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John Curdo vs Robert Byrne
"Forty Years at the Top" (game of the day Oct-08-2022)
95th US Open (1994), Chicago, IL USA, rd 4, Aug-10
Sicilian Defense: Canal Attack (B51)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: Queen h7 what the fat forever no?
Feb-11-21  KevinDenelsbeck: Indeed, chrisowen, what the fat forever.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: <KevinDenelsbeck> HAKA rank and file no?
Feb-11-21  woodenplayer: <al wazir> after 17. ...Qxa2 18. b3 O-O 19. Qc3 then either c4 or g4 or both and checks by Black's black-squared Bishop will thwart White's threatened mate on the long diagonal, leaving Black a piece up and White with a precarious king.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: Sorry Phooey Qa2! humbug no? thank-you.
Feb-11-21  CaliWest: what's wrong with black responding with something like 22...Be8 ? I don't see a clear win for white at that point
Feb-11-21  CaliWest: ohhh now I see it. cuz black wouldn't be able stop Rh8#
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < Curdo is one of those "Regional Champs" who is very strong, dominated his region, and was always a dangerous opponent. Guys like Rob Rowlett, Klaus Pohl, Viktors Pupols, and Charlie Powell come to mind (while Charlie was in VA). Curdo beat Bisguier, R. Byrne, and Benko over the board.>

Yes, I remember Klaus Pohl from some South Carolina tournaments long ago. What a terrific player he was!

I’ve seen a few Curdo games lately. Seems like you could write a good instructional book from his games. Maybe not this one. :-)

Feb-11-21  saturn2: For helpmate the solution is
20. Qxg6+ hxg6 21. hxg5 R any move  22. Rh8
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Kurt Braskin, Minnesota/midwest champion, 70s and 80s.
Feb-12-21  Nullifidian: 20. ♕xh7+ to lure the king in front of the rook. {20... Kxh7 21. Phxg5+ Kg8 (Bh6 22. Rxh6+ followed by Bxf6 and Rh8#) or the attractive ♔g7 22. ♙gxf6+ ♔g8 23. ♙f7#) 22. ♙xf6 and now white has two connected passed pawns and one will assuredly promote or black will give up a ruinous amount of material to stop it.
Oct-08-22  Brenin: Interesting game. White's 20th move was a fairly easy Thursday POTD last year.
Oct-08-22  belgradegambit: Curdo passed away a week ago at age ninety. He wrote a book on his chess life titled Forty Years at the Top. This game is a nice tribute to him.
Oct-08-22  Cheapo by the Dozen: Fun puzzle if Black takes the knight at move 14.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Another one of those strong "Regional Champs"--Peter Cleghorn of Alaska, who ranked among America's top players for many years.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Nilsson> over 11 years ago pointed out 17...Qxa2, after which White would have been dead lost, for example 18. Bxh8 Qa1+ 19.Kd2 0-0-0. <al wazir>'s suggestion of 18.b3 is met by 18...c4!
Oct-08-22  goodevans: As <THE pawn> said even earlier "The simple 19...g4 was required". After this Black would be winning as White just doesn't have much attack left (20.h5 Bf8 21.Qxh7+?? Kxh7 22.hxg6+ Kxg6 doesn't work in quite the same way).

I can sort of understand Byrne missing 17...Qxa2 but I find overlooking 19...g4 more puzzling. It's pretty much the first move I thought of when I got to that position in the game.

12...f6 should have provided a solid defence but White could have prevented it by threatening f7 with <12.Qh5> first.

click for larger view

This would have induced <12...g6> after <13.Qf3> is stronger as White now threatens 14.Bxe5 as well as f7. But if Curdo had found this we'd have been deprived of that beautiful finish.

Oct-08-22  sfm: Love it! The "next to last" blunder". Black has decisive moves in his favor in move 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 - and instead runs into the pretty shocker 20.Qxh7+!! Wonderful chess.
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: Amazing, B was easily winning at 17..., 18... and 19...

But after 19 .. Bf8 20 Qxh7+ and he was completely lost

Nov-01-22  Ratt Boy: <Phony Benoni: Well, whaddya know? Curdo got him when he was old.>

Byrne was born in 1928; Curdo, 1931.
So, yes, the 66-year-old lost to the 62-year-old youngster. RIP John Curdo, who spent four decades at the top of New England chess. He passed away on Sept. 30, at the age of 90.

Dec-02-22  knightline: Curdo was at the top of NE Chess for far greater than 40 years, when his book 40 Years At The Top came out. John had more like 60 years at the top!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Where have you been knightline?
Dec-02-22  stone free or die: True that, <knightline>, Curdo was chess royalty round these parts up until his passing.

<New England Chess without John Curdo is hard to imagine because he was a constant presence at local tournaments — as familiar to New England chess players as the Boston Public Garden swan boats.>

His last USCF rated tournament was in 2020, when he was still rated 2200 at almost 90 years...

(OK, USCF had a 2200 floor for him, but his quick rating was 2114 - at ~90 year old, that's awe inspiring)

He held up pretty well till ~2003, when over ~72 yo, time finally started grabbing back some of his rating points.

Let it be known, he didn't give them up willingly!

(For a point of reference - he first won the MA state ch in 1948 -

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: John Curdo won the Massachusetts state title 17 times between 1948 and 1985, the US Senior Championship, and won over 1000 chess tournaments, believed to be a world record by a wide margin.

This game vs Byrne is the Selected Game on his personal Wikipedia page.

Dec-03-22  stone free or die: Of course, when Curdo published his <Forty Years at the Top> it was in 1988, so the forty year figure was literally true, at the time.

A better title might have been <Forty Years (and counting)...>. Ha!


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