Bear Stearns Chairman Played Cards Amid Crisis-WSJ

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bear Stearns Cos Inc BSC.N Chairman Jimmy Cayne was playing cards in a tournament late last week while his company's future appeared to be at risk, according a published report.

As the bank hammered out an emergency funding deal on Thursday with the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase JPM.N, which resulted in Bear's shares falling by as much as half, Cayne was playing in the North American Bridge Championship in Detroit, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site on Friday.

Cayne, who in January stepped down as Bear Stearns’ long-time chief executive, is no stranger to controversy about his hobbies. Last year he was criticized for spending too much time playing bridge and golf while Bear stumbled on wrong-way bets on subprime mortgages.

Cayne played cards last week during a period in which Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz held conference calls with directors about the pending cash pledge, the newspaper said, although Cayne participated in at least some of the dialogue.

The Wall Street Journal said Cayne did not respond to a request for comment that it left at his New York office.

Reporting by Franklin Paul; Editing by Tim Dobbyn