Bear Stearns Cos. (NYSE: BSC) Chief Executive Jimmy Cayne and his one-time protege Warren Spector attended the National Bridge Championship in Nashville in July just as the credit markets were starting to implode, showing how much their priorties were out of whack.
Spector, who was fired Sunday as the subprime meltdown engulfs the Wall Street bank, actually won his first national championship in the four-day competition which attracted about 5,000 people from 18 countries, according to Rick Beye, the tournament's director. Spector achieved the designation of Life Master at young age the age of 16. I guess he didn't discover girls until later.
Cayne's prowess at bridge is legendary. He's been a world-class bridge player for more than 30 years. Among his many titles are Grand Life Master, the highest rank of the American Contract Bridge League. Neither Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A) Chief Executive Warren Buffett nor Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) Chairman Bill Gates, who are both avid bridge players, are close to being that good.
Of course, the bridge connection to the subprime meltdown will make it tougher for bridge to market itself as a game that's fun for players under 75. There is even a Web site called bridge is cool aimed at teens and there was a college competition at the tournament..
Of course, being a champion requires a single-minded persuit of excellence, but it seems like Cayne and Spector had better ways to spend their time. But if Nero fiddled while Rome burned, I guess these guys could play cards while Bear Stearns' shareholders shelled out $1 billion to rescue two collapsed hedge funds.