Meet Francovill, 100 years young bridge player

Bridge is all about logic, that’s why I love it.

Francovill - 100 years young!

Senior BBO player, Dr. Jozsef Abonyi (BBO username, Francovill) turned 100 in May. His story is well worth telling.

From Hungary, and a bridge player for over 50 years, Francovill started playing in 1960. He credits bridge for keeping him young and active.

With all his life experience, we were keen to find out what makes him tick. We were honored Francovill agreed to answer a few questions giving us insight into his life and passion for bridge.

A big thank you goes out to Tamas Laufer (TOMpikk) for helping coordinate this interview and for bringing Francovill's story to our attention.

Who’s been the most important influence in your life? 
I’ve had many important influences in my life – obviously, my parents were very influential, as were some of my teachers and various professionals I admire.

Who is/are your favorite bridge partners?
Well I have to say that it's the partner with whom I am playing at the time. Everyone brings something different to the game. I enjoy playing with many different partners.

Tell us about your family.
I've been a widower for 20 years. I have two children and five grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. I'm the only bridge player in the family!

What do you like the most about playing bridge?
I'm a big fan of logic. Bridge is all about logic and that's why I love it. I like playing teams and pairs best of all.

How long have you been playing bridge on BBO? 
I started playing on BBO when I was 90 - so for 10 years now.

What tips would you give to help new players?
Become immersed in the game because it is an excellent way of keeping your mind in good order

What are your proudest achievements? 
If there were any they've long been forgotten. Along with my pride!

You’re now 100 years young. What do you attribute to your good health and longevity? 
I would have to say about 70% would be down to genes! But I would also add that bridge has certainly helped keep me young and active.

What did you do for work? 
I was a Doctor of Internal Medicine. Specifically a Pulmonologist.  

What do you like to do besides playing bridge? 
I played the violin. I love chamber music and often played Viennese classics as part of a quartet with my friends. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Attempt to live a full life, enrich your mind and body - and part of that should include playing bridge!

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30 comments on “Meet Francovill, 100 years young bridge player”

  1. Thanks for the interview. I am a retired university professor and industrial trainer with a PhD in mathematics. I am now 77 and have played bridge for only 49 years. I love the mathematical part of bridge and have done many computer simulations to figure out bridge questions. So far, I have dealt over 20 billion bridge hands. Just to put that number into perspective, if all 140,000 ACBL bridge players in the USA played 365 times a year for 40 years, they would play a little less than 17 billion deals

    Like many, I like the logic of the game and the search for better bridge bidding methods. Like many, I started playing on BBO because of Covid. I enjoy doing the simulations because it keeps me thinking hard -- it's too easy to just sit back and watch the world pass you by.

    Finally, in the last month at our club, we had one 95 and three 90 year old beautiful ladies have birthdays. I have played a duplicate game with two of them and they can still play good bridge. At other clubs, I have played with a 98 year old lady who said "I have outlived two husbands and my son is 75" and against two other wonderful ladies, one who is 100 and the other is 102.

    I truly enjoy playing against these wonderful older ladies. They say women live longer; that seems true to me and we have no men playing who are older than 90.

  2. C’est fantastique. J’ai découvert le bridge par ma belle-mère . C’ est un jeu merveilleux. Dans quelques semaines elle va avoir 100 ans. C’est un vrai plaisir de la voir jouer où de jouer avec elle.

  3. Muchas gracias por sus palabras, Dr. Abonyi. Cuando yo tenía 15 años, mi padre , que también era médico, me dijo que a mí me gustaría jugar al bridge, él jugaba con sus amigos. Mi padre se murió joven. Cuando me jubilé (soy matemática), a los 69 años, aprendí a jugar, bueno, sigo aprendiendo. Mi madre acaba de fallecer a los 102, así que espero disfrutar mucho del bridge. Y espero jugar con alguno de mis 7 nietos porque ninguno de mis 5 hijos juega.
    Y muchas gracias, BBO. En estos tiempos de COVID creo que BBO ha hecho más por la felicidad, la salud y las relaciones sociales de muchos ciudadanos que muchos políticos!

  4. Hi Dr Abonyi. Thanks for doing this interview. You reminded me how important bridge and the string quartets were in the living room of our Budapest apartment in the early 50s.
    Hope to encounter you on BBO one of these days .

  5. What an inspiration and joy to read the interview with Francovil 100 years young. I am a retired Dentist , love to play
    the piano and have played bridge for over fifty years. Both my parents played bridge so I learned a lot from them.
    My husband a General surgeon has passed on , but I have 4 children and 8 Grandchildren and none of them play bridge.
    I am glad to hear you say bridge is logic. There are so many conventions and schemes written by bridge scholars that you have to limit what you play or delay the game too long trying to remember the appropriate response. The Covid virus brought me to BBO and it is one of the good results of these challenging times. We have a foursome and play twice a week I look forward to continued play and improvement of my game. Your story is a keeper , thank you for sharing.

  6. Interesting!
    I remember your name from the Hungarian bridge site. Used to play with Pekò Edit who was also a doctor at Balatonfüred heart hospital. My bridge name is lenkic2. Love playing bridge, wish I could play as well as you do. I should also remember your partner's name too.
    I live in the UK now but was educated in Hungary. Left Hungary in 1956 with my husband who was also a bridge player,

  7. It is truly the genes first (70% as Francovill says), but I would put the genes first (not third) as Merl Needham does. That is why many years ago, I decided that I had my great grandmother's genes. She lived to almost 101 years old in 1951. I am now approaching 80, and my bridge partner just turned 90 and we are going strong. The mind is a wonderful and powerful tool. Keeping it sharp with bridge is another way to help the genes!

  8. Hi,
    I am 73 and only started Bridge about 12 months ago and on BBO due to Covid. Still getting my head around various bidding systems. It is getting very addictive and it is another topic to talk and discuss about with my wife, the other being Golf.
    I play for pleasure and connect with the others on table by What’s App video call. Almost as good as being face to face.
    Not so when I play a tournament or too though.
    It is great to read about Dr Joszef. No chance of me getting to 100, not in my genes.

  9. Congratulations! I hope to reach that goal in 9 more years. I've played bridge for over 70 years & started playing on BBO because of COVID. I prefer playing in-person & taught beginning bridge at local senior center. I was afraid my students would think me "too old" when I hit 90 years old, but they stuck with me. Now I teach & play on BBO & am thankful it's there for us. I'd love to partner with you anytime!

  10. I'm 87 yr old and a retired pediatrician. I was pleased to read that Jozsef Abonyi is a retired pulmonologist. My longevity is a gift of modern surgery (bypass coronary artery surgery), medications (statin drugs) and my grandmother (she lived to 105 yr.). "Bridge is the greatest game in the world", and we're lucky we can play it on the computer.

  11. I lived next door, in Budapest VI, to an Abonyi family. I thought it was you, but he was a lawyer. I was friendly with Mari, one of the daughters. Wouldn't it be interesting if they were related to you; Abonyi is not that common a name.

    Keep playing and be well.

  12. What a lovely story, and what a charming gentleman. Just the sort one would like as a partner. My husband was a teacher and I also qualified some 30 years ago. What a wonderful game Bridge is; we have cruised around for years teaching on ships. Thank you everyone.

  13. Che piacere aver potuto leggere questa intervista complimenti e congratulazioni a Francovill e grazie per gli ottimi consigli

  14. If a doctor can say bridge is one of the
    Reason for his youth what else we want
    I am76 playing bridge from 1972 playing in BBO for last 12 years

    Whenever I feel sick I open BBO
    In no time all my laziness vanished
    Thanks BBO and bridge

  15. I was struggling to find a purpose to my life at age 74, I don't think I'll make it to 100 (not in the genes) but am inspired by this interview

  16. I am a youngster of only 80 years old, but I am Francovill's senior by 1 year, having started to play in 1959. I fully agree with his comments about bridge - what a wonderful game! Can anyone tell me what the point is of cheating in bridge? There is nothing at stake except the satisfaction of doing well and you can't fool yourself if you achieve that by cheating.
    Keep it up!
    Wotan 007

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