Betty White

October 18, 2012

MDTTC October Open and Tournament Scheduling

This weekend I'm running the MDTTC October Open in Gaithersburg, Maryland (that's USA). Come join us for a weekend of competitions! Top entries so far include Wang Qing Liang (2621), Chen Bo Wen (2516), Raghu Nadmichettu (2328), and Nathan Hsu (2310), and I expect a few more. We're giving away $2600 in prize money, and much larger trophies than before. If you are playing in the tournament, here's my Ten-Point Plan to Tournament Success.

For those of you scared of facing under-rated juniors who spent all summer training in our camps, relax - most gained a zillion points in our last tournament. Besides, if you do lose to a 60-pound kid with a rating 500 points lower than his level, it'll be something to talk about years from now when that player becomes a superstar. It's sometimes fun to watch these up-and-coming kids and guess which ones are going to become the superstars. Also, remember that if one of these kids has a really good tournament - including a win over you - he'll get an adjusted rating, and you'll only lose rating points to the adjusted rating, not his starting one. In fact, by losing to him in an upset, you greatly increase the chances of his getting adjusted!

There's a downside to my running these tournaments - it conflicts with my coaching schedule, where I'm busiest on weekends. Each time I run one I have to do a series of cancellations, postponements, reschedulings, and substitutions. For some players with less flexible schedules, it means they miss their weekly session, which isn't always fair to them. I may have to recruit someone to take over to run our tournaments next year. (Any volunteers? You do get paid! Not a huge amount, but at least $200 per tournament, more if there's a good turnout.)

We could also use a few more umpires. We have a referee, of course, but for umpires we often have to hen-peck someone into going out there. There are only a few certified umpires locally. I'm a certified umpire, but I'm running the tournament. (For those not clear on this, referees make sure the rules are followed - legal draws, clothing, rules interpretations, etc. - but do not umpire unless they can assign someone else to take their place as referee. Umpires are the ones who go out to the table to keep score and make sure rules are followed in individual matches. Directors do the actual running of the tournament.)

I ran all the MDTTC tournaments in the 1990s and early 2000s. (I've run over 200 USATT sanctioned tournaments lifetime, mostly at MDTTC and at the Northern Virginia Club in the 1980s, plus a few at nearby Club JOOLA, and in Colorado and North Carolina, as well as the 4-star Eastern Open in 1998.) Last month was the first one I ran in nearly a decade, and this will be my second.

There are a few minor problems with the scheduling that I hope to work out for next year, but for now we'll have to go with the event schedule. The main problem is that the events are scheduled each day so the lowest event starts first, then the next lowest, and so on. This means that the players who advance to the playoffs in each event are usually the highest rated players in the event, and they are also the ones most likely to be playing in the next highest event - and so there's a lot of conflict as the same players are in the playoffs and the new event.

If, instead, the highest events were to go first, then the ones advancing to the playoffs, usually the highest rated in the event, usually aren't not eligible for the next lowest event, which would be the next one starting. The downside to this is that it would mean the first event starting would be the highest event, which on one day would be the Open - and for some reason, the "top" players often don't like playing early in the morning. Alas. So instead it might be best to start with the highest rating events and work down, and schedule the Open a little later in the day.

The other option is to alternate events, i.e. a high one, then a low one, etc.  The downside to that is that players have to wait longer between events if they are playing in two consecutive rating events.

Pictures from ITTF Coaching Seminar in India

Here are more pictures from the ITTF coaching seminars that USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee is running in India.

Backspin/No-Spin Serves

Here's a video from PingSkills (1:56) on varying your serve between heavy backspin and no-spin.

Incredible Shots

Here's a highlights video of great shots that I hadn't seen or put up before (6:05).

Ping/Pong the Palindromic Book?

Here's the book, and below is the description they give. That's all I know, folks!

PING/PONG is the first palindromic book. It may be read the same way in either direction. The book stages a thrilling game of table-tennis in which the front and back covers face off in an never-ending rally. A unique and interactive reading experience! This 200 pages book was my contribution to the project Babel on demand: a monumental manifesto initiated by Étienne Hervy and Émilie Lamy for the International Graphic Design Festival of Chaumont.

"Life with Elizabeth" Ping-Pong, Part 2

Yesterday I linked to a video of a humorous ping-pong routine from the 1952-1956 TV show "Life with Elizabeth," starring Betty White. (It starts about 30 seconds in and lasts about four minutes.) It turns out they had another one, in the episode entitled "Remorse Code." Here's the video, with the link taking you directly to where the table tennis starts (at 16:19). There's a short break from the table tennis, but watch to the end (at 25:38). You'll meet the dumbest and most literal-mined ping-pong player ever. (Special thanks to Scott Gordon for finding the "Life with Elizabeth" video from yesterday, and to Jay Turberville for finding the one today.)

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October 17, 2012

Creating Spin

Yesterday I was coaching a junior (who is mostly a hitter) on his forehand loop against backspin, and later on his serve. In both cases he had difficulty in creating spin because he tended to start with his racket mostly behind the ball, both when looping and serving, rather than from below (when looping against backspin) and from above or from the side when serving backspin or sidespin. He also didn't backswing enough to give himself time to accelerate into the ball, which allows you to snap the forearm and then the wrist into the ball like the tip of a whip.. These are common problems, especially for hitters.

Hitters, by definition, don't loop as well as loopers. I've noticed that, in general, hitters have more difficulty learning to serve with spin, and I think the two are related. Loopers are more used to creating spin, and instinctively understand the need to backswing so as to allow themselves to spin the ball - getting below the ball when looping backspin, above it to serve backspin, and to the side to serve sidespin. They also instinctively understand the need for the longer backswing to accelerate the racket to create spin, whether looping or serving.

If you guide a player through the serve by holding his hand and literally serving the ball for him, with a better backswing, they tend to get the idea, though it takes practice for them to do this on their own. (Learning to graze the ball when serving isn't easy at first.) I've noticed that those who learn to serve with spin also pick up looping more quickly, for the reasons give above.

I mentioned above how hitters tend to have more difficulty putting spin on their serves. However, there is a corollary to this - hitters tend to have better placement on their serves, and usually better fast serves. This is probably out of necessity, since they don't have spin to make their serves effective.

Editorial Board Report

As a member of the USATT Editorial Board, yesterday I sent my comments to the chair, Tim Boggan, for the annual report. I had a few comments about the covers (not enough table tennis action), hard-to-find or missing captions, and the timing of the issues (which I thought could be adjusted so we get features on the Open and Nationals in a more timely fashion). I was happy with the increasing number of coaching articles.  I was probably most irritated by a statement in one issue in an unattributed article that "The minutes of each Board meeting and the annual budgets are now available online." They have been online since 1999, when I started the policy of putting them online as co-webmaster.

USA Juniors & Cadets Shine Internationally

Here's a USATT results listings and photos for the Canadian and Serbian Junior and Cadet Opens.

Betty White Does Humorous Ping-Pong Routine

Here's an episode entitled "Ping Pong" from 1952 of the TV show "Life with Elizabeth," a show that ran from 1952-55. About 30 seconds into the show the table tennis starts, and it continues for four minutes as actress Betty White and actor Del Moore put on a hilarious table tennis skit. As Del says, "All is fair in love and ping-pong." (I don't think there is any more table tennis in the rest of the episode, which is 25:54 long.) So which is better, this or the WC Fields routine from the 1939 movie "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man" (2:33)? There's also, of course, the table tennis routine from a 2003 episode of "Friends" entitled "The One in the Barbados: Part 2" (6:48).

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