Thursday, December 28, 2017

American GM Walter Browne Interview - LCCC Returns Jan 8 with Kid's Night

GM Walter Browne - USA in 1972
We start our friendly chess club action on January 8, 2018 at 6pm. Stop on by with all the chess equipment Santa brought you and put it to use.

With all the technology out there for chess today, being able to play over games and puzzles is easy to do. You don't need a blog to do that. So this year your humble scribe is going to be doing more writing (and 'borrowing' articles) and less game and puzzle review.

Of course some great wins and interesting games from our members will still be presented. And true gems that I spot will also be reviewed. But a more article based blog will be done this year.

With that in mind, I wanted to present an interview done with GM Walter Browne in 2014. We lost this great chess player in June of 2015 at the age of 66. Much too young!

Your humble scribe does have some connection with GM Browne. First off I played him in a simultaneous exhibition at the height of his career in 1975. This must explain why I lost!

After all, GM Browne only had played in three interzonals to qualify for the World Championship, had 5 Olympic Chess Bronze medals, two time US Open Champion, three time World Open Champion, seven time American Open Champion and eleven time National Open Champion.

In addition, GM  Browne was also a serious poker player - which I also try to be. He finished second in a World Series of Poker event against 2000 entrants in 2007. And I finished second once in an online poker tournament of 9 players for play chips. So we draw there......right?

After reading GM Browne's autobiography The Stress of Chess and it's Infinite Finesse, Macauley Peterson interviewed the author for Chess Life. I present some highlights now:

WB: I learned chess from my father at the age of 8 years old (1957).  My first tournament was in September of 1962 at the Manhattan Chess Club. I did not do so well in school because I was studying chess around the clock. I would consume whole books in a matter of days. But as I got older I found poker and learned I could make money doing that. And even though I still worked hard at chess, poker did take time away from it. Bobby (Fischer) was chess, chess, chess all the time. But I still spent hours at the Manhattan Chess Club and the seedy Flea House. There were always people at both places playing chess at all hours. Some guys would play for 3 or 4 days straight.

MP: Can you describe your style?

WB: I think I have different styles. I play positional chess. I love chasing tactics, but I won't make unsound sacrifices just for the attack.

MP: You played Bobby Fischer in Zagreb in 1970, and you wrote you lost because you were "too much of an artist." What did you mean by that?

WB: The key move was around number 88 or 90. I saw the winning move and didn't play it. I wanted to win more beautifully and it cost me the game. He found a miracle defense and we drew.

MP: Did you and Fischer socialize?

WB: Yeah, we went out to dinner a few times. I wish I would have been more in touch with him, but he was really a recluse. I wish I would have offered to be his second in Reykjavik. And when he was negotiating with Karpov in 1975, I should have offered to help him then, Maybe I could have persuaded him to bend a little and play. I think Fischer would have blown Karpov away!

MP: How did you get on with Karpov?

WB: Quite well. I played a lot of tournaments with him. I wish I would have taken more risks to beat him. I never did. He used to play so fast too. (Walter seemed to always get in time trouble). I remember watching Karpov play [Svetozar] Gligoric one time and he reeled off the first 25 moves in a minute!

MP: [Victor] Korchnoi comes up many times in your book. He seems to be sort of an idol. I was curious about your relationship with him - sometimes friendly, sometimes not. You wrote that when you beat him in the last round at Wijk ann Zee in 1989 he didn't shake your hand.

WB: Well, he didn't like to lose. He was a very competitive guy. Even at bridge! He was a serious guy, but easy to talk to. He would share his thoughts about a game and was not standoffish. He was willing to share his thoughts with you more than the other Soviet players - like Petrosian and even Karpov.

MP: And your career over all?

WB: I was not a professional chess player after 1984. I focused on poker. But in 1988 I came back to chess and worked hard. I got my FIDE rating back up to 2560 so I was almost as good, but I didn't play internationally. Then the there was tremendous competition from European players coming over to play in our Swisses (tournaments) and it became very tough. But I still managed some moderate successes.

Scribe: GM Browne stopped playing competitive chess by 1998.

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