I first met Benito in Israel at the first Israeli Bridge festival in 1966. I was 15 and he was a many time World Champion. I asked him a play question I think it was how to play A10x opposite K9xx. He reached over to the bar for paper and wrote out every combination then told me definitively.
I was totally submerged in bridge as a youngster and took the view then that Garozzo and Belladonna were the best two bridge players of all time. It is now 44 years later and they still would be on all lists as two of the best ever players.
In 1970 I went to Sweden to watch the Aces win the Bermuda Bowl and Garozzo Play double dummy a bunch of sessions with a client only to be pipped into second place in the World Pairs Championship.
In 1971 I went with my friend Victor Silverstone to play in the Cino del Duca in Paris. We drove taking the ferry across the channel. It was hugely exciting for me, my first foreign tourney. Victor was a much more experienced player. When we sat down to play at the first table there were 20 kibitzers sitting watching. We had drawn Garozzo and Forquet for the first two boards.
We were playing with French cards. I had never seen them before. The King looks the same as a Jack but the King is marked R and the Jack V.
As we were defending the first hand I played my King to beat dummy’s Queen only to see Declarer lead from Dummy at the next trick. I had played the J by mistake!! So we got a zero. The next hand Victor psyched and we got a top. So we were even for the two boards!
Garozzo‘s World beating partnership with Forquet finished in 1972. They were unbeaten in International events. He then played with Belladonna. In 1974 we played a match against them but when we were winning at halftime they switched their partnerships back to Garozzo-Forquet, Belladonna-Avarelli. With Michael Rosenberg we faced them in 1974 at Vittel and had a decent set.
A 17-3 win got the British team a Bronze.
When I moved to USA Benito invited me to his rubber bridge game at his home. It was a penthouse apartment with a magnificent view over the Atlantic Ocean. It was great to play rubber bridge with this scene out the large windows.
A friend of mine from Scotland Steve Levinson and I teamed up with Benito and Lea Dupont at the National Swiss of 2000. We finished second.
Today Benito takes life a little easier. He travels less for his bridge. He loves to go to the track and chance his luck on the dogs. He also enjoys a small game of poker on the computer and never ceases to tell me about his unlucky “badbeats”.