The Top Chess Players in the World

GM Robert E Byrne

Robert E Byrne
Photo: Joost Evers/Dutch National Archives, CC.
Full name
Robert Byrne
Apr 20, 1928 - Apr 12, 2013 (age 84)‎
Place of birth
Brooklyn, New York
United States


GM Robert Byrne was an American grandmaster who was the U.S. chess champion in 1972 and a candidate for the world championship in 1974. He was also the chess columnist for The New York Times for a third of a century, from 1972 to 2006. Perhaps nothing demonstrates Byrne’s longevity as a columnist better than a nearly perfect overlap with GM Garry Kasparov’s entire playing career (1973-2005).

Byrne became a candidate for the world championship by finishing third in the 1973 Leningrad Interzonal tournament, but he faced former world champion GM Boris Spassky in the quarterfinal of the 1974 Candidates and lost. Byrne would be the last American to play in a Candidates tournament for over a decade until GM Yasser Seirawan four cycles later in 1985.

Robert’s brother Donald (1930-76) was an IM who, although he defeated world championship candidates like GMs Samuel Reshevsky and Efim Geller, is best known for losing “The Game of the Century” to GM Bobby Fischer in 1956. Robert Byrne also lost a famous game to Fischer, in 1963, but scored a respectable +1 -2 =6 overall. The win, not that famous loss, is the game above. The game below, against the great GM David Bronstein, was recounted by Byrne in his final The New York Times column.

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