If you look at the list of U.S. Life Masters you will find it liberally sprinkled with players titled "Dr." However, the chances are that if you should feel ill at a tournament, the doctor you would find could not help you—he is likely to be a dentist. This is no reflection on the physician as a bridge player. It merely means that dentists rarely get house calls and so, when office hours are over, they are free to play in duplicate tournaments without having to worry about being summoned away while the game is on.
High on the list of dentist Life Masters is William Lipton of New York, one of the game's better-known curmudgeons. He never calls a spade a lily—as the suit was once named in the days before auction bridge—nor is he reticent in his criticism of constituted bridge authority, frequently drilling into the nerve of some bigwig player when it is deserved. He has been a vigilant monitor of tournament ethics, as critical of the ingenious sharp practices of an expert as of the more ingenuous moves of young hotshots and Little Old Ladies. Even when he was running for election to a term on the National Board of Directors of the American Contract Bridge League—and he won—he never conducted himself as if he were involved in a popularity contest. He is a forthright fellow, and a forthright player, too. Here is a hand on which most of the slam bidders were defeated, but the doctor made his contract by employing what has been appropriately described as the "Dentist's Coup."
North very properly refused to open one no trump on a hand too strong for that call. When the doctor jumped in hearts on the second round, North's hand became even stronger and he made a slam suggestion with a cue bid of four clubs. The final six-heart contract would normally have been cinched by the simple expedient of a club ruff in dummy, but the hostile distribution of the trump suit complicated things.
Lipton won the diamond opening, played a trump to the king—which West allowed to hold—and surveyed the pitfall that the bad trump break had opened up. A second trump lead at this point would be fatal because West would win and play a third round, killing dummy's club-ruff potential.
Here was where most declarers cashed the ace and king of clubs and took a club ruff at once. But then, when they led dummy's last trump, West won and put dummy back on lead with another diamond. South was then confronted with the problem of whether to get back to the closed hand by ruffing a third diamond or a third spade. As the cards lay, it did not really matter which suit South chose, because West could overruff or be shut out momentarily by a high trump only at the expense of declarer's losing a trick to the 9 of hearts later.
The doctor found a better way. Before ruffing a club, he extracted West's exit cards by cashing the top diamond and spades. After that, when declarer ruffed a club and came off dummy with a trump lead, West could not return anything that would prove embarrassing. South would be able to win the trick in his own hand and draw West's remaining trumps without fear of an overruff. The moral: to avoid an achy problem later, consider the advisability of using the Dentist's Coup, extracting all the threatening cards before a problem can arise.