Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Good At Chess?

We do not need a self-proclaimed mind-coach cum idiot to tell us that chess skills can be applied elsewhere successfully. This is a long-standing, well-known fact known for centuries as many a successful chess player have transitioned from chess into successes elsewhere. As an example read here (Good at Chess? A Hedge Fund May Want to Hire You). Here are some excerpts:

Boaz Weinstein’s opening move on Wall Street came as a result of chess.
Mr. Weinstein, now a star hedge fund manager, was trying to get a summer job at Goldman Sachs in 1991, when he was just 18. After being told there was nothing available, he stopped in a bathroom on the way out and ran into David F. Delucia, then the head of corporate bond trading. 
Mr. Delucia, who is ranked as an expert by the United States Chess Federation, had played Mr. Weinstein, ranked as a master by the federation, many times. He arranged for a series of interviews until Mr. Weinstein got an internship on a Goldman trading desk.
Mr. Weinstein is not alone among Wall Streeters who have a chess connection. 
Chess helps in trading, Mr. Weinstein said. To become a good chess player, he learned to focus on how he made decisions because he could not calculate the results of all his possible moves. Learning to deal with that uncertainty or risk has been useful. When you make an investment, “you can have an 80 percent chance of being right. And then the 20 percent comes up,” he said. “But really it is the process that you used to make the decision.”
But being skilled at games is no guarantee of success. James E. Cayne, the former chief executive of Bear Stearns, which collapsed in March 2008, is a world-class bridge player who has won many international bridge tournaments.
Still, the idea that gaming skills may be adaptable to investing spurred a hiring program in the early 1990s at Bankers Trust. At the time, the bank had a successful trader named Norman Weinstein (no relation to Boaz Weinstein), who had earned the title of international master from the World Chess Federation. In an effort to replicate his success, the bank hired a small group of people who had little or no trading experience, but were world-class chess and bridge players.
David Norwood, a World Chess Federation grandmaster (the highest ranking a player can obtain), was one of the recruits. “I was studying history at Oxford,” Mr. Norwood said. “Right out of the blue, I got contacted by Bankers Trust who said, ‘You would really make a good trader.’ I had no idea what trading was.”
Mr. Norwood took the job and was soon put on a trading desk, but it was too sudden. “It was like being stuffed into a world-class chess match without knowing the moves,” Mr. Norwood said. He quit after only a few months.
Despite the setback, Mr. Norwood said the experience “kind of planted a seed in me.” After a year, he found a job at Duncan Lawrie, a British private bank, and began learning trading and investing. In 2008, at the age of 40, he retired a multimillionaire.


  1. "It was like being stuffed into a world-class chess match without knowing the moves..." i know the feeling. All traders talk Greek! :)
    ...Do we got ISDA with BONY M?...CDS, Repos, SSI, Forward, value tom... and they trade here in million.

    For someone from branch (who normally stay back when ac is not balance by 10 cents)...and overnight be in the dept where losing thousand on single trade is normal...:) i know Norwood's feeling!

  2. I think what made it hard for Norwood was because he was a high achiever. Internally, he knew that he was an intelligent person with above average capabilities. Because of that, intentionally or not, he expected himself to be able to pick up the skills quite quickly.

    I think that was the most valuable lesson of his life, a lesson in humility. Nonetheless, he was not demoralized. He knew that all he needed was a bit more time to get the hang of things. He moved from history to private banking and has retired as a millionaire.