Theory and Conventions


M J Bridge




Many methods place the emphasis on showing various two-suited combinations.

There is a group of such conventions which have names bearing some similarity to ‘Astro, Aspro, or Asptro’, but not (as a medical acquaintance of mine insists - Gastro).

Bear in mind that there are numerous versions of these conventions, differing from each other only in detail, but these detailed differences can be important.  Even partnerships playing versions with the same name are likely to play them differently in some respect. Make sure that you agree your version.  If you are playing some such convention with an occasional partner you must agree the precise details - not just the name which you each happen to use.

Double will usually be played as strong.

The following version of Asptro with its emphasis on the major suits is probably as good as any:-

2 at least four hearts and another five-card suit;

2 at least four spades and another five-card suit;

2 at least five hearts;

2 at least five spades;

2NT at least 5-5 in the minors.

As stated previously the decision to overcall will be based primarily on suit quality and length.

In practice, on a two-suited holding this suggests a range of about eleven to fifteen points provided that most of these points are in the long suits.

If your hand has opening values, or thereabouts, you will be more prepared to stretch the suit quality to some extent, but allow me to emphasise again that hands which feature most of their points in short suits are primarily suited to defence rather than declarer play.

You should be a little more circumspect in your actions if you might have to go to the three-level to show your second suit, particularly if vulnerable.

Be prepared for the possibility that partner is likely to make a forward-going move with eleven or more points.

Remember that if you are 5-4 in the majors you will anchor to the four-card suit in the method given.  This may feel unfamiliar at first, but partner will be grateful that he can stop opposite a known five-card suit after his relay bid.

If you happen to have 5-5 shape including a major, then bid 2 or 2 as above, then rebid in the anchor suit to show the fifth card. Partner can always relay to find the other suit if he wishes.

T 6

A K 7 4

8 5

Q T 6 3 2

The same hand as above with the minor suits interchanged.

Suit quality is not anything special, and you would have to go to the three-level if partner bids anything other than hearts.

Pass, although you might just consider 2 at favourable vulnerability.

A K 9 7 4

Q 4

K Q T 6 3


Bid 2 promising at least four spades and another five-card suit.

If partner bids 2 you will rebid 2 showing your fifth card in the suit -

partner can always relay with 3 in search of your second suit.

Some would double with this hand and lead a diamond in defence.

A 4

K 5

K Q T 9 6 4

Q 8 2

Bid 3.

Replace a small card with J and you would double with good values and an excellent attacking lead.

Note that you cannot bid 2.  It is restricted to its conventional meaning.

T 6

A K 7 4

Q T 6 3 2

8 5

You have four hearts and another five-card suit.

The hand is weakish and suit quality is not special, but you can stop at the two-level, passing either 2 or 2 from partner.

Bid 2.

Intermediate and above

Advancer’s next bid

Common variations

In the above I have recommended at least four cards in the major anchor-suit, together with a second suit of at least five cards.

This remains my choice.

You should however be aware that many partnerships will have different agreements regarding the lengths in the two suits.

In particular, a requirement for the suits to be either 5-4 or 4-5 is common, particularly in club play.

For me the knowledge that the major is likely to be just four-card and that the second suit is at least five-card is invaluable in the subsequent decision making, but be prepared to come across, or even find yourself playing with a partner who prefers, one of these alternative variations.

My assessment

If you play most of your bridge against a weak no trump, and you have a taste for a conventional route, then my recommendation is that you should adopt either the present approach (this page) or Landy as a basic method.

Alternatively, you might choose to combine either one of them with D.O.N.T. when facing a strong no trump.

If your taste is for something a little more all-embracing then you might wish to take on board the complications of either

transfer overcalls or multi-Landy.