Issac Braswell dies tragically
In what has been a spate of misfortunes for the U.S. chess community, Issac Braswell became the most recent tragedy. The affable Chicago player allegedly took his own life on March 2nd, only a day after playing in a match in the Chicago Industrial Chess League (CICL). There was a confirmed eyewitness account reported.
Teammate and friend Bill Brock shared the details in an commemorative essay titled, “Love Supreme” after John Coltrane’s title jazz classic. Braswell was an “Expert” (with a final rating of 2075), loved to discuss chess on Facebook and was a regular poster here on The Chess Drum blog. Ironically, he sent his condolences to the family of Quinton Smith after the scholastic player died from a fall.
In this essay, Brock described Braswell’s gentle spirit and passion for chess. He even shared touching e-mail that lead up to his last days. One month ago, Braswell had notified Brock that he needed to take a break from league play. He cited, “social issues”. However he played in the U.S. Amateur Team two weeks later.
After a successful team tournament, he decided to continue his league play. He would play his last game on Thursday, March 1st… a win.
Isaac was one of the kindest and most good-natured people I’ve ever known. He “struggled daily with the demons of his past,” as a friend wrote, but he made other people smile. He was enthusiastic in his passions, whether mastery of chess or tyro at classical guitar, and he was enthusiastic about the success of his friends, always ready with smiles, laughs, and compliments.
Posing with GM Susan Polgar.
Issac in action at 2012 U.S. Amateur Team.
While it is painful and perhaps uncomfortable to mention such a demise, we have been seeing more occurrences following the 2006 death (by apparent suicide) of Jessie Gilbert of England. More recently the chess community saw Quinton Smith’s mysterious fall from a hotel tower ruled a “suicide” (although there are still doubts in that case). On February 29th, Dana Hannibal’s took her own life as a result of bullying in an Oregon high school.
Issac helping to direct a tournament at Muhammad University of Islam.
Photo by Kareem Abdullah.
While one may draw a negative connection, it is easy to understand that chess provided an outlet for these individuals who may have died under decidedly different circumstances. In Braswell’s case, he had lived a very tough life filled with health issues, destitution and despair. However, chess was one of his main outlets and he often signed his e-mail, “checkmate you later”. This playful jab was a testament to the joy he found in the game, but mostly the people he encountered.
The Lawson YMCA, where he lived, is having a memorial service this Tuesday March 13th at 30 W. Chicago Avenue at 11:00 a.m. The family is having a memorial service for Isaac on Thursday at 3:30pm. The location is A.A. Rayner Funeral Home 318 East 71st Chicago, Illinois 60619.
Bill Brock’s Tribute: https://www.chicagochess.blogspot.com/2012/03/love-supreme.html
I was fortunate enough to have known Issac, if only for a few brief encounters. We last communicated on Facebook back in January. It is unfortunate that people can have regrets after such a tragedy, but it may also show that we rarely get to know our friends outside of chess. I had no inkling of his problems and may have taken a different approach in reaching out to him more frequently. However, I will remember his posts on The Chess Drum, always positive and uplifting and a very lengthy conversation we had on Facebook back in December.
damn i miss
my Brother ill give my lfe to have him back
Daaim – This is very sad news. I did not know Issac, but it is always painful when a member of the community dies under such circumstances.
You mention that there has been a determination of the cause of Quinton Smith’s death. Do you have any further information?
They have declared Quinton Smith’s death a suicide, but there is quite a bit of doubt. Some believe there was foul play.
Here is the story.
I did not know Brother Issac but I offer my condolences to his friends and family just the same! Peace – Kimani A. Stancil
I did know Isaac and he was truly a good brother. My condolences to his family. He will be truly missed.
I knew Isaac well and he was one of my favorite people. He had a lot of demons and was sometimes emotially rash but considering what he went through, it was understandable. What stood out about him was that he was remarkably kind, thoughtful, honest, humerous, generous, humble and filled with joy. I will miss him greatly and I am brought to tears writing about him. He made the world a better place and I will miss him like an old friend.
Thanks Daaim re Quinton Smith. I’m sure his mom has lots of questions that deserve answers. And even if it was indeed a suicide, there are aspects of what happened that many involved need to assess: How did he get on the roof, is there video, what does it show, was he alone, was there an alarm, and consider that the young man and his classmate were accompanied on the trip by two chaperones.
Isaac was very soft spoken but his game wasn’t and we will truly miss his presence. He vame in 1st place at the Allen Hammond Memorial a few years ago with no losses.
Peace and Blessings! Gods Mercy and Blessings to Brother Isaac!
Condolences and best wishes to Isaac’s family and friends from the Jamaican Chess fraternity. May his soul rest in peace.
Here is a post from Issac to Jose Espinosa…
Wait, wait, wait…Allen Hammond Memorial? If this is the Allen Hammond I’m thinking of, he was around my age. We both played in the Illinois High School Invitational in 1991, and he was a nice kid. I didn’t even know he’d passed away.
Isaac Braswell is another player who I knew from my time in the Chicago area. I didn’t know about his various issues; all I knew was that he was rated in the mid-1700s when I knew him, he always seemed happy, and he was severely underrated.
Too many, gone too young. Another loss for Chicago chess.
Just happened upon your blog. I am the captain of Isaac’s CICL team, and a friend who had known Isaac for several years from the chess community. The week before Isaac’s death I talked to him for about 2 hours in a light rain outside of Union Station. He told me a lot about his troubles, and I tried my darndest to help him that night. He gave me no indication that this might happen, and I’m still crushed (as many of us have been) about his loss.
Just FYI: I wrote up a 4-page memorial for Isaac that I believe will be published in the next Chicago Industrial Chess League bulletin. It’s mostly about his last 2 years, but check the CICL website in the next couple weeks if you’re interested in reading it. Or contact me (email@example.com) and I’ll send a copy.
All the best. RIP Isaac.
I probably will not remember to check the CICL site in a couple of weeks. I’ll request a copy.
I played in the CICL in the late 80s for the Argonne Knights. We won two years and runner-up in my four years.
BTW… this is a full-blown website with over 9,000 pages since 2001. The blog I launched in 2007.
Just found out tonight while playing at a Starbucks where Isaac used to come play. Sucks man..too bad. He is one of the coolest people I met and I had a yon of great laughs watching him trash talk in chess games. I am grateful I got to see him just a few weeks before it happened . Glad I found this page.