It should have been a cakewalk. On a Saturday afternoon in 1972 in a seedy hotel conference room in Midtown Manhattan, two men faced off across a chessboard. Well, one of them was a man—Walter Browne, a six-time United States champion regarded as perhaps the best American player not named Bobby Fischer. Facing him was a 14-year-old kid only a few years removed from his very first game. Dark, curly hair curtained his eyes. He was slight and a little over medium height, with a notable lack of physical coordination that belied a singular concentration. He was good, sometimes very good, and many observers considered him a future star. But he wasn’t Walter Browne.
Thirty-seven moves later, it had indeed been a cakewalk. But it was the kid, Peter Winston, who emerged the victor, “blowing up Browne’s position in a way that never happens to a player of his caliber,” as Chess Life magazine explained. Winston crushed the elder player so decisively that their contest would be discussed in chess circles for years, called simply “The Game.”
Winston, some thought, had the chops to be a grandmaster. Instead, a few years later, he would make a move more bewildering than anything he’d done in front of a chessboard. Read More