William (Billy) Eisenberg
In the 30 years since he moved from New York to Dallas to join the Aces, Billy Eisenberg has accomplished much in competitive bridge, including five world championships. He has also thought a lot about how the game fits into his life.
"One of the great things about bridge," the Boca Raton FL resident says, "is that at various times in your life you can reinvent your feelings about the game. It was a passion for me, then it was a job. Lately I’ve experienced a rebirth of passion for bridge."
The 70-year-old has good reason for a renewal of enthusiasm — his election to the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame, acknowledging his varied accomplishments and contributions to the game.
When he arrived in Dallas in 1968 to joined the fabled Aces — the world’s first full-time professional bridge team — Eisenberg was somewhat of a maverick, a New Yorker suddenly thrust into a world of cowboys and guns.
His bridge expertise was all that counted, however, and he fit into the program well, becoming known for his partnership skills.
By the time he left the Aces in 1971 to head for California, Eisenberg had two Bermuda Bowl titles to his credit (1970 and 1971) and he would win three more (1976, 1977 and 1979).
Significantly, his five world championships were earned with four different partners.
In all, he has represented the U.S. in 10 world championships. He has won numerous European tournaments, including the prestigious London Sunday Times Invitational (now the Macallan International Bridge Pairs Championship).
His North American championships include the Spingold KO Teams (1969 and 1973), the Vanderbilt KO Teams (1971 and 1978), the Reisinger Board-a-Match Teams (1970, 1974 and 1976), the Grand National Teams (1974 and 1976), the Life Master Pairs and Men’s B-A-M Teams (both 1968) and the Senior KO Teams (1995).
Eisenberg is not only a former world champion. He has also been a coach, teacher and vugraph commentator.
He is one of the official vugraph commentators for the World Bridge Federation. He was coach to the first ACBL Junior team to attend Junior Camp in Poland in 1987 and he has coached and been teacher to many national teams around the world, including Israel, Panama, Venezuela and the Netherlands.
In addition to his prowess at bridge, Eisenberg is an expert backgammon player. He won a world title in backgammon in 1974 and has been a professional player in the game. He is a WBF Grand Master and an ACBL Diamond Life Master.
For years, one of Eisenberg’s regular partners was Benito Garozzo, formerly of the famed Italian Blue Team, bitter rival of the Aces. Eisenberg still plays occasionally with Garozzo, now a U.S. citizen living in Boca Raton.
Eisenberg considers his days with the Aces as pivotal in his bridge career. "All of us got to be recognized as good players," he says, "and the Aces had an enormous impact on bridge as far as coaching and practicing."
Eisenberg acknowledges that the game has been good to him. "Bridge has been enriching to me," he says, "and I’ve tried to give something back."