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 Post subject: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 16 Feb 2015, 11:24 
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OK, I decided to take a plunge and make a blog thread of sorts, with a clever title to boot. No promises on how frequently it will be updated or that it will be full of deep TT insights. Pretty sure I won't have videos, though - while I understand that they are infinitely useful, I just don't think it will happen.

Quick background and a bit of explanation about the title:

49 yo male in New England region of USA, got into TT when I was in high school/college (but no formal training), then took a long break only playing here and there at friend's houses/basements etc. Fast forward ~25 years, office gets a table, suddenly enough people show interest, I dig out my old Butterfly pre-made and soon it's like "hey, this is fun, and I am more or less #2 in the office, not bad!". Started reading this and other forums. Came across a notice about upcoming tournament at a local club, signed up - and promptly got my butt kicked (but got my first rating of ~640 on Ratings Central).

Not a big surprise, really - but it kind of gave me a taste of what is out there. Came back to the club, got a couple of lessons, bought my first 'real' paddle (old one was pretty close to 'anti' on both sides, but I still managed some loops out of it) - Yinhe N10 + Hurricane 3 + Palio CJ8000. Kept going back to the club, just playing (and mostly losing :) ) and figuring out stuff. Got to USATT ~1200 6 months later, switched to Galaxy W6 in the process, because I've read good things about it. Tried few rubbers just for fun. Another 6 months go by, reached ~1450 USATT and got yet another paddle (Joola Rossi Emotion + Rakza 7/Xiom Vega Europe), just because I wanted to see what's the deal with carbon blades and tensor rubbers (they are OK).

Another 6 months later, however, my JRE is idle in the bag - I decided to try playing as a chopper instead! :)

This forum is at least partly to blame - all these discussions about LP, modern defense, lots of videos etc. It also helped seeing one of stronger players in the club playing in this way - it just looked different. Finally, the most important reason - I tried it and actually loved it! There is something deeply satisfying about taking the incoming loop and sending it back that just works for me, at least for now.

So, this is the reason for change, more or less. I'll try to add my impressions as I go along - and while my memories are fresh. It sure feels different, that's for sure.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 16 Feb 2015, 12:19 
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Quick note on equipment journey.

When I first decided to try the new style, the obvious question was: what should I use? I've read quite a bit, looked at people's signatures (very useful) etc. In the end, I went through 3 stages in a month or so.

1. "Let me try something cheap".

Since I figured that new equipment is likely very different from what I had lying around, first thought was to get something cheap and reasonable just to get a taste - after all I was not really sure if I would like it. So, after quite a bit of forum browsing, ended up ordering an inexpensive allround blade (Dawei DW2 ST) with Gambler Reflectoid 1.5 on FH and Air UpUpUp 0.6 on BH.

First impressions were:
* Paddle feels VERY light...
* Reflectoid, while an inverted rubber, is sure different from anything I used so far: blocking is easy, chopping needs adjustment and attacking is, well, hard.
* Playing with LP is not as easy as it looks: chopping is OK and feels natural, but everything else is not.

So, that did not go very well. I probably could've made it work, but I'd have to force myself. Next natural step was:

2. "Transform existing double inverted paddle into modern defense one".

Since I already had W6 blade sitting idle, I figured I'll keep FH rubber (Mars II ) since I was reasonably comfortable with it and put some LP on BH: came across some cheap deal for Palio CK531a on 1 mm sponge, so on it went.

This actually worked pretty well, I thought: it was more than enough to chop down folks at my level on both sides - and very few could get beyond second BH chop :), so I started to genuinely enjoy playing with it. However, stronger players laughed at my FH chops - not really equipment fault, since pros chop with Tenergy and all, but I'm not sure I would enjoy learning to chop with it for an extended period of time. Still, at this point I felt like I might stick with new style for a bit , so:

3. "Just get a well known setup"

Probably could've done it from the very beginning and saved myself a month of exploration, but was not sure back then if it was worth of an investment. So, eventually went ahead and ordered Victas Koji Matsushita blade with VS>401 in 1.8 mm on FH and TSP Curl P4 in 1.3 mm(?) on BH from tt-japan (highly recommended, btw).

Played with it ~3 times so far: the very first impression was - "Huh, FH chopping with this thing is EASY!". Second, VS>401 is very spinny, so serves are nice and so are slow loops. And attacking on FH, while not as effortless with JRE/Rakza7, is quite effective, which makes life easier. To be honest, so far can't tell much of a difference between LP performance between this and previous setup: I liked them both in that regard.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 16 Feb 2015, 21:16 
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I'll be following your blog. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 00:25 
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Lorre wrote:
I'll be following your blog. :)


ditto.

i do think the right weight is very important to whatever set up you have.


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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 01:40 
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Bringing 'new game' to the club.

We don't really have many pips players, perhaps 10% or so - and they are mostly C-pen blockers/hitters. I did not get that many evil looks once I showed my new bat - at most a couple of humorous remarks in the spirit of 'you are too young to use long pips'. In general it was "oh, when did you switch?".

After I got to play a few folks close to my level couple of them said that they really got a good practice out of it, mostly looping chops back - and would love to do it again. Excellent - works for me as well. Thinking back, there are not that many choppers I ran into before, at most one guy in the club and couple of kids at Westchester tournament. So, most of players at my level don't get a lot of practice dealing with chops.

I still lose to players I lost before (not a big surprise), but I started taking games off them. The most obvious benefit was on the receive of serve - where I would lose the point outright or make a weak return, suddenly it's an easy push, sometimes followed by opponent misreading the spin. I also realized, much to my surprise, that even better players are confused when dealing with BH chop (I do not twiddle) - more often than not their shot goes into the net. I also got couple of comments that my FH chop sometimes has lots of spin variation - I guess it's great, but to be honest I have no idea how I did that.

My biggest problem at the moment is what to do with BH close to the table: since I came from inverted, I have to re-learn pushes and blocks. Also - what the heck one is supposed to do when you get pop up to your BH? I would smash with inverted, but it does not work with LP for me, so right now I end up pushing it safely. Did try 'looping' with LP and it worked a few times, so I guess I'll keep trying.

Also, as I quickly discovered, it's not easy to get into loop-chop rally (somehow Joo does not have this problem...) - smarter players simply push to my BH and I need to figure out how to bait them into attacking :)

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 01:54 
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vanjr wrote:
Lorre wrote:
I'll be following your blog. :)


ditto.

i do think the right weight is very important to whatever set up you have.


Yep - and that's why I abandoned my first 'cheap' combo - it really felt way too light(~155g?). By comparison VKM is at 169g now, compared to 176g for double inverted I had before (JRE).

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 02:00 
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pgpg wrote:
Bringing 'new game' to the club.

We don't really have many pips players, perhaps 10% or so - and they are mostly C-pen blockers/hitters. I did not get that many evil looks once I showed my new bat - at most a couple of humorous remarks in the spirit of 'you are too young to use long pips'. In general it was "oh, when did you switch?".

After I got to play a few folks close to my level couple of them said that they really got a good practice out of it, mostly looping chops back - and would love to do it again. Excellent - works for me as well. Thinking back, there are not that many choppers I ran into before, at most one guy in the club and couple of kids at Westchester tournament. So, most of players at my level don't get a lot of practice dealing with chops.

I still lose to players I lost before (not a big surprise), but I started taking games off them. The most obvious benefit was on the receive of serve - where I would lose the point outright or make a weak return, suddenly it's an easy push, sometimes followed by opponent misreading the spin. I also realized, much to my surprise, that even better players are confused when dealing with BH chop (I do not twiddle) - more often than not their shot goes into the net. I also got couple of comments that my FH chop sometimes has lots of spin variation - I guess it's great, but to be honest I have no idea how I did that.

My biggest problem at the moment is what to do with BH close to the table: since I came from inverted, I have to re-learn pushes and blocks. Also - what the heck one is supposed to do when you get pop up to your BH? I would smash with inverted, but it does not work with LP for me, so right now I end up pushing it safely. Did try 'looping' with LP and it worked a few times, so I guess I'll keep trying.

Also, as I quickly discovered, it's not easy to get into loop-chop rally (somehow Joo does not have this problem...) - smarter players simply push to my BH and I need to figure out how to bait them into attacking :)


Your last paragraph is very true. It is somewhat easy to be a chopper against someone who loops and only wants to loop. You can look terrific and feel you have a great game. But play against someone who cannot or will not loop and plays dead or low spin balls to your BH LP and you (or rather I) can feel as incompetent as can be.


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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 02:05 
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Would long push to their FH be enough of an enticement?

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 02:19 
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pgpg wrote:
Would long push to their FH be enough of an enticement?


Not if they know what they are doing :rofl: :rofl:


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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 02:29 
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I see - but then this problem does not seem to exist at the top level, since I don't see too many BH pushing rallies there. Or do they simply twiddle and let it rip from BH?

By the way, twiddling is not as easy as it looks :) - I tried it few times for BH serves and had quite a few close calls. Is it something worth learning? Along the same lines - I tried chopping with LP on FH and literally could not - they all went into the net. Still amazed about that, so keeping it simple for now.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 05:19 
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There are some peculiarities specific to LP but otherwise the fundamentals of chopping really aren't that different than the game everyone else plays.

To get more spin against dead shots to the BH you need some grip in the rubber and slice into the ball. This can be at odds with high-reversal blocking at the table so choose the gear accordingly.

At average US club levels most players aren't great at reading spin so doing anything different than the norm with cause some confusion, but that's not something which can relied on as your game improves so try to focus on solid quality shots (consistently low, long).


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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 06:00 
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pgpg wrote:
I see - but then this problem does not seem to exist at the top level, since I don't see too many BH pushing rallies there. Or do they simply twiddle and let it rip from BH?

By the way, twiddling is not as easy as it looks :) - I tried it few times for BH serves and had quite a few close calls. Is it something worth learning? Along the same lines - I tried chopping with LP on FH and literally could not - they all went into the net. Still amazed about that, so keeping it simple for now.


Twiddling is not only worth learning, it is a must unless you are so fast on your feet that you can step around and use your forehand at will from the backhand corner and then still cover the forehand corner on the next shot.
I suggest practicing twiddling while watching TV. Just twiddle , make a little shadow stroke as if you were going to attack with the inverted side, twiddle, shadow stroke, continuously.

If you don't learn to twiddle and don't have lightning footwork, opponents will just keep you on the side they like and you have no recourse but to keep giving them the ball they like.
This is why high level chopping is twice as much work, you have to learn and practice attack and defense with two kinds of rubber and on both sides.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 07:11 
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fleetwood999 wrote:
pgpg wrote:
I see - but then this problem does not seem to exist at the top level, since I don't see too many BH pushing rallies there. Or do they simply twiddle and let it rip from BH?

By the way, twiddling is not as easy as it looks :) - I tried it few times for BH serves and had quite a few close calls. Is it something worth learning? Along the same lines - I tried chopping with LP on FH and literally could not - they all went into the net. Still amazed about that, so keeping it simple for now.


Twiddling is not only worth learning, it is a must unless you are so fast on your feet that you can step around and use your forehand at will from the backhand corner and then still cover the forehand corner on the next shot.
I suggest practicing twiddling while watching TV. Just twiddle , make a little shadow stroke as if you were going to attack with the inverted side, twiddle, shadow stroke, continuously.

If you don't learn to twiddle and don't have lightning footwork, opponents will just keep you on the side they like and you have no recourse but to keep giving them the ball they like.
This is why high level chopping is twice as much work, you have to learn and practice attack and defense with two kinds of rubber and on both sides.


That's fair - so I guess if someone gives me a reasonably attackable ball on BH, I should twiddle to inverted and make them pay? I mentioned the whole twiddling aspect because I saw that my BH chops are much more dangerous, so the plan was, let me occasionally chop with LP on FH to spice it up. Great plan, except as I discovered, I don't know yet how to chop with LP on forehand. Weird - have to try it again, once the club reopens after all this snow we had lately. :headbang:

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 07:49 
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agenthex wrote:
There are some peculiarities specific to LP but otherwise the fundamentals of chopping really aren't that different than the game everyone else plays.

To get more spin against dead shots to the BH you need some grip in the rubber and slice into the ball. This can be at odds with high-reversal blocking at the table so choose the gear accordingly.

At average US club levels most players aren't great at reading spin so doing anything different than the norm with cause some confusion, but that's not something which can relied on as your game improves so try to focus on solid quality shots (consistently low, long).


I am not too keen on spin-reversal aspect of LP, so push-blocking close to the table is probably not for me right now. Still, have to figure out emergency block for the cases when I'm caught off-guard. Happens quite a bit :D , especially when someone smashes to my BH - should I just block it with LP as well as I can? Or is it an indication that I am actually in the wrong place, i.e. too close to the table.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2015, 07:59 
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pgpg wrote:
Bringing 'new game' to the club.

We don't really have many pips players, perhaps 10% or so - and they are mostly C-pen blockers/hitters. I did not get that many evil looks once I showed my new bat - at most a couple of humorous remarks in the spirit of 'you are too young to use long pips'. In general it was "oh, when did you switch?".

After I got to play a few folks close to my level couple of them said that they really got a good practice out of it, mostly looping chops back - and would love to do it again. Excellent - works for me as well. Thinking back, there are not that many choppers I ran into before, at most one guy in the club and couple of kids at Westchester tournament. So, most of players at my level don't get a lot of practice dealing with chops.

I still lose to players I lost before (not a big surprise), but I started taking games off them. The most obvious benefit was on the receive of serve - where I would lose the point outright or make a weak return, suddenly it's an easy push, sometimes followed by opponent misreading the spin. I also realized, much to my surprise, that even better players are confused when dealing with BH chop (I do not twiddle) - more often than not their shot goes into the net. I also got couple of comments that my FH chop sometimes has lots of spin variation - I guess it's great, but to be honest I have no idea how I did that.

My biggest problem at the moment is what to do with BH close to the table: since I came from inverted, I have to re-learn pushes and blocks. Also - what the heck one is supposed to do when you get pop up to your BH? I would smash with inverted, but it does not work with LP for me, so right now I end up pushing it safely. Did try 'looping' with LP and it worked a few times, so I guess I'll keep trying.

Also, as I quickly discovered, it's not easy to get into loop-chop rally (somehow Joo does not have this problem...) - smarter players simply push to my BH and I need to figure out how to bait them into attacking :)


You don't need to relearn pushes and blocks IMO. Blocking with a grippy LP requires the same skill as with inverted. The feeling and resulting spin will be different.

If you get an easy ball to your BH, you might want to use your footwork to use your FH or twiddle and BH drive. If you have the footwork, try the first. Twiddling only complicates things and as things are complicated enough for now.

Against that kind of pushers you can use your FH, twiddle to use the BH or... just push longer than they do.


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