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Revisiting Support Doubles

Over the last 10 years, at least two dozen posts on this topic have been aired and discussed on BW.  To review most, simply search support double on the BW search button.  Most all have some degree of merit and usefulness, but the topic has caused a fair amount of confusion and perhaps delusion.

For serious partnerships, the SD dissertation by Eric Rodwell, the creator, is most useful. The topic is his lead-off piece in Bridge Topics, published in 2017. Originally, the piece was available circa 2010 via bridge topics.com, later named newinbridge.com.

Here is a link:

http://bridgeinindia.homestead.com/Eric_Rodwell_-Double_and_Support_Double.pdf

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Early on, ER asks the reader: “When do Support Doubles and Redoubles apply?”

His short, overarching answer for all that is offered is “when you and your partner say they do!”

His suggestion includes:

- SD’s apply through a 2S bid on opener’s right.

- SD’s apply only when responder has bid 1H or 1S.

- It doesn’t matter what opener’s LHO did.

- Support Redoubles have only one case: opener’s RHO doubles the response of 1M for take-out.

Note that the 1st point has been consistently stated by virtually all authorities as “through two of responder’s suit” or “through two of agreed major” rather than as “through a 2S bid on opener’s right.” Unfortunately, this happenstance is at the root of much confusion regarding the treatment. I don’t wish to resurrect that discussion again in this post, other than pointing out that the ACBL CC adds to the problem with the simple “thru ___.”  In practice, agreements vary. There are experts such as Ed Davis who play “through 3S” and Steve Robinson “through 3S with some partners” and I’m seen a R-M Precision card “through 4C.”

In fleshing out his essay, ER covers a number of engaging auctions, including a section titled “Some more advanced final points.” He observes there’s a lot of meat on the “bones” of the support double/redouble and that he might add some fine points to a second article on the subject.

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Here are three situations that come to mind which I believe warrant partnership discussion.

(1): 1m (1S) 2H 2S

       ?

This is not considered a SD situation; responder has bid at the 2-level and presumably shown 5+ hearts and at least invitational values. Technically, a double for 3-card heart support is NA—a double is typically penalty or card-showing. But might a better agreement (including a SD) be more productive In the long run? (I realize a “better agreement” — which might involve a number of options —including pass, double, 3H, 4H, 2NT, 3NT, etc. might be cumbersome/complicated.)

(2): 1m (1H) 1S (3H, preemptive)

      ?

Although the 3H call is higher than 2S on opener’s right, responder has shown at least 5 spades; isn’t it reasonable to have an agreement that a support double shows a minimal hand with 3 spades in view of the preemptive 3H? If not preemptive, ER inferentially  suggests that a double shows “I have a good hand with no convenient bid.”

(3-a): 1m (pass) 1H (2H?)

          ?

If (2H) is “standardish”: i.e., a good hand with good hearts, a double showing support would not apply. Should a double be agreed as takeout? If the (2H) call is some kind of take-out bid, a double by opener would be support (per ER).

(3-b): 1m (pass) 1S (2S?)

          ?

Similar situation as (3-a). If the partnership agreement is through a 2S bid on opener’s right, a double would show support. If 2S shows a good hand/good suit, a double would not be support.

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I hope members will comment on these examples and/or add some of their own to the discussion.

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