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changes in table tennis

fairly recently, mark and i have become pretty obsessed with table tennis, and it was only sometime in the past two weeks that we discovered that the standard rules for table tennis changed sometime in 2000 or 2001.

growing up, i played a lot of table tennis, and as a result i based a lot of my strategy around the rules that were standard at the time - first person to reach 21, win by 2. Each player gets five serves each. if it reaches 20-20, one person gets one serve, then the next person gets 2, then 2, &c. until someone wins by two.

now, the rules are that players play to 11, win by 2. each player gets two serves each. if it reaches 10-10, each person gets one serve. If the game lasts over 10 minutes, a new rule gets enforced called the Expedite Rule, which changes the serve rule to one each regardless of score, and also makes it so that if the returner is able to keep up a rally past 15 strokes (or somewhere close to there), they automatically win the point.

today mark and i played with the new rules, and the difference is staggering. first off it's much more difficult to set up a sense of expectation about serve patterns since you're only given two serves instead of five. secondly, each individual point carries much more weight, so play automatically becomes much more aggressive. granted, part of the more aggressive play i had to sport in today's session also had to do with the fact that mark bought a much better quality paddle than he had before which carries more spin and allows him a much wider margin of error, so i had to work a lot harder to compensate for his spins and to make my spins and slams stronger and more accurate. but even outside of that, the sensibility of play is much different, has a greater sense of urgency. giving up one of your serve points in the old rules was usually not a big deal since you had four more serves in which to keep the upper hand, but giving up one of your serve points when you only have two is much more critical.

i'm not sure what i think about the new rules. the most unfortunate thing about them for casual play is that, well, it's not condusive for casual play. for competitive play, the sense of urgency and forced aggression makes the game much less forgiving, which isn't necessarily bad, but it's fascinating how diffeent it is. it makes me wonder if this is how hockey players felt when the rules changed the year after the strike.

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taren_
Dec. 8th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
Sounds like the shot-clock in basketball all over again, or the 7-point rule in tennis, just another way to speed things up for the short-of-attention.
shandrew
Dec. 9th, 2009 10:54 am (UTC)
I've never heard of the expedite rule; that's a strange one. From what i've seen of top-level table tennis, the rallies rarely go beyond a few strokes.

The biggest change that i know of is with the size and weight of the ball! The larger ball makes the speed of the ball a bit slower, making spin a bigger factor.
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