Even More Defence: To Cover or Not to Cover

These lesson modules have been designed to build on the Online School Curriculum. They include some Quick Tips to help you focus on the topic.

When you are deciding whether to cover an honour with your honour, think whether it will help your side. Sometimes it does, but not always.

Play and review the lesson hands. If you have more time to spare, you can also complete the Defence lesson; Cover an Honour with an Honour.

Quick Tips

  • The reason for covering an honour led from dummy or from declarer’s hand, when you are second to play, is to promote a card to be a winner for you or your partner

  • If you see that this is impossible, DON’T cover! It will only help declarer!

  • Declarer wants you to cover, and often that’s why they play the honour

  • If you’re trying to promote a secondary card for partner, his length in that suit is important - sometimes you can see that he can’t hold more than one or two cards

  • You can usually work out how many cards partner will have in the suit, from your own holding, from what’s in dummy, and from working out how may are in declarer’s hand

  • When you see two honours in dummy, declarer calls for one of them, and you hold a higher honour, don’t cover the first honour, but wait until the second honour is played

This week’s hand:

We are focusing on defence this week (and month), so our panel has been asked to watch this hand and give suggestions as to what card they’d play. It’s hand 2 in the hands to play above, and watch the review afterwards.

David Appleton.jpg

David Appleton

Often if we see a trick, we should grab it. However, sometimes there are exceptions. We know the opponents are in (at least) a ten card fit since they opened a five card major.
Further, if their hands were ♠109xxx opposite the ♠AQJxx, the right play would be to cross to dummy and finesse.
The only hand that this play is consistent with is ♠109xxx opposite ♠QJxxx, so, yes, we do have a trump trick, but what holding does that give partner?
A singleton ♠Ace!!
Thus, to maintain our trump trick we must make the strange play of our ♠5, NOT the ♠Kx here.

GeO Tislevoll.jpeg

GeO Tislevoll

Play low, don't touch ♠K! You may be afraid that you won't score your ♠K if you don't grab the trick now, but that is not likely. Figure out what the declarer's closed spade holding looks like.
For you to not score the ♠K by playing low, the declarer must hold ♠AQJxx.
If he does, he would never play the ♠Q from his hand. He would either play the ♠A so he doesn't give away a trick to a possible stiff ♠K, or more likely go to dummy and take the spade finesse.
It is more likely he has ♠QJxxx, in which case your partner holds the singleton ♠A. If you play the ♠K now it will cost a trump trick as partner has to play the ♠A.

Matt Smith.png

Matt Smith

The opponents have a ten card spade fit, leaving partner with a singleton spade.

If declarer had the ♠A they would have tried the spade finesse.

Because they didn't do that, we know partner's singleton spade is the ♠A and we should play low.


Joan Butts

Whether to play your honour or not depends on working out the length of that suit. If you know declarer and dummy hold ten cards in the suit, and you hold two, then partner can have only one card.
The panel also suggests that we think about the way declarer is playing the suit as to what partner could hold in it.

Related Workbook

The Defence Workbook contains hands analysis and lesson tips and tricks.

Test your knowledge

The quiz below may not work properly on some mobile devices. If you are having trouble using it, please click here to open the quiz in its own window.