WOLFF SIGN-OFF BIDS

The original conventional method is designated as Wolff Signoff. (See below). This convention method was devised and developed by Mr. Robert S. Wolff of Dallas, Texas, United States. He has attained the title of a World Champion seven times and presently the only bridge player, who has won five different World Championships in five different categories, and who was a member of the original Dallas Aces.

Note: This method should not be confused with the Checkback Stayman convention.

The conventional method deals with a particular bidding sequence, which happens quite frequently, and is shown in the following auction:

South

West

North

East

1

Pass

1

Pass

2 NT

The opener rebids 2 No Trump showing no support for Hearts, the suit of partner, no 4-card Spade suit, but generally accepted values of 18 or 19 high card points.

Once South has limited his holding, then the partner becomes the captain. If North recognizes that there is no chance for a game contract, the Wolff Signoff bids allow him to do so. The Wolff Signoff bids were designed to accomplish exactly this, as in the following example:

South

 

North

AQ7
KQ10
K52
AJ86

 

J86
A9865
876
72
Meaning
1 1
2 NT
Promises 18-19 high card points, and shows three or fewer cards in the Spade suit.
3
The responder, now the captain, requests South to bid 3 with only 2 cards support in the suit of the responder (Hearts). If South has 3 cards support, then South should support the suit bid by responder (Hearts).

If South responds 3, showing only 2 cards support, then the responder has several options:

South

 

North

Meaning
1 1
2 NT
Promises 18-19 high card points, and shows three or fewer cards in the Spade suit.
3
The responder, now the captain, requests South to bid 3 with only 2 cards support in the suit of the responder (Hearts). If South has 3 cards support, then South should support the suit bid by responder (Hearts).
3
Shows only 2 cards support for the suit of partner (Hearts).
3
The responder has the option of rebidding his suit below the level of game. This is a Wolff Signoff. Partner must pass.
3 (x)
The responder also has the option of rebidding any suit on the three level below the originally bid suit to show a 5-4 distribution. If the first bid by the responder was Diamonds, then the responder would have to rebid 4 to show 5-4. The partnership must recognize that this bid would not be showing support for an opening bid of 1.
3 NT
Shows a genuine Club suit and a mild slam interest.
4 NT
This bid must be viewed and understood as quantitative. It is not Ace-asking.
4 /
This rebid on the game level of the original response suit shows game values, a definite slam interest, and shows a minimum of 6 cards in the original response suit and a fit for Clubs.
A second example is presented illustrating this conventional method with the conventional continuances and the explanations to clarify an entire auction:

South

 

North

K10
AJ10
KQJ52
K108

 

Q8763
Q9762
7
72
Meaning
1
1
The responder will bid the higher-ranking 5-card suit first.
2 NT
Promises 18-19 high card points, and shows three or fewer cards in the Spade suit.
3
The responder, now the captain, requests South to bid 3 with only 2 cards support in the suit of the responder (Spades). If South has 3 cards support, then South should support the suit bid by responder (Spades).
3
The opener is forced to rebid 3, so that the responder can further clarify his holding, and is also communicating that he holds only 2 cards support in the Spade suit.
3
The responder does not have game values, otherwise the responder would have bid game on the four level. The opener is required to pass. This is a Wolff Signoff.
For any bridge student it might be of interest to list and present the number of possible bidding sequences, by which the Wolff Signoff bids might be employed. There is a total of eight bidding sequences.
Opener Responder Meaning
1 1 / 1 / 1
2 NT Shows 18-19 points.
1 1 / 1
2 NT Shows 18-19 points.
1 1
2 NT Shows 18-19 points.
1 1 NT
2 NT Shows 18-19 points.
1 1 NT
2 NT Shows 18-19 points.
Note: Several variations on this concept exist within the bridge community. If any reader would like to contribute any such variations, Bridge Guys would greatly appreciate all contributions. One excellent description, including several possible alternative bidding styles, is located at BridgeHands.com.
Note: Another excellent source of information is the Internet article written by Mr. Lex De Groot for the IMP-Bridge Magazine. This file has only been archived and preserved on this site in .pdf file format for future reference.
An extension or variation of the Wolff Signoff Bids allows the partnership to employ a form of Checkback Stayman once the opener has jumped to 2 No Trump. This variation is illustrated in the example below and employs the bid of 3. The partnership decides whether to include this variation since it is not part of the original version.

South

 

North

K10
AJ10
KQJ52
K108

 

AQ873
Q9762
7
72
Meaning
1
1
The responder will bid the higher-ranking 5-card suit first.
2 NT
Promises 18-19 high card points, and shows three or fewer cards in the Spade suit.
3
The responder, now the captain, requests South to show a 4-card Heart suit if possible. This is Checkback Stayman and employed in case the first response in Spades by-passed a 4-card Heart suit.
3 NT
The opener denies a 4-card Heart suit.
4
The responder shows with a game bid in Hearts at least a 5-card Spade suit and a 5-card Heart suit. The opener must decide the final contract.

When the responder has game values opposite the 18-19/20 points of partner, then the responder will first attempt to find a Major suit fit by employing Checkback Stayman with a bid of 3. In the case that the first response is 1, then the opener is able to show or deny a 4-card Spade support.

If the first bid suit of the responder is Spades, then the opener is able to show or deny a 4-card Heart suit via Checkback Stayman with a bid of 3. The opener will deny holding a 4-card Heart suit by bidding 3 No Trump.

In the case that the opener does show 4 cards in the other Major suit, and the responder then rebids 3 No Trump, then the opener has the information that the responder is seeking a 3-card suit for his Major suit. The opener then has the opportunity to bid game with a 3-card support for partner or bid game in No Trump with only 2-card support.

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.

Claus and Raymond

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