play against

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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 periodicals archive ?
"The US only sees India as a market, mainly for weapons, and wants to play us against China without actually taking India's interest seriously.
We are at a crossroadswe can choose to allow ourselves to be tools of the new divisive political order, or we can fortify our community against Islamophobia and prepare to resist efforts to play us against Muslims.
"Let's show those who want to play us against each other that we will not participate in this evil game," he said.
He stepped to me when I was at the jewelery store like, "Yo, let's go outside and talk." We went outside to talk, but he talked about, basically, "These girls tryna play us against each other." I said, "I don't know what you're talking about.
Robbie Fowler and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink have asked Cardiff City manager Dave Jones: "Play us against Orient." Jones will grant their wish and select the two goalscorers - 450 between them and both in the all-time Premiership top 10 - to lead the Bluebirds attack in the Carling Cup tomorrow at Ninian Park.
``Clive's plan from the start was to play us against France at home.
It is a perfect example of how ignorance and cliquishness splinter the gun-owning community, allowing the enemies of our liberty to play us against each other to the inevitable, eventual detriment of all.