OBITUARY: Giorgio Belladonna

Giorgio Belladonna, during a long career as a bridge player, was the anchorman of the famous Italian Blue Team (Squadra Azzura) that dominated world bridge for 18 years between 1957 and 1975. For many years he was the leading scorer of World Bridge Federation Master Points.

Belladonna did not start with bridge as his intended career - after completing his schooling, he studied architecture in Rome, but soon became disenchanted and switched to reading law. He was not happy with that either and dropped out before his final examinations. He first learnt to play bridge in 1944. It was another 26 years, however, before he became a full-time professional. After terminating his studies, he worked as a functionary in the Social Security Department in Rome until 1970.

Although he was in the Italian team for the European Championships of 1954, it was not until two years later that he scored his first European Championship win, with his partner Walter Avarelli and joined by the Pietro Forquet-Guglielmo Siniscalco and Massimo D'Alelio-Eugenio Chiaradia partnerships and with Carlo Perroux as non-playing captain (the "Blue Team"). They went from strength to strength, following up by winning the Bermuda Bowl against the United States in 1957.

The team, with some changes in personnel (but always including Belladonna), won nine more European titles, 13 Bermuda Bowls, and three World Olympiad Teams. Although all fine players in their own right, collectively they had a magnificent team spirit and their successes were in no small measure attributable to the firm captaincy of Perroux. Iron discipline and early nights were the order of the day and - an often overlooked factor - absolutely no recriminations at the table. Even after the most horrendous disaster in the middle of a match, the two players concerned would smile at one another and continue, as if nothing untoward had happened.

Apart from the more formal tournaments, Belladonna also toured with the Omar Sharif Bridge Circus, playing exhibition matches in Europe and throughout the United States. The tours culminated in a high stake (pounds 100 a hundred) rubber bridge challenge match in London in 1970 against Jeremy Flint and Jonathan Cansino. The Circus won by over 5,000 points.

Rather less successful was the series of matches sponsored by the Lancia Division of Fiat in 1975. They were played in four different American cities and the sponsors had guaranteed the delivery of a new car to every member of a team that beat the Lancia team, which was basically the Blue Team reinforced by Omar Sharif. Their opposition, however, won three out of the four matches and this caused Sharif, in his autobiography, to observe gloomily that his team was a highly successful distributor of Lancia cars.

Belladonna was highly regarded as a theoretician. He was a prime architect of the Roman Club (one of the first of the artificial bidding systems) and, with Benito Garozzo (another member of the Blue Team), made significant contributions to both the Blue Club and the Precision Club systems.

Alan Hiron

Giorgio Belladonna, bridge player: born Rome 1923; married (one son, one daughter); died Rome 12 May 1995.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments