Warren Buffett – ‘I played bridge with Bill Gates
Knight of the Legion of Honour, Franco/Polish financier Romain Zaleski (net worth $2.7 billion) has represented France in numerous World Championship events. Art collector and philanthropist Janet de Botton (CBE, DBE, net worth £300 million) is one of England’s richest and most successful players and during the pandemic her team has been one of the top performers in major online events.
She reminded me of one of Warren Buffett’s observations: “Bridge is such a sensational game that I wouldn’t mind being in jail if I had three cellmates who were decent players.” In his blog, GatesNotes, Gates wrote, “If you get the right team of four, that’s a lot of fun because it’s a social thing as well as kind of a mental challenge.”
Entrepreneur Andrew Black, co-founder of Betfair (worth £1.5 billion), is a top-class player and his team is usually found at the business end of all major events. For him, “at the end of a bridge tournament my brain feels tired like a muscle feels tired – I believe it’s a good thing. The fact that bridge is about the only game left where the machines still can’t beat the humans tells you all you need to know – it is endlessly fascinating and challenging.”
Although billionaires sometimes compete in tournaments where significant prizes are on offer, this exclusive set usually play because they delight in the mental challenge and the possibility of victory against major games champions.
So if becoming a billionaire is on your to-do list, make sure you know your way round a pack of cards. As legendary Egyptian bridge-playing film star Omar Sharif told me in 1992, “many games provide fun, but bridge grips you. It exercises your mind. Your mind can rust, you know, but bridge prevents the rust from forming.”
Mark Horton is the editor of BeBridge US
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