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Williams/Amherst Baseball, 150 years in the making

Pittsfield will host, and ESPNU with televise, the 150th anniversary of America’s first inter-collegiate baseball game. May 3rd, 1 p.m. There will also be a “vintage game,” chess match reenactment, and $1000 poster design contest.

Details here and here.

Amherst won the first contest between the two schools by a score of 73 to 32, in 25 innings. When the two schools couldn’t agree on a site, the Pittsfield Base Ball Club donated its grounds, a field located near the intersection of North St. and Maplewood Ave. The schools have played each other 292 times, and Amherst leads the series 164-125-2. Each team has won 12 times since 2000.

EDIT @ 11:19 – It’s in May, not March, as has been pointed out in the comments.

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#1 Comment By nuts On February 4, 2009 @ 7:56 am

This will be a great day. Any day Williams plays Amherst is a great day.

Do you think they’ll go with the throwback uniforms? Maybe the Yankees and Red Sox orgs could throw in the cash to make that happen.

Why ESPNU? There’s an Amherst guy named Ryan who does ESPN programming. Put it on the deuce.

Thanks for posting this, and your posts yesterday too Will.

#2 Comment By sophmom On February 4, 2009 @ 8:12 am


I think this happens in May, not March.

#3 Comment By Trevor Murphy On February 4, 2009 @ 10:08 am

I follow chess at Williams more than baseball. I think this would be a great event and I look forward to it.
Here is a link that does a decent job of describing the shared history of chess and baseball.

#4 Comment By JG On February 4, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

From the Berkshire Eagle article…

Besides the anniversary game, a three-inning “vintage game” — played by alumni of the two colleges in period uniforms under 19th century rules — will be held.

So some folks will be in vintage uniforms, even if not for the whole game. That would be so much fun!

#5 Comment By nuts On February 4, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

Thanks JG. I hope we have some talent lined up to shell the defectors.

I’ve never been to a chess match. Is it like squash (when its done right)? But seriously, Do you match best against best and so forth? How many players per side?

#6 Comment By Trevor Murphy On February 4, 2009 @ 2:48 pm

Chess matches with teams are not too complicated. Teams consist of 4 players. Board 1 is the top player for that team going down to board 4 with the weakest player. Colors alternate for each board and are determined by coin toss. Each win is a point. Each draw is a half point. Each loss is no points. This makes the board 4 result as important as the board 1 result.
A chess clock is used to ensure the match is finished by a fixed time. For example each player might have 90 minutes to make all their moves making the match last a maxium of 3 hours. The way the clock works is you start with 90 minutes and it counts down while you are on turn. If you run out of time, you lose.
The team element comes into play because players can observe the other boards. It might be that a draw on their board may be a team loss so they instead play aggressively and dangerously to save the match. The opposite may happen too where the draw seals the win so they play as boring and safe as possible locking the board up like a traffic jam.
If you avidly play chess, it can be interesting to watch, but it doesn’t make great television. Game in 5 minutes is fun to watch and play.

#7 Comment By nuts On February 4, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

Thanks Trevor. I think I’d enjoy watching a match (sitting next to a knowledgeable player and peppering them with questions in a whisper tone…


with off-camera expert commentary like Texas hold’em …via EphCast.

Imagine students and parents from both schools watching the match of the century from their study rooms on their laptops.

Come for the baseball stay for the chess.

#8 Comment By Ronit On February 4, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

with off-camera expert commentary like Texas hold’em …via EphCast.

ESPN in India does broadcast chess matches in this fashion.

#9 Comment By Trevor Murphy On February 4, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

On February 8th at 2pm in Griffin 3 we are having chess grandmaster Ronen Har-Zvi go over some games from last month’s Williams College Open and then he will play up to 20 simultaneous chess games with attendees.
Last month’s chess tournament had faculty, staff, students, alumni, and children of alumni all competing in the same field with area players.
Come by and get prepped for the May event.

#10 Comment By frank uible On February 4, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

Is the audience by custom limited to whispers at a chess match?

#11 Comment By Trevor Murphy On February 4, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

A chess match usually has two rooms set up. One is the quiet room where the games are actually played. No one talks there, but spectators can watch if they would like.
The other room is for discussion and analysis and is called the skittles room. Friendly games are played and conversation is permitted. Games are replayed move by move with four or five people venturing ideas about the best way to proceed for either side.

#12 Comment By frank uible On February 4, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

Does the skittles room deliberate over moves contemporaneously with the actual moves? Or is there a not inconsiderable time lag? How are the actual moves communicated to the skittles room without disrupting the actual match?

#13 Comment By Trevor Murphy On February 4, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

If there is a game of considerable interest, a player can look at the board of the actual game and recreate the position in the skittles room from memory. A crowd gathers and other players update the board as actual moves are made. Usually this effort doesn’t need to be coordinated. I guess you could call it distributed sneaker net. There isn’t much of a time lag as the actual players might make a move every 3 to 5 minutes with occasional 10 minute thinks.

I’ve never attended a tournament that used technology to share moves with the outside world contemporaneously, but I’m sure that technology exists.

Here is an example of chess analysis by Ronen Har-Zvi who lives pretty close to Williamstown: http://webcast.chessclub.com/Corus09/Round13/GOTD.html.
The high profile events have all the technology.

#14 Comment By sophmom On February 4, 2009 @ 10:09 pm


I am so enjoying your comments. I don’t think I have ever seen anything about Williams Chess on Ephblog. I hope you can keep us posted in the future as well. If and when you have more news, and you don’t see a thread like this one already running, please feel free to use “Speak Up!”. It is a bulletin board of sorts and you will see it at the top left of the front page.

#15 Comment By Joy Taylor On March 9, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

What do the vintage team uniforms look like?