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PostPosted: 07 Apr 2014, 12:12 
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It looks like this forum is *the* place to go to learn about alternative playing styles and equipment. I appreciate it very much and I've learned a lot.

My problem is that I can't settle my equipment and playing style choices; I can now play cpen and shakehand about equally, and my "rapier" and my "broadsword" are about equal too (about equally mediocre). :-)

I gave 802 a long look, and I think I can resolve that 802-40 is as low-friction as I want to go. That means saying goodbye, so to speak, to He Zhi Wen, Zhou Xintong, etc. :-(
Though unwilling to say goodbye to my H2 I made a "mistake" and finally tried T25. I don't know that I can accept the bounciness, but I'm pretty sure that I will never want anything with more throw than T25 (on a Mazunov). So, I've narrowed my rubber choices to the range 802-40 to T25. :-) Hey, H2 is somewhere between them! :-)

Tonight I played shakehand and cpen with a Clipper with 802-40 on both sides, and I played "broadsword" with a Mazunov with H2 and T25. My results were about the same and I enjoyed it all!

I like being a niche player, annoying the opponent, pips out, punch-blocking (and I think it makes me an asset to a club too, if they don't have another one to practice against). But stepping back (just one step) and swinging freely feels good too. Feels kindof ordinary though. Feels good too. :-(

Because this involves preference and feel and intangibles etc. maybe no one can help me with it. Maybe I can switch freely and it'll settle over time. Winning feels good too; maybe one of these will quickly become the one I'm simply best at, regardless of aesthetics or what I've thought of as principle.

But, I love Gao Jun, you know? :-)


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PostPosted: 07 Apr 2014, 12:57 
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You have nice way with words Zhaoyang :up: :lol:

I've been through a lot of combination too, and in the end I think you've got to find a nice balance between what you enjoy and what wins you games. If it only wins you games but you don't enjoy it that much, you'll probably grow tired of it. If you enjoy playing a style but don't win that many games, and you're not improving, you'll likely lose motivation too.
In the end it's probably only you that can decide, but it's fun to talk about it and see how others go through the same process. ;)

BTW The Mazuvov and T25 must make quite a heavy combination... do you like heavy bats?

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PostPosted: 08 Apr 2014, 02:03 
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Thanks boss.

haggisv wrote:
it's fun to talk about it and see how others go through the same process

Yeah, so I'll continue and I hope others will too.

1) Most of my playing time is with friends. The most important of them come to my home to play (I bring them because they can't drive). They're native Chinese, penholders, even older than I. They're good players but I don't enjoy brutalizing them. I also don't enjoy deceiving them with long pips, etc, because they're not so ambitious about learning different styles. Here, the over the table placement game (like Gao Jun I guess), just putting the ball out of reach, feels good. I can strive to play my very best and get meaningful practice time in that style, without demoralizing anybody. Gao Jun's demeanor is modest, and I never want to project more than that, with them.

I've enjoyed pretending that I'm visiting the past with these players. When I've mentioned e.g. Zhuang Zedong they've indicated familiarity (I say "indicated" because I don't know any Chinese ping-pong vocabulary yet), and I tried PF4 and SuperFX partly for this reason. I found a Mazunov cpen for one of them (as a near-08 equivalent and because he liked mine), put red SuperFX on it, and this has been his favorite. I enjoy playing straight into the way they played when they were younger, as that way I get a genuine look at it, and they can fully appreciate how much or little I've learned to play that way. I started cpen because I thought it was funny and to eliminate the doubt that shakehand was giving me any advantage. The better of the two does well at the club. I'm lucky to know them!

2) At the club, against better opponents (better than I), most of whom are typical double inverted players, and younger, I sometimes end up as target practice. I want to tell you exactly what I think then: I don't want to bore them (I want to give them good practice time because I want them to continue playing with me), and I want to pull inverted out of my bag and beat them at their own game. Oh, yeah, "live by the sword, die by the sword"! But beating them with pips over-the-table is even sweeter, and happens now and then.

I guess it's non-ideal to maintain more than one style. Maybe exactly two would be ok, but not a dozen. Either two separate styles with two different setups, or a hybrid, maybe inverted/pips on a shakehand, twiddling both front/back and cpen/shakehand. That would be fun. :-) I wouldn't want to confuse myself, but I know I could get used to it over time.

haggisv wrote:
BTW The Mazunov and T25 must make quite a heavy combination... do you like heavy bats?

I looked at blades :-) and the Mazunov won; I talked about it in other threads. The Mazunov (is it a hammer or a scalpel?), the cheap DHS 08 clone (slightly softer, doesn't deserve any contempt), the Clipper (noticeably softer yet- helps 802-40 but I liked it less with inverted at the time) are my favorites. The H-WL (which is koto-topped, your blade composition list is wrong about this) feels sharp too.
Mazunov + H2 2.2? + T25 1.9 = 205g. Eh, it's a little heavy. Changing it would save maybe 20g, or just 10%.
Clipper (Legend handle) + 2*802-40 1.8 = 164g.

Before I tried pips I was playing with 2*H2 and I tried T11+ for a while. It's sharp and direct enough but sent blocks back too fast. In time one could get used to it, of course.


Last edited by Zhaoyang on 28 May 2014, 06:53, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2014, 23:11 
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For each equipment choice there is "window of opportunity", some range of plausibly optimum playing styles for that equipment and, hopefully, some supreme exemplar (with videos available).

1) One case would be single-sided cpen 802 = He Zhi Wen. I can accept that that is probably the most that can be done with that setup: he has already tried mixing in more touch shots, some backspin, some short serves, etc. Trusting him would settle questions about that setup and would tell me how to play with it. Some great essays by kees on this forum tell me too. I'm satisfied that my N08S (the cheap 08 clone) with 802 would serve.
Not having a lifetime to hone this, I guess I'm accepting that I really can't do much with it. Also, though I know it calls for punching, I'm constantly wanting to apply the big brush to squeeze out more spin. This instinct is already strong and I choose not to supress it. Sorry, wrong rubber for me. The End. :-(

2) I don't see a great double-sided low-grip player, but grippy pips on both sides could be exemplified by Johnny Huang. Even if the only video I had were Johnny Huang - Liu Guoliang I would know how to play with it. And furthermore, despite the cpen stroke mechanics, Liu Guoliang with grippy pips plays the same way in that match: keep the ball low and fast with as much topspin as possible. I'm confident that my Clipper shakehand with 802-40 works well for this.
This case still calls for superfine execution of a game with a narrow variety of shots. I will never execute like Johnny Huang either, but falling short still gives a game with some effectiveness (judging from my results and from what my opponents say). Later I'll suggest what might be an important principle that might govern or explain this.

3) Unfortunately for this method other cases are not so easy, and this is so obvious that it isn't really helpful. For example, the window of possibilities for inverted + long pips on shakehand stretches from Joo Se Hyuk through Deng Yaping to (many others whose names I don't know). And, grippy pips + long/medium pips on either shakehand or cpen overlaps with it. And so, although I can still collect favorites, it turns out that the method fails spectacularly. But it does lead to an interesting question which I will share later.

So, I owe you one important principle and one interesting question.


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PostPosted: 13 Apr 2014, 03:01 
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Like an airplane, a rubber must have a performance "envelope" - a range of strokes for which it performs best - as otherwise there would be one rubber that was best at everything. So, while rubber versatility must vary, it must be true that any rubber severely optimised for top pros must be severely compromised for me; I occasionally utilize its advantages while for every other shot I suffer its compromises. Rationally then, given my plausible maximum athleticism and skill level, there is no chance that a Hurricane or a Tenergy (etc) will ever be the best rubber for me or my game.

That much seems certain. Having googled "further vs. farther", I'll risk a corollary: If a Hurricane or Tenergy (etc) will never be the best rubber for me, then an away from the table looping/counterlooping game will never be the best game for me. Already knew that! Sorry!

Edit:
So, at least one side of my setup should probably be grippy pips. Good thing I already like them. If it's two sided (and it probably should be) and asymmetrical (and it probably should be) then that should not be inverted either.
I had already thought this through about eight months ago and set up a "Gao Jun" a "Deng Yaping" and a "Zhou Xintong" which I still have, but had to stop playing for six months and sort of forgot what I was thinking about. :?:
If it's two-sided and asymmetrical I'll want to learn to twiddle. Wish me luck! :-)


Last edited by Zhaoyang on 29 May 2014, 12:07, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 13 Apr 2014, 09:02 
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Learning to twiddle is a qiute a challenge, but if you can master it, it will certainly open some doors, giving you further strategies to use against opponents.

Good luck Zhaoyang :rock: :rock: :rock:

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PostPosted: 27 Apr 2014, 02:02 
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This thread is about choosing a playing style.

As playing style and equipment choice are usually pretty tightly correlated we usually talk, almost equivalently, about the equipment choice. But even after making the choice with our own judgement it's a good idea to watch the best players who've used the same setup. I suggested He Zhiwen as an exemplar for 802, for example.

But then I must watch myself: My own play is (to say the least) so far from any of those exemplars that any kinship carried through the equipment choice is, mmm, weak. But I do notice that a setup will reward me for certain strokes and will coax me toward some utilization that makes sense for it.

I was talking to a retired pro (the second one I've met) who kindly listened to my story about agonizing over how I should approach this game. I showed him my current setup and described the overall shape of the game I want to play and then mentioned the kind of strokes that interest me (like driving rather than looping, but also blocking off the bounce, etc), and he eventually started to smile at the range of it. He said (casually speaking) that "every looper wishes he was a great hitter, and every hitter wishes he was a great looper". In other words, we tend to wish for whatever we can't have. Ok, I understand that. Then he said something like "go for whatever you're truly best at". That part of the conversation ended there.

Here I face the shortcoming in my self-knowlege, as I have no idea what I am now or could reasonably eventually be best at. Now, what I like best and what I'm best at aren't the same, but I'll try a little process of elimination, as follows.

1) A game that is maximally athletic (Ma Long, Joo Se Hyuk) is eliminated. So, the biggest swings, which require more time to execute, which requires stepping back, and therefore running etc, is eliminated. I'll risk saying that it practically eliminates the usual inverteds as I'm not aware of one that can both drive like grippy pips and also be aimed as sharply (by me). H2 was close but it took a lot more work to oppose the opponent's spin. And to extract what H2 can do, above and beyond 802-40, calls for a tremendous shot. [I admit that during the time I was using H2 at the table I was never fully aware that I wasn't using its full power (other people knew and tried to tell me I wasn't swinging right). I digress: One night recently I put H2 and T25 on a Mazunov shakehand and I, like, "discovered sponge" - on both of them. My partner was an overwhelmingly better player but fed me some balls and so I also discovered how much hard work these rubbers really called for. Eh, I like placement out of the opponent's reach just as much.]

2) A game of maximum self-restraint (playing most of the time with anything less than grippy pips) is eliminated.

3) A game of maximum accumulated expertise over time, gaining finer and finer control of some setup I stick to, appeals to me. I like thinking about the degree to which this expertise is mostly hidden from most opponents at my level. I don't necessarily mean just deception, but fine control. I mean Gao Jun, for example. I mean that old guy who doesn't appear to be doing anything special but beats everybody - all night.

Gotta go now...


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PostPosted: 02 May 2014, 07:04 
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"Gao Jun" style is the winner. Just two reservations remain (at the moment).

1. I've been using a Mazunov and 802/802-40 for a long time. A Mat Pro (with Challenger Attack 1.9 assembled and ready to go) is a big change. I also have an excellent compromise, a Clipper Wood with 802-40 2.0. The Clipper plays close enough to a soft Mazunov, as though the sponge is thicker and the topsheet grippier. Not too terrible. :-) The Mat Pro is a more complex tool (see "maximum accumulated expertise" above). With 802-40 I could call it squirrely (until one knows how to use it) compared to the 4x4-like Mazunov. I hope to choose between these two as soon as possible.

2. Instead of just a colorsheet I have LP OX on the other side of those three. In time I'd like to develop a twiddle and let Lay Jianfang show me how to use it (via videos of her matches). It looks like she's from the same "school" as Gao Jun. She even shares the grip which I described in the Gao Jun thread.

At the moment my signature says "Whatever my coach says". I wrote that about eight months ago, before hurting my foot, and haven't seen him since. Before my first lesson with him I showed him a box full of the setups I had been experimenting with, hoping he could simply tell me what to use, and he selected the Gao Jun clone for me.

What I've gained by going through this process one more time is a peace of mind that should make it possible for me to let go of all the other possibilities and commit to one specialty (still talking about playing style).

...and upon hearing this admiring mention of niche-specialization, He Zhiwen smiles down from Olympus.


Last edited by Zhaoyang on 02 May 2014, 13:05, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 02 May 2014, 08:50 
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Yes you'll certainly improve a lot faster if you commit to one setup... as long as it's close to your requirement. :up:

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PostPosted: 28 May 2014, 06:22 
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The thread is about choosing a playing style.

I wrote that the choice of playing style and the choice of equipment is interrelated. A choice of one should coax you toward an appropriate choice of the other. Or, if you can choose a model player, you could just use what they use (or something close enough to it) and stop worrying about it. Unfortunately, or fortunately, another interrelated factor is one's own personality and inclinations and history. Some of this is too ingrained to change, and some we would stubbornly refuse to change, whether rational or not.

For example, I've "discovered" a useable arms-length brush. I was drilling with such a good blocker that my punching muscles were getting really tired (after a solid hour or two, no kidding), and I noticed how good it felt to reach out and brush. I reached farther and farther until, hey, my windmill looks (at least in my mind) like someone who I can't name because it would sound too ridiculous. While Gao Jun reaches out as needed, she never makes this kind of swing by choice. Never. It's always flatter.

So, if I insist on swinging like that, sometimes, then in the context of this thread I have two things to think about:
-First, is it just an addendum to a style that will still look like Gao Jun? I already related that the way I actually played with a HZW-clone setup diverged so far from him that it became nonsense to keep him as my model. Now, I must think about whether or not my most deeply ingrained feelings of aggression, or whatever, will in truth divorce me from Gao Jun. So far, I think maybe not. I also enjoy a "technical" feeling, as though I'm doing geometry, or drafting with a straightedge and compass. Does anyone understand that? I feel this most when I'm playing with the long pips side, when depth and angles rather than hitting hard is foremost in my mind. It is still a short enough distance FROM cultivating this feeling with long pips OX (with which I'm not thinking about topspin driving) TO exercising it also with Challenger Attack (with which I can hit hard but can also exercise restraint, picking my moments patiently, like Gao Jun). If I concentrate on the other strokes I need to work on like pushing and sideswipe punching like her, etc, then it is still possible that I will end up not too delusionally distant.

-Second (if I insist on swinging like that) I must think again whether or not I want to do it with inverted. Lay Jianfang (some of the time) and Li Jiao (most of the time) look enough like I imagine Gao Jun would with inverted. I took a long look. The biggest reason why I don't want to do that is that it speeds up the game for *both* players. That makes the game a lot more about reaction time and equipment, and a little less about the "long-term accumulation of judgment" which, to me, is what Gao Jun is about. And this is characteristic: when Gao Jun hits her hardest it's to end the point, not to rally.

In my previous post I mentioned two questions I had to answer:
-The first one, about the great Clipper, is resolved in favor of the Mat Pro Model (or something close enough to it). I played with both for a few weeks, switching back and forth. Occasionally I would notice that "everything" was landing, look down, and there was the Mat Pro. So, I can employ haggisv's rule "what you enjoy and what wins you games", but as a bonus I do enjoy everything about this blade. I can still make it go fast by hitting a lot harder than I did with my Mazunov. Of course.

-The second one, on whether or not to put long pips on the back and twiddle, is answered - oh, definitely yes. I enjoy it a lot. Lay Jianfang serves as a model for this side.


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PostPosted: 01 Jun 2014, 06:44 
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Continuing my previous post...

My inverted shakehand strokes will probably alway haunt me and try to reawaken, thus the moment of weakness described in the previous post. No, as long as Gao Jun remains my model I resolve to refrain from those immodest, big strokes.

It seems to be a good idea to watch videos of the model before a playing session. A broad outline of her game sinks in a little, for at least a little while. Persevering at this for some months should set the inverted demons to rest.

I thought about why Gao Jun would never hit like that, as this setup will do it impressively. Among the reasons are probably that her stroke is higher percentage (the blade is in the flight path of the ball for a long time instead of intersecting with it for an instant) and is more about aiming sharply including the fine regulation of depth, and is better for concealing the amount of top and side spin too. Other reasons for short stroking and punching are found in Kee's threads.


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PostPosted: 01 Jun 2014, 20:46 
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The great thing about this game is you can choose one style or equipment and later change your mind. Or even go back and forth if you like. As long as you do not change equipment during the middle of a single match anything is possible!


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PostPosted: 05 Jun 2014, 01:27 
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The thread is about choosing a playing style.

To Vanjr: Right! I've enjoyed trying to understand *everything*. But I'm enjoying even more a gradually increasing competence that makes the better players more interested in playing with me. I enjoy niche equipment too because, again, the better players should want to practice against me.

***

Because the rating system can be compared to the one used for tournament chess I understand that for any given style the players near the top are - what word should I use? - not literally astronomically better, but still unimaginably better than the average rated player.

[Begin story] I'll tell you a story. I had already played chess casually for some years when I met this friend. We then started studying chess books. After a couple of years we were studying the book of the 1972 World Championship match between Fischer and Spassky, playing through these games together and analyzing. In our blissful innocence we saw many moves which we thought were better. We didn't think we were better but did think we were on the same planet at least. We had no idea how horrible we were! I don't think we were delusional but just blissfully ignorant. We finally found a club and our first ratings were 1200's. Some years later my last rating was 1900's. So, I could then dimly grasp where I stood in comparison to a regular master, but still not to Fischer and Spassky, still unimaginably better.
[End story]

[Back on topic]
If I pick a model player near the top of my chosen style I can compare myself to him/her as I improve. As in the above story the legitimacy of this comparison is limited by my incompetence to judge. Is the comparison then, as in the story, very nearly absolutely worthless?

It is almost worthless but at the same time it must be better to aim for *something* that's above and beyond one's own feelings and preferences as otherwise we would remain in that blissful ignorance. This is why we need a coach and/or a model - ideally a coach that him/herself plays like the model - and to then have faith in what they teach us. Finding this faith could be hard for some. I believe I can do it and I look forward to working with my coach again.

Maybe this is how it is: My comparison of myself to a top player is meaningless with regard to really playing like that player, but it is not meaningless with regard to playing like *I* will play when I become a better player. So I could study and obey my coach/model to guide me to my eventual highest level, but when I get there I will play like myself. That's sort of a logical necessity and a beautiful ideal at the same time.


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PostPosted: 06 Jun 2014, 00:51 
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Wise words Zhaoyang, that makes sense to me! :up:

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PostPosted: 18 Jun 2014, 12:35 
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I had a terrible crisis of confidence for a few days. I lost a few games or had a bad hitting session or whatever (don't even remember), and came home thinking I'm a talentless hack. Well, that might be true but I'm a still-improving talentless hack.

I was so depressed I mounted some Skyline II and did win all my games that night. Pulled out my Clipper. Even thought about my Mazunov. Then, tonight, I took a selection of blades (all with short pips) and hit with them and suddenly my main MPM sp/lp laid the others to rest again; I started hitting right with it again for some reason. What a relief.

Having spent a lot of time zeroing in on the equipment and playing style choice, a would-be champion *must* have more backbone than this. Concentrating on the here and now (see my current sig) implies letting most of these decisions made in the past stay settled. That's easier for some people.


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