Although Harvard sports fans were mourning the Crimson's 34-19 defeat in football Saturday afternoon, they could at least take comfort in their school's decisive victory over the Elis in the annual Harvard-Yale chess match.
Just hours before the gridders took the field to the cheers of 40,000 fans, the five members of the Harvard chess team entered a quiet Science Center to go on to a 6-2 win against Yale.
"We wiped them out, basically," said Seth D. Weisberg '91.
This year's team consisted of Daniel H. Edelman '91, Vivek V. Rao '92, Andrew H. Serotta '91, Jason E. Fulman '93 and Weisberg. The group bested their opponents 3 1/2 points to 1/2 point in the first four-game match and 2 1/2 to 1 1/2 in the second. Wins are counted as one point and draws 1/2.
Known traditionally as "the game before the Game," the Harvard-Yale chess match has taken place annually since 1985 as a prelude to the football game between the ancient rivals.
According to Kirkland House Economics Tutor Andrew P. Metrick, who played for Yale in the first tournament, this year's Crimson victory came as no surprise because the match has followed a persistent pattern since its inception. "The visiting team always loses," he said.
"The games were really fast and furious," said Serotta. "Each player got only twenty minutes thought time, which means we only had about thirty seconds to think about each move."
Serotta, who won one game and lost one, said he was disappointed that his team did not win by a bigger margin. "I think we should have beaten them worse than that," he said. "I was hopelessly out of practice, and when you're out of practice your reflexes are slower."
Yale will get a chance to even the score in the upcoming Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championship, which Harvard will host on December 27-30 at the Charles Hotel.
Edelman said the Harvard Chess Club this year "expects a large turnout of dozens of colleges and universities from North, South, and Central America, as well as hundreds of high school students to compete in the high school section."
Edelman said that although Yale won the event most recently in 1987, the Harvard team is superior since it is presently the national champion and has won the Pan-American tournament in 1975, 1986, 1988 and 1989.
Nevertheless, the Crimson-Eli chess rivalry continues as a fine "contradistinction to the football contest," Edelman said.
"In 1987 and 1988 the Harvard-Yale chess matches were matches between the two best teams in the country," Metrick said. "This year the Yale team was relatively weak, but it runs in cycles. Hopefully, in the next few years it will be a match of the two best teams again."
Besides, said Weisberg, "If you can't win at football, you might as well win at something that really counts."
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