January 9,1949 — June 24, 2015
Yesterday died a giant of a man,Walter S. Browne. A legend! Six-time US chess champion; one of the strongest professional players in the world in backgammon and poker; noted author and active chess promoter. My most sincere condolences to his wife Racquel. Walter was 66 years old.
One of the perks of being a strong chess player for the past 30-odd years or so is me having the opportunity to travel around the world, meeting so many gifted and multi-talented individuals. Walter Browne was perhaps the most colourful and versatile of them all. Certainly the most memorable.
Where ever he was playing Walter regularly generated so much excitement that you could always figure out where he was located just by the large crowd gathering around him. It did not matter if it was in a world-class chess tournament hall or in a smokey city club playing backgammon, Walter thrived on the adrenaline rush associated with playing for high stakes.
Browne (front left) analyzing with Karpov and Tal. (Las Palmas 1977) Browne had missed a forced win!
Browne playing in the Canadian Open in Toronto 1976.
I was fortunate to have met Walter when I was in my formative years. I learned a lot from him, even from just watching him. He came to Canada on numerous occasions, gracing our strongest open tournaments.
Walter Browne giving a simul during the 1977 Quebec Open.
I also played in numerous tournaments with him in the US during the period 1977 to 1987, before I moved to Portugal. Many of these tournaments saw Walter emerge victorious, giving rise to his nickname: King of Swiss’!
Walter Browne. Lone Pine 1978. Reshevsky is watching.
Our score in over the board play was even (one win a piece and several draws), and every game was an intense struggle. In many ways his chess style and philosophy paralleled that of the great Victor Korchnoi.
Korchnoi(left) playing blitz with Browne Lone Pine 1981. At his best, Browne could take anyone in blitz.
We became friends. I remember fondly of the time I spent with Walter and his charming wife Racquel in San Francisco (1987) during the round robin organized by Nick DeFirmian. We decided to work together, and in preparation for my match with Yusupov (1989) Walter was a BIG help, especially with the openings. I must have spent several thousands of dollars on phone calls during the match speaking with Walter!
I will miss Walter! I intend to write several blog articles in coming days in his honor, just to give my readers an inkling of this exceptional human being. RIP.