Sometimes the easiest-looking contracts turn into an unexpected struggle because of a bad break in a key suit. When this occurs, declarer should take time to reorganize his thoughts and try to find a way to overcome his misfortune.

Take this deal where South had good reason to expect that making six diamonds would be a piece of cake. With a little luck, in fact, he had a chance to score all 13 tricks.

However, the prognosis changed sharply when South, after winning the opening spade lead with the ace, cashed the ace of diamonds, and East showed out. There was now a real danger of losing both a club trick and a trump trick and going down one.

Declarer could have staked the outcome on a finesse in either clubs or hearts, but instead he adopted a line of play designed to elevate his chances far beyond that.

At trick three, he cashed the king of diamonds, then led a heart to the ace and ruffed a heart. A spade to the king was followed by another heart ruff. Had the king of hearts fallen anywhere along the line, the contract would have been assured.

When the king did not appear, South continued by ruffing his last spade in dummy as West discarded the jack of hearts. Declarer next ruffed the queen of hearts, giving West the option of overruffing or discarding a club. Not anxious to take the lead, West chose to discard a club.

Unfortunately for West, his hand was now an open book. Having already shown out of hearts and spades, his last four cards were known to consist of three clubs and the queen of trumps. So South led his last trump, putting West on lead, and his forced club return handed declarer the contract.

Tomorrow: The fine art of falsecarding.