They look like a typical American family on their way to a picnic -- Warren Kaufman; his wife Marliese; their curly-headed older son, Chris, 17, and their button-nosed youngest, Andrew, 13.

But over the past year, the Kaufmans, who live in Bowie, have set out as a family to become one of Washington's most-feared bridge teams. Despite the youth and inexperience of the Kaufman sons and the strong potential for family feuds, they have succeeded.

With Andrew playing his mother and Chris with his father, the Kaufmans have each won almost 100 master points in team events in the last year -- most of them in highly competitive Washington.

When Chris Kaufman attained life master rank last summer, he was the youngest Washington player ever to do so. Meanwhile, Andrew just missed becoming the Washington Bridge League's rookie of the year. His parents and brother plan to make it up to him in 1981 by helping him reach life master rank, too -- before he is old enough to shave.

Are the Kaufman parents putting too much pressure on their children by encouraging them to play the cutthroat game of tournament bridge?

"The kids would disagree with that," said Warren Kaufman, 51, a research program manager at the National Institute of Education.

Kaufman thinks his sons' interest in bridge "arose naturally from the fact that we both played. You know, people would ask them where their parents were, and they'd say: 'At a bridge tournament.' There was kind of a magical aura about the game in our house."

Kaufman's sons say they enjoy their expedition into the bridge wars. But along with success has come sibling rivalry.

It showed up during a tournament in January when Andrew, the weakest player among the four Kaufmans, made an error that cost the family a match. A bystander pointed out to his disconsolate older brother that Andrew was inexperienced, but that he had learned a lesson from the mistake.

Replied Chris: "Why didn't he learn it yesterday?"