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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2023, 21:05 
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Lord Cope,

You gunna fly to Boston to see pgpg and inverted 2000 chopper Leonid??? I can fly over for a hit going on almost 10 yrs since we last hit... I got a place there and if airfare is reasonable, I can make it over there if I help out enough TT friends.

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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2023, 21:29 
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Definitely want to make a trip stateside this year. Haven't been to Boston since we last met. Pgpg has been to London, so I've seen him, but would be great to meet up and have a hit. I've got to plan my travel this year, so if there are any conferences in the area, I can work something out. I'll be in NYC at some point this year, but would be nice to take a week to pootle up the east coast - have a friend in Rhode Island I owe a visit to too!

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PostPosted: 17 Jan 2023, 08:23 
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So on Wednesday I decided to take steps about blade anxiety. I checked with another friend of mine who uses the same blade and asked if he had had similar issues - he said he had, both finding the blade a bit easy to damage, and not having a very consistent performance between blades bought.

Another thread on the forum reminded me of the Woodnut blades sold by Custom Table Tennis, so I gave them a call. The owner there also plays with SP/LP and has a similar game to me. He also used to use the DDS, but stopped for the same reasons as me.

He recommended the "Dead Slow" blade, and offered to send me one to try. It arrived on Friday - I liked how it felt, and the handle is very much like the Defence Alpha - chunky and straight and rectangular. I put the rubbers on on Friday and went to practice last night, and used it. I was very very impressed - had excellent feeling and control and was very comfortable to use.

I played a league match with it this evening, and again it was excellent. So decision made - I've ordered a second one, which I'm confident will be near as possible to identical.

I'm going to put the C8 / C&F3 experimentation on hold until the summer.

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PostPosted: 20 Jan 2023, 08:54 
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First premier match of the year for me tonight - a rematch against DP, PG, NL. I went into the match feeling confident, and with some tactical ideas against NL.

First match vs PG I won 3-0. I didn't get off to a good start and had to come back from 10-8 down to win the first, but won the next two quite comfortably.

Against NL my tactic was to go for third ball attack, and to attack whenever possible. This was largely effective, but for three things. The way the venue is set up, when there are four matches, the non-playing people sit along one side, and on one end I find I have very little room to play a FH attack from the BH corner, which is my bread and butter. The result of this is that I needed to play more passively on that side, which NL has no problem with. Add in another night where all the luck went his way, and I just didn't quite get there. Lost 3-2, but a good scrap, and I feel like he's beatable. I think I need to have more confidence to attack with BH twiddle when in a space-constrained venue.

I lost 3-0 to DP. The first I just didn't get into the game and lost 11-3. I made a lot of mistakes against his BH anti, missed a couple of serves, and suddenly it was over. I played much better in the second, and was 10-8 up, but he got the finest of edges to go 10-9 and then a net for 10-10, and finally won that onr 15-13. The third was close - 11-9 to him. I don't have the right tactics yet, and he is playing very well - great attacking shots and some good controlled use of the anti - a deserved win for him, but I did feel a bit disappointed.

I played well in the doubles, and we over-turned a 2-0 defecit, and won 3-2. But we lost the match 7-3, so slip down from 2nd.

It was a very good natured match, and some great rallies. I was pleased with my mental approach in general - a few squeaks of frustration when critical shots missed by milimetres, but generally fine.

I have two tournaments at the weekend - a seniors on saturday and a veterans on sunday - looking forward to it!

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PostPosted: 27 Jan 2023, 18:03 
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Hi LC,

Could you provide some insight on the Woodnut blade you're using? I can't find much about it. What are the characteristics like dampening, flex, spin reversal, etc. Particularly interested since I often use SP/LP. Thanks!

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PostPosted: 29 Jan 2023, 08:18 
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gaijinjoe wrote:
Could you provide some insight on the Woodnut blade you're using? I can't find much about it. What are the characteristics like dampening, flex, spin reversal, etc.


I guess it depends if we mean the same thing by these words, and can agree on a meaningful way to compare them, but I'll try!

The blade is pretty slow - not the slowest I have ever used, but I think it does feel like it has a braking effect if I play a cushioning, shot on the BH.

Not sure about flex - I play with max sponge 651, and it doesn't feel "bendy" if I hit a hard shot, but nor does it feel particularly stiff. I'd say just "average".

Compared to the faster blades I used to use, it has a lot less spin reversal, but I optimise for control and placement over reversal. That said a good chop-block or side-swipe does result in a difficult ball for the opponent.

I would say my general impression is that it is exactly what it claims - it's very very controlled. It has a reassuring feel in the hand, and while it's not very fast or penetrative, what I lose in speed I gain in the ability to place the ball where I want with a high degree of confidence.

Increasingly my style of play is around putting the ball in the most difficult place possible, and avoiding mistakes, so it's perfect for me. Where I would struggle with this blade would be against a very skilled lobber who can get the ball back reliably against a flat hit. In such a case I again go for placement, or a twiddle and hit with LP to cause a variation and possibly induce an error. But I don't often play such people, so it's a very good fit for me at the moment.

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PostPosted: 29 Jan 2023, 08:35 
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Update on the last week:

I played in two tournaments over the weekend, had a 1:1 on Monday, and league matches on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tournament one I pretty much performed as expected. In the first group stage I came 4/5, in line with ranking. Lost 3/2 to the person closest above me, and beat the lowest ranked player 3-2. Lost 3-1 to the second-best, and 3-0 to the best. Generally played pretty well, and enjoyed myself. The next stage was groups of 3 made from the bottom 3 in each group of 5 - so I played someone who finished 3rd and someone who finished 5th. I beat the weaker player easily, and was well beaten by the better player.

Tournament two I played a bit better than my ranking - one max win and another win against someone a bit higher rated. One expected win, and three losses to the top three players. One loss to someone with no ranking points, but clearly a very good local league player, who, looking at his results, should be a bit above me on paper, so not too bad.

Mentality was pretty good all weekend. I felt a bit frustrated for a couple of points against the unranked good player, and I was pretty disappointed in the result - I felt like I played badly. But I didn't make any kind of fuss, and after a bit of reflection, I think I was just getting tired, and he is a genuinely decent player.

1:1 on Monday was really tough. I was stiff and tired and made a lot of mistakes. Session was 100% multiball, which was a bit gruelling, but was good quality table time. Stuck around and played some top table afterwards, with my top 150 friend, a couple of players of similar level to me (one of whom I played with for a few season), and one a bit stronger than me. Lost 2/2 vs strongest, got 2/4 vs the stronger, and 2/2 vs one of the similar and 0/2 vs the other. Worthwhile session, but was very tired after.

Wednesday night was also tough. I decided not to play on Tuesday, and I was feeling really sluggish and wasn't moving well at all, and motivation was low. Opposition were one of the two best teams in the league, but still not very challenging, and I won 3-0 3-0 3-0, and the team won 10-0. On reflection was happy not to lose a set, and we remain top of the league, unbeaten.

Thursday played in the premier again, vs GM (again), IW (again) and DM (first time in years).

Beat IW comfortably 3-0. Tactics worked again. Serve short to fh or middle, and play into his BH (he's left-handed). His FH attack is much stronger. I never felt in danger.

Haven't played DM for a long time. He has been coached by my coach for many years, and played in the same team that TH and I plaeyd in for a few years. When he plays well he's a solid upper half of the top local league, but he lacks consistency. I beat him 3-0 - again, not really threatened, and I defended well.

Beat GM 3-0 as well - again, good tactics. Her FH hit is excellent, but her BH attack is not threatening, and she's not fast enough to move and play a strong FH from BH, so playing into her BH nullifies her.

CC and I won the doubles, and we won the match 9-1. We're still in 3rd... 2nd not out of reach, but I can't see us knocking the top team off their perch.

A good week, and looking forward to practice tomorrow.

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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2023, 03:06 
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Well! It's pretty much the end of the season, and I figured I should give a bit of an update.

My "new" team won the league comfortably, without dropping a match. Apart from my embarrassing / silly first match loss, I only dropped three sets for the rest of the season.

In the other league, our team finished 3rd in the premier, and I ended with an average of 71%. Some good wins, one disappointing loss, and everything else pretty much as expected.

I switched from SP to inverted on the FH about half-way through the season, because against better players, I felt I needed more variation and the ability to inject spin into the rally, and because I was lacking spin on serve.

Coaching has been good - mostly working on quality 3rd and 5th balls, and aggressive play with LP.

Have found that the slow blade, while wonderful for control and placement, isn't pressuring enough against better players. Against much weaker players, I can just place the ball and win, but against players who can make me play a lot of shots, or are happy to go back and fish, I found I was lacking penetration.

Once the season had ended, I borrowed a Viscaria from a friend, and played a British League match with it, did a training camp, and a bit of practice. I actually find it has quite a lot of feeling for a carbon blade. It's much better for LP attacking, close to the table, and FH and BH with inverted are fine. Touch is very good, serves are fine. The main downfall is it's much harder to chop with, but nothing is free - there's always a trade-off.

I was using Hurricane on my FH, but kept getting pestered by my SBL team mates and better players to boost it, which I never have. I had a go on my friend's (he has a Viscaria and H3, but boosted) and there really was a huge difference. I'm not keen on getting into boosting, but the difference was sufficiently big that I realised I'm probably leaving something on the table by playing with an unboosted hurricance, so as a trial, I've swapped to MX-P. Very very early days, but nothing at stake now. SBL over, and league over.

The one other change is in LP. I did try both C&F3 and C8 with 1.0mm of sponge, but both were too bouncy for me. I like Dtecs 0.5 but it's expensive, and sometimes feels a bit one dimensional. My SBL team mate uses Dawei 388d-1 in 0.5 and gave me a sheet to try. I've been using it for a couple of weeks now, and I'm growing to like it very much. It's a bit more spin-reactive than DG, but also very versatile - it can do pretty much anything, and I'm enjoying using it. Will stick with it over the summer and see how I get on.

We have the two semifinals of the two handicap competition tomorrow and wed - seniors and veterans. I think we'll be knocked out of tomorrow's seniors, but should win Wednesday's veterans pretty easily. And assuming we win on Wed we will play the same team in the veterans final as we face tomorrow, and will likely lose that too. That team has won the competition every year for ages, and also now have a very strong player who is massively under-ranked. I lost 3-1 to him with no handicap, and he has a few points over me. It's not impossible to beat them, but the odds are definitely against us.

I'm going to be doing some coaching over the summer, and play a bit of summer league to support some developing players. I'll play the last Grand Prix, and maybe some vets tournaments, but basically summer will be training and fitness. Next season I plan to stick with the "new" team, and see if we can go up again, but other than that, probably do more training and less local league.

Might also have some coaching with a very strong modern defender who has retired from competitive play owing to injury. I spent some time with him last week, and we got on well, and I learned a few useful things, so quite looking forward to that.

Mentally have been really excellent all season. Had one slight wobble at practice a few weeks ago, but I put that down to tiredness, and the same at practice last week, I felt my mood worsening, so stopped and rested, and was fine next day.

All in all, a good season this year, and I'm happy with my game.

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PostPosted: 18 Jul 2023, 16:31 
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It's been a funny end to the season. When I last wrote, we had the semi-finals the following night - this was the handicap seniors, and we were playing the reigning champions. They fielded their strongest player, who is ranked about 400 points above me in the national rankings, another strong player - a premier division blocker/retriever and an improving player from the second-top division. I had about 4 points over the strongest player, up to 23, was on level-pegging with the blocker, and the improver had about 10 over me up to 24... something like that.

I played against the improver first, and won the first set easily, but in the second set on about the third point of the match I pulled a muscle in my arm - tricep/shoulder - very painfully, and basically couldn't play anything other than a FH block. I tried a few things and lost the second to deuce, and in the third I had no chance, and was well-beaten.

In the second match against the blocker (whom I had demolished 3-0 a few weeks earlier) I was hopeless. Without my main attacking weapon on my FH, I could only rely on my BH attack, which wasn't enough of a weapon, and my opponent just played every ball into my BH and ground me down, and I was well-beaten 2-0. I soldiered on in the second match against the strong player, and lost 2-1... I was bitterly disappointed by the match, and we were knocked out.

I didn't play in the second semi, but the team won, and were through the final, where we played the same team as we'd played in the other semi-final, minus their strongest player, who isn't a veteran.

I'd rested most of the week and played for an hour the previous day, so we discussed with each other, and decided I would play in the final. It's a two-leg affair, with two player teams. I shouldn't have played. I was at 50% at best, and my FH was hesitant and I was in pain, and mentally a mess. I lost 2-0 to the blocker, and was never in the match. He played very well and was very confident, knowing was far from match fit. I won the first set against the improver, but ran out of steam, and he won the next two. My team mate won both his matches, so it was 2-2 after the first rubber. We discussed as a team, and it was decided I should play on in the second rubber. I played better in the second game against the blocker, but lost 2-1 23-21 in the having had two match points. It was a similar story to the first leg against the improver... I won the first, but ran out of puff, and lost the next two. My team mate won both, so it was 4-4. With everything to play for, it was down to the doubles. Thankfully I like to think of myself as a pretty decent doubles player, and my team mate and I hadn't lost a doubles match all season, either in practice or in competition. We lost the first 25-23, but rallied and won the next two sets without much difficulty, to win the cup!

I felt conflicted - I was delighted that we'd won, but kinda felt like I shouldn't have played. Our third team-mate could well have picked up 1/4, but we made a team decision, and we got over the line.

My confidence and mental game were badly knocked by these two matches, and I played badly for several weeks more. It took a long time for my arm to heal, and I became grumpy and self-critical. Not as bad as the bad old days, but after an excellent season mentally, this was a disappointing development.

I agreed to play in the summer league, supporting a developing junior in the bottom division. I played in the first match against the weakest side, and managed to win, but far from comprehensively. In the second match against a much stronger side, I won, but again I was still at about 50%. It was at this match that fate intervened. We had a bye the following week, and the week after, when I went to find my TT bag, it was literally nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere, but no TT bag, no bats (all my bats live in one bag), no shoes, no bottle, nothing!

I scratched around the much diminished supplies and found a generic 5 play ALL+ blade, which had a black OX dtecs on one side. I didn't have a red inverted, so the choice was between the old faithful 651 or an OX sheet of 802. I thought for a laugh I'd put on the 802. I found an old pair of shoes and went off to the match. I think because my expectations were low, and because a change is sometimes what is needed, I played well, and I really enjoyed myself.

I went to the club a few times the following week, but nobody had seen my bag, so I carried on playing with the OX SP/LP. I beat two of the strongest players - one of my SBL team mates, and one of the premier division players against whom I had 50/50 this season, and lost 3-2 deuce against another SBL player.

Work then got a bit insane and I was unable to play for several weeks, and I finally played again this weekend and last night. My bag finally turned up (it had been found at the club and someone had take it home to look after it), but I carried on playing with the OX SP/LP. I lost 3-2 deuce to the 50/50 player, and beat two other premier players last night.

I'm mighty tempted to just carry on playing with this - it's remarkably effective and a lot of fun.

So that brings us up to date. I have a summer league match tomorrow, and I'll probably play this afternoon. I'll do a few days intensive training, and then before long it'll be the new season, with SBL, veterans tournaments, and local league to keep me busy.

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PostPosted: 18 Jul 2023, 19:10 
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good to hear you're still playing, and still having fun :)

qq with the OX SP/LP setup though... how would you deal with someone who just serves light topspin into your LPs then loops? if someone does that to me I'll typically just chop with the LPs but if they take advantage of that I can twiddle and loop/bunch/chop really heavy, which you wouldn't really be able to do with the OX SPs?

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[Other gear I've used]
Blades: Butterfly Defence 3, Butterfly Defence Pro, Butterfly Innerforce ZLC, Butterfly Innershield, DHS Power G7, Stiga Offensive Classic Carbon
SPs: Friendship 802 (1.5), TSP Spectol (1.3, 1.8, 2.1), TSP Spectol Speed (1.3), TSP Super Spinpips Chop Sponge 2 (0.5, 1.3)
LPs: Butterfly Feint Long II (1), Butterfly Feint Long III (0.5, 1.3), Tibhar Grass D.TecS (OX), TSP Curl P1-R (0.5, 1, 1.3), TSP Curl P4 (1.3)


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PostPosted: 19 Jul 2023, 00:49 
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Light topspin into the LP I can attack/flick with the LP quite effectively. If it's obvious I can also twiddle and flick hard with the SP, or just receive with SP on BH for a change... if they go to FH, a FH return with the LP is quite hard to deal with, either down the line or using the angle short and wide.

The other thing I'm trying to do is make sure I've recovered from a service return so if there is a heavy loop 3rd ball, I can chop/chopblock on the BH and block or counter-punch with the FH.

The biggest weakness with the setup is that I can't get very heavy spin on the serve, so unless it's very tight or very fast, a player with a good flick can get in quickly on service return. However, if you expect a flicked ball, and play the percentages of where it's likely to be, you can actually counter the flick.

If you remember Martin Gunn - he didn't get heavy spin on his serves, but they were tight, and if anyone flicked his serves he'd be straight onto that ball with a block or counter. Of course Martin is 10 times the player I am or probably ever will be, but it shows it can be done.

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PostPosted: 19 Jul 2023, 01:17 
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dunc wrote:
good to hear you're still playing, and still having fun :)

qq with the OX SP/LP setup though... how would you deal with someone who just serves light topspin into your LPs then loops? if someone does that to me I'll typically just chop with the LPs but if they take advantage of that I can twiddle and loop/bunch/chop really heavy, which you wouldn't really be able to do with the OX SPs?


Are we talking long serve or short/half-long? If it's the former, then I would try to chop it to the spot where I hope I won't get loop-killed - deep BH, FH wide enough to make them move etc. and then try to get into a chopping rally, since I'm not that close to the table already. For the latter, most likely would try to bump with LP into their body or wide. Does not work too well with no-spin serves, though...

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