Doubles (Part 3)

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 10/01/2014
Level: Intermediate

The last two months we discussed Negative and Responsive Doubles. This month we wrap up doubles with:

1. Game-Try ("Maximal") Doubles
2. Support Doubles
3. Other doubles

1. Game-Try ("Maximal") Doubles

Suppose the auction begins:

Opener Responder
1 2 2 3
??

You, the Opener are holding:

A Q J 9 8 7
2
K J 2
7 6 5
Because your side has 9 trumps, the LAW of Total Tricks tells you to compete to the 3-level. You want to compete to 3. However, you don't want partner to think you are inviting game. For this kind of auction, the Game-Try double is a valuable tool:

When your side has raised 1-MAJOR to 2-MAJOR, and the opponents interfere with the suit below your major on the 3-level, opener's double is a game try. It is not for penalty. Meanwhile, opener's rebid of 3-MAJOR is competitive—to play.

So,

Opener Responder
1 2 2 3
X=Game try
3=To play

Note: This double is only when Opener's RHO bids the suit directly under the major. (So, the only other situation would be if your side started 1-2 and Opener's RHO bid 3).

It doesn't matter how Opener's RHO came to make that bid in the suit below, but when there is no room for any other kind of game try, opener has to be able to bid 3-of-his-major to compete for the partial, while also having available a double to try for game opposite a maximum raise. This agreement can also be used if you start with an overcall (1-of-a-Major) and partner raises you to 2 of your major.

2. Support Doubles

Since this is the most-forgotten convention on Earth, let me lead into it with a review of the two easier-to-remember doubles: the Takeout and Negative double.

A Takeout Double is made when RHO opens the bidding and you double.

A Negative Double is made when Partner opens the bidding, the opponents overcall, and you (the responder) double.

A Support Double is made when you open the bidding, partner responds, and you double the opponents. Note: It is the opening bidder that makes Support Doubles.

Here is the prototype Support Double auction:

OpenerOpponentResponderOpponent
1 Grape Anything 1 Orange Some bid
Double

Opener's double is a "support double." It shows 3-card support for Responder's suit. It says nothing about HCP. So, if opener has:

A 4 3
6 5
K Q J 6 5
K 3 2
He makes a support double in this auction:

Opener Responder
1 Pass 1 2
Double

The Double simply announces any opening bid with exactly 3-card spade support. If Opener has extra strength, he can divulge it later. If Opener eschews a Support Double and instead raises to 2, it promises 4-card support.

Notes on Support Doubles:

• They are always on by opener on the 2-level – some partnerships also play them on the 3-level.
• The auction must begin 1-of-a-suit and beget a 1-of-a-suit response.
• Discuss if they apply over a 1 response to 1 (I recommend YES).
• Discuss if Opener can make a Support Double with a dead minimum (I recommend YES).
• Discuss Support Redoubles. This means that Opener's RHO didn't overcall, but instead made a double. In that case, Opener can Redouble to show the 3-card support.

I have found that most intermediate-level players forget this convention more than any other. If you want to play Support Doubles, you need to do lots of study and practice.

3. Other doubles

There are many other doubles (Snapdragon, Card-Showing, Lead-Directing, and on and on). Perhaps at the end of this series I will fill in some of the more esoteric doubles such as these. For now, the most important thing I can say is that almost all doubles on the 1- and 2-level should NOT be for penalty. When in doubt, assume a low-level double is anything but a PENALTY double. As my good friend, the late Bernie Chazen loved to say, "The Penalty Double has Died and Gone to Heaven."

Next month we finally progress past doubles and begin working our way through the remaining sections on the "back" of the ACBL convention card.

You might also consider getting Larry's book on Doubles and Redoubles HERE or try Michael's Doubles Webinar which you can find HERE.

Larry's Audio Tour of the Convention Card