This conventional defense method uses the bid of a Minor suit overcall after a strong 1 No Trump opening or a weak 1 No Trump opening to show a particular distributional holding and can be employed either in the immediate seat or in the balancing seat.

See: The bridge column of Mr. Alan Truscott of The New York Times, dated December 27, 1984, which has been only preserved and archived on this site in .pdf file format for future reference.

Mr. Paul Allinger and Mr. Roger D. Stern also authored the article Astro Revisited, which was published in The Bridge World in January 1962, Volume 33, Nr. 4.

Mr. Lawrence (Larry) Rosler, Mr. Roger D. Stern, and Mr. Paul Allinger also authored the article Astro Extended, which was published in The Bridge World in January 1962, Volume 33, Nr. 5.

Origin of Designation

The designation comes from the names of the bridge players, who devised the convention: Mr. Paul Allinger - Mr. Roger D. STern - Mr. Lawrence (Larry) ROsler. Mr. Paul Allinger was born in 1929 and died in the year 1988. He was of Alameda, California, United States.Mr. Roger D. Stern was born in the year 1934 and is of Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Mr. Lawrence Rosler was born in 1934 and is of Palo Alto,
California, United States.

Note: Mr. Lawrence (Larry) Rosler and Mr. Jeff Rubens were instrumental in the codification of the standard bidding methods, which resulted in the Bridge World Standard, and led to the more accurate descriptions and structure of the Standard American bidding systems and also other bidding systems. As an expert in the Laws of Duplicate Bridge he was instrumental in presenting such information to a wider audience with his authored articles appearing in The Bridge World and other bridge-related publications. Such articles resulted also in the construction of an appeals system for all sponsoring organizations, which was viewed as impartial, fair, and balanced in its interpretations of the Laws.

Note: Mr. Paul Allinger is the person on the far left as portrayed in the photograph below from their Spingold victory in the year 1958. Any additional photographic contributions of Mr. Paul Allinger, Mr. Roger D. Stern, and also Mr. Lawrence (Larry) Rosler would be greatly appreciated.

     

The Astro Defense Method

The schematic for the entire original convention is shown below.

2 : Shows a 5-card Heart suit and an unspecified 4-card Minor suit.
2 : Shows a 5-card Spade suit and an unspecified 4-card second suit, called the Anchor Suit.

The Astro bidder (Intervenor) promises nine cards in two suits. The high card points should be mainly in the two suits and should be stronger if vulnerable. The high card points are a matter of partnership agreement, although it is imperative that the held (working) values be mainly in the two suits indicated. The recommended values lies within the range of a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 14 points. The general guideline is that the Astro bidder hold at least two of the top five honors.

The Astro bid can be made as a direct overcall or in the pass out seat.

Advancer and Responses

The partner, (the advancer), of the Astro bidder has several options, which are explained below.

1. The partner can bid two of the specified Major, showing at least three card support and no game ambition.

Example 1

East   South   West   North
1 NT   2   Pass   2

Example 2

East South West North
1 NT 2 Pass 2
2. The partner can bid three of the specified Major, which becomes an invitation.

Example 1

East South West North
1 NT 2 Pass 3

Example 2

East South West North
1 NT 2 Pass 3
3. The partner can bid four of the specified Major, which is a natural bid.

Example 1

East South West North
1 NT 2 Pass 4

Example 2

East South West North
1 NT 2 Pass 4
4. The partner can pass indicating a weak hand and a long suit in the Minor suit bid. This can be done with a 5-card suit if that is the partnership understanding, but a 6-card suit is preferred.

Example 1

East South West North  
1 NT 2 Pass Pass Holding: J9843

Example 2

East South West North  
1 NT 2 Pass Pass Holding: J9843
5. The partner can bid two of a neutral suit, specifically the next higher ranking suit above the Astro bid, which is a negative action, denying the ability to make any other response. The partner shows less than three card support in the specified Major and no length in any Minor suit.
   
6. The partner can bid 2 No Trump, which is artificial and forcing, and which shows some support for the specified Major, suggesting game prospects but does not guarantee a further bid.
   
7. The partner can bid a new suit as a takeout or jump. The jump can also include the neutral suit. Both cases show a six card or longer suit.

Example 1

East South West North
1 NT 2 Pass 2

Example 2

East South West North
1 NT 2 Pass 2

After a neutral bid, the Astro bidder has several options.

1. He could pass with five cards in the neutral suit. Remember, the Astro bidder shows nine cards when he bids 2 Clubs in Hearts and an unspecified Minor, which could be the neutral suit.
2. He could show five cards in the specified Major by bidding it.
3. He could bid his second suit, the unspecified Minor, at the level of three, strongly suggesting a six-card suit and more strength in high card points and distribution.

Responses Summarized

Pass: Promises a weak holding, a minimum of a 5-card support in the suit of the overcall.
2 / 2: An artificial first response; a Relay asking the Intervenor to bid/name second suit and denies sufficient support for the anchor suit. If the anchor suit is Hearts, then the relay is 2. If the anchor suit is Spades, then the relay is 2.
2 / 2: Accepting the anchor suit, but showing weak values and at least a 3-card suit. The intervenor may pass.
2: After 2 Hearts is the anchor suit and a new suit promises at least a 6-card suit in Spades and denies support in Hearts.
2NT: This first response is forcing and game-invitational with a maximum of 11 points with values in all suits. Shows a doubleton in the anchor suit and requests intervenor to name second suit, which the advancer may pass.
3: After a 2 by intervenor showing Spades as the anchor suit, this first response shows a 6-card suit in Clubs and denies support in the anchor suit.
3 / 3: This is a raise of the artificial overcall of the intervenor and promises at least a 6-card suit and is considered game-invitational.
3 / 3: Promises at least a 4-card support for the anchor suit, and values based on points and distribution. Invitational in nature, which intervenor may pass with minimum or bid game with maximum.
4 / 4: Promises at least a 4-card support for the anchor suit and game values based on points and distribution. Generally considered to be a sign-off against an opening by the opponent of a strong No Trump.
   

Note: Variations of the Astro convention are somewhat dependent on the bidding system employed 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: There have been several variations to the Astro conventional defense method such as Modified Astro, Pinpoint Astro, and Astro Cuebid. The bridge player should also be acquainted with these versions.

Note: Another modification, origin unknown and with no official designation, has been employed by bridge partnerships using the Roth-Stone bidding system and these players have adapted the original concept to meet the requirements of this particular bidding system. The overcalls are outlined below in the schematic:

Double: Promises Hearts and Spades.
2 : Promises Clubs and Spades.
2 : Promises Diamonds and Spades
3 : Promises Clubs and Hearts.
3 : Promises Diamonds and Hearts.

The student of this concept will note that the Major suit overcalls are one level higher. This may be indicating either a preemptive strike against the No Trump bidder or actual values held plus working values held in the indicated suits. The student will also note that the lack of the 2 No Trump and both Major suit overcalls on the two level are not employed and have become idle bids.

Note: Another variation, origin unknown and with no official designation, employs all the otherwise idle bids to more accurately designate the suit or suits and employs also the double as penalty. The origin of this variation is unknown.

Double: Any double is for penalty. Partner must pass.
2 : Shows Hearts and an unspecifed Minor suit.
2 : Shows Spades and an unspecified second suit.
2 : Shows at least a semi-solid 5-card Heart suit, else a 6-card plus Heart suit.
2 : Shows at least a semi-solid 5-card Spade suit, else a 6-card plus Heart suit.
2 NT: Shows Clubs and Diamonds.
3 : Shows at least a 6-card Club suit.
3 : Shows at least a 6-card Diamond suit.

The employment of the 2 No Trump bid to show both Minor suits distinguishes this variation from the other variations.

Note: Another variation, devised by Mr. Matthew Granovetter, is outlined below:

Double: Promises Spades and an unspecified second suit.
2 : Promises Clubs and Hearts.
2 : Promises Diamonds and Hearts.

 

 

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.

 


     
Email Conventions Bridge Sites
     
Home Page I Glossary Home Page II
     
   
  Defense Methods