First Round: Chess mates

J. Christopher Flowers is thought to be one of the brainiest people on Wall Street, and especially formidable when it comes to chess. According to market folklore, one of his favourite past-times is to play himself, which First Round presumes must be on the basis that Chris Flowers is one of few people who can give Chris Flowers a run for his money with those rooks and bishops.

Indeed, if “Players-Who-Can-Keep-Up-With-Chris-Flowers” were a chess club, its membership would be rather exclusive. But because it isn’t, one eligible person who hasn’t been able to join is former world champion Gary Kasparov. First Round thinks that’s a shame, because the notion of those two playing, maybe even providing the after-dinner entertainment at a JC Flowers LP meeting by testing their most menacing moves on each other, has always seemed a lot of fun. (Ok, maybe not ‘always’, but now that we think about it we really like the idea.)

So it was great to learn in February that Flowers has just signed up with the Kasparov Chess Foundation. The latter exists to bring the educational benefits of the King’s Game to children around the world, and the US deal maker will serve on the board of directors.

It appears an excellent match, not least because just like Flowers knows his way around a chess board, Kasparov is no stranger to the world of private equity: last year, according to eye witnesses, the Russian was a keynote speaker at the investor meeting of BC Partners. Apparently the view he offered on the threat to the West that is Vladimir Putin was so bleak that those present were left terrified. Next time he’s due to address a private equity audience, now that they work together, maybe Flowers can give him some tips on how not to scare a group of LPs quite so badly.