Michael T. Gottlieb (Life Master #9), whose six-year bridge career established him as one of the world’s top players in the Thirties, was the 1999 recipient of the von Zedtwitz Award, recognizing contributions to the game of bridge through bridge-playing expertise.
Gottlieb (1902-1980) quickly established his reputation as a champion, winning 13 United States Bridge Association titles in the years 1929 to 1935: the USBA Grand National Open Teams in 1933 and 1934; Grand National Pairs, 1933; Asbury Challenge Teams, 1934; Master Pairs, 1931; Eastern Open Teams 1931, 1933 and 1934; Spingold, 1934; Vanderbilt, 1929, 1934 and 1935, and the Eastern Knockout Teams, 1934.
Gottlieb was one of Ely Culbertson’s partners in the celebrated Culbertson-Lenz match, played December 1931 to January 1932. He also played on Culbertson’s team against England and France in 1933.
He was a key member of the Four Aces team. His teammates were Howard Schenken, Oswald Jacoby, David Burnstine and Richard Frey. They dominated the tournament scene in the mid-Thirties.
In 1935 Gottlieb and Schenken toured Europe, taking on all comers, including a number of British players who were willing to back their bridge skill with pounds sterling. The results left a deep impression on British pocketbooks and in bridge circles.
Upon their return to America, Gottlieb and Schenken joined their teammates in a match against a French foursome representing themselves as the European champion team. Thus, the Americans won the first official world bridge team title.
The following year, when the bridge league designated its first 10 Life Masters, Gottlieb was #9 on the list.
At the end of 1936, he retired from competition to devote his time to business interests in California and Arizona .
During the last five years of his life, Gottlieb returned to the tournament scene on a part-time basis and was a frequent winner.