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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2012, 08:02 
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I've been recently playing hardbat against most players rated less than 1500 at my club as I think it works better than my long pips against this group. But, I play an updated 2012 version of hardbat, i.e. composite blade, spinny SP on the forehand, less spinny SP on the backhand. This seems a pretty lethal combination against players who don't have a killer loop.

I honestly think hardbat has a bad rap as an outdated pre-sponge style that is no longer viable. Just because it's dead at the elite levels doesn't mean it's dead for us recreational players.

In fact, I would say hardbatters actually have the advantage over sponge players at lower levels, just as sponge players have the advantage at higher levels. And you can definitely compete against sponge players at a decent level. I know in the USA, we have full-time hardbatters rated as high as 2200 in open competition and in the UK there was even a hardbatter who cracked the ITTF rankings a few years back.

Also a word of caution if you go down this road.

Against sponge players you should probably forget sticking to pre-1952 style equipment as some diehards insist on. First of all, Leyland/Barna rubbers aren't even made anymore and there is no equivalent ITTF-approved rubber. Secondly there's no reason to limit yourself to an all-wood blade unless that is your preference (I personally think the Gambler Kevlar blade is superior to the highly regarded Hock hardbat blades I own). Finally, don't feel you have to "go traditional" and use the same rubber on both sides of the bat. Sponge players often have different brands on their forehand and backhand and you can too. Besides there may be better choices for you than the small number of USATT-approved hardbat rubbers, for example 799, 802, TSP Miracle, Dr. Neubauer Terminator, Hallmark Spinpips, Winning NP-8, or Juic Pips-Ace to name a few.

While there are a handful of hardbat-only tournaments, like it or not it's a sponge world and you'll limit your opportunities to play if you don't play against all competition. With that being the case, why not take advantage of the best possible equipment choices available to pit your no-sponge skills against today's high-tech "sandwich" players?

With the proper tools it's rather fun to play modern age hardbat and you might be surprised at how well you do.

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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2012, 08:15 
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What rubbers do you use?

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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2012, 08:34 
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VeganPlayer wrote:
What rubbers do you use?

I'm currently using Gambler Oversize Kevlar ($32), Butterfly Orthodox ($13) and Gambler Peace Keeper ($8). I also have some backups that I'm testing other things on.

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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2012, 08:36 
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When I started playing there were still some strong hard-bat players around (one guy was ranked around 10 in Victoria and ex-English player Betty Byrd was one of the best players in the country). As juniors we often used to muck around with hard-bats as there were always some around. For a brief time they actually had a hard-bat event included in the Victorian Open - I remember competing in it around 1990. Pity they discontinued this. I haven't played hard-bat for ages but I used to really enjoy it - the quality of attack v defence rallies can be very high. My preference was for the thin layer of material (cotton?) under the pips on a soft-flexible blade - I used to love the soft feeling it produced.


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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2012, 12:48 
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That is a nice post, you bring up some interesting points. There are indeed so many different playing styles and so many different levels of play, that lower spin rackets can work very well in skilled hands. I have played with 799, 802-40 and Pluto recently, all ox. The light racket certainly allows for excellent hand speed.

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PostPosted: 05 Aug 2012, 05:27 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
First of all, Leyland/Barna rubbers aren't even made anymore and there is no equivalent ITTF-approved rubber. With the proper tools it's rather fun to play modern age hardbat and you might be surprised at how well you do.

There is a rubber called Andro Classic which is advertised as the ITTF version of Barna rubber. Andro bought the rights to it.

There is also a rubber called Valor Premier OX which was designed to play like Leyland. Valor Premier is also ITTF approved.

If you use a blade that is not all wood you will not be allowed to play in USATT Hardbat events. You must also have the same type of USATT approved hardbat rubber on both sides.

If your intention is to play with short pips OX rubber on both sides in sponge events then anything will do.

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PostPosted: 05 Aug 2012, 06:24 
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gnopgnipster wrote:
mynamenotbob wrote:
First of all, Leyland/Barna rubbers aren't even made anymore and there is no equivalent ITTF-approved rubber. With the proper tools it's rather fun to play modern age hardbat and you might be surprised at how well you do.

There is a rubber called Andro Classic which is advertised as the ITTF version of Barna rubber. Andro bought the rights to it.

There is also a rubber called Valor Premier OX which was designed to play like Leyland. Valor Premier is also ITTF approved.

If you use a blade that is not all wood you will not be allowed to play in USATT Hardbat events. You must also have the same type of USATT approved hardbat rubber on both sides.

If your intention is to play with short pips OX rubber on both sides in sponge events then anything will do.

Thanks. From what I understand Andro Classic is a chopping rubber and not particularly conducive to doing the "Barna Flick," one of the main strokes I'm working on. I've hit with the Valor rubber. It's very good. There's also something interesting called Fairplay available in England I'd like to check out. (Anyone know if Fairplay has cloth backing?)

The problem comparing any rubber to gold standard Leyland is Leyland's pips are too short for ITTF approval and also it might not pass the ITTF friction test. wturber says Dr. Evil is the closest to Leyland so there's lots of varied opinions on this.

I personally don't care about competing in retro pre1952-style events. My main interest is exploring the use of a hardbat in today's game. My theory is up to a certain level it's better than inverted. Now I'm working on proving it.

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PostPosted: 08 Aug 2012, 06:21 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
Thanks. From what I understand Andro Classic is a chopping rubber and not particularly conducive to doing the "Barna Flick," one of the main strokes I'm working on. I've hit with the Valor rubber. It's very good. There's also something interesting called Fairplay available in England I'd like to check out. (Anyone know if Fairplay has cloth backing?)

The problem comparing any rubber to gold standard Leyland is Leyland's pips are too short for ITTF approval and also it might not pass the ITTF friction test. wturber says Dr. Evil is the closest to Leyland so there's lots of varied opinions on this.

I personally don't care about competing in retro pre1952-style events. My main interest is exploring the use of a hardbat in today's game. My theory is up to a certain level it's better than inverted. Now I'm working on proving it.

Mark Johnson, the manx hardbat specialist ;) , says that, even if Andro Classic looks different from the Barna rubber, it's very close to it in sensations.
I play with Valor Premier, even in sponge events. It's very "classic" : not very spinny, not very fast, with a good control. I'm a blocker, I nearly never play defense, so this rubber is one of the best for my style.
About the Fairplay rubber, I haven't played with it yet, but I know that it's as frictionless as it can be, regarding the ITTF law.

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PostPosted: 08 Aug 2012, 18:18 
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Thanks for the info on the Andro Classic.

Do you play the Valor rubber on both sides against sponge now? As I recall, you had Butterfly/Dr. Evil previously.

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PostPosted: 08 Aug 2012, 18:35 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
There's also something interesting called Fairplay available in England I'd like to check out. (Anyone know if Fairplay has cloth backing?)


I will pm you the email address of the guy who had it manufactured, you can ask him about that rubber. He is very enthusiastic about hardbat, to say the least!

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PostPosted: 08 Aug 2012, 19:12 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
Thanks for the info on the Andro Classic.

Do you play the Valor rubber on both sides against sponge now? As I recall, you had Butterfly/Dr. Evil previously.

Yes, I changed several monthes ago, after a short "return" to sponge play (short pips with 1,5 mm sponge on BH, LP Ox on BH).

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PostPosted: 09 Jan 2013, 10:11 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
While there are a handful of hardbat-only tournaments, like it or not it's a sponge world and you'll limit your opportunities to play if you don't play against all competition. With that being the case, why not take advantage of the best possible equipment choices available to pit your no-sponge skills against today's high-tech "sandwich" players?
With the proper tools it's rather fun to play modern age hardbat and you might be surprised at how well you do.

You're right that modern blades can be great for hardbat. Whatever feels best is what you should use.

But one of the appeals of the Hock, is that it is (was) a completely handmade artisan blade and it is utterly unique - at least the 3ply blades were. The story of Bernie Hock's making of the 3ply wood is quite remarkable... in the late 1940s he spent a couple of years researching wood, and how to make a thin plywood that wouldn't warp. In about 1950, he worked with a mill and special ordered certain cuts of wood, cured and then glued in certain ways to his specification, and the result was a stock of 3-ply wood that was so huge that he used it for the next 45 years. All 3ply Hocks are from this original batch of wood from 1950. He was so confident that they wouldn't warp, he recommended cleaning the rubber by immersing the paddle in water!! (I would never do that, but that's how confident he was).

They play unlike any other paddle I've ever tried - they are both slow and fast. I can understand someone not liking them, but if you do like them, it's not easy finding something similar. The Valor paddles are the closest I've seen... no surprise, because much of their design is inspired by the Hocks. Oh - and Paddle Palace mades a blade called the "Hawk" that is also similar. Barna's are cool too, but very different from the Hock.

And of course, there is something cool about playing with a piece of history - kinda like playing a vintage guitar. I love playing with a Hock and couldn't imagine playing with anything else. And I've beaten sponge players up to about 2200 with it... even won an U2200 event once. Maybe I'd be 50 points stronger with something else, but probably not because I'd be less enthusiastic. :)

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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2013, 22:32 
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scottgordon wrote:
The story of Bernie Hock's making of the 3ply wood is quite remarkable... in the late 1940s he spent a couple of years researching wood, and how to make a thin plywood that wouldn't warp. In about 1950, he worked with a mill and special ordered certain cuts of wood, cured and then glued in certain ways to his specification, and the result was a stock of 3-ply wood that was so huge that he used it for the next 45 years. All 3ply Hocks are from this original batch of wood from 1950. He was so confident that they wouldn't warp, he recommended cleaning the rubber by immersing the paddle in water!! (I would never do that, but that's how confident he was).

Wow that is a remarkable story indeed!

With today's technology and research, it's surprising they can't come up with something similar, although the market for these blades is probably rather small now, so not many would invest in the research.
It does make me very interested to try one though. How many of these would be there around, and how do you recognise them?

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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2013, 00:09 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
I've been recently playing hardbat against most players rated less than 1500 at my club as I think it works better than my long pips against this group. But, I play an updated 2012 version of hardbat, i.e. composite blade, spinny SP on the forehand, less spinny SP on the backhand. This seems a pretty lethal combination against players who don't have a killer loop.

I honestly think hardbat has a bad rap as an outdated pre-sponge style that is no longer viable. Just because it's dead at the elite levels doesn't mean it's dead for us recreational players.

In fact, I would say hardbatters actually have the advantage over sponge players at lower levels, just as sponge players have the advantage at higher levels. And you can definitely compete against sponge players at a decent level. I know in the USA, we have full-time hardbatters rated as high as 2200 in open competition and in the UK there was even a hardbatter who cracked the ITTF rankings a few years back.

Also a word of caution if you go down this road.

Against sponge players you should probably forget sticking to pre-1952 style equipment as some diehards insist on. First of all, Leyland/Barna rubbers aren't even made anymore and there is no equivalent ITTF-approved rubber. Secondly there's no reason to limit yourself to an all-wood blade unless that is your preference (I personally think the Gambler Kevlar blade is superior to the highly regarded Hock hardbat blades I own). Finally, don't feel you have to "go traditional" and use the same rubber on both sides of the bat. Sponge players often have different brands on their forehand and backhand and you can too. Besides there may be better choices for you than the small number of USATT-approved hardbat rubbers, for example 799, 802, TSP Miracle, Dr. Neubauer Terminator, Hallmark Spinpips, Winning NP-8, or Juic Pips-Ace to name a few.

While there are a handful of hardbat-only tournaments, like it or not it's a sponge world and you'll limit your opportunities to play if you don't play against all competition. With that being the case, why not take advantage of the best possible equipment choices available to pit your no-sponge skills against today's high-tech "sandwich" players?

With the proper tools it's rather fun to play modern age hardbat and you might be surprised at how well you do.
Andro makes AndroClassic which is the official ITTF version of Barna rubber. Valor Table Tennis Premier rubber which is also ITTF aproved is designed to play like Leyland rubber.

CHEERS!

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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2013, 00:14 
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haggisv wrote:
scottgordon wrote:
The story of Bernie Hock's making of the 3ply wood is quite remarkable... in the late 1940s he spent a couple of years researching wood, and how to make a thin plywood that wouldn't warp. In about 1950, he worked with a mill and special ordered certain cuts of wood, cured and then glued in certain ways to his specification, and the result was a stock of 3-ply wood that was so huge that he used it for the next 45 years. All 3ply Hocks are from this original batch of wood from 1950. He was so confident that they wouldn't warp, he recommended cleaning the rubber by immersing the paddle in water!! (I would never do that, but that's how confident he was).

Wow that is a remarkable story indeed!

With today's technology and research, it's surprising they can't come up with something similar, although the market for these blades is probably rather small now, so not many would invest in the research.
It does make me very interested to try one though. How many of these would be there around, and how do you recognise them?

ValorTable Tennis has the Big Stick, Shark, Lucky 5, which are very close reproductions of Hock blades.

CHEERS!

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