North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
A trove of classified military documents, including the joint South Korea-US wartime operational plans for conflict with Pyongyang, was stolen by North Korean hackers. Lee Cheol-hee, a member of the ruling Democratic party, on Tuesday said hackers had broken into a defence data centre in September last year. He said stolen documents included Operational Plan 5015, the most recent blueprint for war with North Korea. The plans reportedly includes detailed procedures for a decapitation strike against the North Korean regime, a proposal that has infuriated Kim Jong Un, the country’s supreme leader. The development comes amid growing anxiety in South Korea that US President Donald Trump intends to use military action to curb North Korea’s rapidly developing nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes.
Citing South Korean defence officials, Mr Lee said 235 gigabytes of data had been stolen, although 80 per cent of the documents had yet to be identified. Among the files identified were contingency plans for Seoul’s special forces as well as information on key military facilities and power plants, the lawmaker said. North Korea is known to have advanced cyber warfare capabilities and is believed to be behind attacks on governments, financial institutions and even film studios worldwide. Most recently, security group FireEye said hackers from Pyongyang were attempting to steal Bitcoin from South Korean exchanges as a means of avoiding increasingly punitive international sanctions.
North Korean soldiers march in Pyongyang with the Monument of Party Founding in the background.
Under their mutual defense treaty, the United States takes operational control of South Korean troops in the event of war on the divided Korean Peninsula. The two allies hone their war plans through annual joint military exercises. As Mr. Kim, the North Korean leader, has accelerated his nuclear missile program in recent years, South Korean defense officials have publicly discussed pre-emptive strikes at critical missile and nuclear sites in North Korea and an operation to eliminate the North’s top leaders.
After North Korea’s sixth — and by far most powerful — nuclear test last month, the South Korean defense minister, Song Young-moo, told lawmakers in Seoul that a special forces unit with a task of removing Mr. Kim would be established by the end of the year. Last month, United States strategic bombers and fighter jets also flew deep to the north along the east coast of North Korea in what some South Korean defense analysts said was an exercise to target the North Korean leadership in the event of conflict. North Korea bristles at any threat to Mr. Kim, and a war of words has escalated between North Korea and the Trump administration. North Korea claimed a right to shoot down American warplanes flying in international airspace if they came near the country. When President Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea last month, Mr. Kim vowed to “tame the mentally deranged U.S dotard with fire.”
North Korea runs an army of hackers trained to disrupt enemy computer networks and steal cash and sensitive data. In the past decade, it has been blamed for numerous cyber-heists and other hacking attacks in South Korea and elsewhere. In the attack in September last year, later code-named “Desert Wolf” by anti-hacking security officials, North Korean hackers infected 3,200 computers, including 700 connected to the South Korean military’s internal network, which is normally cut off from the internet. The attack even affected a computer used by the defense minister.
The population of North Korea is estimated at 25.4 millions, but Bill Gates is worth five times as much by himself than the country’s GDP. Public holidays in North Korea usually include a colourful and choreographed mass dance celebration. This one was for National Day, the day of the founding of North Korea. As a tourist you’re permitted to join and dance. The statement under the portraits translates to “Comrade Kim Il-Sung and Comrade Kim Jong-Il will be with us eternally”. On average North Koreans born since WWII are about two inches shorter than their South Korean counterparts. North Korea claims to have a 100% Literacy rate.
Hopefully there was no hacking at the Oxshott Bridge Club last night, but there was plenty of competition as 15 + ½ Tables sat down to contest our regular Club Night. The Star Performers were David Rotherham & Sue Osborne who scored an excellent 61.90% to claim First place among the Pairs playing North/South; they also scooped the maximum 50 Master Points!! Well done indeed!! However they were closely challenged by Mike Mulligan & John French who were only 0.21% back in Second position with 61.69%. There was then a bit of a gap before the “chasing pack” who were led by Judy Hickman & Kay O’Gorman who came Third with 56.49%; they were 3 Match Points ahead of June Buckland & Eileen Goddard who were Fourth with 56.01%, while Tony Fincham & Elisa Money were another four Match points back in Fifth place with a score of 55.36%. The battle was even closer among the Pairs playing East/West with three Pairs in contention right to the end!! Congratulations must go to Penny Webster-Smith & Sue Moss who came First with 57.89%, but they were only three Match Points ahead of Philip Goldenberg & Dave Bowen who came Second with 57.44%, and Philip Duncan & Richard Burgess were just four more Match Points back in Third spot with 56.85%. There was then a little gap before two Pairs tied for Fourth place; both Daphne Pugh & Gillian Lowe and Pam Harries & Valerie Howe scored 51.34%. Well done to all our Master Points Winners!!
It was North who received the “good cards” last night; they played the contract on no less than 11 of the 24 Boards!! East got five contracts to play while South and West were left with only four Boards where they got to play the contract!!?? A clear majority of the Boards offered the higher-scoring “game” contracts; the balance was 16-8. But there were four Boards that offered clear Slam Opportunities!! Board 6 presented a “dream” set of hands to East and West!! Dealer East had 15 High Card Points with 7 fantastic Spades to the AKQJ10xx, a void in Clubs and 4 Hearts to the KQxx. Given they had 8 “playing tricks”, they might well open a strong 2 Clubs!! West has a whopping 20 HCPs with 4441 distribution, so they would respond positively with 2 Hearts, indicating that a Slam is a possibility. East might then show their strong suit with 3 Spades. Now West would probably move to “Blackwood” which would reveal that they have all the top cards!! Well last night one East/West Pair amazingly settled for a “game” contract in 4 Spades; they made 13 tricks for 710 points!!?? Congratulations go to Andrew Travers & Alan Gardner who bid Slam in 6 Hearts; they made 13 tricks for 1460 points!! Congratulations also go to Pauline Knee & Linda Wheeler, to Susan & Mike Sadler, and to Sheila Price & Jonathan Spring; they all bid Slam in 6 Spades; they all made 13 tricks for 1460 points!! Congratulations must go also to the six Pairs who bid Slam in 6 No Trumps; they were Pam Harries & Valerie Howe, Valerie Jones & Dorothy Steinart, Gail Norman & Therezina Gold, Philip Duncan & Richard Burgess, Valerie Bornhoft & Ursula Oscroft, and Daphne Pugh & Gillian Lowe; they all made the full set of 13 tricks to share 1470 points!! But special congratulations must go to Margaret Lawson & Rosie Branch who bid a GRAND SLAM in 7 Spades; they made 13 tricks for an excellent 2210 points!! However extra-special congratulations must go to Penny Webster-Smith & Sue Moss, to Philip Goldenberg & Dave Bowen, and to Don Porter & Doris Butterwoorth; they all braved a GRAND SLAM bid in 7 No Trumps; and they all made all 13 tricks to share a whopping 2220 points!! Well done indeed!! Now the “Expert Analysis” – which you can find along with the Travellers in the “Results” section – informs us that it is possible for both East and West to make a GRAND SLAM in 7 Diamonds, in 7 Hearts, in 7 Spades, and in 7 No Trumps!! Looking back, there are not many hands that offer a more obvious GRAND SLAM Opportunity!!
Board 11 gave the Slam Opportunity to North/South. Dealer South had an excellent hand with 6 Hearts to the AQ10xxx and 17 HCPs; they would open 1 Heart. North has 10 HCPs in support with 4 Clubs to the AQxxx and 4 Hearts to the KJxx with a singleton Spade; they might well bid 2 Clubs in response. East has 12 HCPs with no less than 7 Spades to the AKQxxxx; they will certainly offer 2 Spades. Now South would repeat their Hearts with 3 Hearts, and it is up to North to decide if anything really big is in potential – should they ask for “Blackwood”, or should they settle for a “game” contract?? Well last night one North/South Pair bid “game” in 4 Hearts; they made 12 tricks for 480 points. One East/West Pair bravely bid “game” in 4 Spades; they made only 9 tricks bur sacrificed only 50 penalty points!!?? 12 N/S Pairs bid on with 5 Hearts; four made 11 tricks for 450 points, while eight made 12 tricks for 480 points!! However one intrepid N/S Pair bid Slam in 6 No Trumps; sadly they made only 6 tricks and so gave up 300 penalty points and a top score to their Opponents!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” tells us that it is possible – even against the best of Defences – to make a Slam contract in 6 Hearts on this Board!! Clearly there is one “losing trick” in Spades, but care also needs to be taken to finesse the King of Diamonds in East to win all three Diamond tricks in South’s hand. Certainly an interesting board to play!!??
Board 13 also gave the Slam Opportunity to North/South. Dealer North had an excellent hand with a singleton Diamond, 5 Hearts to the A10xxx and 4 Clubs to the AQxx with 16 HCPs; they would open 1 Heart. South has only 9 HCPs with 6 Diamonds to the QJ10xxx, 4 Hearts to the Kxxx, and a singleton Club; they might well respond 2 Diamonds. When North states their second suit with 3 Clubs, South will reveal their good support for Hearts by bidding “game” in 4 Hearts!! That leaves North with a dilemma; should they accept a simple “game” contract, or should they investigate a Slam bid?? Well last night one North/South Pair bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; they made exactly 9 tricks for 600 points!! Eleven more N/S Pairs bid “game” in 4 Hearts; six made 10 tricks for 620 points, while five made 11 tricks for 650 points!! Three more N/S Pairs took a look but they settled for 5 Hearts; one made 11 tricks for 650 points, but two made only 10 tricks and so gave up 100 penalty points!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” informs us that it is possible for both North and South – even against the best of Defences – to make a Slam contract in 6 Hearts!! Clearly there is a “losing trick” in Diamonds with North’s singleton, and there is a real worry about the Queen and Jack of Hearts sitting with the Opposition. However the Jack falls in the first Heart trick to the Ace of Hearts. Now North has to guess right between a 1-3 split compared to a 2-2 split. If they finesse the return second trick in South, then the Slam contract is made!! If they go for a 2-2 split, they cannot make the Slam!! Amazing how easy it can be with 20-20 hindsight!!??
Finally there is Board 20 which is reproduced at the top of this Report. Do take another look at these interesting hands to see how YOU would bid and play this Board to maximise the potential offered??!! You can see that North has 12 HCPs with 6 Clubs to the AJ10xxx, 4 Diamonds to the KJxx and a singleton Spade; they will open 1 Club. South has a whopping 18 HCPs with 5 Spades to the AKQxx and 4 Hearts to the AJxx; they would respond 1 Spade. Now North can mention their second 4-card suit with 2 Diamonds. This might well be enough to stimulate some real ambition in South for a potential Slam contract?? Well last night two North/South Pairs settled for 2 Hearts; they both made 9 tricks for 140 points!!?? Another N/S Pair bid 3 Spades; they too made 9 tricks for 140 points!!?? But 10 North/South Pairs bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; seven made 12 tricks for 690 points; two made 9 tricks for 600 points; but one made only 8 tricks and so gave up 100 penalty points and a top score to their Opponents!!?? However two intrepid North/South Pairs braved a Slam bid in 6 No Trumps!! Congratulations must go to Alan & Pat Hammond and to Tony Fincham & Elisa Money; they both bid Slam in 6 No Trumps; they both made exactly 12 tricks to share an excellent 1440 points!! Well done indeed!! Now the “Expert Analysis” confirms that it is possible for both North and South to make Slam in both 6 Clubs and 6 No Trumps on this Board. The secret seems to be that you have to ensure that you overtake the King of Clubs held by West by the Ace of Clubs which lies in North. There is certainly one losing trick in Clubs since the King and Queen are out; so a lead of a low Club from South give West a dilemma; will they play their King or their 3 of Clubs. If the latter then East will win with the Queen and the other Club tricks are “winners” for North. If West plays the King, North will overtake with the Ace and sacrifice the next Club trick to extract the Queen from East. Then all the other four Club tricks in North are “winners”!! How did YOU manage on revisiting these interesting hands?? Anyway many congratulations to all our Actual Slam Achievers of the evening!!