Saturday, 10 October 2009

Chess and Baseball

Something has been bugging me for a while. When I do a search on "chess" on google news, I get a number of mentions of the current Division Series playoffs in American Major League Baseball. I recall seeing the same thing last year as well, and so my question is: Does the term "Chess Match" refer to something specific in baseball (ie the current playoff series, long standing rivalries) or is it just a popular term amongst sports writers to add gravitas to the game?
Answers appreciated.


Rob said...

The first intercollegiate baseball match was played between Amherst College and Williams College, under Massachusetts rules on July 1, 1859 at Pittsfield. [6] Amherst issued the challenge to a baseball match, and Williams counter-challenged them to a chess match. They agreed on Pittsfield as a neutral site, hosted by the Pittsfield Base Ball Club and Pittsfield Chess Club. A newspaper headline announced “Williams and Amherst Base Ball and Chess! Muscle and Mind!!” Each base ball team fielded 13 players, chosen by vote of the student body. Amherst won 73-32 in 26 innings. The next day Amherst completed the sweep by winning the chess match as well.


Maybe it's based on this....

But I also saw remarks like: This is a 5 games chess match and wondered weather that is something like our Swiss rounds for e.g.

Looking forward to the real answer.



Chris Eve said...

Greetings from Canada. "Chess match" seems to be used indiscriminately in north American media to describe any sporting event that the reporter considers to be dull, lacking in action or taking forever to get anywhere. Needless to say these reporters do not actually appreciate or play our game!

Denis Jessop said...

This is very interesting. I won't spoil the fun - just enter Baseball+chess into Google and you'll find some eye-openers. For starters, the man who invented the curve ball in baseball was Jackson Showalter known to us as a US chess champion.


Shaun Press said...

Thanks everyone for your help on this topic. Feel free to throw in more insights and information.

Robinson said...

Usually the term "chess match" is used in a couple of very specific ways when used as a reference in baseball:
1) In referring to the face-off between pitcher and hitter -- the pitcher deciding each pitch what to throw and the hitter deciding whether to swing or not.
2) In referring to mangers' decisions of what players to pull and which to use, especially pitchers and pinch-hitters.

As chess is a game of constant strategical/tactical decision-making about which men to use in attack and defense, and what moves to make, this doesn't seem too offensive to me as a comparison -- it's just far too overused.