Robert E. Byrne

Robert E. Byrne

(1928-2013)
United States—Inducted 1994

Byrne and his younger brother Donald were among the talented young “Collins Kids” who developed under John W. (Jack) Collins in the mid-20th century. Between 1952 and 1976, he won seven medals over the course of nine Olympiads, attained the U.S. Open title in 1960, and participated in several team matches between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. However, academic pursuits limited his opportunities for competitive play. After graduating from Yale in 1952, he went on to become a professor of philosophy at Indiana University, where he spent several years before gradually turning professional in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Besides his Olympiad participation, he tied for another U.S. Open title in 1966 and scored victories at the 1972 U.S. Championship and the 1973 Leningrad Interzonal.

Known for his contributions in several opening systems, preparing for a match against Byrne was always a challenge. His competitive play tailed off during the 1970s after succeeding Al Horowitz in 1972 as chess columnist for the New York Times, a position he held until his retirement in 2006. He contributes frequently to Chess Life and has released three books. He also has worked with the U.S. Chess Federation in an administrative role, chairing the committee on masters’ affairs and serving as one of the organization’s vice-presidents.