NM Landon Brownell passed away this morning after a car accident. (Update: The crash occurred near Bakersfield, California at about midnight on Monday night.) He was 19 years old, spending much of his life in Corvallis, Oregon and Tucson, Arizona. Landon's claim to fame came in 2006 when he won the National High School Championship. He was a key member of the Catalina Foothills High School (Tucson) dynasty coached by FM Robby Adamson. You can read Robby's tribute on Chess Life Online. Landon's final chess ratings were 2255 USCF and 2283 FIDE. He was also a US Champion and a 7 dan at Go.
Although he played for an Arizona school, I saw Landon frequently, either at nationals or at tournaments in Los Angeles or Las Vegas. He was a fierce competitor yet a gentle and social person. Landon defeated my student David Chock on board 1 in the final round of the 2006 nationals and shared first place with NM Daniel Schwarz at the 2007 nationals blitz. He also faced some other local juniors, most notably Michael Zhong.
If there is a lesson for all of us to learn, it is this: Do not drive while sleepy.
A life taken way too soon. Rest In Peace Landon Brownell.