Walter Shawn Browne

Walter Shawn Browne

United States – Inducted 2003

Walter Browne was born in Sydney, Australia, to an American father and Australian mother. He and his family moved to the United States when Browne was three years old. As a child, Browne developed a passion for the game, joined the Manhattan Chess Club, and in 1966, became the winner of the first U.S. Junior Closed Chess Championship. From 1969-1972, he represented Australia in competition, winning the 1969 Australian Championship, tying for first at the 1969 Asian Zonal tournament in Singapore, and playing first board at the 1970 and 1972 Chess Olympiads. He then represented the United States, and he continued to win multiple national and international titles throughout the 1970s and 1980s. 

Browne was a dominant force in American chess and won six U.S. Chess Championships, a feat only exceeded by fellow U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductees Bobby Fischer and Samuel Reshevsky. Browne excelled in open tournaments, earning shared or outright first place in the American Open seven times, the National Open eleven times, the U.S. Open three times, and the World Open three times. His international tournament victories include Reykjavik 1978, Wijk aan Zee 1980, Surakarta/Denpasar 1982, and Næstved 1985. Browne also competed in three Interzonal tournaments and represented the United States in four Chess Olympiads, medaling each time.

Browne was known as a tactician whose perfectionist nature sometimes led him into time pressure. Normally a chronic shortage of time is caused by a lack of confidence, leading one to constantly recheck variations. However, in Browne’s case, it was the result of a desire to reach the absolute truth in his games, calculating ever deeper to penetrate the secrets of the position. This energy-intensive approach was not always the most practical, but led to some spectacular games, which can be found in his book The Stress of Chess and its Infinite Finesse, which contains 101 of his best efforts. A world-class speed chess player, Browne formed the World Blitz Chess Association in 1988, which lasted until 2004, and founded the magazine Blitz Chess. In 2014, Browne won the U.S. Senior Chess Open.


A Conversation with Walter Browne

World Chess Hall of Fame
November 11, 2014
GM Yasser Seirawan talks with GM Walter Browne, a six-time winner of the U.S. Chess Championship and inductee to the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. Browne discusses his formative years, shares anecdotes and personal stories about Bobby Fischer and other chess players of the era, and provides insights into his legendary career.
Video by Ben Simon