Benito and George

Recently when George Nichols cliqued onto a table on the internet (BBO) he was partnered with *Ben Grozzo. George asked if his first name was Benito, no answer. George then asked if he were a member of the “Italian Blue Team,” no answer. They played 6 boards before he said he had to leave to play in a tournament. In six hands they won 10 IMP. George selected him as “a friend” and a week later came across him again. This time he thanked him for playing with him and asked if he was born in 1927. He answered “yes.” And now for the beginning of the story:

George, while in the military as a Chaplain from 1967 to 1987, was stationed at Camp Drake Tokyo, Japan for three years. He occasionally played in the “Japanese Contract Bridge League” (JCBL) club in Tokyo. George has some JCBL master points. There was a rich American male who married a Japanese citizen and played bridge in Tokyo. George played with him occasionally. This gentleman annually invited Benito Grozzo to come to Tokyo for a couple of weeks all expenses paid. So back 40 years ago George played against him twice and with him once.

NEW YORK CITY ANNUAL BRIDGE SHOOTOUT. Each borough (5) entered a team. George was stationed at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island for the Chaplain’s Advanced Course in the early 1980’s and was invited by the Staten Island bridge guru to play with him and the best pair on the island in the NY City Shoot-out. They played against the team for Manhattan that had more than 10 times their master points and won the match. They were written up in the New York Times newspaper bridge column. In the second round they played the team from “Queens” but lost by less than 10 IMP’S. George has the “Times” bridge article in his family history.

LONG ISLAND REGIONAL. George and Mary’s daughter, Ruth (George’s assistant when he goes on a cruise ship as the Bridge Director), lives on Long Beach, Long Island, NY in a two story residence. The storm surge devastated the bottom floor of her home. George visited before the storm and played in the regional with the tournament chairman and the partnership chair for three days and won 10 gold points.

*BENITO GROZZO Formally of Rome, Italy was born in 1927. He won or placed 30 times in “world competition.” He is a “Grand Master” (highest rank in international competition) and second only to Bob Hammond. He was the anchor of the “Italian Blue Team” that won 6 world championships in a row (1971-76) and 10 in total. He and Pietro Forquet, and later Georgia Belladona, were considered the best partnership in the world at the time. Benito moved to Florida a few years back and now lives in Wilmington, DE, and was a former jewelry store owner.