Walter Browne, 1949-2015, RIP
Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at 11:28PM
Dennis Monokroussos in Walter Browne

Walter Browne was one of the strongest players in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, a remarkable personality and a great fighter at the board. He was still battling in chess and had been making a bit of a comeback after some years with indifferent results. He hadn't looked particularly well in recent years, but it was still a shock to learn today that he had died this afternoon in Las Vegas at the age of 66.

In the early 1970s Browne was one of the youngest grandmasters in the world (perhaps the second youngest, after Anatoly Karpov) and seemed to be headed for world-class status. He did reach 2590 at one point in his career (but not the 2682 erroneously given on the Wikipedia page) and did so at a time when that was something special, though he never got too close to the absolute summit. Nevertheless, his accomplishments were considerable, including six U.S. championship titles and numerous victories in international and major U.S. open events.

Among his scalps you'll find a veritable who's who of chess in the '70s and '80s: Enrique Mecking, Samuel Reshevsky, Svetozar Gligoric, Lubomir Kavalek, Andras Adorjan, Jan Timman, Pal Benko, Bent Larsen, Vasily Smyslov, Zoltan Ribli, Mikhail Tal, Yasser Seirawan, Robert Byrne, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Anthony Miles, Miguel Najdorf, Eugenio Torre, Vlastimil Hort, Viktor Korchnoi, Lajos Portisch, Ulf Andersson, Nigel Short, Lev Polugaevsky, Sergey Dolmatov, Gata Kamsky...the list goes on and on. For those unfamiliar with some or all of the foregoing, the list includes two world champions and 19 players who were "only" Candidates, including three (losing) world championship finalists. He also drew all five games he played against Boris Spassky and the only game he played against Bobby Fischer - and Fischer only drew that game by a hair.

Going down several levels, he also faced a far less notable player - yours truly - in a couple of games, winning the first and drawing the second. Though he was an extremely competitive person, as anyone who ever watched him play can attest, I was treated with respect, and equal respect, in both games. He wasn't arrogant when he beat me and wasn't a bad sport when I drew. It was an honor for me to have the chance to play him, a player I had read about and looked up to from when I was a young boy, years before I entered my first tournament.

He deserves a fuller tribute on here, and I'm sure he'll receive many laudatory articles around the web and in chess magazines in the days and weeks to come. For now, here are a couple of links, to the first announcement of his passing and to his page.

To his family and friends I offer my condolences. Rest in peace, Walter Shawn Browne.

Article originally appeared on The Chess Mind (
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