Twice World champion, three times European Champion, always a great champion; Arturo Franco left us yesterday. He was born in Naples, but his family emigrated to Milan when he was seventeen year old. There he immediately learnt to play bridge, and soon became a champion and one of the pillars of the Blue Team of the seventies and eighties.
He was the major expert in the World of the Chiaradia’s Neapolitan Club system. The first time I met him was at the table in a team event, in 2008, at Montegrotto.
– Which system are you playing? – he asked us meanwhile was shuffling the cards.
My partner, Fabio, and me had discovered that we had to play against him just a minute before, and hadn’t yet have had the time to decide who were to tell him that we played Neapolitan Club. I didn’t respond; Fabio remained silent.
– Well? – He asked.
I remained silent; Fabio dared to reply – Neapolitan Club.
He frowned – Which edition?
Feeling on firmer ground, I responded – 1966’s.
His face enlightened – The finest – he said.
I met him again in 2017, at the election day of the president of the Italian Federation. At that time I had become known because of my articles in Neapolitan Club online magazine, and he had asked me to enter his party. I couldn’t accept because I already had too many commitments: my job, to write, to be president and teacher of Ascoli bridge club, but it can be understood how much I felt honoured by that offer.
In Rome, we dined together with his friends; later, we remained alone in the hall of the hotel, talking for hours (he talked and I listened, of course). Those few hours are among my happiest memories of my fifty-five year bridge.
Paolo Enrico Garrisi