play against

play against

1. To compete against someone or something (in some sport, game, or competitive activity). I hate playing against my dad in chess—he always beats me! The last time we played against our cross-town rivals we lost by just one point, so we're looking for revenge this year. I wish my friends liked to play video games so I wouldn't have to always play against the computer.
2. To engage in some sport, game, or other competitive activity against another person or thing. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used He was such a star athlete that he was playing soccer against high schoolers when he was just 13. I always lose when I play chess against the computer. I would love to play video games against my boyfriend, but he has absolutely no interest in them.
3. To manipulate two or more people such that they dispute or conflict with one another in a way that is to one's benefit or advantage. He played the board members against each other so that he could steal the company's money without them noticing. Janet has been playing Mary against her boyfriend, Mike, so that they'll break up and Janet can date him herself. Don't you see? Tom's been playing the boss against me so that he'll have a better shot at the promotion.
See also: play
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

play someone against (someone else)

to cause someone to dispute with someone else. Don tried to play George against David, but they figured out what he was up to. Alice never managed to play Tom against Fred.
See also: play

play against someone or something

to compete against someone or something in a team sport. We won't be ready to play against the other team this weekend. We refuse to play against you until the field is in better condition.
See also: play
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in classic literature ?
It happened that they played tennis quite well and Philip was tired of pat-ball with Miss Wilkinson (she had only begun to play when she came to Blackstable), so when he arranged the sets after tea he suggested that Miss Wilkinson should play against the curate's wife, with the curate as her partner; and he would play later with the new-comers.
He then doubled his former stake, and challenged any one present to play against him.
Summary: St John's [Antigua], Aug 17 (ANI): Cricket West Indies (CWI) included Darren Bravo and John Campbell in the 14-man squad for West Indies 'A' to play against India in a three-day tour match.
The first match of the competition will be on Monday and Maldives will play against Nepal.
Villa's PS22million record signing has revealed he used to play against England's biggest teams on games consoles.
In U-15 quarterfinals, Mohammad Hamza Khan will play against Shameil Haeyzad of Malaysia, in U-19 category, Haris Qasim will play against Aaron Jon Widhaha of Singapore while Hamza Sharif will play against Darryl Gan of Malaysia.
In Quarters finals on Monday he would play against Salem Youssef from Egypt.
Oman Cricket head coach Duleep Mendis believes that the sultanate's participation in the eight-nation ACC Emerging Teams' Asia Cup 2018 will be an excellent opportunity for his boys to play against some of the top-ranked teams.
Within the matches of the same group, Ukranian Shakhtar Donetsk will play against German Hoffenheim in the Rhein-Neckar-Arena stadium.
On Friday, Kenya will play against Kazakhstan; Ethiopia will play against India; and Jordan will play against Sudan.
Tomorrow, Kenya will play against Kazakhstan; Ethiopia will play against India; and Jordan will play against Sudan.
Meanwhile, Manchester City will play against the winner of the replay game between Cardiff City and Mansfield Town, as their first game ended with a 0-0 draw, and Manchester United will play against Yeovil Town FC.
"For a player like me, who is young and playing my first matches as a professional, it is incredible to play against someone like Cesc Fabregas.