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Walter Browne

Walter Browne at the 2002 U.S. Chess championships in Seattle, Washington
Full name Walter Shawn Browne
Country United States
Born 10 January 1949
Sydney, Australia
Title Grandmaster
Peak rating 2590 (July 1982)

Walter Shawn Browne (10 January 1949 - 24 June 2015) was an American chess Grandmaster and poker player. Browne won the U.S. Chess Championship six times.

Early years

Browne was born to an American father and an Australian mother in Sydney. His family moved to the New York area when he was three. Browne moved to California in 1973.

Browne in 1972

Browne won the U.S. Junior Championship in 1966.

He represented Australia for a short time. He won the 1969 Australian Chess Championship. He tied first with Renato Naranja while representing Australia at the 1969 Asian Zonal tournament in Singapore, earning the International Master title, which immediately earned him an invitation to an international grandmaster tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, he gained the Grandmaster title by tying for second through fourth places, with Bruno Parma and Arthur Bisguier, behind reigning world champion Boris Spassky.

He played first board for Australia at the 1970 and 1972 Chess Olympiads, before switching to representing the United States in 1974.

U.S. Championships

Browne in 1974

He won the U.S. Chess Championship six times. His victories were at Chicago 1974 with 9½/13, Oberlin 1975 with 8½/13, Mentor 1977 with 9/13, Greenville 1980 with 7½/12, South Bend 1981 with 9/14, and 1983 with 9/13. Of these six titles, three were shared, with three-way ties in 1980 and 1983, and a two-way split in 1981. His six titles have been exceeded only by the eight titles of Bobby Fischer, all won outright by at least a point, and Samuel Reshevsky.


Browne qualified for three Interzonal tournaments, but never came close to qualification for the Candidates Tournament. At the Manila Interzonal 1976, Browne scored 8½/19 for 15th place. At the Las Palmas Interzonal 1982, he placed last of 14 contestants with 3/13. Finally, at the Taxco Interzonal 1985, he scored 6½/15 for a tied 9-13th place.


Browne generally performed well at the Chess Olympiads in his six appearances. He represented Australia twice and the United States four times, winning a total of five medals, all bronze. He scored 55½/86 (+40 −15 =31), for 64.5 percent. His detailed results, from, follow.

Other results

Browne was a dominant presence in American chess in the 1970s and 1980s. Aside from his U.S. Championship wins, he also won the National Open eleven times, the American Open seven times, the World Open three times, and the U.S. Open Chess Championship twice (1971 and 1972).

Browne also enjoyed many international successes from the early 1970s into the mid-1980s. His international firsts include Venice 1971, Wijk aan Zee 1974, Winnipeg 1974 (Pan American Championship), Lone Pine 1974, Mannheim 1975, Reykjavík 1978, Wijk aan Zee 1980, Chile 1981, Indonesia 1982 (shared with Ron Henley in a 26-player round-robin tournament), the 1983 New York Open, Gjovik 1983, and Naestved 1985.

However, after dominating the U.S. Championship for a decade, Browne was unable to approach the same level in that event after 1983. In U.S. Championships, he scored just 7½/17 in 1984, 6½/13 in 1985, 6/15 in 1986, 6/13 in 1987, and 6/15 in 1989. He won the 1991 Canadian Open Chess Championship.

Later life

Browne was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 2003. He won the U.S. Senior Open in June 2005. In 2012 he published an autobiography and collection of his best games, The Stress of Chess ... and its Infinite Finesse.

On 22 June 2015, Browne played in the 50th Anniversary National Open Chess Championship at the Westgate Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. He tied for 9th-15th. At the 2015 Las Vegas International Chess Festival, Browne also gave a 25-board simultaneous exhibition, a lecture series, and taught a chess camp. That same weekend, Browne took byes in the National Open so he could play in the 2015 Senior Event at the World Series of Poker. He played well, but did not win money.

After a week of chess and poker, Browne stayed at the home of a lifelong friend in Las Vegas, and died in his sleep on 24 June 2015. He was 66. He was survived by his wife of 42 years, Dr Raquel Browne, a clinical psychologist, their three sons, and eight grandchildren.

Playing style

If Bobby Fischer is the God of chess, I'm the Devil.

    - Walter Browne

Browne tended to spend a lot of his allotted time during the opening moves and early middlegame; consequently he often wound up in time trouble. This sometimes led to mistakes, even though Browne played reasonably well in time trouble; and good play during this phase could unsettle his opponents. A world-class speed chess player, Browne in 1988 formed the World Blitz Chess Association, but it ended in 2004 after encountering financial troubles.

Notable games

Here is one of Browne's best games, a coruscating brilliancy against International Master Bernard Zuckerman:

Browne-Zuckerman, New York 1973
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Bd3 dxc4 8.Bxc4 c5 9.0-0 a6 10.a4 cxd4 11.exd4 Nb6 12.Bb3 Bd7 13.Ne5 Bc6 14.Bc2 Nbd5 15.Bb1 Nb4 16.Re1 g6 17.Bh6 Re8 18.Ra3 Qd6 19.Ne2 Rad8 20.Rh3 Qd5 21.Nf3 Qa5 22.Nc3 Nbd5 23.Ne5 Nxc3 24.bxc3 Bxa4 25.Qe2 Bd7 26.Bg5 Nd5 27.Nxf7 Bxg5 28.Rxh7 Nf6 29.Bxg6 Nxh7 30.Qh5 Qxc3 31.Qxh7+ Kf8 32.Rf1 Qxd4 33.Ne5 Qf4 34.Nxd7+ Rxd7 35.Qh8+ Ke7 36.Qxe8+ Kf6 37.Qxd7 Kxg6 38.Qxe6+ Bf6 39.Qe8+ Kh6 40.g3 Qb4 41.Re1 a5 42.Re6 Qb2 43.Qf7 Kg5 44.h4+ Kg4 45.Qg6+ Kh3 46.Qf5# 1-0

Here is another brilliant win, this one against grandmaster Larry Christiansen:

Browne-Christiansen, U.S. Championship 1977
1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 3.d5 Ba6 4.e4 exd5 5.exd5 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Qe2+ Be7 8.Qc2 c6 9.Bd3 b5 10.cxb5 cxb5 11.Nge2 b4 12.Ne4 Nxd5 13.0-0 0-0 14.Rd1 Qa5 15.N2g3 g6 16.Bh6 Re8 17.Qd2 Nf6 18.Qf4 Qb6 19.Bxa6 Nxa6 20.Rd6 Bxd6 21.Nxf6+ Kh8 22.Bg7+ Kxg7 23.Ngh5+ gxh5 24.Qg5+ Kh8 25.Qh6 Bxh2+ 26.Kh1 Qxf6 27.Qxf6+ Kg8 28.Qg5+ Kh8 29.Qf6+ Kg8 30.Qg5+ Kh8 31.Kxh2 Re6 32.Rd1 Rg8 33.Qf4 Reg6 34.g3 f6 35.Rxd7 Nc5 36.Rd6 h4 37.Qxh4 a5 38.Qd4 1-0


Browne was a professional poker player since the early 1970s. In 2007, he was runner up in the $2500 HORSE event of the World Series of Poker. Browne cashed in live events for $269,203.