All change in table tennisSubscribe
Rob Burgess 30 April 2001
THE ANNUAL general meeting of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) - held at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan - has voted, by a large majority, to change the scoring system from games up to 21 to games up to 11 points. The changes will come into effect on September 1 this year.
As a result, service will now change every 2 points - as opposed to every 5 points currently - with deuce at 10-10, after which service will change after every point until a player has a lead of 2 points to win the game. Sets will now normally be the best of 5 or 9 games, and players will change ends when the score reaches 5 in the deciding game.
The intention of the change - proposed by the Athletes’ Commission and the ITTF Executive Committee - is to create more tension and excitement during games, hopefully leading to table tennis improving as a spectacle, particularly on television. The 21-point scoring system has been in use by the ITTF since its inception in 1926, and there has been resistance to the prospect of change. Recent surveys conducted by the English Table Tennis Association (ETTA) have found players 2-to-1 against the new system. A breakdown of the figures reveals that better and younger players are in favour of the change, with older and weaker players opposed.
In recognition of grass roots disagreement to the implementation of the new scoring system, the National Council is to propose, at the ETTA’s AGM on June 30, that local leagues and county associations can have the discretion to opt out of the change and retain games up to 21 for their internal competitions. However, all competitions governed by ITTF rules and giving computer ranking points, such as open tournaments, British League, County Championships and national knockout competitions, will have to use games up to 11.
WHILST THE 11-point rule change may be controversial, a service rule change - jointly proposed by England and the ITTF Rules Committee and passed with a large majority despite opposition from China - may have a more fundamental effect. The change, that during service the ball at all times is above the level of the table and is struck in front of the server’s body or clothing so that it is visible to the receiver, will disallow services 'shielded’ by the server, thus making spin services easier to read and return. Some top players have derived a huge advantage from shielded services, but it is argued that table tennis both as an active sport and as a spectacle has been diminished by them as they have reduced or eliminated rallies.
The change will be implemented on September 1 2002 to give players time to adapt their service techniques.
AT THE World Championships, which concluded in Osaka yesterday, England’s men lost 3-1 to North Korea in the play-off for 19th place - a match they could have won. Terry Young was in top form, easily overcoming Jong Kwang-Hyok 21-14 21-15. He then had match point when a game and 21-20 up against World No 66 Kim Song-Hui.
Had he converted that match point England were confident that Gareth Herbert would have defeated Jong Kwang-Hyok to give them an overall 3-2 victory, but he failed and the chance of victory was missed.
For full details on the World Championships, including results, please visit the ITTF website.