Mr. John Terence Reese devised this method and based it on the Astro convention. Mr. Terence Reese also gave a name to the overcaller. The overcaller is called the astronaut. For whatever reasons behind the choice for the designation, it seems that Mr. Terence Reese decided to name the conventional concept after a popular British brand of aspirin.

Note: The reader will please forgive this digression. These headache tablets, or aspirin, were sold under the following names: Aspro Clear Extra Tablets, Aspro Clear Tablets, Aspro Extra Strength Tablets 500 mg, Aspro Junior Tablets, Aspro Microfined Tablets, Aspro Paraclear Junior Tablets, Aspro Paraclear Tablets. Aspro analgesic tablets were to become a phenomenally successful pharmaceutical product after a young Australian chemist, Mr. George Nicholas, in 1917, began manufacturing aspirin to replace unobtainable Bayer supplies from Germany during the First World War.

His company went on to become Nicholas International with Aspro just one of its range of products. The product was a good one and really did relieve the symptoms of common ailments such as headache, colds and rheumatism, but much of the company's success can be attributed to canny advertising and promotional campaigns. By 1940 it had become the world's most widely used headache and pain treatment.

With the Aspro conventional method the opponents can defend against a No Trump opening. The Aspro defense method, in its simplicity, is separated into two categories.

The photograph of Mr. John Terence Reese below is from the year 1972.

     

Showing Strength in both Major Suits

These are bid differently and specify a 5-card Spade suit and a 4- or 5-card Heart suit. The overcaller, called the astronaut, bids 2 Clubs, and his partner follows with a relay bid of 2 Diamonds, and then the overcaller follows with a 2 Spades bid. The designation of relay, as employed by Mr. John Terence Reese, is used to describe the responses in the neutral suit.

Showing a 5-card Spade suit and at least a 4-card Heart suit:
North  

East (Astronaut)

  South   West   Meaning
1 NT               A bid showing a specific range of points and a balanced distribution.
    2           Aspro defense method.
   
AJ987
KQ54
54
75
           
        Pass   2   Relay bid.
Pass   2           This rebid promises both Major suits. The distribution is a minimum of 5 Spades and at least a 4-card Heart suit.
Note: All continuations are per partnership agreement.

If the overcaller has a 4-card Spade suit and a 5-card Heart suit, Mr. John Terence Reese's conventional defense method varies. After the 2 Clubs bid, and the relay bid of 2 Diamonds, then the astronaut will bid 2 Hearts. With this variation, the partner of the overcaller has the chance to correct to Spades.

Showing a 5-card Heart suit and a 4-card Heart suit:
North   East (Astronaut)   South   West   Meaning
1 NT               A bid showing a specific range of points and a balanced distribution.
    2           Aspro defense method.
   
AJ987
KQ54
54
75
           
        Pass   2   Relay Bid
Pass   2           This rebid promises both Major suits. The distribution is a minimum of 5 Hearts and a 4-card Spade suit.
Note: All continuations are per partnership agreement.

Stronger Values

If the overcaller has a stronger holding, whether in high card points or distribution, the bidding also changes. The astronaut, instead of overcalling 2, will overcall 2 and then rebid 2 No Trump after the relay bid to show a stronger holding.

The astronaut indicates stronger values either with points or distribution.
North   East (Astronaut)   South   West   Meaning
1 NT               A bid showing a specific range of points and a balanced distribution.
    2           Aspro defense method. The astronaut indicates stronger values.
   
AKJ98
AKQ85
5
75
           
        Pass   2   Relay Bid
Pass   2 NT           Promises stronger values and/or additional strength by distribution.
Note: All continuations are per partnership agreement.

Showing Pronounced Two Suiters

Employing this method, the Astronaut is showing a 6-5 or even a 6-6 distribution and specifically identified suits. For a distribution such as this, specific bids are used:

2 NT: Indicates Black Suits - Spades and Clubs
3 : Indicates both Minor suits - Diamonds and Clubs
3 : Indicates both Red Suits - Hearts and Diamonds
3 : Indicates both Major Suits - Spades and Hearts

The student of the game of bridge will have already discovered that several combinations are missing, like Spades and Diamonds or Hearts and Clubs. Mr. John Terence Reese has compensated for these combinations also. The overcaller (astronaut) bids two of the Minor suit, and his partner makes the expected relay bid, then the overcaller jumps in the Major suit. This is Mr. John Terence Reese's solution to a strong Minor-Major distribution.

Astronaut   Advancer   Meaning
2   2   Relay Bid.
3       A jump in Hearts promises both rounded suits or Club and Hearts.
         
2   2   Relay Bid.
3       A jump in Spades promises both pointed suits or Diamonds and Spades.
         

Note: A redouble by either the Astronaut or the Responder becomes an SOS Redouble, according to Mr. Terence Reese.

Variations

Variations on the concept proposed by Mr. John Terence Reese have been employed by many individual bridge partnerships and have had some success at the bridge table, but few have survived beyond local bridge communities. A variation follows, which is based upon the original concept and which reflects the game's evolution incorporating changes.

After some changes in the laws of sponsoring organizations demanded that one suit must be known via the overcall, for example, the original concept was altered to meet these changes.

The origin of the following variation is unknown and it is also unknown whether the author intended employing the use of the relay bid of the neutral suit to allow the astronaut to clarify the holding or whether the overcall actually designates one known suit and an unspecified suit. Owing to this fact, the responses of the partner are unknown and can be decided by partnership agreement.

The following schematic outlines these bids of this variation:

Double: A double is for penalty. Partner must pass. Generally promises 15 plus points.
2 : Shows Hearts and an unspecified second suit.
2 : Shows Spades and an unspecified Minor suits.
2 : Shows a semi-solid 5-card or broken 6-card plus Heart suit.
2 : Shows a semi-solid 5-card or broken 6-card plus Spade suit.
2 NT: Shows both Minor suits, either 5-4 or 4-5 or 5-5 plus. Factor is vulnerability.
3 : Promises a long Club suit of at least 6/7 cards in length. Preemptive and obstructive in nature.
3 : Promises a long Diamond suit of at least 6/7 cards in length. Preemptive and obstructive in nature.

The student should notice that the use of the double has been incorporated in this variation as well as preemptive bids on the three level.

Note: This variation of the Aspro convention defense method is somewhat dependent on the bidding system employed by the partnership and can be altered or varied to meet the requirements of the particular bidding system.
   
Note: Some partnerships have agreed that the distribution of the holding, when overcalling could / may be reduced to 4-4 in both Major suits regardless of the state of vulnerability, otherwise the distribution is generally 5-4, 4-5, or 5-5 depending on the state of vulnerability. This is entirely a partnership agreement in all employed variations of the concept.
   
Note: The student of the game of bridge should also be aware of the Astro conventional method and the Asptro conventional method, note the differences and similarities, compare the effectiveness and inclusiveness of the overcalls, and then choose wisely.

 

 

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.

 


     
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