Cerf was the first non-Japanese player to win the World Championship for Othello, in 1980.
His father, Bennett Cerf, was the co-founder of Random House books and panelist of What's My Line?. His mother, Phyllis Cerf, was co-founder of Random House's Beginner Books with Dr. Seuss. His brother, Christopher Cerf, wrote music for Sesame Street, voiced characters like Chrissy of Chrissy and the Alphabeats, and co-created Between the Lions. Cerf is second cousin of Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire's dancing partner.