August 22, 2017

A Short History of Chop Blocks
Recently, due to an article at SportsFlu, there’s been a lot of talk about chop blocking and who invented it. Here’s an entire thread devoted to it at the forum. According to the article, it was “invented” by Koki Niwa, world #9 from Japan. Alas, it’s been around long before Koki was born in 1994.

To give you some perspective on how long players have been chop blocking, here’s a little history – and I’ll get to the point momentarily. How many of you remember the Paddle Point Rule? Until the early 1990s, if the ball went off the end of the table but hit your paddle, you lost the point, no matter how obviously the ball was off. Many thought it was a silly rule, and it was finally changed. (Here’s my blog where I explain how that happened – I made the original proposal to change the rule.) The argument for the rule was that sometimes players took the ball so quick off the bounce that you couldn’t tell if it hit the table first or not – something that doesn’t happen much in the modern sponge game.

But guess what? During the hardbat era, this was quite common, as players often chop-blocked. They not only took the ball right off the bounce, they chopped down on it, and so contact was often almost as the ball hit the table. One of the top experts at this was none other than Iowa’s Houshang Bozorgzadeh, three-time Iranian Men’s Champion, third at the 1958 Asian Games, and a long-time U.S. Men’s Team Coach in the 1970s and 80s.

With the advent of sponge, chop blocking became less common, but it never went away. Numerous players used it as a variation. It was especially common among penholders with conventional penhold backhands, which made chop- and sidespin-blocks natural (see Ma Lin and Chen Longcan below) – but much of this died away with the advent of reverse penhold backhands, where players more commonly attack. I was doing it back in the late 1970s. Sean Lonergan, who made the U.S. National Team in the early 2000s or so, used them regularly, as did many others on occasion. It was perhaps popularized by all-time great Jan-Ove Waldner, who would throw in chop blocks regularly in the late 1980s and into the 2000s, as does current world #1, Ma Long. (Lonergan, Waldner, Ma Long, and I are all shakehanders.) Here’s my article, Chalk Up Wins with Chop Blocks. And here are videos of some top players doing chop blocks:

Eclipse Watching at MDTTC
We had an informal eclipse watching party at MDTTC yesterday. Some of us had our own eclipse glasses, but Todd Klinger brought in ten, so with a little sharing, everybody got to watch. Several also brought in homemade eclipse watching viewers, made from cereal boxes. Here are some pictures of us watching the eclipse, taken by Carolyn Klinger.

Contrary to all the laws of astronomy, we had a TOTAL eclipse at MDTTC – here’s the four-picture sequence to prove it!!! 

Butterfly MDTTC August Open
Here’s the home page, and here’s the entry form. I’ll be running it this weekend, Aug. 26-27, at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg, MD. It’s a 3-star event, with $2700 in prize money. Hope to see you there!!!

Match Play
Here’s the podcast from PingSkills (30 min).

World University Games
Here’s the table tennis page. The event is taking place in Taipei, with 22 sports. Table tennis starts today! USA players are:

  • Men: Billy Ding, Feng Yijun, Nathan Hsu, Jason Plog, and Timothy Wang
  • Women: Isabel Chu, Angela Guan, Erica Wu, Wu Yue, and Lily Zhang

National Collegiate Table Tennis August Newsletter
Here’s the new edition. Note that the first item is, “NCTTA College Table Tennis Coaching Certification” – they’ve set up a new coaching certification program for college coaches.

A Smashing Day of Ping-Pong at Chinatown Festival
Here’s the article and pictures from San Francisco.

2017 Bulgaria Open – Ovtcharov and Ishikawa Win!
Here’s the posting by Shashin Shodhan.

2017 Bulgaria Open - Finals Summary
Here’s the video (70 sec).

Training with Former World Champion Tibor Klampar
Here’s the video (7:49).

Things You Hardly Knew About Table Tennis
Here’s the article from Wild Fire News.

Xu Xin vs Ma Lin Funny Show Table Tennis
Here’s the video (47 sec)!

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