Robert E. Byrne

Robert E. Byrne

(1928-2013)
United States—Inducted 1994

One of the few American players to qualify for the Candidates matches, Robert Byrne is also well remembered for his insightful writing as a chess columnist for the New York Times from 1972-2006. Byrne won the U.S. Open in 1960 and tied for first with Pal Benko in the 1966 competition. In 1972 he triumphed in the U.S. Chess Championship, earning a place in the 1973 Interzonal Tournament, where he took third place. He then competed in the 1974 Candidates Tournament, playing against Boris Sqassky. Between 1952 and 1978, Byrne played in nine Chess Olympiads, earning five team and two individual medals.

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 contributed frequently to Chess Life and released three books. He also worked with the U.S. Chess Federation in an administrative role, chairing the committee on masters’ affairs and served as one of the organization’s vice-presidents.