Landon Brownell: As I remember him.
by: IM Levon Altounian
I am deeply saddened by the tragic accident and the untimely departure of Landon. I met him on the very first tournament after I moved to Tucson in 2002. He was then a vibrant kid who always wore a dark suit at the tournaments. That always reminded me of an IM Ziatdinov, who was always true to his motto “chess is a profession, you need to look professional.” You could see Landon frequently outside playing “hacky-sack” with friends. I gradually got to know the Brownell family and I was deeply struck by how unique their view of life was and how talented they all were. I gathered the sense of “whatever is too normal is average and life is too short to be average” and saw everyone in the family strive for excellence and achievement. Quick wit is unique to the family and especially applied to Landon, his chess, and excellence in everything else he did. The Brownell family became an example of how to accomplish everything creatively and I always used Landon as a model for all my new chess students, players and their parents. He was very well rounded and had many other hobbies and interests. I bet many never knew that few years back he also won a Go championship that no other “Caucasian” has ever even come close to winning.
I became Landon’s chess coach I in 2005. It was a pure pleasure being his teacher because nothing impresses me more than a student who grasps your concepts, interprets them and applies them in his own way to accomplish the best possible results. Very quickly he was able to surpass most of his peers. His ICC (Chessclub.com) rating was usually hovering at around 2400-2500, which is not an easy rating to accomplish. What was very interesting to me is that at the State level, Landon and Vaishnav Aradhyula as well as John Cox and Chris De Sa were of about even level, each winning those titles a couple of times, but at the National level Landon was probably the only Arizona high school person capable of beating much higher rated people and therefore usually getting higher scores. I attribute it to his aggressive and fearless style, tactical ingenious and overall creativity. Robby Adamson and I still recall his quick win over now GM Lenderman by memorizing a very complicated line in one of the openings and twice being instrumental in Foothills High School team National victory. I’ll miss one of the most talented students I have ever had who also had one of the most complex and unique minds I have ever encountered. My deepest condolences go to the Brownell family.