Saturday, December 06, 2008

Latest ITTF discussion on boosters/tuners

Here is a very very useful discussion on the ITTF's Adham Shahara regarding booster/tuners, copied from a table tennis forum. It highlights exactly when and to some extent why a booster/tuner is illegal... it does also highlight that the manufacturers can do some things that are perfectly legal, but when players do exactly the same, they are cheating...

The Question:
I'm sorry to keep questioning this, but I'm still unconvinced of the explanation ragarding boosters/tuners:

1. Lets assume we have a VOC-free poison-free booster. The factory glues an ITTF approved topsheet onto a sponge. Now the factory uses a booster on the SPONGE ONLY. Now according to all evidence I've seen, the ONLY effect that the booster has on the TOPSHEET is that it stretches it, which according to you is legal when done in the factory (within ITTF set limits). Sponges are already made with the use of chemical, and are also glued to the topsheet using VOC-based chemical, so the booster is simply part of this factory process. The rubber is aired properly before sold to the public. Legal rubber or not?

2. Lets assume we have a VOC-free poison-free booster. The factory uses a booster on the sponge, BEFORE it's glued onto an ITTF approved topsheet. The rubber is aired properly before sold to the public. Legal rubber or not?

3. A distributor buys a cheap ITTF approved topsheet and a sponge, and applies either on the the methods (1. or 2.) above. This turns a cheap chinese topsheet and sponge combination into a rubber of similar performance to the top-end Tensor style rubber. The rubber is aired properly before sold to the public. Legal or not?

4. A player buys a cheap topsheet and sponge, and applies either on the the methods (1. or 2.) above. This turns his cheap chinese topsheet and sponge combination into a rubber of similar performance to the top-end Tensor style rubber. Legal or not?

Please understand I have no problem in accepting your speed glue ban, for health reasons. I also would have no problem in accepting the booster/tuner ban if you gave us a reason why, since the health issue is not proven.

If you said it was in order to slow the game down, I would accept that as a valid reason, even if I didn't agree with it...
The bit I'm not happy with is that the ITTF trying to justify the banning of tuners/booster, by saying that they are already against existing rules... this is a means of banning them, not a reason... I hope you can see the difference...

Adham Shahara's answer:
In order to answer your 4 scenarios, first I will explain clearly the rule:
- Any post-factory alteration of the equipment (in this case racket covering) is NOT legal. By post-factory, we mean at the distributor level, at the retail level, at the player level, at the reseller level, etc.
- VOC-containing glues are used at the factory level for several applications (gluing the rubber to the sponge, gluing the wood plies to make the racket, etc.). The factory must follow the rules of their government as it relates to VOCs (very strict in Japan, Canada, Germany,etc, but rather lax in China, India, Russia, etc.). In any case, the ITTF advices the factories to air and ventilate the equipment (rackets and racket coverings in this case) using special ventilated racks, which usually eliminate all VOCs (or almost all).
So now, you could answer your questions yourself:

1. Legal (at factory, no VOCs, no poison, properly aired, stretched within limits).
2. Legal (same as above, if I understood correctly)
3. Post factory, not legal
4. Post factory, not legal

The above is according to the current rules (if I understood the scenarios correctly).

I understand your position about VOC-glues. Regarding the so-called vegetable-based tuners and boosters that are free of VOC and poison, I really do not see any harm in accepting them. But what I keep repeating is that according to our current rules they are "illegal" because they alter the racket covering. This is NOT according to our rules and never was. Rule 2.4 is clear about the composition of the racket, but since some felt it was not clear enough, rule 2.4.7 was proposed by those that sought further clarity. This makes any type of additive, whether healthy or not, illegal. Now let's talk practically. Is it detectable? Probably not, unless it makes the rubber bulge too much and exceeds 4mm, or if it makes the rubber bulge and the surface is not flat. So as you can see it may cause 2 infractions to the current rules. I anticipate your next question: suppose I use VOC-free, non-poisonous, vegetable based substance on the sponge, and the total thickness of the racket covering does not exceed 4mm, and the surface is flat, is it legal or illegal? The answer is it is still illegal because you are not supposed to have any additives according to 2.4 (not part of the composition of the racket) post-factory, but would be totally acceptable, because no apparent rule would be violated. In fact, this could be the future direction, but the question is, would you still have the same effect? Less than 4mm thick, surface flat (no bulge or dome), would there be any reason to do this?

Please believe that the rules are not purposely intended to slow down the game. The speed of the game depends on the players. Sure, a side effect of the 40mm ball and the VOC-free glue, and the booster and tuner ban does make the game slower. But speed is not really the issue. You could get more speed by making the blades faster to compensate in the loss of speed. In fact, my recommendation to the top players and to the manufacturers is to always look at the racket as a whole: blade wood type, blade weight, blade distribution of weight, sponge type and thickness and rubber type. The sum of the total combination of all those elements is what should give the player the amount of speed he/she desires, the amount of friction (spin) they desire, and the amount of "feel" they desire.

I hope I answered your questions, I am not trying to convince you, just trying to explain.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Some very useful web pages

Over the years I've collected a lot of links to websites or pages, that I find very useful. Below I've listed a few that others might find useful too.

Table tennis wiki - table tennis has quite a comprehensive page on the wiki, with a great summary of most aspects of our sport.

Martinspin videos - A great and well organised site for table tennis videos, totally free!

Sponge hardness measurement table - Since all manufacturers seem to use a difference scale for specifying the hardness of the sponge of your rubber, this website has measurement from a range of different brands, allowing you to compare between them... updated regularly.

Sponge weight measurement table - We all know that the weight of a rubber can significantly change the balance of a bat, as it accounts for roughly half the weight of a bat. This table catagorises the weight of wide range of rubbers of different brands.... updated regularly.

Table tennis manufacturers - Are you interested to know more about the different table tennis manufacturers, and some of the best products they make? Check out these web pages for more information... further details added regularly.

I will list some more great sites/pages soon. If you know of some other great sites or pages, please let me know, cheers!

Friday, November 21, 2008

ITTF's Adham Sharara visits a table tennis forum

Adham Sharara, the president of the ITTF, has recently started visiting the table tennis forum - One of a Kind Forums to discuss the rules and decisions they make, with the table tennis online community.

With the recently highly controversial changes to equipment and approval by the ITTF, there has been much debate over merits and fairness of these decisions. The most commonly discussed topics are the ban of the frictionless pimple rubbers, the ban of speed glue, and more recently the issue on whether tuners/boosters are banned as well.

Adham has shown courage and initiative by visiting the forum, and explain the reasons why some of these decisions were made. Debates on these topics, and also a range of other topics, such and improvement to rules, promotion of our sport, etc are all being discussed in the forum, and with Adham regular visits, it's been a great opportunity for players to communicate directly with the ITTF, instead of having to go through all the red tape of the national associations.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The 30% drop in AUD$ can bring some Bargains

As some of you may be aware, there have been some huge fluctuations in international currencies lately. In particular the Australian dollar has dropped a huge amount compared to most other currencies, including the USD$ and the Yen.

This can bring some good bargains from Australian online table tennis shops for buyers outside Australia... prices can be as much as 30% lower than they were a month ago!

Although eventually these shops will have to increase their prices because their import costs will rise as a result of the drop the AUD$, in the short term they will be selling current stock at current prices, so this should result in some real bargains if you're buying with anything but the AUD$.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

If boosters are illegal, so are Tensors!

As some of you know, the ITTF recently introduced a new rule:

“2.04.07 The covering material should be used as it has been authorised by the ITTF without any physical, chemical or other treatment, changing or modifying playing properties, friction, outlook, colour, structure, surface, etc. “

Although I believe this was initially brought in to ban any treatment of long pimple rubbers, it seems to have gone well beyond this. The ITTF is now claiming this makes tuners/boosters illegal as well, much to the annoyance of many players who assumed this VOC free alternative would be perfectly legal! Although the ITTF ONLY approved topsheets not sponges, they claim it’s impossible to treat the sponge (while attached to the topsheet) without having some affect on the topsheet. This effect therefore ‘modifies’ playing properties, making it illegal.

Many claim (and I agree) this would make German ESN factory made “Tensor rubbers” by far the closest option for those that demand a ‘glue feel’ in their rubbers, as these have some of this effect/feel built-in. Whether this ‘feel’ translates into performance, or whether a non-tensor is a better alternative to glue, is another topic for discussion, as opinion vary wildly on this subject.

However the thought just occurred to me that if Tensor topsheets are under tension, does that technically make them illegal too? Although I don’t have proof, I do believe the topsheets of these rubbers ARE under tension, judging by their very lively feel, and the “name Tensor” certainly implies tension as well

Since only the topsheet is submitted for ITTF approval, and it's put onto the sponge under tension in the factory, then the characteristics would have been changed, making them just as illegal as boosted rubbers.

Of course this will be hard to prove... but just as we would have to prove that our boosted rubber don't have a topsheet with changed characteristics, so should the Tensor manufacturer with their Tensors? Fair is fair isn't it?

NOTE: I'm in NO way proposing that Tensors should be banned, as I think they are a good product. I'm merely pointing out the flaws in logic and consistancy by the ITTF in their new rules and interpretation.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Avalox AVX Pronte mini review

Finally got around to trying this rubber;

AVX Pronte 2.2mm Soft on a Dr N Firewall+ balsa blade

Topsheet is quite tacky and is one of the thinnest I’ve seen. It feels fairly soft too, but it’s a little hard to judge since it’s thinner. Sponge is marked as Soft, but did not really feel that soft, measured at about 39/40 deg. The Sterco seems to also have such a thin topsheet, but is totally non-tacky, and the sponge is softer.

The throw on loops for the Pronte is quite high as expected, but I had little trouble adjusting to it since the throw of my 999 Nat is high too. Speed was higher than I expected, similar to a lightly glued 999 Nat. that’s been well primed or worn in.

The thin and tacky topsheet seems to give it two definite gears which I really like. On slow brush loops it comes off very spinny, and you can feel the topsheet stretching a little, and then catapulting it back… result is a very spinny but slow loop. But when you hit through the ball a little more, the sponge kicks in and it gives quite a boost in speed with still very good spin, the balsa blade would have some effect there too. The sponge feels faster than most Chinese sponges, I suspect it’s Japanese.

I played a few games with it, and it many ways it seems similar to my 999 Nat, probably 80% of the speed of a boosted or glued up (2 layers) 999 Nat.

For serves it was tacky, which is all I would need to load them up with spin. Chopping was reasonably controllable as well.

I did not get around to trying to block or counter-loop against a strong looper, but I expect that with such a high throw, this will be harder close in, but not bad away from the table.

Did I like it, yes I did! If I ever decide to stop boosting my rubbers, it would be my #1 choice, as the sponge hardness is just about right for me (medium soft) and it has plenty of speed on loops to put the ball away. The slow spinny loops feature that is key to my game, seems to be hard to find in rubbers, an this one seems to do it very well…

We’ll try it boosted up next, will be interseting to see how it performs… hope the throw does not get too much higher…

The Inventor of the Sponge Racket Deceased

Waldemar Fritsch passed away on 15th May 2008 at the age of eighty-five at his home town Bregenz. The Austrian shocked the table tennis world on the occasion of the World Championships in Vienna 1951.Fritsch remained unbeaten in the team event by using his revolutionary three millimetres thick black sponge.

Milestone in the History of Table Tennis
In Zdenko Uzorinac’s book Table Tennis Legends, Waldemar Fritsch described the genesis of the sponge as follows. “Sometime in early 1951 one of my fellow players in our table tennis club, who had been taken prisoner by the Americans, gave me a racket with very worn-out rubber. At the time you couldn’t buy new rubber linings. By chance, completely by chance, I remembered seeing a sponge-like material in the basement, so I cut it, patterned it to match the racket, glued it on the wood and tried to play with it. I hit the ball as strongly as I could and was amazed – the ball flew away noiselessly as if catapulted!”

A Multi-Talent at Sports
Waldemar Fritsch had an academic degree of political science and was a successful business man. He kept on playing for his club in the Austrian table tennis top division until the age of sixty.Dr. Fritsch was not only an excellent offensive table tennis player but a highly gifted athlete competing also in swimming athletics, gymnastics, handball, skiing and football.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Proposed ITTF ruling on tuners/boosters

We get so many questions and angry opinions on booster/tuners, that I think it's worth writing a letter to the ITTF and outlining some of our concerns... It may have to come through formal channels to get anywhere, but if we don't say anything or question yet another one of the ITTF proposed changes of rules, they'll pat themselves on the back for doing another great job Evil or Very Mad

I've started a thread with my proposed letter in a forum here:
Proposed letter to ITTF regarding the banning of boosters / tuners

I'm sick of the ITTF changing the rules on us, especially with no formal announcement, no reasons and no advanced notice, and I'm really interested to hear how this decision will actually benefit table tennis!

I would encourage everyone to read it and offer suggestions on how we can best construct the letter... An excellent suggestion by SquidTT from DTTW, was to also run a petition, so I'll look into that as well, when the letter has been formulated.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Table tennis glue will kill ya!

Table tennis glue will kill you? Well if you're a fly, most definitely, heh heh! I was gluing up a bat for someone recently, and left the rubber to dry for about 1 min, while I left the room (garage). When I came back, there was a fly stuck to the rubber... obviously landed on the sticky glue! What surprised me though was that the fly was dead... all in 1 min!

I still use thinned down rubber cement to glue all my rubbers (basically most VOC based table tennis glues are the same), since I feel that for all offensive rubbers, a bit of this glue in the sponge improves perforance perminently... The water based glues and glue sheets are better for long pimple or anti-spin rubber, as they are usuallty meant to be slow and less lively.

The dead fly was a bit of an eye opener for me... obviously the stuff is very toxic, but I didn't think it would kill a fly that quick... Will I stop using the rubber cement? Probably not for now, as I still think performance is very important... but I'll be even more careful to make sure there is plenty of ventilation in the room, and a fan blowing the air away from me...

I would certainly recommend everyone else to do them same!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Table tennis review website - major facelift and upgrade!

I've been spending a lot of time lately giving our main review website a face-lift to make it look a bit more professional, as I was always bothered by it's very poor looks...

In the process I've added some new features, such as a search across all our websites, which I think is really useful as it can be very hard to find things sometimes....

A few more updates and new features will continue for the next few weeks, hopefully without too many hick-ups. I've also rewritten quite a few of the guides, fixed up broken links, improved loading speed by reducing files sizes, etc... I'd love to hear any feedback on what people think of it, while I'm still working on the changes and not gone too far with the major changes.

I've also been adding a lot more reviews of other brands, like the very recent Butterfly Tenergy review, Donic JO Coppa Platin Review and Hallmark Phoenix Review. A lot more features and reviews are in the pipeline!

I've still got a few sections to complete, but most of the rest of the site is getting closer to being finished, apart from the reviews which I'll just continue to add! My aim is to make it the most comprehensive table tennis resource on the internet!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Donic rubber and blade combinations

I have recently spend a fair bit of time building the Donic Online Australia website, which I provide a lot more details about donic products, such as comments, reviews and hi-res pictures.

I've also added a section called Donic Solutions, where I've spent many hours trying to figure out the best Donic blades and rubbers combinations for specific styles.

I've tried to explain the reasons of my combination choices in the descriptions, so that players understand why certain combinations work well together, which can help them make decision for other rubber and blade combinations as well.

I've got a bit more work to do on the site, but it's starting to look quite nice now, and I'm sure it will be useful to some players as well...

Any comments on the site or blade and rubber combinations would be very much appreciated!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Donic JO Coppa Platin and Platin Soft - NEW!

Donic has just released 2 new rubbers in their tensor range, the Donic JO Coppa Platin and the Donic JO Coppa Platin Soft.

I have been very impressed with their latest ones, the JO Coppa Gold, the Desto F3 Big Slam and particularly the JO Coppa Silver, bring the best glue effect I've felt to date. These new ones promises even better glue effect an more speed.... Truth or marketing at it's best? Time will tell...

I've got got both these new rubbers on order, and will test them in a few weeks time, and will publish my review here....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Donic Desto F3 Big Slam

I had a go with this rubber on a Dawei Navigator blade the other day, wow the glue effect built into this rubber is huge!

The sponge is really soft (around 30degrees I reckon) and the topsheet thin, sensitive and very grippy. It's amazing how little effort it takes to open up with a loop with this rubber, and it's so easy to generate huge spin! I've never come across a rubber where you can generate a medium pace and very spinny loop with such little effort!

I reminds me very much of the Joola Tango, but the glue effect and sound is a LOT higher.

I think it suits a backhand more than a forehand, as it's great for an opening loop or a flick, followed by a powerful forehand. The rubber is not real fast on loops, although it hits really well, coming off fast with a very loud click.

So it suits a more control and spin based game, but combined with a faster and firmer sponged forehand, it can suit a very offensive style game. With a thinner sponge (1.8mm is the thinnest) it would work very well for a chopper, whereas with 2.0 or MAX a more offensive and very spinny game would be appropriate.

Another review and some more details can be found on the Donic Online Australia website

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

JUIC Leggy vs TSP P-1R

I've finally decided to change over to JUIC Leggy 1.0mm from the TSP P-1r 1.2mm. Although they are similar in many ways and both excellent pips, it's one unique property of the leggy that suits my game particularly well that's helped me decide. The main differences are:

1. The main reason I've changed to Leggy is the remarkable amount of backspin I can generate from a backspin ball. if someone pushes to the LP, you can push back hard with a little flick of the wrist (which I used to be real good at with inverted) and get quite good backspin and it's easy to keep it low.. and if you keep it deep it often forces another push which you can attack, or a weaker loop which you can either attack, or get into you chopping mode. If I push the backspin ball back lightly, it reverses the spin very much like most LPs, so that option is still there.

2. Chopping away from the table both LPs play similar, with the Leggy offering a bit more reversal, but the P-1r more options to manipulate the spin as it seems to have more grip. Control is similar.

The TSP is also more durable, as they just seem to go on forever, whereas I've already lost a pip on my leggy... but this is still secondary to me and performance has to be No 1. I've been using the Leggy for about a month, and I do a lot of blocking against fast loops/hits and DO hit with it myself as well. I find it no less durable than any other pips I've tried, except the TSPs.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Changing to thicker sponge long pimple rubber

After having played with TSP P-1r 0.6mm for at least a year, I thought I might give a thicker (1.2mm) sponge a go. One thing I'm hoping for is to be able to generate more backspin on retrun of serves, as this can mean the difference between yuor opponent powerlooping one past you, or a slower spinny loop which is what you want...

I only had one session so far, of more of a social hit, but here some of my impressions:

1. Returning serves: I don't think the control has changed a lot, perhaps a little less, but I did feel I could put more spin on the ball. My returns against deeper and faster balls seemed to generate more floaters, which my opponents had more trouble with than with 0.6mm. Although this is a bonus, i need to work more on variation with this, so that I feel in control of what I'm doing...

2. Chopping: It's a little more sensitive to incoming spin, so as this rubber is already quite sensitive compared to others, it's something to be weary off. A softer touch is the answer. The positive was that I seemed to be ably to keep the ball shorter more easily, with more spin... I consider the 1.2mm quite an improvement, and it's an exceptional for chopping from mid- long distance... Control wise I think it's a little less with 1.2mm...

3. Short game: It's more lively but also feels softer with more grip... I didn't feel I had any less control, and attacking some short balls with a quick flick was a lot easier. passive shots: You simply cannot affort to simply put your bat there and hope for it to go over with this rubber. Since it's uite sensitive to incoming spin, it will grip, and can easily product high nospin balls, whhc good players will put away.

4. Attacking: A great improvement in this area! Attacking backspin became easier, which surprised me a little...the softer feel of the ruber (coz of the thicker sponge) just seemed to give me more feel and control. Counter hitting against topspin is still not that easier, but can produce deadly balls when you get the timing right...and fast too!

5. Generating spin: I could certainly generate more spin with this rubber, and had my opponent put a few into the net off a serve with it, since they still expect no-spin from a LP rubber. This abilty also shines when chopping, as you can really change and manipulate the spin easily, and produce very dangerou an awkward balls.

6. Conclusion: This rubber is not the easiest to control, mainly due to it's sensitivity to spin. , but this same property gives you control over spin, and allows you to manipulate it better. With the right strokes this rubber offers great control, and is one of hte most dangeorus long pimples out there. Going from 0.6mm to 1.2mm just enhances these properties... incorrent or passive strokes will be punished, correct strokes rewarded... I think the thicker sponge enhanced both the short game AND the away from the table chopping game, but you must use active strokes, can't just stick you bat there...