Table Tennis Database Blog

Are you giving me pity points?

Friday, November 25th, 2016
By Arthur Lui

Pity Points

I’m at the JOOLA North American Teams Tournament in Washington, and I had a revelation today.

I was playing a match against a higher rated player, the top on the opposing team. This is a “teams tournament” where you send out three players to play each of the opposing team’s three players, making nine individual match-ups. Your team wins by earning five wins out of the possible nine individual matches.

My teammates had already played this player so I got to see him in action before facing him myself. He had some amazing strokes. A powerful forehand loop. Textbook technique. Highlight reel stuff. He is clearly well-trained. I had already lost to his two lower-rated teammates and, seeing his amazing play so far, I assumed I’d lose again.

I’m thinking: Alright Arthur, just play your best, you’re going to lose, but just do your best anyways. Losing is a part of competing.

Surprisingly, the match started out in my favour. I already saw the serves he was using on my teammates, and I simply returned them rather defensively, returning his short, no-spin serves with a light touch back over the net. He’d often tap them back lightly, and this would go on for a few hits until he popped one a little high or a little deep, and I’d put a decent topspin on it, and might win the point a few hits later. Sometimes I’d get an outright smash opportunity. I was now winning 8-5. He hadn’t put out a single powerful attack that I had seen him give against my teammates.

Why isn’t he attacking? He must be giving me a few pity points. To avoid embarrassing me 11-2, he’s giving me a few points up front, then he’ll turn on the jets and destroy me.

A few points later, and I’ve won the first game. At this point I’m actually annoyed.

I’m thinking: You’re actually going to give me an entire game out of pity? Not cool, man. Just play your game and beat me.

I actually considered saying something to him about this but decided against it.

The match continued and was relatively close, and I ended up taking the match 3 games to 2. That’s when I realized, he was never giving me pity points. I just had the right strategy! That was my “aha” moment.

The right strategy is so powerful that you may really believe your opponent is giving you points for free!

This wasn’t the first time I thought I was receiving pity points. I thought back to a tournament I had played the previous year in Toronto. I played someone who had just dominated a much better player than myself, and assumed I’d face a similar fate. And throughout the match, as I was winning, I kept thinking that she was giving me free points. And then I won.

This just reinforces something I always knew deep down, that the match-up of individual strengths and weaknesses matters a lot more on the score sheet than someone’s overall rating. Nobody’s game is so well-rounded that they can handle all situations well. Some players have amazing forehand strokes but weak backhand strokes, and opponents can capitalize on that by playing to the backhand. Some players are great when they stand back and engage in looping battles but weaker with close-to-the-table play. Your decisions on what serves to use and what strategies to employ dictate the direction of the match.

This opponent great with mid-distance attacks. He can destroy deep balls. But in our match he rarely got to use those impressive power strokes. I returned his serves short, low, with little spin, and the point rarely went in the direction of his strengths.

The interesting thing is that his choice of serves enabled me to avoid his strength. He was serving short, low, and without that much spin. That let me return it short, low, and without much spin. Had he served long and with heavy spin, I would have had to return it long as well, and this would have started a series of those offensive rallies that he excels at.

This just highlights the importance of a good coach or playing partner that can identify these strengths and weaknesses during your tournament play. While you’re wrapped up in the stress of competitive play, they can observe your opponents and see how to best move the game towards your strengths.

With the right tactical choices, David can beat Goliath.

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Sir Ping Pong T-shirt!

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
By Arthur Lui

A talented designer, Brad Woodard, e-mailed me today. He’s got a great t-shirt design on Cotton Bureau and in order to get produced, it needs 12 orders. I’ve got mine in. Let’s make this happen!

Sir Ping Pong

Sir Ping Pong T-shirt

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Designer Paddles from Uberpong

Sunday, April 6th, 2014
By Arthur Lui

I decided to check out some swanky designer paddles from Uberpong, a custom blade company based out of Austin, Texas. They’ve got some really solid designers behind these creations.

I got the Ice Cream Nation and Kawaii paddles. These are going to look great in my condo. My thoughts are beneath the photos. Click for hi-res.



Visuals

The designs are beautiful; I had a hard time picking out two. They’ve got an array of designers from around the world. The colours on the paddle are a little less vibrant than the images on the website, but they look solid with crisp lines. They print surprisingly well on pips. The blade is a nice light wood, with a smooth finish.

Performance

The paddles are short pips with very light grip. If you’re a competitive player, it takes some adjusting. Speed-wise it’s also on the slower end. So if you want to play with them, they could be suitable for recreational play, though you’ll have to put a little more wind-up into your swing to get some juice out of them on your smashes. They’re probably ideal for rec players.

Custom Designs

The paddles I got were from their designer line, but they also do custom ones. It’s pretty cool that they can take it directly from your Facebook or Instagram accounts, or you can just upload them directly. These would be fun pieces to take along with you to any of the SPiN Galactic bars!

Check them out at uberpong.com!

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Custom-printed Sandpaper Paddles from PaddleYou

Saturday, January 18th, 2014
By Arthur Lui

I recently picked up two custom paddles from PaddleYou, based in New York. It’s a pretty interesting concept, print your own designs on a sandpaper paddle! I’m not personally a sandpaper player, so these are artwork to me. I picked some interesting photos, have a look! These will make nice decorations for my apartment, and maybe I’ll give them a spin some time. Click for hi-res.



The prints came out pretty well, given that it’s sandpaper. It won’t be quite as vibrant as the photo, but that’s the limitations of the medium. The handle is pretty comfy as well, pre-sanded for right-handers. I do like the black handles, pretty chic!

You can check them out yourself at paddleyou.com!

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How to Write Helpful Reviews

Thursday, January 16th, 2014
By Arthur Lui

Writing Helpful Reviews

Seeing as the purpose of the Table Tennis Database is to give people an understanding of the equipment they might buy, I thought I’d share some personal tips on how to write reviews that will be helpful to all readers. Hopefully this will be a useful guide to increase the quality of the reviews. Okay, let’s go! Read more

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“Overall” rating. Useless?

Saturday, December 14th, 2013
By Arthur Lui

I’ve always struggled with the “overall” rating that is put on a product. Restaurant review sites use a star system for the overall experience, Amazon has a similar system for books, and we have the overall rating out of 10. How relevant and useful is this rating though? Read more

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Rating Quality Updates

Sunday, December 8th, 2013
By Arthur Lui

UPDATE: Changes #1 and #2 have been rolled back. After hearing reasonable feedback from concerned members of the community, the choice was clear that this wasn’t the best method.

The mission of the Table Tennis Database is to provide a platform for giving ratings and reviews that are:

  1. Accurate
  2. Useful for people’s research

There are several reasons why reviews and ratings aren’t always accurate (whether accidentally or deliberately), and we’re taking steps to uphold this mission and maintain quality as much as possible. Some of the changes that we’ve made include:

  1. Users cannot give an Overall score below 5. Does anything really deserve lower than a 5/10? Let’s be reasonable; every item is useful to a particular type of player, even if it doesn’t suit your needs. Very low scores unfairly affect the average numbers drastically.
  2. Past Overall ratings below 5 have been changed to unrated (as if “overall” was left blank).
    1. We had debated changing those low ratings to 5 (the lowest allowable rating), but decided against the idea of changing a user’s ratings without permission. If your rating was affected, you can always login and update the rating.
    2. All users with affected ratings have been notified by e-mail and can update the blank “overall” ratings with a more fair score.
  3. Users cannot give a Speed score below 4 for a rubber or blade. Only a freshly cooked pancake could produce speed scores lower than 4, otherwise it’s not physically possible to be that slow.
  4. Users cannot give a Control score below 3.
  5. Already many user accounts have been shut down as suspicious ratings and reviews were detected, and hundreds of ratings have been deleted. A sophisticated algorithm is in place to detect malicious ratings and they get deleted one-by-one. There is also a sophisticated keyword detector for preventing spam.

In order for the Table Tennis Database to continue to be a great resource, we will continue our commitment to protecting rating quality.

Do you have more suggestions for maintaining the quality of the ratings and reviews?

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Using Reviews and Ratings Effectively

Friday, November 8th, 2013
By Arthur Lui

Thinking about ratings

When I first started the Table Tennis Database in 2008, I wanted to provide a platform that helps people to get really accurate and useful information so they could make an informed purchase. Reviews and ratings can be very helpful for this, but they have their limits, and there are many ways to misuse them. I wanted to provide a bit of a guide so you can get the most out of them. This information is also great for giving reviews and ratings that are helpful to others. Let’s begin.

Read more

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Life as a Tournament Volunteer

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013
By Arthur Lui

Life as a Tournament Volunteer

I’m sipping a hot cup of coffee as I write this from my hotel room at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino for the 2013 US Open.

Read more

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When asking for an equipment suggestion…

Sunday, September 30th, 2012
By Arthur Lui

Recommendations

In our forum, we get a lot of people asking for a recommendation on what rubbers or blade to pick. However the answer I always give is a series of questions. In order to give a helpful recommendation, we need to know more about you, your skill level, your playing style, and other specific needs. Read more

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