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The Rise and Fall of the Precision Team

Peter Weichsel looks back at the wild, improbable success of the Big-Club giant killers


Fifty years ago, the bridge world witnessed the appearance of a young team of players who – despite not being considered first-tier talent – bested the top squads of the era. Additionally, the upstarts employed new methods – the Precision Club system – in their surprising but convincing run of victories, which spanned the brief window from 1970 to 1972.
The Precision Team, as it came to be called, included Steven Altman, Thomas M. Smith, Joel Stuart and Peter Weichsel. David Strasberg was a fifth member of the squad in 1970, but he was replaced by Eugene Neiger in 1971. In 1972, Alan Sontag joined the team as a sixth member.
Despite their short tenure at the top, the team influenced the course of expert bridge by popularizing big-club methods, thereby making the system one of the most common in the world.
The rise of the relatively unknown Precision Team roughly coincided with that of the well-known super-team, the Aces. The squad of Bobby Wolff, Bob Hamman, Mike Lawrence, Bobby Goldman, Billy Eisenberg and Jim Jacoby was put together by Dallas-based businessman Ira Corn, who recruited the top talent in the U.S. for the purpose of Team, the squad that had monopolized the world championship for a decade.
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