Support Doubles and Support Redoubles
The Support Double was devised by Mr. Eric Rodwell, and is a method that enables the opening bidder to clarify or show precisely the degree of support of the suit of the partner or responder. This generally occurs in a competitive auction, in which an opponent interferes at a low level.
The Support Double is generally applied whenever the partner names a new suit and there has been interference by an opponent. In other words, the Support Double normally applies after an opening on the one level has been followed by a suggestion of the partner of a new suit and an overcall or raise by the fourth player. The Support Double may also be applied when there is an immediate overcall, followed by a new suit by the partner of the opening bidder, and even after a low-level raise by the partner of the immediate overcaller.
The difference between a one-level raise or jump raise in the new suit, named by the responder and a Support Double by the opening bidder is the amount of cards for the suit support. The following examples should illustrate this important point in the line of communication.
In order to indicate a minimum raise which shows only a 3-card support, the opening bidder, South, applies the Support Double. By bidding 2 hearts, North shows a 5-card Heart suit.
This is the difference between a one level raise and the principle of the Support Double. The necessity of this method is apparent in that the opening bidder has no other acceptable rebid with such a card constellation. The opening bidder could have possibly bid 1 No Trump without the interference, but with the interference, the opening bidder would promise a Spade stopper if the opening bidder were to rebid 1 No Trump. If the opening bidder were to rebid 2 Diamonds, then the opening bidder would normally be promising a 6-card Diamond suit. Thirdly, raising the suit of the responder one level with only a 3-card support is not generally acceptable. Thus the Support Double.
If the interference is not the introduction of a new suit, but instead a double, then the opening bidder applies the Support Redouble.
The Support Double and the Support Redouble are applied in low-level auctions and many partnership agreements carry the condition that they should not be applied above the two level. Some partnership agreements include the restriction that they may be used only up to and including 2 Hearts. The reason for this limitation by partnership agreement is the fact that a penalty double may become ambiguous and its application place in question. The option of the penalty double may be lost if the partnership agreement includes Support Doubles and Support Redoubles on the three level.
The application of the Support Double in auctions, whereby the partnership is not the opening bidder, is considered acceptable. However, the importance of the value of the overcall becomes the fundamental element in determining the effectiveness of the application of the Support Double. The partnership must take into consideration whether the overcall is an immediate overcall or whether the overcall occurs in Fourth Seat and can be deemed a balancing or competitive call. If this application is included, then there must be a solid partnership agreement.
Whatever the partnership agreement is, it is also important to remember that all subsequent bidding becomes natural according to the individual partnership agreement and the bidding system used.
Additional Support Double Auctions
There are not that many auctions, where a Support Double may be applied, since the opening bidder generally has an acceptable, informative rebid. Other auctions, which include the use of the Support Double and Support Redouble are shown below. Examples are not presented due to the realization that the serious and experienced bridge player will recognize the situation presented by the auction.
In all of the following auctions, the double is a Support Double.
This particular auction, whereby both Minor suits have been bid by the partnership, may also become ambiguous since it is not clear whether the double of the opening bidder signifies a Support Double or a Negative Double showing a 4-card Heart suit. Again, a solid partnership agreement is necessary, especially for this particular bidding sequence.
A Case In Particular
In the case of an overcall in fourth seat of 1 No Trump, the opening bidder may still, by partnership agreement, apply the principle of the Support Double, as in the above example. This particular auction may become problematic owing to the possible ambiguity of the double, especially if the double is not recognized as a Support Double and, as a consequence, is not alerted. A solid partnership agreement is necessary. A review of one such actual played hands in competition is presented below, which stresses the importance of this feature.
(1) The double was not alerted. The Director was summoned.
Event: Life Master Pairs, 12 August, Second Semi-final Session
The Facts: 2 made two, plus 110 for N/S. The Director was called after dummy was displayed. South believed she had made a Support Double. North did not believe that anyone played Support Doubles after 1 No Trump overcalls. North was unsure as to the meaning of the double. The Director allowed the table result to stand since neither East nor West had any clear action.
The Appeal: E/W appealed the Director’s ruling. North and West were the only players to attend the hearing. West believed that had he known South was making a Support Double, he might have bid 2 No Trump. He believed that North should not have removed the double. North said that South was a relatively inexperienced player, a student of his, though a Life Master. He had explained at the table that his partner might have meant the double as Support Double, though he was not sure. He believed that removing the double was the right action with his hand.
The Committee’s Decision: The Committee believed that North went out of his way to explain the possibilities for his partner’s double, that it was possibly meant as a Support Double, and that she was relatively inexperienced. At this point E/W could have asked North to leave the table and had South explain the intent of the double. The Committee believed that the decision North had made to bid 2 could just as well have worked out badly for his side. The result was “rub of the green” for E/W.
The Committee allowed the table result to stand and believed the appeal just barely met the standard of having merit because N/S were not totally clear on their agreement.