Judy Kay-Wolff


With JACK DENIES/TEN IMPLIES having been laid to rest, it is time we move on to another convention which Bobby looks upon with disdain.   He is not a proponent of using methods which others adopt and cling to because they offer “comfort zones.”    Near the top of his Hate Parade is a popular convention known as SUPPORT DOUBLES (SD).  It falls into the classification above — which he feels helps the opponents more than those employing it.   A classic example of a support double is where the opener’s partner responds in a major and when RHO comes into the auction, the following comes into play:

A raise guarantees a four card fit; a double guarantees a three card fit; A cue bid would show a game force (with four);  a jump cue bid would be four card support and a splinter in opponent’s suit; and a pass or some other bid would show two or less.

Let’s delve into Bobby’s thinking process and see why he is so vehement about its flaws:

It allows the opponents to judge how far to compete; what to lead; and how to defend or declare (based on almost always finding out how many of a particular suit is held by the bidders —  based on the SD technique).   It is a simple matter of arithmetic.   Add your trumps to their known total — and deduce your partner’s holding).   Here is a classic example:

Dealer is West; Both sides Vulnerable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     West      North       East         South
1C              P           1H              1S
X*              2S          3C                ?

(*)  Support Double — promising exactly 3 trumps

You are South, holding     AQJXX   10XX    AJX     QX

You had better pull out the green card and Pass — and let us examine WHY!  Partner has exactly 3 hearts and probably at least two clubs, making North-South’s playing potential closer to 7 tricks than 9.   Normally, without the support double, South would venture a 3S call (courting a minus 200 number — even in the absence of a double by the opponents).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The North hand could hold:   109XX    JXX    KQXX    JX.   By the way, the opponents (on this layout) might be able to score up 140 in hearts (or at the least –110)  and only 110 in clubs, shying away from the seven card heart fit in favor of the probable nine card club mesh.  Playing match points,  it makes a considerable difference.   (Besides, you know the hearts are breaking).

Another argument against SDs is illustrated with the following layout.

X                                        J109XX
AQJ10X                              9XXX
AXXX                                  KXX
XXX                                     X

Dealer is North;  NS Vulnerable

North      East      South      West
   1C           P           1S           2H
    X          4H           P             P

If compelled to double 2H to show a three card spade raise, how does the North hand know what is right in an accelerated auction when it comes back to him at the four level?  Had North been allowed (anti-systemically) to bid 3C, then over 4H, he could have bid 4S (showing 6 clubs and 3 spades) — South could now pass with five spades or take a save at 5C (as in this case) with a double fit and little defense (for down one against a makeable game).

Bobby feels the “comfort zone” induced by knowing the exact number of pieces partner holds is not it is all trumped up to be and just as informative to the opponents who can assimilate the knowledge to even better advantage!

We’ll ring in the New Year with the next installment ….


PegDecember 31st, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Oh; I knew there was more than one reason I’m such a fan of your husband, Judy! I, too, am NOT a support double fan.

In addition to Bobby’s reasons above, I prefer to use “double” in such situations for takeout and extra values. When the auction begins: 1D – P – 1S – 2H to you – what are you supposed to do with: Kx, Ax, AKxxx, KJxx? I prefer “double” to 2NT – and let partner decide where to take it from there.

I can tell you, however, that I have been mocked by some for not being “modern” and spurning these conventions that are “virtually integral” to ever winning. Hmmmm. If Bobby Wolff doesn’t like some of ’em, then spurning them cannot be all bad!

Happy New Year 🙂

PaulJanuary 1st, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Presumably Rodwell’s support doubles were supposed to be used in the context of a strong club system, where they make more sense as Peg’s hand is not an issue.

I play support doubles in some partnerships but am largely ambivalent about them. I’m surprised that they would be considered such an emotive issue.

Now, if we were talking ‘stolen bid doubles’ … 🙂