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PostPosted: 27 Feb 2019, 23:04 
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Review: Re-Impact Tachi & Tachi-Plus in 40+ design.

Introduction.


Achim Rendler, designer and builder of the Re-Impact blades, has recently come up with a number of models specially designed for the plastic 40+ ball. I tested his new Tachi and Tachi Plus blades, using a number of different rubbers he sent me to this purpose.
Over the last ten years or so, I have tested about 30 Re-Impact blades. All of them were prototypes and a fair number of them never made it beyond that stage, but some did and I posted reviews on them here. On all of them I also gave extensive feedback to Achim, which is what he asked for, though I am not sure how useful it has been to him. Just to be clear, I am not associated to Re-Impact in any way, nor am I paid to do this. In fact, it is not profitable for me. I get to keep the blades, but in competition I have had only use for one or two of them for some weeks or months occasionally, viz. when I was recovering from injury; besides, testing takes a lot of time and so does writing the reports and the reviews – as I am a professional novelist, this means I lose many hours I could have spent on what I do for a living. So why do it at all? First, it’s fun. Second, in my time I have coached a number of players who had physical limitations; it is important to me that this class of players gets a fair chance to compete and one of the things that really helps (as I know from personal experience) is a blade designed with these limitations in mind. For this special purpose, Re-Impact blades are, in my opinion, superior in every respect. Then, of course, players who do not belong to that class may find the special playing characteristics of Re-Impact models useful for their style of play as well and that is another reason to post the reviews here.
As to the design of the new Tachi models, the plies of both blades seem to be assembled according to the same pattern used for the old models: two very thin outer plies, a rather massive balsa core ply and a cork ply between the core ply and the backhand outer ply. Possibly different types of wood than before were used for the outer plies. One thing that does visibly differ, is that the 4 slits in the handle have now been stopped – all of them in the new Tachi, 2 of them in the new Tachi-Plus. Another thing is that now both blades have 8 mm thick balsa core plies. Furthermore, by my measurement, the new Tachi’s overall thickness is 11mm (the old one was 9 mm thick according to data presented on re-impact.de) and the Plus’s is 12 mm (the old one was 11 mm according to the same source). I assume the thickness of both blades has been increased to compensate for the lower speed of the plastic 40+ ball. There is a slight difference in basic speed between the blades; as the backhand outer plies on both blades seem to be larch, I guess the outer ply on the new Tachi Plus’s forehand is made of a different, faster type of wood as the outer ply on the new Tachi’s forehand.
I never tested the old Tachi models, so I have not been able to establish to which degree the playing characteristics of the new models are different from the old ones. The new models are at any rate light-weight, easy to use all-round combination blades, with backhands that are slightly slower than the forehands. The Tachi should, in my opinion, be rated ALL- and the Tachi Plus ALL, but a lot depends on the rubbers used on the blades.


General Playing Characteristics.

For those who are unfamiliar with it: balsa is both a blessing and a curse when it is used in table tennis blades. First, it is extremely light-weight, and a light-weight blade offers less resistance to being accelerated than a heavier blade. When grazing the ball, the faster a blade moves, the more spin it will put on. Therefore, being light-weight is an advantage in this respect. However, weight, which means mass, helps to transfer kinetic energy to the ball; once it is in motion, the heavier a blade is, the more sustained speed it will transfer to the ball. A light-weight blade may, therefore, be good for generating spin, but it is bad for generating sustained speed, which will be more obvious if you have to make the ball move with speed over longer distances. This is why balsa blades generally do not work well for players who play a significant part of their game away from the table. Professional players, who will want to be able to move all over the court, tend to leave balsa blades well alone. But players who keep close to the table, either because they have to or because they prefer to, may find balsa blades useful.
Second, balsa has two distinct gears in a way no other type of wood can offer. On low impact with the ball it will absorb part of the kinetic energy and therefore take away the speed of the ball; this braking effect is much higher with balsa than with other types of wood. On high impact, however, balsa will do the opposite, and the resulting accelerating effect is also much higher than with other types of wood. The degree of impact is determined not only by the incoming speed of the ball, or the speed with which the blade is moved towards it, but also by the angle between the blade’s face and the ball’s trajectory. Contact at an angle, viz. when the blade is closed or opened, will result in lower impact. Now, imagine you want a blade for disruptive backhand blocking, and specifically for short placement. As long as you succeed in keeping impact on a low level, a blade with a thick balsa ply will be perfect: no other blade will take so much speed off the ball. Unfortunately, if your opponent hits really hard, your blocking technique may not be good (i.e. soft) enough to ensure that impact is low; and if it isn’t, the ball will shoot away much faster and with much less control than it would with any other kind of blade. Another example: imagine that you like to loop with high spin close to the table. Few blades will generate so much spin with so little effort as does a balsa blade. As long as you contact the ball before its highest point, even the speed you generate will be effective. But if you get under pressure and have to back away from the table a bit, you will have to return the ball when it is descending and therefore you will have to open your blade (that is, close it less than you did at the table) to pick it up and generate enough forward speed – unfortunately, with the blade at this angle you will not generate much spin anymore, if any at all, for the ball will tend to make contact with high impact and shoot away before you can generate spin. If you try to prevent this by closing the blade, you will not generate enough speed: the ball will be slow and easy to return or even to kill, or it may not even clear the net.
There are designs, different from those used for the Tachi models, Re-Impact has used to decrease the typical balsa-characteristics. The most effective method to achieve this is to split up the balsa core in two or more plies and glue them together again, as is the case with e.g. the Swift, Turbo, and Preference models, or the more recent M3 Select. The thinner the respective plies are, the more the blade will behave similar to an ordinary, non-balsa blade. This way, you will lose at least part of the pain balsa can be in a blade, but unfortunately also part of the blessing.
There are, fortunately, also special techniques and strokes, as well as tactics to use them effectively, to deal with the balsa problem. The Tachi designs enable very special features in your play, which you may find quite desirable, but they do require those techniques, strokes, and tactics (as I will indicate below) which means they are not for everybody.

Table-tennis styles are defined by the predominant strokes used by the backhand and the forehand. Below, I will describe how (in my experience and opinion, of course) the Tachi’s backhand and forehand turn out for a number of different strokes, performed with different types of rubber. The resulting list will contain the elements for different styles the Tachi blades are suited for. As the Tachi Plus is similar to the Tachi, but slightly faster, I will only mention how it performed with strokes or rubbers when it was not just faster, but different in other respects as well.

The Tachi’s Forehand.

I tested a number of low-priced (Re-Impact blades are expensive, but used with cheap rubbers, which are highly effective on them, the overall expense should be lower than when you would use premium blades by other brands which demand premium rubbers) inverted rubbers on the Tachi’s forehand. Reactor Tornado V5 40+, Friendship 2000, Friendship Super FX, Spinlord Marder III, Tuttle Spring, and KTL Rapid Sound. Achim suggested a sponge thickness of 1.8 mm, which proved to be effective enough, but it is quite possible to play as effectively and with slightly more speed (and spin) using 2.0 mm.
The best high-control sponge for the blade seems to be the Friendship cream HRS (used for the Friendship 2000) which is firm enough to prevent bottoming out, dynamic enough to generate speed and spin, as well as moderate enough in catapult (or, as the Chinese call it, “forward”) not to conflict with the catapult of the balsa. The Tachi’s forehand feels ALL+ with this rubber. Close to the table, driving is very controlled, fast and precise; the trajectory is rather flat. Loops will be reasonably fast and very spinny, with only a slightly higher trajectory. Pushing is highly controlled and generates great spin. Blocking, you are able to control the speed to a very high degree, and to return slow and short, medium fast to cut the side-lines, or fast and deep; there will be little or no spin on your returns as long as you make solid contact. For loops, the Tachi demands a short, wristy stroke and you should contact the ball before or in its highest point; if you contact it later, speed will be significantly less. This is an advantage for players who cannot or will not loop using their upper bodies, but just their underarms. But it also means that, with this blade, playing loop to loop is tactically inadvisable, as you will lose the initiative since you will lose speed during the rally, because the amount of spin will increase and you will have to close the blade. Slow or moderately fast loops can be re-looped, but fast loops are best blocked aggressively – the disruption due to the virtual absence of spin on your return is much more effective than the combination of high spin but moderate speed would ever be.
The other rubbers play more or less similar. The softer sponge of the KTL Rapid Sound is slightly better for generating spin, but this rubber is not as fast as the Friendship 2000. The Reactor Tornado, a very sticky rubber, is slower still, but excellent for spinny serves. The Tuttle Spring is only slightly less fast than the Friendship 2000 and plays quite similar to it. The Marder III I found a bit of a mixed bag: medium fast, very tacky, therefore very good for spin, but with a soft sponge that will bottom out when you drive hard or smash, resulting in loss of control.
Using the faster rubbers (Friendship, Tuttle) looping from mid-distance was just about possible. The loss of spin when you increase the speed may even be disruptive to the opponent, who may expect more spin than he gets. However, the speed is never high enough to sustain real mid-distance play. The Tachi-Plus performs a bit better in this respect, but not enough to make a significant difference. Both blades are best used near the table.
The best stroke for looping close to the table is compact and involves, as I pointed out above, little effort, as just the underarm and wrist are used for it. A heavier, conventional blade would need a longer upswing and rotation of the upper body to put weight behind the stroke and make the ball not just spinny but fast as well. But the Tachi’s are so light-weight, that compact looping strokes work very well. Wheel-chair players, and generally players who are very limited in rotating their upper body, will find these blades a pleasure to use. Light-weight rubbers will help, here; the rubbers I used for testing were sufficiently light-weight in 1.8 mm and could be used in 2.0 mm as well.
Lifting backspin with inverted rubber can be performed in two ways with the Tachi. The usual upward loop with the blade held only slightly closed; but this way, you cannot make great speed by contacting the ball more solidly, for you have to graze it carefully. If you don’t, odds are you will make too much speed and balls will go long. More reliably, you can alternatively perform a fast, solid, very compact drive with the blade closed just a bit less than you would against topspin and moving the blade more upwards than with a normal drive – the stroke resembles an aggressive flick with short pips. As contact is solid, the rubber will not take on much of the backspin and you will be able to drive the ball low over the net. It takes some practice, though, and this stroke will be quite difficult if you use softer sponges or very sticky top-sheets.
Chopping with the Tachi is possible, but not great. The forehand is too fast when you want to add speed to the good backspin you will produce and control over placement is low.
With inverted rubbers in 1.8 or 2.0 mm, then, the Tachi is suitable for close to the table, all-round forehand attack, with disruptive fast blocks and drives (especially against powerful loops), compact loaded loops with moderate speed to mess up the opponents rhythm, and very spinny serves. The Tachi Plus is slightly faster for the same type of play.

With short pimpled rubber on the Tachi’s forehand, the blade takes on a much more aggressive character. I tested Friendship 802-1 in 2.0mm, Friendship Legend in 1.9 mm and Tuttle Summer 3C in 2.0 mm. The soft sponge and soft pimples of the Legend, combined with its high catapult resulted in low control. The 802-1 and Summer 3C, however, offered very high control and great speed. The blade changed from ALL to OFF- at least. Part of this is due to the flat trajectory of the ball when using SP: a curved trajectory as produced by inverted rubbers is longer even as the same distance is covered, so playing with SP will always make a blade seem faster. However, strokes with SP require to contact the ball much more solidly than with inverted, which means the highest gear of the balsa is nearly always in play, so the blade will not only seem but actually be faster as well.
Driving and hitting is very precise with the 802-1 on the Tachi’s forehand; this rubber has the HRS sponge mentioned above and is perfect for control and speed. Blocking against heavy spin is pretty much effortless and when you relax your wrist to block soft, very short placement is possible. Disruption is there, but not loads of it. Precision and speed are the main weapons to use with this rubber. A quick series of fast drives on the opponents change-over point will put pressure on him, force him away, and open up space for a kill. You should be careful not to overhit, though: smashing, you will not add much more speed than with a solid fast drive – as the balsa is on its peak speed performance already – but you will lose some control. Lifting incoming backspin, by rolling it back, is very easy and can produce quite a lot of topspin.
The Summer 3C is capable of putting more topspin on the ball by itself, which may come in handy for serving, although I never had problems serving with the Friendship 802-1.
As with looping, compact strokes are required and of course you cannot leave the table with SP.

The Tachi’s Backhand.


For the old Tachi, data provided on re-impact.de suggest that the backhand (with speed given as 4) was half as fast as the forehand (speed 8 ) , but that is probably not the correct way to interpret those figures; anyhow, if the new Tachi’s forehand would be rated 7, its backhand should be rated 6 in speed, that is, the new Tachi’s backhand is on average slightly slower than its forehand. Still, it has a good potential for taking off speed with passive blocks, soft blocks and chop-blocks.

Inverted rubbers used for testing were Reactor Corbor and Friendship Super FX in 1.5 mm, as Achim suggested, but I tested some of the 1.8 mm forehand rubbers on it as well, and a KTL Rapid Soft in 2.0 mm. The backhand will be effective with similar rubbers as to be used on the forehand, from 1.5 mm to 2.0 mm, but the thickness offering highest control will be 1.5 to 1.8 mm. Sponges in 1.5 mm should be firm. Soft sponges in 1.5 mm will bring the risk of bottoming out and losing control when, as a result, the balsa kicks in. Again, the Friendship HRS sponge seemed to be the most suitable.
The results given for the forehand, above, apply to the backhand as well; they really play rather similar. There is a difference, however, when it comes to looping. The backhand loop is by its nature even more compact than any forehand loop could be and it makes using the wrist for extra spin very natural and easy. Re-looping loops with the backhand is, therefore, tactically more viable than doing so with the forehand. Also, looping against backspin is better: as the speed is lower, control over placement is much better, and due to the extra spin that can be generated cutting the side-lines is a very good option here. There is certainly a case to be made for, as general tactics, returning with the backhand any incoming backspin you can reach with it, and use the forehand only for pushing against backspin.
Chopping with the backhand is also better than with the forehand, due to the lower basic speed and when using 1.5 mm rubbers. Still, it is not great. The best way is to go horizontally under the ball; this will enable you to produce low to very heavy backspin, mostly depending on the use of the wrist; but it is quite hard to make the speed fast enough to clear the net, when you are away some distance.

Long pimpled rubbers do well on the Tachi, not so much for chopping, but for block and attack. I remarked earlier that using an LP on balsa you will lose control when the ball contacts the blade on high impact; blocking and chop-blocking is fine as long as the impact is low to moderate. Against fast balls it is much better to counter than to defend, but not too many LP rubbers are both good for blocking with reversal of spin and for attacking with disruption. The Friendship 755 does well in this respect and proved to go admirably with the Tachi’s backhand. I tested one in red, 0.6 mm; you do need the sponge if you want to be capable, as you must, to attack incoming fast topspin balls.
Passive blocks and soft-blocks are good to take the speed off the ball and allow short returns; there is high control and some reversal – more, if more spin is coming in – but nothing spectacular. Chop-blocks produce very decent reversal, as now you will help the rubber to reverse the incoming spin; control is still very high with this. When fast balls are coming in, you should not try to stop them, but instead attack them: keep the blade slightly closed and perform a very compact drive, without adding much speed; if you will let the blade and the rubber work for you, the ball will be returned with no spin or some backspin and be fast enough to put pressure on the opponent.
Lifting backspin is quite easy. You can flick or roll, or push reversing the spin. The 755 is quite effective on the Tachi, here.
On the Tachi Plus’s backhand, control with an LP is lower. I tested a Yasaka Phantom 0012 LP, which works; but I preferred the 755 on the Tachi.
Chopping is not great with LP’s on either the Tachi or the Tachi Plus. When you go horizontal under the ball, the speed for returns is very low and hard to control, so you run the risk of netting the ball. If you try diagonal chopping instead, you may often get too much speed due to the ball bottoming out and the balsa kicking in. Both blades, I keep repeating this, are best used close to the table.

The last rubber I tested on the Tachi was a Friendship 563-1 on a 1.5 mm HRS sponge. As the 802-1 short pip is very well suited to the Tachi’s forehand for pips-out attack play, so is the 563-1 medium pip to its backhand.
Driving, blocking and hitting is fast and very precise, as with the 802-1 on the Tachi’s forehand, but now does come with disruption: you will be able to put topspin on the ball with this medium pip, or have none of it by using the wrist lightly, or let the rubber reverse the incoming topspin some by not using the wrist at all. For an opponent it is very hard to read what is coming at him. Blocking against heavy spin is, again, pretty much effortless and when you relax your wrist to block soft, very short placement is possible. Similar tactics as with the forehand, described above, will work for the backhand with this MP. Again, you should be careful not to overhit: smashing will not add much more speed than with a solid fast drive, but you will lose some control. Lifting incoming backspin, by rolling it back, is very easy and can produce quite a lot of topspin. Pushing is also a good option; you can generate good backspin against incoming backspin. Reversing backspin as with LP’s is not really an option, though.
On the Tachi-Plus, this MP is slightly faster, but still perfectly controllable.


Who Are The Blades For?


The blades are very well suited to styles of play close to the table. Players who prefer to use force and/or strokes that involve the use of the upper body are better off looking for other blades. Players who prefer or need to let the blade and rubber work for them, who prefer or need compact strokes, and who are comfortable close to the table may find a perfect match in the Tachi and Tachi Plus.
A number of combinations of backhand and forehand suggest themselves for different styles of play.
With inverted on both sides (1.5 to 1.8 mm on the backhand, 1.8 to 2.0 mm on the forehand) both the Tachi and the Tachi Plus will be well suited to an all-round loop-and-attack play, with the emphasis on attack (fast, precisely placed drives) and with the loop (moderately fast, but loaded with spin) for variation, or for a fast and precise drive-and-hit game such as female players often prefer. The blades’ low weight make them both very effective and very comfortable to use close to the table, so players with less power or players recovering for or playing with injuries will find them useful as well.
With LP on the backhand and inverted or SP on the forehand, the blades will do well for backhand-defence-and-forehand-attack styles, like the classic style promoted by Neubauer. It has to be kept in mind, though, that for the backhand with LP it is best to attack balls that come in fast. I am not sure how well the blades play with frictionless anti-spin rubber, but usually these rubbers need a backhand with lower speed than that of the Tachi blades. Classic anti-spin rubbers (which have some grip on the ball) can be used in a similar way to the Friendship 755, but you will get less reversal and less disruption in counter-attack, while control will be higher.
With MP on the backhand and inverted on the forehand, several block-and-attack types of play are possible, from control-oriented to aggressive.
With MP on the backhand and SP on the forehand, the blades are quite effective for pips-out attack styles.

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PostPosted: 28 Feb 2019, 18:33 
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Awesome review! :clap: :clap: :clap:

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PostPosted: 01 Mar 2019, 00:18 
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Yeah, he's excellent, .... :clap: :clap: :clap:


. but the review is way too long for me as a reader... because I was tired, I had trouble reading it last night......

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PostPosted: 01 Mar 2019, 16:30 
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Here is the first test report from the noppentestforum. There I have defined a test series. It's very interesting how far the range of opinions diverges, because everyone feels the new Tachi 2019 quite differently. But there are also concurring explanations. Please make sure that you write during the tests which rubbers were used and in which playing class you play. Perhaps it will be easier for each reader to determine where and in which playing class the new competition wood appears to be best suited. For a better German-English translation I would suggest the Deepl Pro translator.

http://noppentest.de/forum/viewtopic.ph ... 73#p250549

https://www.deepl.com/translator


Perhaps it would make sense to open an international test series.

It makes sense to register here for a test so that I can see who would like to test. I would also like to limit the number of test woods to middle straight, right and left handed and Chinese Penholder. The chinese penholder is also available as a large blade at Re-Impact, which is also very rare in the size 168 x 165 mm. That alone would be worth a test among penholder players.

In total there shouldn't be more than 10 test woods, because I have a lot to do, so that the waiting time until the completion of the orders at the moment is between 14-18 days. Until the delivery of the wood, however, the delivery time of at least 3 weeks, depending on delivery time and shipping route, must be added.

And we raffle here in the forum, who is determined for the international examination of these competition rackets and must write match reports for it. The testblade then remain with the tester as a reward.
And who would want to coordinate that? @ best Haggisv?

Oh, yeah, something important!
The testblades at noppentest.de are all equipped with mcpsystem and noble mahogany sealing. It actually looks as if the better equipment of the woods could result in a completely different test pattern, because Kees and Olaf's model was without mcpsystem and noble mahogany sealing. The test woods seem to gain in mass behaviour and "will the additional elements make it more powerful?"

To determine this, Olaf and Kees are given a test wood with mcp and emk sealing. Then we'll see what comes out of this

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2019, 14:01 
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Sounds like a very generous offer Achim! I suspect a lot of people have not read this.

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2019, 17:02 
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I’d like to be considered to test a blade. I have a ranking within the top 600 in England (mainly because I’m currently only playing local league), I can always compete with players in the top 250 but have beaten players within the top 100. I have played with Re-Impact blades for the last 10 years, all of which have been medium size with straight handle.

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PostPosted: 04 Mar 2019, 02:01 
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I would have expected now also that all forum readers joyfully say, here, I would like, but this is not so. So now I simplify the test by saying; the first 10 testers who sign up here are allowed to test it. :up:

So a tester is already safe. Please indicate details, addresses, clubs, grip size, right- or left-handers as a personal message.

However, it will take some time before everyone will receive your test wood.

At the moment we have small problems with the German test series,
because I had a minor manufacturing defect, which is why Kees had to explain this test report in this way. But the error was found by me. Now it just needs to be pre-tested and then everyone gets their test wood for reporting in the next 2 months.

Conclusion:
I had assumed that the diagonal in the wood had to be the same as in the older woods, whose KSLS system I had adapted to the new ball. However, this is not the case and therefore the diagonal must not be rotated in this development because the KSLS system is now much lower and finer in the new development. The problem was, that the wood gets a quite low ball flight curve due to the asymmetry of the racket wood.Due to the rotation of the wrong diagonal, an unfavourably low rolling resistance was achieved on the wood, which logically leads to the fact that the playing ball must become even deeper in the trajectory. And exactly this happened in the following game situation, in which the opponent played at high speed. Suddenly, as a test player, you were no longer able to lift the ball in a concentrated manner, which led to playing errors, because the ball then stuck bluntly in the net.

But I can only discover something like that with good constructive criticism. Many thanks to Kees from ooakforum.com and 4olaf from noppentest.de for their excellent reviews.

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PostPosted: 09 Mar 2019, 04:46 
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Hello, since only one user wants to test, I will now cancel the remaining free test woods and make them available to other test groups.
It's obvious no one's interested anymore. Time is probably badly chosen for testing for many in the second half of the season. Sorry, but I can't offer a later time.

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PostPosted: 15 Mar 2019, 03:09 
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Just taken delivery of my new Tachi. It's the medium sized one and weighs 72 grams – 11 grams heavier than my same sized 2013 model. Can't wait to try it. I'll report my findings here.

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Blade: Re-Impact Tachi. BH: Grass DTecS (ox, new version) FH: Palio Thor's max


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PostPosted: 18 Mar 2019, 22:20 
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I’ve had my first hit with my new Tachi. It’s going to take me a few more sessions to adjust as it is 11 grams heavier and far faster than my two previous Tachis. In fact, I would say everything about the new Tachi is closer to it being a slightly slower version of the Smart.

I’m just seeing out my winter season before I fully comit to this blade for the summer. My practise partner had a go with it and loved it. So much so, he’s now gone and bought his own! He’s always had a good fast loop, but the arc he was achieving with the Tachi was insane. There was balls that looked as if they were sailing way long, only for them dive down and land comfortably within the baseline.

Anyway, I’ll give a full review when I've had more time with it. But I’m optimistic I’ll adjust even though the tempo is set so much higher. I suspect these are the changes Achim have made to make it more effective with the poly ball.

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Blade: Re-Impact Tachi. BH: Grass DTecS (ox, new version) FH: Palio Thor's max


Last edited by Fish on 21 Mar 2019, 00:03, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 19 Mar 2019, 18:54 
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@Fisch
Yeah, and if you can't fit in, I'll make the cross core one size smaller. Everything is possible.

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PostPosted: 26 Mar 2019, 20:30 
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I've had another brief hit with the new Tachi and I'm starting to get to grips with the backhand. While it's faster than my other two Tachi's (circa 2011 and 2013 models), it's back to the crisper sounding and it's as insensitive to spin as my preferred 2011 version. I was able to place power loops over the net with ease.

The forehand is still a problem for me – especially the bounciness in the short game. I'm going to try a thinner sponge which should bring the speed down and hopefully solve my other problem by making it lighter.

But once again, my practise partner couldn't wait to get his hands on it. He has one on order. I play him in the league next week so I hope it doesn't arrive before then! His loops are faster, have more spin and he has so much more control than with his own bat.

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PostPosted: 15 Apr 2019, 18:31 
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There is now available from Re-Impact a new Tachi model which has its balsa core split into two 4 mm plies. Generally, this type of construction diminishes the balsa-character of blades to a certain extent, which can be explained as follows. Balsa reacts exponentially on increasing impact; for argument’s sake suppose the exponent is a square; then, if an 8 mm ply is divided into two 4 mm plies which are combined (glued together), the reaction of the new combination will equal the sum of the two squares of 4, which is 32, whereas the previous core’s reaction would equal the square of 8, which is 64 - a clear difference. In reality the exponent is not a square (and varies with the type of balsa used, as well as with the way it is cut and glued) but the principle remains the same, which means that blades with a single balsa ply will always have a steeper catapult curve when reacting to increasing impact than blades with the same overall thickness of balsa, but divided in more than one ply. A steeper catapult curve implies less control. It also implies more speed at higher impact, but the actual speed a blade will produce depends on the other plies involved and on its weight. Personally, I prefer blades with multiple balsa plies to blades with a single balsa ply, mainly because of the better control they offer.
I tested the new Tachi model (which I will call “4x4”, as it has two 4 mm balsa core plies) as a combi blade with inverted rubber on the forehand and LP on the backhand, and compared it with the previous (single core) model. The results are summed up below.

Serve.
The 4x4 produces as much spin as the single core Tachi. It offers high control over speed and placement. In these respects there is no noticeable difference with the single core.

Forehand (using KTL Rapid Sound, black, 2.0 mm, which is an ALL + inverted rubber with a moderately soft sponge).

Playing drive against drive, close to the table, there is hardly any difference between the 4x4 and the single core, except that the 4x4 is a little slower overall.

Playing loop to loop, close to the table, the 4x4 offers noticeably higher control over speed and placement. It is also less sensitive to the impact angle, so more forgiving. There is little to no difference as regards spin. At higher speeds, though, the trajectory is much more curved with the 4x4, which allows much shorter placement.

Playing loop to loop, at mid-distance, is where the 4x4 clearly offers much better control. The single-core model has the well-known problem with the angle: loop with the blade too open and the ball goes over the table, but loop with the blade too closed and the ball goes into the net. The 4x4 is much more forgiving in this respect and offers hardly any problems. As a consequence you can put more power into your loops. Still, the speed of the 4x4 is in my opinion not really high enough for effective attacks from this distance. On the other hand, placement is very accurate, and the blade produces lots of topspin, so it is possible to be dangerous from mid-distance, but only in a tactical way. Another clear improvement: descending balls can be easily looped at mid-distance with the 4x4.

Classic defence, at mid-distance and further away, is possible, as with the single-core model, and even with a little more control than the single core offers, but I never felt completely comfortable when chopping with inverted – it is still rather difficult to determine the length of the ball, which means placement is not very accurate. The better option, here, is to twiddle and use your LP or anti-spin rubber.

Looping backspin, close to the table, is easy with the 4x4. It feels rather insensitive to incoming spin. Placement is very accurate, speed too. The trajectory of the ball is moderately curved to slightly flat (for faster balls).

Pushing against backspin, the 4x4 again offers better control than the single core. Placement is more accurate. And it produces still a lot of backspin (in fact, the 4x4 generates in general about as much spin as the single core).

As concerns the general technique with inverted, the 4x4 is best played with short arm movements (as is the single core), but it is possible to play with slightly longer arm movements. Inverted rubbers with all kinds of sponges combine well with the 4x4, up to 2.1 mm in strength, as long as they are not tuned.

Backhand (with Friendship 755, red, 0.6 mm, an allround LP with hard sponge):

Blocking drives and loops very passively, you will be able to take off a lot of speed; the 4x4 actually is better at this than the single-core, as it provides better control over the return-speed. Chop-blocking will reverse topspin well. Ordinary blocking will produce dead balls. Placement is very accurate and is possible very short behind the net. With active blocking, the reversal will be better and the speed still very well controlled, as well as the placement.

Push-blocking against backspin, the 4x4, like the single-core, produces adequate reversal and offers much control over speed and placement, but it is slightly easier to place short with the 4x4.

Classic defence at mid-distance and further away is very good with the 4x4, using LP, in that it is completely safe; control over speed, placement and the height with which the ball passes over the net is pleasantly high (I felt completely comfortable when chopping with LP). But the amount of backspin you are able to produce is limited and will likely not bring straight winners. In these respects, the difference with the single-core are very small.

Conclusion.

The 4x4 model of the Tachi is (in my opinion) superior to the single core model in terms of control and playing of descending balls. As it is only a little bit slower, it is a pretty perfect all-round blade, offering (with LP or anti-spin rubbers) good defensive options away from the table, as well as attack options close to the table. To get the most out of it, this blade really should be played in an allround style, that is, with lots of variations in speed, spin, and placement. You will not be forced to stay close to the table with the 4x4, as you are with the single-core, but it is still a blade for tactical players, not for power players: if you do play the 4x4 with a lot of power, it makes little difference as regards the speed you produce.

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