Woolsey is a defensive agreement to compete over your opponent's 1NT opening bid. The convention is named after its creator Kit Woolsey, a bridge professional and author. The Woolsey offers several ways to show a 2-suited overcall. The benefits of Woolsey include:
- Helping the partnership choose the overcaller's better major when the advancer (the overcaller's partner) does not have a preference
- Distinguishing overcalls with a minor and a 4-card major from overcalls with a minor and a 5+ card major, helping the partnership choose the right strain
The Woolsey convention works as follows over a 1NT opening bid:
- 2♣ is artificial, showing both majors. at least 4-4. If the advancer doesn't have a preference between the majors, advancer can bid an artificial 2♦ to ask opener to bid their better major.
- 2♦ is artificial, showing an undisclosed 6+ card major.
- 2♥ shows 5+ hearts and 4+ cards in an undisclosed minor.
- 2♠ shows 5+ spades and 4+ cards in an undisclosed minor
- 2NT is an artificial bid showing both minors
- Double is artificial, showing an undisclosed 4-card major and an undisclosed 5+ card minor
Let's look at advancer's options after a Woolsey double or overcall.
After 1NT - X1 - Pass, 1artificial, showing an undisclosed 4-card major and an undisclosed 5+ card minor
- 2♣ says they want to play in their partner's long minor. The doubler passes with long clubs. The doubler bids 2♦ with long diamonds. Over 2♦, advancer can bid 2♥ to ask to play in the doubler's major
- 2♦ asks the doubler to bid their 4-card major, after overcaller's 2M bid, advancer bids:
- 2NT to ask for overcaller's minor
- 3♣ to play, was interested in other major
- 3♦ to play, was interested in other major
- 3M is invitational
- 2♥ shows a long heart suit and is an offer to play
- 2♠ shows a long spade suit and is an offer to play
After 1NT - 2♣2 - Pass, 2artificial, showing both majors. at least 4-4
- 2♦ asks the overcaller to bid their better major
- 2♥ shows a preference for hearts
- 2♠ shows a preference for spades
After 1NT - 2♦3 - Pass, 3artificial, showing an unspecified 6+ card major
We recommend using a "paradox" style when advancing the 2♦ overcall. If the overcaller's partner is interested in a heart game, but not a spade game, they cannot afford to make a pass or correct 2♥ bid. Instead, they bid 2♠ which asks their partner to pass if their suit is spades. If their suit is hearts, they bid 3♥ if unwilling to accept a game try in hearts. If the overcaller has hearts and is willing to accept a game try, they make a descriptive call other than 3♥.
- 2♥ says they are willing to stop in 2♥ if overcaller's suit is heart. Otherwise, overcaller corrects to 2♠
- 2♠ says they want to stop in 2♠ if opener's suit is spades. It shows a fit and possibly game interest if overcaller's suit is hearts
After 1NT - 2♥4 - Pass, 4artificial, showing 5+ hearts and 4+ cards in an unspecified minor
- Pass to play 2♥
- 2♠ is a natural offer to play showing a long spade suit
- 3♣ asks to play in overcaller's minor. Overcaller pass with clubs and bids 3♦ with diamonds
Generally, a 2NT bid by advancer is an artificial game try asking their partner to describe their hand. If the opponents bid or double, a double or redouble typically asks partner to describe their hand.