THERE was a moment during the recent Istanbul world team Olympiad when it looked as though America might strike gold.

The country had stunned Russia in round nine, despite being outrated on every board. I thought a US victory might provide a worldwide chess boost (that none of the 
team were US-born would 
be conveniently overlooked). But the moment passed 
when they stumbled to 
China and trailed in fifth.

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Danny Kopec, the American computer expert who became 1980 Scottish Champion, suggests the USA “never has and possibly never will” appreciate chess. Kopec writes a foreword to the biography by Walter Browne The Stress of Chess and its Infinite Finesse (New in Chess). “It is a sad state of affairs when the six-time US chess champion must choose poker to make a decent living,” he states.

Browne subsidised his career by poker, backgammon and even scrabble. His competitive drive gave him many successes but he was never a serious world title challenger, not least since 
his peak years coincided 
with Anatoly Karpov.

Browne played one game against Bobby Fischer, a 98-move marathon at Zagreb in 1970. White: W Browne, Black: R Fischer. 88 c7?? 
“A committal decision on the last move of the time control.” 88 Rh7! was best. 88...Nd7 89 Kc6?? “A huge mistake and the cause of a thousand nightmares,” concedes Browne. Again 89 Rh7. 
Now Fischer makes a miracle save. 89...h1=Q! 90 Bxh1 Ne5+ 91 Kb6 Bc5+! The move Browne overlooked. 92 Kxc5 Nxf7 93 Kb6 Nd6 94 Bd5 Kd7 95 Bc6+ Kc8 96 Bd5 Kd7 97 Bb3 Nc8+ 98 Kb7 Ne7 Draw agreed.