Friday, March 30, 2007

Chess-playing billionaires

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

THREE weeks ago sent me a list of the richest men in the world and the number 1 for the past 10 years now is Microsoft founder and chairman William “Bill” Gates (born 1955) with a net worth of over $56 billion.

He is the most successful entrepreneur in the personal computer revolution and his riches are primarily due to his intelligence and foresight. For the past several years now he has pursued a number of philanthropic donations, at latest count $30 billion, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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He is a well-known chess player with a rating of about 1578, at one time reaching a peak of 1690, and his foundation has sometimes donated to various chess organizations.

Another chess-playing billionaire is Carl Icahn (born 1936) who is known as a corporate raider after his hostile takeover of TWA in 1985. He is the chairman of Imclone, American Real Estate partners with investments in Time Warner and a host of major companies including casino interests in Las Vegas. He is a self made man with a fortune estimated at $9 billion.

Carl once said that “chess is one thing I am really good at, I could have been a master or something, but there was no future in it.” His predatory skills learned in chess have made him the king of corporate checkmates and the most feared takeover specialist in the world.

A chess playing billionaire in the world of finance is George Soros who is a financial speculator and stock investor. He was well known for “breaking the Bank of England” on Black Wednesday in 1992, earning a billion dollars on “one day’s work.” His wealth has been estimated at $8.5 billion.

His currency speculation has made emerging nations become “open societies” that are more tolerant of new ideas and different modes of thinking and behavior.

Another high-profile chess player in the 60s and 70s was the late Aristotle Onassis (1906-1975) famous for his wealth and love affairs. He married Jacqueline Kennedy (widow of American President John Kennedy) that was the talk of the world for quite sometime. He made his billions by becoming the most successful shipping magnate in the 20th century.

He had a notorious love affair with opera diva Maria Callas despite the fact that they were both married and ended only when he married Jacqueline. He is one of the few persons in the world to die of myasthenia gravis, a rare disease.

Another chess-playing billionaire is Barron Hilton (born 1927), an American heir and Chairman of the Hilton Hotel chain. His younger brother “Nicky” was once married to Elizabeth Taylor (1950) and has a younger half sister whose mother is Zsa Zsa Gabor. His Wealth is estimated at $1 billion.

He is listed as one of the “Chairmen of the Chessboard” in an article written by Robert Levy,Dun`s review,1975.

When Barron`s father, Conrad, died in 1979, he left most of his wealth to the Roman Catholic Church and almost none to his children. Barron contested the will claiming he was partly responsible for the family wealth and won.

Terence Chapman is a London businessman whose company specializes in IT and software products for financial institutions. He is a very good player by any standard. A fellow chessplayer asked him the question: “What odds would you need to beat Garry Kasparov?” “Two pawns,” was Terence’s answer.

The Garry Kasparov vs. Terence Chapman Charity Challenge actually took place on April 21-22, 2001 with the latter making a substantial donation to the Kasparov Chess Academy. Kasparov only had 6 pawns and 60 minutes while chapman had 8 and 90 minutes.

The result was an interesting 2/12 -1/12 victory by Kasparov.

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