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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 00:09 
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This little essay will be about the tactical skills of chopper/attackers Park Mi Young and Kim Kyung Ah of South Korea. It is (sort of) a sequel to the essay on Gionis I posted a while ago. It should have been a collective effort by Bogeyhunter and myself again, but BH is tied down for a while, so I did this one on my own. So please note that the mistakes and other shortcomings are mine exclusively!

Tactically, Park and Kim play a somewhat more complex game than Gionis. To be sure, it looks much more complex and I found it takes quite some time to get to grips with it. I guess their opponents will feel the same :wink: . The reason for this seems to be that, whereas Gionis essentially uses one basic pattern, Kim and Park use two - that is, they use one that is twofold. Gionis chops a series, than changes it in order to force a return he can attack from halfway behind the table. Women generally do not have the power to successfully attack from that distance, they have to come close to the table for it; as this necessity of moving in is weakening their defense as such (which is the most effective from medium distance), they need to smother the offensive potential of their opponents even more than Gionis needs to. In order to achieve this they do something that consists of two seemingly mutually exclusive, but actually complementary parts.
One part, similar to what Gionis is doing, is chopping a series and then vary it - this allows the opponent to find a rhythm, which is broken in order to catch the opponent off guard and force her to make mistakes. The other part, however, is disallowing the opponent to find a rhythm. Combining these two parts in one tactical pattern results in messing up the opponent.
The second part of the pattern (disallowing a rhythm) renders play unpredictable for the opponent and this will make her uncertain and hence hesitant about attacking with full force; her uncertainty will also induce her to cling even more to any rhythm whatsoever when it is offered to her, which is the first part of the pattern. Then, breaking that very rhythm will be an even greater mental shock and hence be more likely to provoke mistakes.

Psychologically this tactical pattern is as sound as it is - in the final analysis - simple. The difficulty for Park and Kim lies in its execution; more specifically in finding ways the two parts can be effectively combined. Again and again they are faced with the choice between allowing and disallowing the opponent a rhythm.

Allowing a rhythm and then breaking it is achieved by variation of placement and variation of spin. Kim and Park will vary placement by chopping 3 or 4 balls to the backhand corner, then 1 to the middle, then 1 to the forehand corner or again to the backhand corner. Spin-variation is achieved by chopping down with the inverted rubber using the full flick of the wrist for maximum backspin, then chopping down as fiercely but with less wrist-action, and sometimes - coming closer to the table and taking the ball very low so the opponent cannot see very well what is happening - by feigning a chop and floating the ball back instead. With the long pips they vary spin by rubbing the bottom of the ball very fast going horizontal, or making even more backspin by doing the same (i.e. going horizontal) in a slightly scooping motion which increases friction; they do not risk low-spin balls with the pips, because these balls will be attacked hard. So, spin-variation is varying mostly between very heavy and medium heavy backspin; this will force the opponent to keep spinning with high arcs. Of course, changing from forehand chop to backhand chop is a variation in its own right.
To decide whether or not - and if so, when - to vary spin and/or placement is actually not difficult. A rhythm has to be established before it can be broken, so the variation comes after at least 2 similar strokes. Also, it has to come before the opponent can use the rhythm to her own advantage because she knows what to expect; in this respect, 4 similar strokes in a row is pushing it. So, variation will come with the 3rd or sometimes 4th stroke.

Messing up the opponent by disallowing rhythm is done by attacking. Park and Kim will come in to the table for that. Park almost exclusively attacks with her forehand - 2 or 3 fast short, well angled loops in a row - and then fall back chopping again. Kim will use her backhand also, but not frequently, punching the odd push or high ball with her pips. Most of the time these attacks are not aimed at winning the point immediately, although Park tends to get carried away with her aggressive strokes and in such instances does seem to want to make the point (this may explain why Kim is ranked higher!).
To know the right moment when to mess up the opponent by attacking her is of course crucial. The same rule as with variation of spin and placement seems to apply here. The moment is determined partly by the opponent: a high bouncing ball, a weak push, a weak loop will be attacked instantly. Mistakes like these are provoked by the variation in spin and placement, so Park and Kim will be on the look-out for weak returns as opportunities for attack as soon as they have started to vary their defensive strokes. But taking the initiative is as important; so, a 3rd or 4th return may be attacked even when they are perfectly sound! In such instances, the attack's only goal is disruption and surprising the opponent this way now and again is very important. With service return it is the same: every 3rd or 4th serve may be attacked rightaway; of course, if the opponent serves very well, this will happen less frequently.
And then there's a catch! If Kim and Park would always try and mess up their opponents on the 3rd or 4th return, this would establish a rhythm of itself and become predictable; so they really have to attack a 2nd or 1st ball from time to time, or in a rally refrain from attacking at all, and there can be no rule for either of these actions, because any rule to them would make their game on principle predictable again. This is where intuition and creativity come in, but experience is also important; a chopper/attacker will learn to read his or her opponents and develop a fine sense of timing the unpredictable. Intelligence is indispensable; a player has to be smart enough to understand how he or she can become unpredictable by being predictable - an opponent who expects change and doesn’t get it, will be messed up as effectively as an opponent who does not expect change and is getting it anyway. Sometimes, for this reason, Park and Kim will even attack from medium distance, although they know their loop will not be powerful enough to win them the point.

There is only one element in their play which never changes and this is their serve. They will invariably serve with their backhand (using the inverted rubber and twiddling immediately after the serve), standing more or less with the right hip behind the middle-line, maybe a meter away from the table. Most of the time they will serve parallel. This is because they favour their forehand for the first chop, which has to be loaded with backspin in order to disallow the opponent an easy attack. But there may be another reason for this invariability also: always serving the exact same way will give a false sense of security to the opponent who may be relieved by seeing something which resembles a pattern, or it will make the opponent uneasy from the start, because she knows that even in recognizing a pattern there is no safety, and she will have to deal with variation and surprise all too soon...

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 00:47 
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An interesting analysis of these girls games Kees. I think it would be good to attach a Youtube link or two of them playing if possible so we can better visualise the game plans you write of. I think it is a valuable thing to be reminded of playing for variation and building up within a strategy to find opportunities for winning the point. I was only discussing with a friend today how at our level when we get the ball back on the table we are happy enough, but a lot of the time it is not done within a general goal of dictating the play and point winning opportunities are therefore more haphazardly attained or we try to make opportunity where there really isn't one. Of course there needs to be some real skill built to play at this dictating level because your opponent is also trying to do something similar, so there is a tug-of-war happening and each players strategy can foil the others.

I think the player who has the greatest vision of "if i do this, they will do that, I can do this in return which will cause them to do that and so on until I pounce or they make an error" is the one who will be able to dominate, provided they also have the skill to play out their plan and come up with contingencies to get back on course when the opponent doesn't react as expected. TT can be just as much as a cat and mouse game as chess, can't it?!!! :shock: :twisted: :lol:

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 01:20 
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OK, Reb! Here are 2 complete matches for each from the Olympics. Worth taking the time for the upload!

Round of 32:
Kim Kyung Ah (KOR) vs Haruna Fukuoka (JPN)
www.megaupload.com/?d=J97XO4EV

Park Mi Young (KOR) vs Kim Jong (PRK)
www.megaupload.com/?d=0P4A2MJU

Round 0f 16:
Kim Kyung Ah (KOR) vs Wang Chen (USA)
www.megaupload.com/?d=SG99EUDN

Wang Nan (CHN) vs Park Mi Young (KOR)
www.megaupload.com/?d=TFJDAHR8

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 03:08 
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Thanks Kees, I wish I had your patience and intelligence of analyzing the games and patterns of different players, then I'll be much better than now. However, reading these well written articles have already made me a better player. Please keep analyzing and writing, my online coach.

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 03:36 
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Kees, you don't yet have a title... I nominate you 'ping pong yoda' ...

thanks for this. I too am trying to use these kind of tactics, and I'm finding the bh serve essential, unfortunately I can't get the same amount of spin or variation, but the start of these sequences, I need to be in the position you describe and I see these guys using... I m back and more to the centre line

BTW if you ever feel like doing this to fukuoka's style....

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 04:29 
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Great review Kees.
Afraid I can't see the videos. I get a WVC 1 codec missing pop up everytime I try and download and play on WMPlayer from that site.

Do they serve predominantly down the line or do they serve to the players forehand :?: If they played a left handed player that would answer that question. I ask because i'm interested and can't view the videos.

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 05:50 
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Tremendous stuff, Kees. Another classic post! If you're taking requests, a similar analysis of Gao Jun's tactics would be a great read also.

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 15:19 
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Great article (again!) Kees! How about that title that julian suggested?

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 17:37 
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antipip wrote:
Great review Kees.
Afraid I can't see the videos. I get a WVC 1 codec missing pop up everytime I try and download and play on WMPlayer from that site.

s.


I'd try a different mediaplayer, try VLC. I use it on both windows and linux and it plays this clip

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 21:51 
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Antipip wrote:
Quote:
Do they serve predominantly down the line or do they serve to the players forehand If they played a left handed player that would answer that question.

I think they serve in such a way that they can be reasonably sure they will get a return they can chop. Serving parallel to the forehand will achieve that, most of the time. They also will serve diagonal to the change-over point, occasionally - but not against an opponent who will use the backhand and push. Park plays Wang Nan who is a left-hander the same way. So, yes, they serve to the forehand.


Julian wrote:
Quote:
I nominate you 'ping pong yoda'

You're not serious, are you? :shock: I'm much taller, have far longer hair and I don't limp around with a stick. My English is better, too :wink: :D . Besides, I am older... At least, after 2 hours of hard practice that's how I feel :( :lol:


Julian (about Fukuoka) and Mynamenotbob (about Gao Jun): íf I'll find the time, it will come, I guess. It's too much fun not to do it. Till then, maybe you could find something of use in the articles about single-sided pips-out penholder and two-winged pips-out attack? (They're on the pips website.)

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2008, 23:16 
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Great one, Kees!!!!

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PostPosted: 05 Dec 2008, 01:04 
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Kees, I think your title should be "The SPin Doctor" cos you sure know how to put the right spin on people's games, and you probably have a doctorate in SP rubber with all the essays you've written by now! :lol: :lol: :lol:

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PostPosted: 05 Dec 2008, 01:18 
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Kees, there were novels on football, basketball, tennis, ice skating and other sports, with you knowledge on table tennis and your writing skills, you should write a novel using table tennis as the background story, I'll put down a deposit to buy the first edition.


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PostPosted: 05 Dec 2008, 01:35 
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What if I wrote it Tat? Would you buy mine? :D

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I'm always in the dark, but the Dark sheds lights upon everything!! :twisted: Beauty is only pimple deep! Beauty is in the eye of the pipholder!
S/U 1: Blade: Bty Gergely . FH Black Andro Rasant 2.1 . BH Red Tibhar Grass Dtecs
S/U 2: Blade: Bty Gergely . FH Black Hexer+ 2.1 . BH Red GD Talon
S/U 3: Blade: Bty Gergely . No rubbers...thinking of adding Red Dtecs and Black Rasant
Aussie Table Tennis Shop / Aussie Table Tennis Facebook Page / Equipment Review Index / Read my Reb Report Blog: click here.


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PostPosted: 05 Dec 2008, 01:42 
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ReBorn, you don't have the status as Kees yet, keep trying. Better yet, send me your manuscript first before I decide.


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