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Interview to Benito Garozzo by Fernando Lema

Fernando Lema
Fernando Lema

Buenos Aires, December 1, 2014

Among the bridge players that have made BIG this sport, you could say that today the number one is Benito Garozzo, a pioneer in the evolution and growth of bridge and that even today, after more than 60 years of being a bridge star, he continues playing in many of the most important events around the world, and it is also easy to find him playing on BBO, where those who have just started to play may have the opportunity to see and learn about the wonders he makes with the cards.

The, is proud to have been able to have the opportunity to interview this Grand Italian Master, and hear more about his life and his passion for bridge. Benito…we will be forever grateful that you shared your memories with us.

a) You were born in Alexandria, Egypt (source Wikipedia) something which very few know. What are your memories of your early life there?

Wikipedia made a mistake  my family use to live in Cairo Egypt and every summer my father use to send my mother, my 4 sisters and my brother to Naples Italy, the 5 September of 1927, I was born in our home in Naples,  and from my brother 16 years older than me, when I was 6 years old, I learn to play tresette (an italian card play with some similarity in the dummy play and defense to the No trump in Bridge).

My brother taught me also to play chess, a game in which before to make a move you must have plan at least your next 4 moves. This is a priority also in bridge, not to play the first card without planning how to win your contract or going the less down. Those 2 games helped me to become a good bridge player.

Benito Garozzo Bent Larsen
Benito Garozzo Bent Larsen

b) When, why and how did you start playing bridge and who were your first partners?

I start to play in 1943 in Naples were I was during WW 2 at my sister’s home. With my brother in law and some friends and relatives we were playing italian games like «Tresette» or «Scopone», two partnership games. One day one of the group propose to learn and play bridge and he brought a book from Culbertson and we learn to play following his rules.

In 1946 I went back to The Cairo and met better bridge payers and I improved my game reading more recent books and playing the dummy on Auto Bridge.

Massimo D'Alelio
Massimo D’Alelio

In 1950 I went to Naples to visit my family and for the first time I played with 4 friends in the italian team bridge championship, my partner was Mario Montuori and in the team was Massimo D’Alelio.

In the qualification for the semifinal we beat the team including Pietro Forquet, Eugenio Chiaradia, Gugliemo Siniscalco. Mario Montuori a very good Bridge Player was my first partner until I was invited to join the Blue Team in 1961 to replace  Guglielmo Siniscalco, partnering  Pietro Forquet.

c) You were invited to join the Blue Team for the first time in 1961. 10 days before the event! What can you tell us about this?

Pietro Forquet
Pietro Forquet

In 1961 10 days before the championship started, I was invited to play with Pietro Forquet, considered one of the best players of the world, for me was a big honor, but there was a problem, I had to learn the Neapolitan Club System, for me that was a big problem because I never have played an artificial system before.

Forquet and Chiaradia every day made me bid hands, we were using a short deck of cards taking out 2,3,4,5 and dealing the cards to me and Pietro, when I was in trouble, Chiaradia was helping  me.

The results were good, I was ready to go, and we became World Champions. I consider Pietro Forquet and Eugenio  Chiaradia as my teachers, not only for the bridge system but for how to play in high level team games.

d) Can you tell us who were your partners and a brief definition of each member?

Garozzo, Forquet, Rose & Gardiner
Garozzo, Forquet, Rose & Gardiner

My partner in the Blue Team were: 1) Pietro Forquet  2) Giorgio Belladonna 3) Arturo Franco  4) Lorenzo Lauria  5) Dano De Falco.

I also played some hands with Eugenio Chiaradia and  Vito Pittala. All my partners were very good  and they are listed in the Bridge Encyclopedia

e) Surely both you and the Blue Team players had strong characters, how did you manage your temperaments?

With Forquet and Belladonna I do not remember having  problems. With the other 3 we had some discussions, they were over 20+ years younger than me.

Blue Team 1961
Blue Team 1961

f) What do you think were the reasons for the Italy supremacy for so many years?

We were playing a better bidding system and we were steady partners and all good players, there were not many good teams and almost all of them doing trials by pairs, and  sometimes not qualifying the best partnerships.

g) Italy had the famous Carlos Alberto Perroux as NPC. What can you tell us about this bridge legend?

He was the President and the captain and he always did the best for winning. He did not allowed the trials.

Carl'Alberto Perroux
Carl’Alberto Perroux

h) You were part of the «Circus Lancia Team» Do you have any memories of this period that you want to share with us?

I remember Lancia gave us a different car each year and we could buy it at a very good price, I bought a Lancia coupe and I loved it.

i) What are the virtues that should have the ideal partner? Do you consider yourself a good partner or not? Why? Who was your favorite partner? Why?

Not argue at the table, you must think that he is better than you, trust in the bidding and in defense. Belladonna and Forquet had every quality I mention. I am a good partner but sometimes I argue at the table.

Giorgio Belladona
Giorgio Belladona

j) Is there a hand that makes you stay awake when you remember it?

All the hands I misplayed, some of them when I was younger.

k) What were your bridge career happiest and saddest moments?

Each time I lost and win World Championship. And winning the PAR CONTEST.

l) What was the most fun of all Championship you played? Why?

Naturally the first, It was very exciting for me.

Benito Garozzo & Carlos Cabanne
Benito Garozzo & Carlos Cabanne

m) What motivates you to keep playing even after winning it all?

Bridge is the Greatest game, I loved when I started and I will love it until my last day.

n) What about the bridge online? Is the same Bridge?

I believe that Bridge Online particularly BBO has helped the improvement of many pairs,  since you can play and train even if you leave in two different towns.

Legendary Italian/American star Benito Garozzo at a bridge tournament with Lea Dupont (who passed away in 2012) in the 1980’s. Also shown is Sam Stayman (who popularized 1NT-2 to ask for a major).

o) How do you envision the development of bridge systems in the XXI century?

S. Lev, B. Eisemberg & B. Garozzo
S. Lev, B. Eisemberg & B. Garozzo

The Bridge systems are very important,  I have created many systems and many conventions, now it is more important to create  a system more precise in competition since the opponents come in the bidding more often.

p) What advice would you give to a young player who wants to become professional?

Do not think you know everything  you will always find something you can learn.

q) Finally, do you want to add something more?

There is no bridge player capable to play without mistakes, wins more the one doing less.

These are some Benito’s videos from youtube:



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