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Donald Byrne
D Byrne 

Number of games in database: 304
Years covered: 1944 to 1973
Overall record: +109 -81 =112 (54.6%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 2 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 English (51) 
    A15 A10 A16 A12 A14
 English, 1 c4 c5 (22) 
    A36 A37 A38 A33
 English, 1 c4 e5 (16) 
    A21 A26 A20 A22 A25
 Uncommon Opening (11) 
 King's Indian (9) 
    E60 E97 E67 E61 E62
 King's Indian Attack (7) 
    A07 A08
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (58) 
    B77 B27 B76 B72 B71
 Sicilian Dragon (38) 
    B77 B71 B76 B72 B70
 Grunfeld (32) 
    D91 D82 D94 D85 D78
 King's Indian (14) 
    E60 E80 E64 E66 E73
 English (9) 
    A16 A15
 King's Indian Attack (6) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Najdorf vs D Byrne, 1962 0-1
   D Byrne vs Myagmarsuren, 1962 1-0
   R Byrne vs D Byrne, 1958 0-1
   D Byrne vs R Pitschak, 1953 1-0
   D Byrne vs Reshevsky, 1956 1-0
   D Byrne vs Reshevsky, 1954 1/2-1/2
   R Sprague vs D Byrne, 1957 0-1
   Averbakh vs D Byrne, 1954 0-1
   D Byrne vs J Kaplan, 1972 1/2-1/2
   D Byrne vs Fischer, 1958 1/2-1/2

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Tel Aviv Olympiad qual-4 (1964)
   58th US Open (1957)
   56th US Open (1955)
   54th US Open (1953)
   53rd US Open (1952)
   Rosenwald 1954/55 (1954)
   Mar del Plata (1962)
   Third Rosenwald Trophy (1956)
   Varna Olympiad qual-2 (1962)
   Vinkovci (1968)
   47th US Open (1946)
   Kostic Memorial (1969)
   San Antonio (1972)
   Varna Olympiad Final-A (1962)
   Lugano Olympiad Final-A (1968)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   US Championship 1958/59 by suenteus po 147
   1954-55 first Rosenwald tournament by crawfb5
   Trophy Chess by samsloan

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Donald Byrne
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(born Jun-12-1930, died Apr-08-1976, 45 years old) United States of America

[what is this?]

Donald Byrne was born in New York, the younger brother of Robert Byrne. Awarded the IM title in 1962, he was US Open Champion in 1953. From 1962 to 1972, Byrne played on five US Olympiad teams, but his greatest over the board success was the defeat of Yuri Averbakh (+3, =0, -1) in the 1954 USA versus USSR match in New York. A professor at Pennsylvania State University, Byrne died of lupus at age 45.

Wikipedia article: Donald Byrne

Last updated: 2023-02-25 00:05:11

 page 1 of 13; games 1-25 of 304  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. D Byrne vs Kashdan  0-1251944Manhattan CC-ch 1944/45D70 Neo-Grunfeld Defense
2. A Kevitz vs D Byrne  1-0291944Manhattan CC-ch 1944/45D29 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
3. D Sibbett vs D Byrne  0-171194647th US OpenC50 Giuoco Piano
4. F Yerhoff vs D Byrne  ½-½21194647th US OpenB07 Pirc
5. D Byrne vs W Grossman  1-039194647th US OpenD13 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
6. D Byrne vs H Seidman  1-047194647th US OpenE14 Queen's Indian
7. G Katz vs D Byrne  ½-½30194647th US OpenD82 Grunfeld, 4.Bf4
8. D Byrne vs H Steiner ½-½33194647th US OpenA51 Budapest Gambit
9. D Byrne vs K Forster  ½-½41194647th US OpenE14 Queen's Indian
10. H Fajans vs D Byrne  ½-½21194647th US OpenD83 Grunfeld, Grunfeld Gambit
11. Kupchik vs D Byrne  1-040194647th US OpenC41 Philidor Defense
12. D Byrne vs F Yerhoff  1-034194647th US OpenE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
13. D Byrne vs G Katz 1-042194647th US OpenA52 Budapest Gambit
14. H Steiner vs D Byrne  ½-½59194647th US OpenD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
15. A Bisguier vs D Byrne 1-035194647th US OpenC71 Ruy Lopez
16. D Byrne vs H Fajans  1-040194647th US OpenD81 Grunfeld, Russian Variation
17. D Byrne vs H Seidman  ½-½34194647th US OpenD81 Grunfeld, Russian Variation
18. O Ulvestad vs D Byrne  ½-½28194647th US OpenA15 English
19. D Byrne vs W Shipman  ½-½61194647th US OpenD57 Queen's Gambit Declined, Lasker Defense
20. M Luckis vs D Byrne 1-0371947La Plata - New York Radio MatchE94 King's Indian, Orthodox
21. D Byrne vs A Bisguier  0-1401948New YorkD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. R Byrne vs D Byrne 1-0151949New YorkC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
23. C Sharp vs D Byrne  0-133195253rd US OpenD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
24. D Byrne vs J Piatigorsky  1-026195253rd US OpenA04 Reti Opening
25. D Fischheimer vs D Byrne 0-131195253rd US OpenD31 Queen's Gambit Declined
 page 1 of 13; games 1-25 of 304  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Byrne wins | Byrne loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-12-07  timhortons: donald happy birthday...chess world owes a lot to you....youre name well be etched in the chess books for generations to come
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: It is a little cruel of fate that for most of us Donald Byrne belongs to the "Washington Generals" club of players who are more famous for losing than winning. This is a shame because he played some fine chess. Strange that he had such an aversion to 1.e4 and 2...e5 though...
Jun-12-09  WhiteRook48: a little cruel that he's only known for "The Game of the Century"
Jun-12-09  Tessie Tura: <a little cruel that he's only known for "The Game of the Century">

If you're going to suffer a famous loss in an immortal game to a kid, it might as well be Fischer.

A family member of mine had lupus and it's a terrible, debilitating disease. Flannery O'Connor had it and died at a younger age than Byrne.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Didn't he die of lung cancer? Thats how I read about it years ago, he was a chain smoker at a very young age.
Oct-02-09  Caissanist: While he was in fact a heavy smoker, his obituary in Chess Life said it was Lupus. He suffered from that disease for about the last 15 years of his life.

If you look at chessmetrics he seems to have been as good as his brother, or perhaps a bit better, until he got sick.

May-02-10  wordfunph: Donald Byrne, a strong American amateur and coach of the 1950 and '60s, recommended that players always think about their ositions mentally when away from the board. In this way you often "see" a move that your mind blocked out when you last examined the position with your eyes.

(Source: The Inner Game of Chess by Andy Soltis)

Jun-12-10  talisman: happy birthday donald.
Jan-05-11  wordfunph: 1969 U.S. Chess Championship:

Donald Byrne, the gentleman chess master, played under duress; as an associate professor of English Literature at Penn State, he was seen grading papers during the tournament.


Premium Chessgames Member
  ketchuplover: RIP!!
Jun-12-12  talisman: happy birthday donald.
Jun-12-12  SimonWebbsTiger: I see the Seirawan story of brotherly love hasn't made the page yet! Well, good reason.

Donald was playing Robert. Donald was in bad time trouble and in bad need of the washroom. Robert had ample time to let Donald go. But Robert said to Donald: " You s___ on your own time!"

Jun-12-12  LoveThatJoker: IM Donald Byrne, today you are remembered!


Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Most famous for a game he had with Fischer.
Jun-12-13  brankat: R.I.P. Mr.Byrne.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: R.I.P. Donald Byrne, probably most famous for being on the wrong side of a famous game.
Apr-08-16  TheFocus: Rest in peace, Donald Byrne.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Troller: Bent Larsen wrote the following in his article on the Las Palmas tournament 1976:

<The show must go on

During the tournament Robert Byrne was informed that his brother Donald was very ill and one day later that he had passed away. We observed a minute of silence, Robert wanted to play. He did not play well that day which is no big surprise.

The youngest of the strongest brother-couple in the chess world lived to be 44 years. The last twenty years of his life he knew that his chances of living much longer were very slim, despite progresses in medicine. He had the horrible disease lupus and had it not been for cortisone he would probably not have made it to 30. But when one met him one got the impression of a robust and happy guy. He was widely popular, several times captain of the US team at olympiads. The last year or so his kidneys failed, he started dialysis but decided on trying for a transplant even though the risk was very big in his case. The transplant seemed to have worked well but one and a half months later the complications did come.>

Jun-13-18  rgr459: His appearance in that picture is consistent with a patient taking high doses of corticosteroids (e.g. cortisone).
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: And doughnuts.
Jun-12-20  savage sanctuary: Happy birthday IM Donald Byrne (June 12, 1930 – April 8, 1976), one of the strongest American players during the 1950s and 1960s. An English professor, he taught at Pennsylvania State University from 1961 until his death.

a super game of Mr Byrne's

Najdorf vs D Byrne, 1962

May-03-21  login:

During his time as graduate student (~ Oct 1954) Donald Byrne took part in the compilation and evaluation of statistical data of the third phase field trial in the 'Poliomyelitis Vaccine Evaluation Center at the University of Michigan, Statistical Operations' [under director Dr. Thomas Francis Jr.] to help to determine whether the vaccine was effective in preventing poliovirus infection.

'.. Dr. Robert Bernreuter, a psychologist who designed one of the first scientific measurements of personality, became the Dean of Admissions in 1958 and Vice President of Student Affairs in 1964, and he loved the royal game. He recruited Donald Byrne with the understanding that he could teach English and still coach the team. ..'

from Donald Byrne Memorial Chess Club

'.. when Donald Byrne ran PSU chess, chess was under the athletic department and adequately funded. However, after Byrne died in 1976, the chess club reverted to a student organization with minimal funding. ..'

from ChessBase, Chess News by Alexey Root , 2017

Attack from Moscow

'.. Russia's chess masters are mature men, well-groomed, dignified, their appearance suggesting a group of prominent professors. In comparison the Americans suggest a group of revolutionaries—wild, unpredictable and unyielding in their resistance to Soviet chess authority. ..'

from Sports Illustrated, Events & Discoveries, July 1955

Former chess coach named to Hall of Fame

'.. Madge Byrne explains that although her husband taught his whole family the rules of chess, she preferred playing with their boys after her first few games with him. "Not only was there no hope of winning against Don, but 'insult was added to injury' by his reading a book while I struggled to decide on a move, which he would respond to in a few seconds, and then return to his book." A year or two later, she admits, she was outclassed by her boys, as well. They continue to play one another casually, and benefit from tips given by "Uncle Bob," Donald Byrne's older brother, Grandmaster Robert Byrne , who is a chess analyst for The New York Times and who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. ..'

by Gary Cramer (Association of Clinical Research Professionals), 2002

Obituary Madge Coleman Byrne (1925-2010)

Their son Eli (Christopher 'Chris' C.) Byrne is an Associate Professor of Mathematics.

Further reading on vaccination at the time

Jan-07-23  thegoodanarchist: <A professor at Pennsylvania State University, Byrne died of lupus at age 45.>

Hmm, I didn't know Lupus is fatal. That's quite young to die.

Feb-24-23  Scuvy: In the biography, it says Byrne defeated Averbakh in Moscow. Wasn't the 1954 match played in New York, and Moscow the site for the 1955 return match?
Feb-25-23  Scuvy: That was a fast correction! Thanks to the CG admin who fixed it.


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