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Wolff Signoff - After opener makes a strong 2 Notrump rebid, the Wolff Signoff is a responder method normally used by responder to warn the strong opener of sub-game values; in the normal situation, the opener is instructed to pass (opener promises 2-3 cards in responders major suit when rebidding 2 Notrump).  The theory behind the Wolff Signoff rests on openers 2N rebids restricting openers values to 18-19 HCP, thus responder assumes captaincy to place the contract. Of course, all artificial bids are alertable.  Here are the basic features of the Wolff Signoff.  Consider the auction beginning:

1m - 1M;
2N - ?

1. Responders Pass, 3N or 4H/S in responders original major suit are signoff bids
    1m - 1M;
    2N - 3N/4M

2. All other responder rebids force re-rebids by opener
   A. Responders 3C bid is always an artificial relay forcing opener to re-rebid 3D;
        re-rebids by responder all force opener to pass or correct, excepting responders 3N follow-up bid
        which is generally a slam try in openers minor suit
        1m - 1M;
        2N - 3C;
        3D
        i. After opener puppets to 3D, responder may pass or re-rebid 3S or 3H
           a. If responder re-rebid original suit, opener must pass
           b. If responder initially bid 1S and re-rebid 3H, opener passes or corrects to 3S with best support
   B. Any other rebid by responder is game forcing (excepting 4M as described above)
       1m - 1M;
       2N - 3D/3H/3S...

       i. Responders 3 level bid in original major promises 5+, showing extra values with some slam interest
       ii. Responders 4 level bid in original major promises 6 or good shapely 5 in major without extras (fast denies)
       iii. Responders 3D rebid is "checkback" seeking:
          a. 4 card fit in the unbid major *
          b. 3 card fit in responders major suit
       iv. Responders 3H rebid after 1S promises 5-5 or more in the majors

Detailed description: Recall the basic Wolff treatment where responders 3C begins begins a signoff.
 
 

1 Minor

1 Major

 

2N

3C

 

3D

 

Responders makes an artificial 3C bid, requiring opener to bid 3D (the original Wolff treatment instructed opener to rebid openers major with 3 card support).  Responder may now place the final auction in the best suit and opener is instructed to pass or correct to original major with better support.
 
 

1 Minor

1 Major

 

2N

3C

 

3D

3 Same Major

 

Pass or Correct

 

When responder has a shapely 5-5 in the majors with a weak hand and no interest in game, after the initial 1S response begin with the 3C Wolff relay rebid.  After opener rebids 3D, responder rebids 3H asking opener to "pass or correct" to 3S with 3 card support in either suit.  Note the responder is captain, thus the opener may not bid 3N or 4H/S.
 
 

1 Minor

1S

 

2N

3C

 

3D

3H

Wolff employs one gadget for responder to explore slam in openers minor suit.  If after responder begins with the normal 3C signoff sequence appearing to stop below game but then makes an unanticipated rebid of 3N, some players use this treatment to show slam interest in the openers minor.
 
 

1 Minor

1 Major

 

2N

3C

 

3D

3N

Using the "slow-shows, fast denies" approach, responder bids 4 Major to signoff, or 3 Major to show slam interest.
 
 

1 Minor

1 Major

 

2N

3 Same Major / 4 Major

Conversely, when responder does not use the Wolff Signoff but instead begins with 1S and rebids 3H, responder promises 5-5 or longer in the majors with game-going values:
 
 

1 Minor

1S

 

2N

3H

Responder directly rebids an artificial 3D (without going through 3C Wolff signoff) as a general "checkback" (similar to New Minor Forcing).  This is an inquiry to discover a major suit fit with opener.  Consider the various major suit shape holdings when responder has game-going values:

1. 5 card in initially bid major suit
2. 4 Spades and 4 Hearts
3. 5 Hearts and 4 Spades (or 5 Spades and 4 Hearts)
 
 

1 Minor

1 Major

 

2N

3D

Openers prioritized 3 level rebids are:
 
Bid

Meaning

3 level in Responders Major

4 card support in responders suit

3 level in New Major

4 card support in unbid major *

3 level in Responders Major

3 card support in responders suit

3 Notrump

Lacking 3 card major suit support

Of course, many players develop extra gadgets to fill up other bids not disclosed above.  Discuss these scenarios with your partnership.

If responder next makes an unanticipated rebid of 3N, some players use this treatment to show slam interest where responder has 4 in the major and 5+ in the unbid minor.

 

1 Minor

1 Major

 

2N

3D

 

3 Major

3N

Since responders 4M rebid would be a signoff, when responder begins with a 3C Wollf signoff but then rebids 4M after opener puppets to 3D, most would agree this is shows serious slam interest (likely a broken 6 card suit, otherwise responder could simply rebid 3 of the major suit).

 

1 Minor

1 Major

 

2N

3C

 

3D

4 Major

Unlike normal reverses showing a very strong hand, after openers 2N rebids responder 3S rebid shows 4-4 in the majors *
 
 

1 Minor

1H

 

2N

3C

 

3D

3S

So responders reverse without going through responder 3C rebid; partnership agreements are required.
 
 

1 Minor

1H

 

2N

3S

* Note: One variation of the Wolff Signoff (i.e., those who prefer "Hardy treatment") uses a specialized checkback method, for opener methods that rebid strength as opposed to shape (ie., opener rebids 2N instead of 1S or 2S when holding 18 or 19 HCP)

 

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