Georgio Belladonna 1923-1995
A sixteen time World Champion,Belladonna may have been the world’s best ever bridge player. I met him in 1974 in Glasgow when he visited my house in Scotland. He was playing in a team put together by Kathy Wei and came up to Scotland after The Sunday Times Pairs in London. The team was Belladonna and Garozzo, Omar Sharif and Jeremy Flint and Kathy Wei. My mother made a party after the game. I chatted to Georgio as he drank his wine. He had a wonderful warm personality. He told me his first love was football but he had to give up the idea of making a career there because of injury so he turned to bridge.
He won 16 World Championships.
At the Sunday Times one year I watched him lead the 10 from AK108xx against 3N. Dummy came with the singleton 9 and Declarer had QJxx.Now that is a lead!
I was lucky enough to play against Belladonna and Avarelli in Monte Carlo with Michael Rosenberg. We led them at half time but then they got tough.
In Vittel in 1974 Rosenberg and I played on the British team and played half the match against Belladonna – Garozzo. We had a decent game and won 17-3 (hand from that match).
In 1979 I played with Victor Goldberg in Lausanne and we played Belladonna and Lauria with Garozzo and Pittala in the other room.
We played a hard fought draw but were unlucky. Belladonna and Lauria bid a Grandslam. First Lauria took a finesse and then he squeezed my partner to make his grandslam so it was a huge swing. They won the event the European Championship.
My last game against Belladonna is when he partnered Forquet at the Macallan in 1995. Irving Gordon and I edged the match but it was a thrill just to play one more time against the living legend.