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The Art of Calling Timeout

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    Posted: 08/23/2017 at 10:10am
The Art of Calling Timeout - Better "Right" than Late

The timeout is one aspect of Table Tennis that doesn't get discussed in depth as often on MyTT. Well, each player/coach gets only one 1-minute timeout in a match. What bearing can it have on the outcome? What is there to debate?

As it turns out, timeout in Table Tennis is a relatively new rule. The 1-minute timeout was passed at the Council(now Board of Directors) meeting Session 2 on August 5th, 1999.

Quote 4. Rule change propositions and resolutions
A simple majority of votes cast is needed.
...
6. It was agreed that a player or pair be entitled to a time-out of up to 1 minute during a match.
7. It was agreed that in individual events a player or pair be entitled to a time-out of up to 1 minute during a match.


So, when to call it? When the player feels the need, obviously. Dum-dum. Not so fast. For a coach, how do you tell your player needs it? And for a player, how does he/she know it is needed?

When Liu Guoliang took up coaching in 2002, he didn't know. Cai Zhenhua bashed him for not calling timeout right. Wait. It's just a little timeout. How difficult can it be? Well, the word right here has another meaning to it, other than correctly. Think of it as in the KFC's slogan "We do chicken right." You'd understand right away what the fast-food giant really means by right. Yes, the right as in without delaying or hesitating.

Quote     如何处理与新老队员的关系,刘国梁到现在还在琢磨。就拿比赛叫“暂停”这个小事来说,有的队员就与教练想法不一样,“叫停”的时机不对,容易彼此发生抵触,这样的事刘国梁也遇到过。与蔡振华的严厉治军不同,刘国梁在管理上显得很人性化,他这么做也是为了“搞好关系”。

"For LGL, how to handle the relations between elder and young players is still a work in progress. Take something as trivial as a "timeout," for instance. Some players may not agree with the coaches. When "calling timeout" at the wrong time, arguments will likely arise, which is something LGL has experienced. Different from the strict discipline of Cai Zhenhua, LGL's management appears more player-friendly, all of which is done so for "better networking."

So how to call it right? There are several factors.

Basically,
1. Who calls it;
2. The score at which one calls it;
3. The game in which one calls it;
4. The stage of the game at which one calls it;
5. The score difference upon which one calls it;

These factors were studied by a group of graduate students from Taiwan. The subjects were players and coaches of both genders from the National Table Tennis National Team Trial 2007.

822 matches in total, 442 for male, 380 for female were studied. There were 29 male and 19 female coaches.

Of the 442 male matches, 112(25.34%) called timeout.
Of the 380 female matches, 79(20.79%) called timeout.
In the 822 matches, 191(23.24%) called timeout.
13.63% of male players called timeout.
9.61% of female players called timeout.

Of the 191 timeouts,
126(65.97%) timeouts were called by the coach.
65(34.03%) timeouts were called by the player.

Of the 112 timeouts in male matches,
42(37.5%) were called when in the lead.
8(7.14%) were called when tied in score.
62(55.36%) were called when behind.

Of the 79 timeouts in female matches,
27(34.18%) were called when in the lead.
5(6.33%) were called when tied in score.
47(59.49%) were called when behind.

Of the 191 timeouts,
0(0%) were in game 1.
4(2.1%) were in game 2.
41(21.47%) were in game 3.
77(40.31%) were in game 4.
69(36.12%) were in game 5.

Of the 191 timeouts,
77(40.31%) were in the opening(0-4 points).
72(37.7%) were in the middlegame(5-8 points).
42(21.99%) were in the endgame(9 points and beyond).
----------------------------------------------------
Timeouts called in the opening are substantially more than what is generally thought.

Of the 191 timeouts,
4 were when the score difference was -5(5 points behind)
15 were when the score difference was -4
39 were when the score difference was -3
24 were when the score difference was -2
31 were when the score difference was -1
15 were when the score difference was 0
20 were when the score difference was 1
20 were when the score difference was 2
15 were when the score difference was 3
8 were when the score difference was 4(4 points in the lead)
------------------------------------------------------------
Most timeouts were called when 3 points behind, and when the lead was reduced to 1 to 2 points.

Now, let's get back to LGL. As many people have noticed, he has a tendency to call timeout aggressively.

In the group match between WLQ and JSH at the World Cup 2003, WLQ was leading 2-1 in games, and had a 5-0 lead in the 4th game. JSH then had a 4-point streak, when LGL intervened and called timeout. BTW, the point at 2-5 and the spectators reaction were gold. WLQ took that game 11:5.



In another group match between WH and RSM, the score was tied at 2 games apiece, LGL called a timeout at 9:6, after leading 9:3 in the 5th game. WH lost that game 12:14.

Here is what Cai Zhenhua said:

Quote “王励勤对朱世火赫这场球,刘国梁安排的战术非常得当,叫暂停的时机也把握得很好,效果也不错。但是王皓对柳承敏这场球,教练叫暂停早了一些,也没能使场上局面有所改变。如果这种事出现在奥运会的比赛中就不行了。”

"In the match between WLQ and JSH, LGL's tactics were well-executed. The timeout was well-timed and used to great effect. OTOH, for the match between WH and RSM, the timeout was called a bit early, which also didn't change the tide. It is not good if this were to happen at the Olympics."

Cai was a prophet. It really happened in Athens. LGL called timeout at 10:9 after WH was leading 10:7 in the 2nd game. Cai said post-match that LGL called it too soon.

Quote 我认为,刘国梁是一个优秀的教练,但他这次也有点偏急,暂停叫早了一点,当比赛胶着的时候,他同样有头脑发热的情况,在短短的一分钟时间,没能帮助队员把战术讲清楚、把心态调整好,我认为,作为乒乓球队的少帅,国梁还有待于提高。

"I think LGL is a good coach, but this time he was a bit rash, calling the timeout early. He has trouble keeping a cool head in a tight match. In a short minute's time, he was not able to clearly direct his player on the tactics and mentality. I think as a young head coach, Guoliang still has room to improve."



However, as time goes by, LGL still tends to call timeout "right" rather than late.

In the singles semifinal between WH and CCY at London 2012, LGL called timeout at 6:3, after 6:2 in the 4th game. OTOH, there was a discussion in Taiwan pondering if LGL was really better at calling timeout and some folks felt that Chuang's mom should've called timeout in the 3rd game when CCY still had a lead.



Edited by zeio - 08/25/2017 at 8:55pm
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kindof99 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/23/2017 at 10:31am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fatt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/23/2017 at 12:47pm
Fascinating. Tx zeio
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChichoFicho Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/23/2017 at 1:33pm
In Athens, at the 2004 Olympics, Ryu Seung Min was in a different league. No time out could have saved Wang Hao...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fatt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/23/2017 at 1:47pm
Originally posted by ChichoFicho ChichoFicho wrote:


In Athens, at the 2004 Olympics, Ryu Seung Min was in a different league. No time out could have saved Wang Hao...
yes; Waldner blew ma Lin out of the table and ma lin was on top of his game; then RSM blew Waldner off the table like he was a non-factor. RSM might have had the fastest legs on earth, EVER, in that tournament. He sung the greatest swan song possible from the JPEN community.

Edited by fatt - 08/23/2017 at 1:49pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote shinshiro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/23/2017 at 2:36pm
I agree with you guys, RSM was a freaking beast at 2004 Olympics. That form was what every jpen player should look after. He was playing at 120%. Super Saiyan Jpen.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fatt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/23/2017 at 2:45pm
Originally posted by shinshiro shinshiro wrote:

I agree with you guys, RSM was a freaking beast at 2004 Olympics. That form was what every jpen player should look after. He was playing at 120%. Super Saiyan Jpen.
This is slowly turning into a RSM love fest LOLClapThumbs Up
OK back to the topic: the time at which a time-out is called is very important unless we play the 2004 version of RSM in which case any time chosen is the best as it won't worsen the already worst possible outcome, a loss. In this case, call a time out right before the 1st point, just to relax the atmosphere.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BeaverMD Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/23/2017 at 5:36pm
When I'm down 10-0 and I see that my opponent is the type that might give me one of those charity points, I call a timeout.  I really take my time and try to go longer than a minute so that they will get irritated and change their mind about missing that serve or serve return on purpose.  One time, I made a guy wait too long and he asked "Hey man, are you ready to play?" to which I responded "Yeah, are YOU ready to play?" Oh, he didn't like that.  He played that last point like I stole his lunch money.  I showed him what I thought of his charity.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/23/2017 at 5:48pm
In the singles semifinal at Danish Open 2009, DO and ZJK faced each other for the first time. The score was tied at 2:2 in games, ZJK had game point at 10:6, Qin Zhijian didn't call timeout until 10:9. ZJK lost the game 10:12.



A month later, during one roundrobin match against XX of the Yokohama Trial, at 10:9 in the 5th game, ZJK refused a timeout from his then coach Zhong Jinyong, he proceeded to lose that game 10:12, and 2:4 in final score.

At the end of proceedings before disassembly, LGL chewed him out in the open.

Quote “老钟在你身上付出这么多,最起码做人的道理要遵守。不信任自己的教练,这在中国队是不行的,因为我们的优势就是教练水平比国外高,教练团队综合能力比较强。教练给你叫暂停你都不下来,这在中国队还没有过!明显对教练的水平持怀疑态度!当时我看老钟给你叫暂停,你摆手,不下来。老钟也犹豫一下,没把你叫下来,结果10比12输了这局,输完以后第六局一直被压着打,根本没机会叫暂停。这就是比赛经验的差距!”
...
“万一你成了主力,我叫暂停你不下来,输了赖谁啊?教练跟队员是要有沟通和默契的。”

Lao Zhong(Old Zhong, affectionate way to address a senior or close friend) has invested so much on you. The least you could do is know how to be a man. Doubting your own coach, that's a big no-no in the CNT, because our advantage lies exactly in better coaching than foreign countries, that the overall capabilities of the coaching staff are stronger. Refusing a timeout from the coach is something that never happened in the CNT! That is obviously a distrustful attitude toward the level of your coach! At that time when I saw you refused the timeout, Lao Zhong hesitated and didn't insist, ultimately losing that game 10:12. After that game, you were overwhelmed in the 6th game and there was no chance for a timeout. This is the difference in experience!
...
If you ever become an ace, and you refuse a timeout from me, who to blame if you lost? The coach and player have to communicate and be on good terms."

LGL also shared his thought on the semifinal match at Danish Open. "I feel that timeout could be called at 10:8."

Afterward, in an interview, ZJK indicated he already had an idea how to play that point and so refused the timeout. "In hindsight, my experience is still shallow, I will reflect on this and apologize to coach Zhong."

Fast-forward to 2012, ZJK was already just a step away from achieving his career grand slam. Ovtcharov stood in his path again in the semifinal. The score was 10:6 in the 4th game, 2 games to 1 in favor of ZJK. Staying true to his words, LGL called timeout at 10:8. Fortuantely, the scenario LGL feared didn't happen, and ZJK edged out 11:9.



Edited by zeio - 08/23/2017 at 6:01pm
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/24/2017 at 7:41am
FZD vs Mizutani, Japan Open 2017


5:0 for FZD in the 3rd game, at 6:3 and Qin Zhijian called timeout. Despite the reasoning behind the timeout was probably to remind FZD to "be considerate" of the home crowd, Bobrow still couldn't help but note the trend of aggressive timeouts by Chinese coaches.

ML vs CQ, Asian Cup 2008

In the 6th game, CQ called timeout at 0:3, ML then called timeout at 5:2 after leading 5:0.

Edited by zeio - 08/24/2017 at 7:42am
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/24/2017 at 8:30am
So which of these happened at 1-0, 5-3 with the player leading?
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/24/2017 at 9:10am
ML vs Boll, WTTC 2014


Boll was leading 4:0 in the 2nd game, then 5:1, Boll didn't call timeout until 5:6. He lost that game 9:11.
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/24/2017 at 10:29am
I think timeouts are seriously under-used in usatt tournaments. Hardly any players have match coaches, so it's up to you to take one. I'm just learning to choose the right time for myself and seeing some Ls turn to Ws because of it. I need a timeout in these situations:

1. I'm too angry (at myself) to play reasonable TT
2. I'm too excited and it's going to hurt my touch on serve or receive (like at game or match point, or after a long rally and my heart rate is too high)
3. I'm caught in a losing pattern and I need a minute to figure out how to try to break out of the pattern.

The score is kind of irrelevant to me. 11 point games are so short that letting two points get away can cost you the match. One time I didn't use a timeout in my last tournament but should have was receiving at 6-6 in the second set, after I won the first. In that situation I had to go up 2 sets to nil to have any chance because my opponent was better than me. If the first set had been close it would have been right to take timeout then, but I won 11-6. Against a better player if they ever get a lead then they relax and all their shots improve.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/24/2017 at 10:56am
There are not that many studies on using timeout either. There is a boatload on technique, but just a few on timeout that I could find.

Quote In that situation I had to go up 2 sets to nil to have any chance because my opponent was better than me.

That's my sentiment when Matsudaira was up 5:0 in the 2nd game with a game in his pocket. You could tell from the body language he was lost after that service fault. That's how Ovtcharov found his way back in.
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/25/2017 at 7:18am
Originally posted by zeio zeio wrote:

There are not that many studies on using timeout either. There is a boatload on technique, but just a few on timeout that I could find.

Quote In that situation I had to go up 2 sets to nil to have any chance because my opponent was better than me.

That's my sentiment when Matsudaira was up 5:0 in the 2nd game with a game in his pocket. You could tell from the body language he was lost after that service fault. That's how Ovtcharov found his way back in.


This is likely true, but you still haven't given an example of a coach who called a timeout when his player was up in the first game and was leading 5-3 in the second game. It is a timeout you can call when you are the main coach of your player or you know your player really well. But it is a timeout that if not called is not a reason to hang a coach unless you felt it was obvious at that point that Kenta had gone off track and would not be competitive for the rest of the game and match. That it turned out that way doesn't mean it was obvious at 5-3.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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FH: Hexer 2.1 B
BH: Hexer 2.1 R
Lumberjack TT
No train, no gain.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/25/2017 at 1:48pm
How about this. Another match where the player who was a game ahead and leading 5:0 in the 2nd game, didn't call timeout and ended up losing the match 1:4.



WCT told reporters that the 2nd game was crucial to him when he was down and came back from the depths to take it 12:10, and built on the momentum to take the match 4:1.

Which is what I've been stressing all along. The leading side has the tendency to not take a timeout in this scenario. I'll be hard pressed to find examples in which they do.

P.S.
Found a Swedish report in which Karlsson said the 2nd game was crucial to him, too.

Quote In the second set, took the lead with Karlsson and kick-started a 5-0 again. He then retained the lead until 9-8 but the pennfattade Hong Kong player bought himself a setboll and then managed a second setboll by winning the set 12-10.

"That was a key set, I would have won," said Kristian Karlsson.


Edited by zeio - 08/25/2017 at 8:16pm
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/25/2017 at 4:21pm
Originally posted by zeio zeio wrote:

How about this. Another match where the player who was a game ahead and leading 5:0 in the 2nd game, didn't call timeout and ended up losing the match 1:4.



WCT told reporters that the 2nd game was crucial to him when he was down and came back from the depths to take it 12:10, and built on the momentum to take the match 4:1.

Which is what I've been stressing all along. The leading side has the tendency to not take a timeout in this scenario. I'll be hard pressed to find examples in which they do.

My point exactly - there are many reasons it is hard to call timeout in that scenario.  And the Dima one was even more difficult as by the time it was obvious to all that Kenta was distressed, Dima had already won 6 straight points.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
Donier RR Off Oversized FL
FH: Hexer 2.1 B
BH: Hexer 2.1 R
Lumberjack TT
No train, no gain.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/25/2017 at 5:01pm
No, it is not that hard if you're down. Boll called it. Two more examples.

LXX vs Wang Yuegu, timeout at 6:5 after leading 5:1, then 6:4 in the 2nd game


ML vs JSH, timeout at 5:5 after leading 5:1 in the 2nd game


It's only hard because the leading team has this false sense of security when up a game in a best of 7, that they lose track of what is happening at the moment.
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/25/2017 at 6:20pm
Yes, but not at 5-4. And in a match with a defender, it is easy for a coach to see when his player has completely lost the script.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
Donier RR Off Oversized FL
FH: Hexer 2.1 B
BH: Hexer 2.1 R
Lumberjack TT
No train, no gain.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/25/2017 at 7:03pm
As a coach, if your guy wins you look like a genius. But you are guessing as to the effect it will have. And what if the coach is more panicked than the player?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/25/2017 at 7:08pm
I hate the delay TOs cause. I personally prefer the no cosching and no timeout rules of tennis.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/25/2017 at 8:15pm
Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

Yes, but not at 5-4. And in a match with a defender, it is easy for a coach to see when his player has completely lost the script.

How about a match between two defenders?

Liu Fei vs Wu Yang, Stage 1, Round 17, CTTSL 2016


Liu Fei off to a good start, taking the 1st game after leading 5:0, in exactly the same way as in the match for Karlsson. Same perfect start for the second game at 5:0, where the tide started to change. No timeout until the 4th game and ultimately losing 1:3.

See a pattern? For the leading side, it all happens in the middlegame of the second game.
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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zeio View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/25/2017 at 8:37pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

As a coach, if your guy wins you look like a genius. But you are guessing as to the effect it will have. And what if the coach is more panicked than the player?

You call a second timeout?

1st timeout @ 39:52, 2nd timeout @53:53
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/26/2017 at 12:43am
LGL pulled off a similar trick in the 7th game between MLin and Korbel at the WTTC 2005. Got sent off the arena but MLin came back to win it. Korbel said later he was affected by that. Very shady on LGL's part.



Edited by zeio - 08/26/2017 at 12:57am
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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BRS View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/26/2017 at 9:02am
It's only one minute. I prefer it to the fake injury timeouts some tennis pros take to break the match flow. It also adds a strategic element like we are discussing here. It's fun to second guess those decisions, like a baseball manager deciding when to pull a pitcher, or pinch-hit.
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berndt_mann View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote berndt_mann Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/26/2017 at 9:16pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

I hate the delay TOs cause. I personally prefer the no cosching and no timeout rules of tennis.

Well whaddayuhknow, Baal.  We actially agree on something.

Back in my day (OMG, here comes one of his "back in my day" rants) and my father's day, and his father's day, and even in his father's father's father's day, table tennis players did not take timeouts.  Timeouts?  We (they) didn't need to take no stinkin' timeouts.

If you lost a match, you just sucked it up and went home and had a good cry.  If you won, you bopped over to the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken so you could prepare a sacrifice to the pong gods.

Coaches?  We (they) didn't need no stinkin' coaches either.



Edited by berndt_mann - 08/26/2017 at 9:19pm
bmann1942
Setup: Mark Bellamy Master Craftsman blade, British Leyland hard rubber
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