Bridge isn’t fair.
One time, playing in the qualifying round of a national event, my partner and I bid to a flawed 4 contract. It got doubled, and I went down one. Checking the scores later, almost every pair in the room was in 4 down one, and I was the only one doubled. We’ve all been there.
My complaint: the person who doubled me was my mother.
At the table, your partner is your only family, and you must work to keep the opponents unhappy--only by playing well, of course. You should never try to intimidate or make players feel unwelcome by having a bad attitude.
The surest way to leave your opponents upset is by the art of deception. Too many players think “deception” means hesitating with a singleton (which is illegal) or psyching (which is a very dangerous and frequently a bad idea). When I talk about deceptive play, I mean convincing your opponent by your play to do a wrong thing.
Here’s a simple example:
Let’s say you hold up one round and then win the A. What next? You can’t afford to lose two hearts, a diamond, and a club.
You have to hope to set up a diamond trick for a heart discard before your opponents cash their tricks.
If you lead the K, everyone and their grandmother will play the ace. If you lead the 10, however it may appear that you are simply trying to set up a diamond ruff. Two good things could happen. First (and probably your best chance) is that West might duck the ace. That would allow you to play the K and throw away hearts later. You also might trick East, if she holds the ace, into switching to a trump.
Playing low and winning the trick, seeing the look of shock on West’s face, is one of the better feelings in bridge.
A simple rule for situations where you have touching cards: if you want the opponent to cover your card, play your highest one. If you want them to play low, play your lowest of the sequence. If you’re not sure, then maybe try Canasta.
There are many other deceptive plays declarer can make: falsecarding, concealing twos, unblocking unnecessarily.
Imagine you are a defender. You hold K42. Dummy has A95. Declarer leads the Q. What is your correct play? Typically you should choose to duck. Why? If declarer holds QJ8, you risk giving declarer a chance to take 3 tricks instead of two by capturing your king with the ace and then finessing for the 10.
Since a good opponent would know this, you might even try this:
If you are playing normally, you would lead low towards the queen. This gains a trick if your RHO has the K as you can score both the Q and the A. Let’s say that you can’t afford a loser in this suit, however. You might take the “non-finesse” leading out the Q. If your LHO has the aforementioned K42, he might play low which is the technically correct play. After all, who would lead the Q from Qx?