One peek is better than two finesses" runs the cynical bridge adage—a mistaken appraisal that completely overlooks such factors as astigmatism and opponents who do not properly assort their cards.
Entirely aside from the question of ethics, most experts prefer opponents who hold their cards close to the chest. This is more than a matter of pride. The truth is that a good player would rather trust his insight than his eyesight. To clear up this seeming paradox and illustrate how much surer it is to see with the mind's eye, here's a hand with a history.
Opening lead: heart ace.
This deal was played in a tournament at a convention of bridge teachers. North and South were among the famous experts who had been invited to give the teachers the thrill of topflight competition. East and West were a pair of teachers whose bidding could be trusted to be exemplary, as indeed it was.
There is a fifth character in this little drama—the kibitzer, South's wife, seated at the South-East corner of the table.
After taking her ace of hearts, West led the 8. East won with the king and returned the jack, forcing South's queen, West and North discarding low spades. Obviously, if he lost the lead once more, declarer would be a dead duck; but he could make nine tricks and the game if he could bring home six tricks in clubs. So South led the club 9, agonized only briefly when West played low, and played the ace from dummy, causing East to lose her singleton king and her temper.
Turning upon the kibitzer, she accused: "You kicked him."
"I resent that," South retorted, full of ruffled dignity and injured pride, and his wife sat back to hear him defend her honor. She is still waiting.
"You must think I'm very naive," South continued heatedly.
"I hardly had to be kicked into knowing you had the king of clubs."