THE WONDERS OF HESITATION.......... ( Article by Carp )
Hesitation is the deadliest weapon a bridge player can use from his armoury when seeking to befuddle or rattle the enemy. Some hesitations are of course flagrantly unethical ploys which are clear-cut attempts to convey unauthorised information which helps to give partner a vital but accurate feature about one's hand . Other nasty and naughty hesitations are designed to convey misinformation in a way which are similar to psyches : persuading opponents to believe that one may be possessing an honour, or a long suit, when the opposite is true. But the best of all are those purely designed to wind up the opponents in a bold, calculated attempt to impair their focus and concentration.
When defending an unbeatable contract you must go into the tank for a considerable length of time when it is your lead, even when there is nothing to think about. No declarer will be lured into thinking you are holding key values, which you are reluctant to lead away from, since they are all in his possession. The purpose, therefore, of dwelling on some sort of non-existent problem in the play is simply to get the declarer to take his eyes off the ball. Firstly, this might be achieved if the interminable delay lulls declarer to sleep, or at least into a state of cerebral lethargy, as he awaits your next move. Secondly, but far more likely, these pointless hesitations will get declarer get so worked up, infuriated, and rattled, the loss of his composure and focus become the inevitable consequence.
Yet, what is so wonderful about these non-specific hesitations is that the only crime that can be alleged against you is one of " slow play ", which of course is very difficult to prosecute. Moreover, they can be used to great effect when up against expert declarers, if the aggregate delays incurred result in the last board has being scrubbed for just an average minus. Hells bells isn't that so much better than getting a complete bottom, which was previously destined to come your way ?
So whether you are declarer or defender, these meaningless and non-significant hesitations can work in your favour, without running the risk of being declared a cheat. Excuses like " I needed time to decide which ( useless ) card to play ", or " I was still thinking about the previous hand " simply classifies your behaviour as annoying , not wrongful. And on a final note, you must always remember that when playing at clubs commonly known as approved centres for cheating, you will need have a few dodgy tricks up your own sleeve, if only go into battle with on an equal footing.