ASPTRO – A Defence to 1NT

When opponents open 1NT, part of their intention is to pre-empt you. They are making life difficult by taking up the entire first level of bidding and forcing you to come in at the 2 level.

If you have a good hand it is worth competing over 1NT, especially in a pairs contest where part scores are more important. However, unless you have a very good hand it can be risky to overcall at the 2 level.

If you have a 2 suited hand then you have a much better chance of finding a fit with partner, and so these kinds of hands are less risky to overcall at the 2 level. ASPTRO is a convention which allows you to show a 2 suited hand if opposition have opened 1NT.

How does it work?

Opposition have opened 1NT. What do you need to make an ASPTRO bid?

  • 10-15 points
  • at least 5-4 shape in both majors, a major and a minor or 5-5 shape in the minors

If you have a hand like this then the overcall you will make depends on which 2 suits you have.



With both majors anchor to the shorter suit first.

  2♥ = 6 CARD HEARTS

  2♠ = 6 CARD SPADES


Think about…


The opposition have opened 1NT showing 12-14 and you have 10-15. Unless partner has almost all, or almost none, of the missing points this is likely to be a part score contract for either partnership.

This means that if you are vulnerable then going even 1 or 2 off may be too costly. Be more cautious if you are vulnerable. Not vulnerable you can be a little bolder.


If dealer has opened 1NT and you are bidding 2nd in the hand be more cautious. You do not yet have any idea what the other opponents hand is like

In 3rd or 4th seat you can be braver, openers partner must have passed for you to bid ASPTRO so you know they dont have a very strong hand. You may even add a few points to your hand in this position.

Responding to 2♦ or 2♣

Partner has made an ASPTRO bid. How should you respond?

With 3 card support including an honour in partners shown major bid that major at the 2 level

If you have 4 card support you might jump raise if you have the points.

  10 -11 Points – 3 of partners major

  12+ POINTS  – 4 of partners major

If you do not have support for partners shown major then bid the next suit up. For example if opposition open 1NT and partner overcalls 2♣ they are showing hearts and another suit. If you do not have heart support you should respond 2♦.

If you have points for game, but no support for partner, consider bidding 2NT. In this position 2NT is artificial and forcing, and asks partner to show their 2nd suit.

Continuing the auction

Bidding has passed back round to the hand which made the origional ASPTRO bid. What next?

If partner has bid your major at the 2 level then you should usually pass.

If partner has bid your major at the 3 level then pass with 10-12 and bid game with 13-15

If partner bids 2NT then show your 2nd suit

If partner has shown no support for your shown major, but you have anchored to a 4 card major then show your 5 card major.

If partner has shown no support and you need to bid again with no second major suit then you will often be able to pass as partner will have bid your suit. If not consider rebidding your 5 card suit, just stay as low as possible.