In bridge, players are not allowed to vary the tempo of their bids and plays in an effort to mislead the opponents. Players should try making their bids and plays in an even tempo whenever possible. Of course, there are times when you have to stop and think about what your next action will be. To purposely pause when you have no problem, however, is wrong. This behavior, sometimes referred to as coffeehousing, is highly discouraged in all bridge arenas.

It is also considered unethical in many situations to make a very fast bid or play, indicating that you have no problem at all. For instance, your partner opens 1NT, the next player overcalls 3 (weak), and you take less than a second to pass. Obviously your partner now knows that your hand is very weak, and he may be able to use that information to your side's advantage. This is why intentional pauses are used in tournament bridge. After a jump bid is made by a player's RHO (Right-Hand Opponent), that player is supposed to wait 10 seconds before making a call. We are not saying you must adopt this practice in social bridge, but you should be aware of the times when you should play without pausing, and when you should pause before playing.

There is one suit layout that a new player should be very careful with, and that is when he holds a queen in front of an AJ or KJ tenace in dummy. For example:

Dummy
KJ543
Novice
Q82

Declarer leads the six toward dummy. Raw novices will take some time to think about playing the queen in this situation. A more experienced novice, on the other hand, might play the two as fast as he can, to pretend he doesn't have any problem. The raw novice is allowed to stop and think about the play if he is genuinely unsure of what to do; the more experienced novice who 'shotguns' the two is being unethical because he is purposely varying his tempo in an attempt to deceive declarer. To repeat, tempo should never be used to try to mislead one's opponents.

Another suit layout that beginners should watch for:

Dummy
KJ543
Novice
982

In this diagram we have swapped the nine and the queen. Again declarer leads the six. An unethical player will purposely pause before playing the two, in an attempt to pretend he has the queen. Be careful if you are a beginner and this situation arises. If it does, you are expected to follow suit smoothly. Even a slight break in tempo in a tournament may cause declarer to start screaming for the bridge cops. Whether or not declarer will be overreacting is not the issue. The point is to avoid any chance of a misinterpretation of your intentions.