Michael T. Gottlieb

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Michael Theodore Gottlieb
Born(1900-11-28)November 28, 1900
DiedApril 8, 1980(1980-04-08) (aged 79)
Known forAmerican bridge player
Spouse(s)Grayce McMahon
Parent(s)Herman Gottlieb
Jennie Berger
CulbertsonBeasley match for the Schwab Cup, 1933 in London. At table from left: Gottlieb, George Morris, referee Mr. Mundy, Theodore Lightner, Percy Tabbush. Behind far left, journalist Hubert Phillips; second right, Beasley's regular partner Lady Doris Rhodes.

Michael Theodore Gottlieb (November 28, 1900 – April 8, 1980) was an American bridge player, an original member of the Four Aces team established by David Burnstine in 1935.[1]

Gottlieb is recognized by the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) as Life Master #9, one of ten named in 1936.[a] He retired from tournament bridge that year.


He was born on November 28, 1900 in Manhattan, New York City to Herman Gottlieb and Jennie Berger.[2]

Gottlieb won 13 United States Bridge Association championship tournaments from 1929 to 1935. He also played for the Culbertson team, as one partner of Ely Culbertson, during the 1931–32 Culbertson–Lenz match. He and Theodore Lightner were partners in the Culbertson–Beasley match for the Schwab Cup, 1933 in London (see photo).[3]

Gottlieb and Schenken toured Europe in 1935 as a pair playing bridge for money.[3]

Some, including ACBL, call the Four Aces the "first official world champions" based on their 1935 victory, back at home, "against a French foursome representing themselves as the European champion team".[3]

Note. The European Bridge League, established in 1947, recognizes the International Bridge League championships contested in Europe from 1932 to 1939, of which six Frenchmen including Pierre Albarran won the 1935 rendition.[citation needed] Exceptionally, Americans were invited to participate in 1937, two teams from the US did so. The dual tournaments for open and women teams, contested in Budapest and both won by Austria (both as defending champions), are usually called the first world championships.[4][5][clarification needed]

One 1935 press photograph, as presented by the seller of a print at eBay, calls Gottlieb "captain of the US Bridge team".[6]

"At the end of 1936, he retired from competition to devote his time to business interests in California and Arizona."[3]

In a humorous March 1937 magazine article, "Should We Abolish Bridge? Yessir!", Silas Bent portrayed Gottlieb as ousted by the Aces from a position of general leadership.[7]

These four had been as inseparable as the Musketeers in Dumas' immortal story [The Three Musketeers]. They had developed their own bidding system and had published a book together. But the Athos of their group ventured to develop "certain unsound bidding theories", so that Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan combined to depose him; and they did it with the severity of a Soviet casting a Bukharin into outer darkness.

Gottlieb returned to tournament play in 1975 and won the open pairs at a regional meet in California.[8]

Gottlieb was a Hillsborough, California, resident when he died of cancer at Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, California on April 8, 1980. He was survived by his wife, formerly Grayce McMahon, and two daughters.[1]


As a member of the Four Aces, Gottlieb was a co-author of their official works. Some library and bookseller records show them published by Four Aces Bridge Studio or by The Four Aces, Inc. There was one important book.

  • The Four Aces System of Contract Bridge, by Oswald Jacoby, Burnstine, Michael T. Gottlieb, and Howard Schenken, 302 pp. (New York: Four Aces, 1935) OCLC 8391514; (NY: Random House, 1935) OCLC 1809201

During 1935 they also produced at least a Teacher's outline, a Pocket outline, and a "Transcript of lectures" that are in library catalogs. See David Burnstine, Publications.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gottlieb and nine others were named Life Masters by the American Bridge League in 1936. The ACBL was established by mergers of competing organizations, completed late in 1937, and it continued the ABL Life Master title and master points program.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Michael Gottlieb, 79, a Bridge Star. An Early Culbertson Partner". New York Times. April 9, 1980. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  2. ^ He was born on November 28, 1900 under the name "Michael Gottleib" according to his birth certificate, but his United States passport application uses November 30, 1900 and "Michael Theodore Gottlieb". The application was approved on April 26, 1924.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Gottlieb, Michael" Archived 2016-03-07 at the Wayback Machine. Hall of Fame. ACBL (acbl.org). Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  4. ^ "Bridge: Paying Tribute to an Expert". Alan Truscott. The New York Times. January 5, 1964; p. X10.
      Morehead was US delegate to IBL, which organized the 1937 world championships.
  5. ^ "BRIDGE: A Viennese Victory". Alan Truscott. The New York Times. June 21, 1987. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  6. ^ "1935 Press Photo Michael T. Gottlieb, capt of US Bridge team". May 2014 presentation at eBay by a seller. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  7. ^ "Should We Abolish Bridge? Yessir!". Silas Bent. Illustrated by Ray Inman. The Rotarian. March 1937. pp. 10–12. One-half of the debate-of-the-month, pp. 10–15.
      Reprint (page 12) at Google Books. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  8. ^ "Bridge: Gottlieb Among Top Stars Of the Game During 1930's". Alan Truscott. The New York Times. April 10, 1980; p. C19.
  9. ^ "von Zedtwitz Award". Foundation for the Preservation and Advancement of Bridge (fpabridge.org). [2011]. Retrieved 2014-12-21.
  10. ^ "Bridge: With the death of Sam Fry Jr., the 10 original life masters are gone. But their reputations survive." Alan Truscott. The New York Times. July 14, 1991; p. 42.
      Untitled version of this column on the original Life Masters—ten named in 1936. Retrieved 2014-05-21.

External links[edit]