Team 1 of Colin Green, Carsten Giebeler and David Melrose visited North Merchiston 1 on Wednesday last week in the knowledge that the match provided a chance for the Midlothian side to end the first half of the Edinburgh & Lothians Table Tennis season on a high. For the hosts, Stewart Armitage was absent and even though Merchiston were able to pull in an able replacement in Geoff Hunter, Penicuik's spirits were buoyed by Stewart's absence and the thought of an upset was at the forefront of their minds. There was some terrific TT played throughout the night, none more so than in the crucial doubles. 3-3 going into that match which saw Colin & Carsten take on Glyn Eggar and Mark Lundberg. 2-0 up to NM and they had match points in the third - the match suddenly turned as the Penicuik duo fought back and courtesy of some brilliant attacking play from Carsten in the deciding end, they took the match score to 4-3. Colin then secured a point by defeating Glyn before David came back from 10-6 down in the fourth end v Geoff to secure the win. In the end Team 1 were 6-4 victors, with two wins each for Carsten and Colin, one for David and that crucial doubles victory. Although they may be overtaken before Xmas, Team 1 probably hold their highest ever position in the Premier Division at this stage of a season - 3rd after 11 matches is a terrific return for Team 1.
In Division 1, Team 2 faced high flying ESC with only Gary McDougal and Charlie Brindley available. ESC sits second in the Division and it was no surprise to see the Penicuik duo fall to a heavy 9-1 defeat, Gary picking up the only win for the hosts.
Our Player of the Week Award this week sees only two players record undefeated performances – Iain and Krzysztof for team 3. With two wins each, however, Colin and Carsten deserve to be in the running and Carsten deserves special mention for pulling out some fantastic stuff in their crucial doubles victory which effectively secured the win for Team 1. In the end, even though the match sounded like it was one sided (it really wasn’t!), for his momentum shifting wins coming back under pressure this week’s winner is Krzysztof – well done to him.
And finally, to our Controversy of the Week.
We’ve already mentioned Team 3’s table topping match v Fife in Division 2 scheduled for this Wednesday – no change of view by Fife - they’re playing the match despite Team 3s request for a postponement. Is it wrong to hope for snow on Wednesday…….?
The last League Committee meeting seems to have been interesting. Internally as a Club, we were frustrated at not being represented – we need to ensure that doesn’t happen again! Two main issues arose – Iain Johnstone has now been prevented from playing doubles for Team 3 as a result of him playing out of strength order. Seemingly that decision ought to have been made at the beginning of the season but was missed by the League. It was thought by certain individuals that the rule only applied to someone playing so far out of their strength order that it made it unfair for them to be allowed to play doubles – so for example when Graham Booth dropped down to Division 4 a few years ago to play with young Amelia for North Merchiston, he wasn’t allowed to play doubles. In Iain’s case he is between 100 and 200 rating points better than two of our Division 1 players – it was felt he wasn’t so out of order and thus the rule didn’t apply to him. Certain senior members at our Club were outraged by the decision until El Presidente pointed out that the rule is very clear – there is nothing about having to be significantly out of playing strength –
“Any player allowed by the league to be registered in a team lower than their playing strength warrants will be prohibited from participating in the doubles unless he/she is one of only two players in a team.”
Simple as that! Controversial then that we have benefitted from this rule being missed – there remains a feeling amongst some on the League committee that this is not what was intended when the rule was brought in but that’s what it says so unless it’s changed that’s what we are stuck with. The only thing we can say is the timing of this is great – just in advance of a top of the table match v Fife where the opponents seem more interested in winning than sportsmanship – was it them who raised the issue at the Committee meeting? As if refusing a postponement wasn’t bad enough! We can’t really complain about this though – Iain is out of ratings central order and we can see the reasoning as to why this rule was brought in.
The second interesting issue to be “decided upon” is far more controversial. Heriot-Watt Team 1 were placed in Div 3 this season. They look as if they are going to win the title - undefeated so far and their closest match of the season was a 7-3 win v Murrayfield. Having said that they’re still only in second place in the table although they have games in hand on leaders West Lothian who they comfortably defeated last week. So what we hear you say? Well, so confident are certain individuals on the League Committee that they are far too good for Div 3 that a proposal was made, and seemingly by majority decision approved, to promote HW for the second half of the season, jumping them not just one division but two into Div 1.
The constitutional basis for doing so? There is none. There must be a precedent that is being relied upon though? Nope. Putting aside the rules – who needs rules anyway – we just play for fun according to some who have commented on this issue – what would the second half of the season look like for teams in Div 1 and Div 3? Well, Div 3 results would stand for everyone and really no impact on those teams in the division other than the loss of one fixture for the second half. Rachel will be both disappointed and delighted by this turn of events – disappointed that she won’t get another crack at these “top guns” – she took an end of two of their three players when they met at Ladywood – delighted that according to the league Rachel won ends against Div 1 quality opposition. George too won ends against them. David MacRae from West Lothian defeated one of them, as did Jamie Toner – does that make them Division 1 quality? Who’s to say that because a team have a great first half of the season that will continue in the new year? Will two teams still be promoted? We believe so – better then, for a team that may finish third if HW remain.
As for Division 1 teams we’re told that HW will gain double points in every match they play but an adjustment of -2 will be applied at the end of the season. What?? If they win every match, 12 of them, they could rack up 48 points. That’s not fair we’re told because if another team won every match they played, all 23 of them they could only reach a maximum of 46 points! So, we will make a 2-point adjustment! More realistically it’s likely that they may struggle a little in what is a very tough division. Pick up a couple of 4-point wins though and they’re probably safe from relegation. Surely that can’t be right. A team could win 4 matches throughout the season but go down as a result of a team being catapulted into the division who perhaps win one match and draw 2 – the result of that would be 8 points to HW.
This “decision” has drawn widespread criticism from a number of Clubs. Our final point on this is that the minutes refer to there being a general consensus at the committee meeting. It is then said by the League that the motion was approved by a “majority decision”. What was the majority? The match secretary had already expressed some disappointment that there were only 6 clubs represented at the meeting. One of those six was Heriot-Watt. Can they vote on their own promotion? This seems to us to be an extremely significant decision to be made by a majority decision of representatives from 5 clubs, who didn’t have any advance notice of the issue and therefore had no opportunity to take their Club view on the matter?? The Agenda simply referred to the Match Secretary’s report covering three items one of which was headed “Heriot-Watt teams”. Add to that the fact that neither the Constitution nor the Rules provide any basis for the Committee to act in this manner and surely this wins the award for most bizarre moment of the season so far!!
But hey as a number of League members have said we're just a bunch of amateurs playing TT for the social fun of it – try telling that to Fife!