Person of day - 7 SEPTEMBER 2020
Rex Sinquefield was born on 7thSeptember 1944 in Saint Louis, Missouri. The future businessman’s childhood was difficult: he grew up in St Vincent’s Orphanage in Saint Louis. Nevertheless, Rex studied and graduated from Saint Louis University with a BA in economics, before completing an MBA in University of Chicago.
“The key to the puzzle lay 20 minutes away from his city home. That key is St Vincent’s Orphanage, where his mother sent him when he was a little boy after his father passed away and where he spent most of his childhood. The orphanage was run by strict German nannies. The children slept in large bedroom, had to wash their own dishes, clean their own areas and wipe their own floors. He has a certain nostalgia for those times: “It was the army that taught me self-discipline.”
He did well at school, scoring 100% in multiple subjects, even if he does still jokingly point out that he got 97% for writing after used the English spelling of “jurisdiction” instead of the American one. After this, Rex enrolled in University of Chicago, where he studied “rational economics” and theories about the inability of individual investors to outwit the market. It was there that he got the idea of establishing index funds, which would make him fabulously wealthy.” (D. Edmonds)
Rex made his fortune when he opened the first index fund in history in 1973. In 1981, Sinquefield established Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) with David Booth, which today controls assets worth over $300 billion all over the world. After he became one of America’s richest men, Rex had the opportunity to promote chess- his favourite sport.
In 2008, Sinquefield established a chess club and chess training center in Saint Louis. In September 2011, he financed the move of the World Chess Hall of Fame to Saint Louis. Since 2009, the billionaire has sponsored junior and adult championships in the US and sends American national teams to world championships and Olympiads. Thanks to Sinquefield’s efforts, the stars-and-stripes team was joined by Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So.
Rex Sinquefield holds an annual super-tournament in Saint Louis which carries his name. He has won multiple Gold Koltanowski awards, which were given by the American chess federation to the biggest contributor to American chess in 2009-2016. Sinquefield was also memorialised as a chess contributor by Missouri’s Chess Hall of Fame in 2011.
He trains with grandmaster Jennifer Shahade. Randy- the son of America’s greatest chess philanthropist- also enjoys his father’s favourite game.
Rex Sinquefield’s charitable activities have not been limited to chess. He gives money to science and is the chairman of the board of the St Vincent Orphanage in Saint Louis, where he grew up. His wife, Jeanne, supports several programs for young musicians. Rex Sinquefield is the author of a renowned book about the stock market.
Rex supported Garry Kasparov for the 2014 FIDE presidential election. As a Republican, he sponsors his Party in Missouri, where the billionaire is at the centre of all debate and discourse and where he has been dubbed Tyrannosaurus Rex. He promoted a fairly radical concept of a free market and he encourages the abolition of the income tax in the state.
“A lot of the aforementioned is connected to one man: Rex Sinquefield. He is over seventy and has grey hair…he sits in the audience for the American chess championship. He is dressed in shorts and a t-shirt and drinks Diet Coke to maintain concentration. Sinquefield is a wealthy man who loves chess. He loves it so much that he has spent tens of millions of his own dollars on it. A former US champion- Yasser Seirawan- corrected me: “No, he does not bear partial responsibility for the evolution of American chess, it is solely his achievement”.
“No one knows the extent of Sinquefield’s wealth. It seems unlikely, but he himself claims that he does not know his savings. Unlike other wealthy people, Sinquefield has never boasted about his earnings, but it is widely thought that he is a billionaire. He earned his fortune in finance- he was one of the first founders of index funds, which are easier to govern because they only watch volatility in the stock market.” (D. Edmonds)
In his spare time, Rex Sinquefield likes to play blitz chess on the Internet.