriller.
(Plein Soleil and The Talented Mr. Ripley are available from DVD Movies and Music, 289 Suthep Road - just across the road from CMU Arts Centre. Tel: 053 808 084 Open from 9a.m. until midnight every day).
Note: This is the first of a new series of articles devoted to classic and new movies as a temporary replacement for the Life in Chiang Mai column as I shall be travelling in Thailand from mid February and to the U.K. in March. Normal service after Song Kran. Next week Lorna’s Silence (2009), directed by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

The Academy Awards will be shown live on TrueVisions TV here in Chiang Mai on Monday, March 8, at 8 am Thai time, on the E! channel (53).  The actual show itself starts at 8:30 am.  Arrivals show begins 6 am.  But the show is only available with the Platinum package!  Very bad news!
Watch this space for news of an Oscar-replay party on the evening of March 8 at the RatiLanna Riverside Spa Resort, for the benefit of a good cause.

Now playing in Chiang Mai 

From Paris with Love:
US/ UK/ New Zealand, Crime/ Drama/ Fantasy/ Horror – Starring John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.  A low-ranking intelligence operative working in the office of the U.S. Ambassador in France takes on more than he bargained for when he partners with a wisecracking, fast-shooting, high-ranking U.S. agent who’s been sent to Paris to stop a terrorist attack.  Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence throughout, drug content, pervasive language, and brief sexuality.  Mixed or average reviews.
My Valentine:
Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A girl who hates Valentine’s Day meets three young men, each determined to make her his Valentine.  Slightly less than the usual Thai rom/com, a mixture of cute young Thais and older TV comedians.
The September Issue:
US, Documentary – I found this a very entertaining documentary.  It chronicles Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s preparations for the 2007 fall-fashion issue.  That issue of Vogue weighed nearly five pounds, and was the single largest issue of a magazine ever published.  With wide-ranging access to the magazine’s offices, the film, directed and produced by R.J. Cutler, tells the story of the legendary Vogue editor and her team creating the issue and ruling the world of fashion.  Generally favorable reviews.
US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – Nine Oscar nominations.  Now the highest grossing film in the world ever, bypassing the director’s own Titanic.  It’s a very good film and a truly major technological breakthrough.  It’s exciting and beautiful, and has received near-universal rave reviews from critics and fans.  At Airport Plaza it’s in English and Na’vi dialogue, with English and Thai subtitles as needed in the 2D version, but unaccountably no English subtitles for Na’vi in the 3D version.  The Vista version is 2D and Thai-dubbed only.  Reviews: Universal acclaim. 
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs:
US, Animation/ Family – Quirky humor, likeable characters, and solid slapstick. Generally favorable reviews.
Tai Hong / Die a Violent Death:
Thai, Horror/ Thriller – Now the top Thai film at the boxoffice.  This omnibus film consists of four short shocking stories of death and horror, exploiting four real news stories, including one tasteless recounting of last year’s deadly blaze at Bangkok’s Santika pub, which is truly shocking – but shock at the incredible insensitivity once again shown by Thai filmmakers toward traumatic Thai events.
Directed by Poj Arnon (Bangkok Love Story) and three young directors.  The final story, by Poj, is a fairly enjoyable horror sex-comedy.

The Spy Next Door:
US, Action/ Comedy/ Family – Jackie Chan fans may be running to see this, but most reviewers think it’s a sad little movie entirely designed to set up Chan’s stunt sequences as he fights with pots, pans, and ladders.  Reviewers say it’s flat and witless, and give it generally unfavorable reviews.
Scheduled for February 11

The Wolfman:
UK/ US, Horror/ Thriller – Starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving; directed by Joe Johnston.  I think the trailers look exciting!  And stylish!  Intended as Universal Studio’s $85 million remake of its classic 1941 Lon Chaney monster movie.  Many behind-the-scenes shenanigans in this troubled movie involving crew changes, long delays, reshoots, and re-edits.  Rated R in the US for bloody horror violence and gore.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief:
Canada/ US, Fantasy/ Comedy – The Mount Olympus gods are not happy: Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and high school student Percy Jackson is the prime suspect.  Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy’s mother.  As Percy finds himself caught between angry and battling gods, he and his friends embark on a cross-country adventure to catch the true lightning thief, save Percy’s mom, and unravel a mystery.  Wow!  Logan Lerman is Percy, and others in the cast are Catherine Keener, Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, and Uma Thurman.  Directed by Chris Columbus.  Based on a best-selling children’s novel by Rick Riordan.
Confucius / Kong Zi:
China, Biography/ Drama – Set in 6th Century BC, this is the life story of the Chinese thinker and philosopher, from his days as a court official through battles and political intrigues, to his old age as a disillusioned sage.  Directed by Mei Hu.  Some recent controversy over the film’s Hollywood-way of pumping up the romantic and action-related angles of the man, even casting an action hero (Chow Yun-Fat) as the man himself, and portraying him as romantically attracted to a concubine.

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

On Bombax ceiba

Red kapok ((Ngiu) is a large tree related to Cotton (Fai) and Hibiscus (Chaba). At the end of January this spectacular tree is completely bare, looking like a tall steel construction, with its silvery limbs arranged in a geometrical manner. The intensive red blossoms have made it a desirably ornamental throughout the tropics. It was mentioned as a characteristic of the Chiang Mai valley by the early botanical explorer Hosséus, who spent time here in 1904-1906. Modern floras of ornamental tropical trees usually claim it is a member of the moist lowlands, but all of us in Chiang Mai could expand the text with “highly adapted to dry conditions”.
The flowers are rich in nectar, which is why many animals kick them down in the night during pollination frenzies. Local Thais collect the flowers in the morning, and dry the stamens which are used to add flavour and colour to Lanna soups such as kaeng som. The dried stamens look like reddish brown fibers, and bags of them are sold at the Lanna markets all year round. The fruits contain silky fibers which can be used as a stuffing material in pillows.
A gardener who wants this intensive blossom in late January, could plant this tree in an area far from cars, houses and roads, as the limbs are brittle and the roots may push up even concrete. It is best admired from a distance, making a splendid landmark for your garden. The large flowers decorate the ground, which is why it should not be grown near a pond or pool. Since this is a local tree, it is well adapted to the local monsoon climate and no specific care is needed. A dry period is necessary for intensive blossom on naked branches; the gardener has to find a spot for the tree where he can allow dry grass. Some longhorn beetles tend to chew the limbs of young trees, even kill them, so attention is needed in the tree’s early years, up to the age of three. [email protected]

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

If you bid, even if you do not get the contract, sometimes it pushes the opposition too high and sometimes it helps formulate an accurate defence. Sometimes, on the other hand, it helps the opposition avoid an unmakeable contract. This is definitely not what you want! Here is a tricky deal to bid for NS. It was board 9 from the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai pairs game on January 24th. East-West were vulnerable and North dealt. Plan how you would bid the NS hands. 

                          S: J108

                          H: A97

                          D: A109

                          C: AK84        

S: AQ942                                 S: K7653

H: Q65                                      H: J82

D: 42                                         D: Q8

C: J63                                       C: Q52

                          S: -

                          H: K1043

                          D: KJ7653

                          C: 1097            

Standard American bidding would probably go as below:  

North  East        South     West

1N        P              3D           P

3N        P              P              ? 

Three diamonds by South shows a six card diamond suit and is invitational. North, with a very flat hand and help in diamonds, likely would bid 3N. Now what is West to do? With a void West will be uneasy about no trumps, but knowing that nine tricks are much easier to take than eleven tricks for a game in diamonds, he may well eventually pass. Half the tables ended up in 3N, going down as the opponents rattled off the first five tricks in spades. So how else can NS bid the hands? At the table where John Bucher and I were playing EW against Mike Williams and David Read, David (sitting South) bid a 2S response to 1N, as minor suit stayman, asking partner to bid a four card minor if he had one. This allowed my partner to double to show a spade suit. North bid his club suit. I raised my partner’s spades and South now bid 4D to end the auction, as below: 

North  East        South     West

1N        P              2S           Dbl

3C        3S           4D           All pass 

Unfortunately, our bidding had done a good job of warning NS to stay out of no trumps! Four diamonds made an overtrick for a good result for Mike and David (and a poor result for us). The only pair to actually find and bid the diamond game was Cheron Gelber and new arrival Steve Wilkinson—well done.
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]