A truly smart investor
Warren Buffett has long been known as one of the smartest professional investors in the world. His investment and business savvy has turned a modest amount of starting capital in 1957 into a fortune currently worth more than $40 billion. His holding company Berkshire Hathaway, based in Buffett's home town of Omaha, Nebraska, is quoted on the New York Stock Exchange.
According to his biographer Andrew Kilpatrick, Warren Buffett's hobbies include a "particular passion" for the game of bridge, which he plays at times with a deck of cards inscribed "Make checks payable to Warren Buffett". On one occasion he is reported to have said: "I wouldn’t mind going to jail if I had three cellmates who played bridge".
Over the years his partners include such luminaries as Bill Gates (pictured above playing with Buffett), Peter Lynch and the comedian George Burns. The latter once told Buffett after one of these games: "If you ever need any money, kid, I have an 800 number". Buffett of course is the second wealthiest man in the world, according to the annual list of the world's rich compiled by Forbes magazine.
In addition to playing private games with his friends and business associaties, Buffett regularly plays bridge online at OKBridge (www.okbridge.com). Sharon Osberg, an international player, and one of his regular professional partners, says that Buffett is close to becoming a world class player. "He can play with anyone. It's because of his logic, his ability to solve problems and his concentration".
Views on bridge
Buffett himself says about bridge: "It’s got to be the best intellectual exercise out there. You’re seeing through new situations every ten minutes…In the stock market you don’t base your decisions on what the market is doing, but on what you think is rational….Bridge is about weighing gain/loss ratios. You’re doing calculations all the time."( Forbes June 2,1997)
On another occasion he described the similarities between bridge and investment as follows: "The approach and strategies are very similar in that you gather all the information you can and then keep adding to that base of information as things develop. You do whatever the probabilities indicated based on the knowledge that you have at that time, but you are always willing to modify your behaviour or your approach as you get new information. In bridge, you behave in a way that gets the best from your partner. And in business, you behave in the way that gets the best from your managers and your employees."
Commenting on the new challenge match in June, Buffett said: "I spend twelve hours a week - a little over 10% of my waking hours - playing the game. Now I am trying to figure out how to get by on less sleep in order to fit in a few more hands. It is an honour to be associated with the Trans-Atlantic Challenge featuring 24 of the best players in the world". In a three-part series of interviews presented by Charlie Rose on PBS television from July 10th - 12th 2006 (www.charlierose.com), Buffett added that he would happily pay $5m a year for the right to play 12 hours a day of bridge online with his friends.