After two difficult matches against West Lothian 1 and Murrayfield 1, our first team of Carsten Giebeler, Colin Green & David Melrose travelled to take on Edinburgh International 2 looking for their first win of the season. The home side comprised Babu Valaguruvan, Andrew Mannion and Amjad Mohammed. On paper the visitors looked favourites and the match started well as Colin defeated Andrew. But after Babu defeated David and Amjad fought back to 2-2 against Carsten it looked like the match could go either way. From that point on, however, Penicuik pulled away – a fifth end win for Carsten was followed by 7 straight wins, only two ends being dropped before a last match marathon which David won in five giving the visitors a 9-1 victory.
Team 2 struggled to field a team as they hosted Murrayfield 5 in Division 1. Regulars Ian Hislop and Gary McDougal were both on holiday (shocking!) so up stepped James Wighton and Krzysztof Laszkiewicz to join Charlie Brindley. They faced Murrayfield’s Stella Hughes, John Yau and Simon Hughes - oh hold on – those three regulars were at Penicuik, but Murrayfield pulled out young Charlie McGowan to play up from Team 6 in place of Simon. How foolish of them putting such a youngster up against the wily Penicuik trio! Fast forward a couple of hours and everyone could see why Charlie had played – he dropped only two ends on his way to a full house – thankfully he didn’t play in the doubles! Going into match 9, Charlie (Snr) had beaten Stella and John and had combined for a win in the doubles with Krzysztof who had picked up a win v John as well. 4-4 and a draw or a win was still very much on Team 2’s minds. The pressure told however as first Krzysztof lost out in five to Stella before James lost out in 4 to John. A 6-4 defeat for Team 2 and Murrayfield’s tactics had worked a treat – more on that later!
After a good win v West Lothian in Week 3, Team 5 knew they were in for a tougher match as they travelled to take on Edinburgh International in Division 3. Craig Linton had returned from holiday but couldn’t make it back into the team – Captain Kristian is a hard man – you chose to go on holiday during the season he told Craig – you’ll have to wait until we lose before you get a match. Ah well he’ll be in next week after George Wilson, Kristian Skotzen and Rachel Petrie lost out 7-3 to their Edinburgh based opponents. George played some terrific stuff, particularly against Ken Benjamin as he won 2 of his 3 matches. He’ll be kicking himself for not picking up a maximum after he lost Match 1 on the night 11-9 in the fifth to Anand Sundaram. Kristian picked up one win but got himself into winning positions in his other two matches. He defeated Anand but lost in 5 to both Ken and Stuart MacDonald. Oh, what night have been. Rachel had a tough night but remains hopeful that whoever our Match Secretary is may uphold her appeal against a player who played with an “illegal bat”. More on that to follow below….
Everyone had a greater than 10% chance of winning our Player of the Week award this week given only 3 teams were in action! Only two players were undefeated, Colin and Carsten – they also combined for the doubles win for Team 1. How do we split them? Colin only dropped one end in his 3 wins whilst Carsten dropped two. According to Carsten, however, the end they dropped in the doubles was Colin’s fault! Our toughest decision so far but because of the momentum shift which resulted from the hugely important Match 3 win and also due to the fact that against EI’s best player (Babu) he was in complete control losing only 20 points in his 3-0 win, this week’s winner is Carsten – well done to him.
And finally, to our Controversy of the Week section. Two crackers this week!
Firstly, Team 2 v Murrayfield 5. There can be no denying that the star of the show was young Charlie McGowan – a terrific player who is destined for the Premier League (we’ll probably see him there next year). He’s registered this year in Team 6 in Division 1. Team 5 have 4 players registered, three of whom turned up at Ladywood but in stepped young Charlie to replace Simon. Ratings going into the match – Simon 801, John 949 and Stella 996. On paper Simon is the weakest member of the team so he drops out and in came Charlie with a rating of??? 1064! Wow – 263 points higher than Simon. More than a hundred higher than John. Stuart Wilson who is also registered for Team 5 is almost 200 points lower as well. Compare that to our Iain Johnstone – Ratings Central Score of 1066. His rating was just slightly over the magical 100 points greater than Ian Hislop and Charlie Brindley thus meaning he can’t play up for our Team 2. The difference of course is that the 100 point rule (if it exists) only seems to apply at the beginning of the season and at that point in time, Charlie only had a rating of 884. Now we accept that it would be ridiculous to try and enforce the "100 point" rule on a week by week basis – players ratings may go up and down like a yoyo but we all know that if any players are going to rapidly rise in the Rating Central system it’s probably going to be youngsters who are on a steep upward curve of improvement. Charlie falls into that category. And surely when a player is rising so rapidly there should be a mechanism to re-evaluate the position. Maybe there is such a mechanism? Maybe there is a general discretion to look at such situations? There is of course nothing in the Rules about the 100-point difference – but that is what is now used by the league in determining whether players should be allowed to play up. Maybe at the end of the first half or at some other point in the season playing strengths and positions of players in certain teams should be looked at again?? Is this all sour grapes on our part – of course not! Are we jealous of the Murrayfield Conveyer Belt that keeps producing these talented youngsters – Absolutely!
Our second controversial moment this week arose as Team 5 took on EI. Match Secretary Ken Ben seems to have acquired a bat from the Gyle’s Pop In & Play facility. We will not make any comment about how that came into his possession!! Anyway, before his first match, he asks George if it was OK for him to play with it in the match – George says no but tells Ken that Kristian is the Captain! Captain Kristian agrees to Ken playing with what everyone accepts is not a “legal bat” in terms of the Laws of Table Tennis – for one thing it’s blue on both sides! George tells us he enjoyed playing Ken as he felt the dodgy bat clearly hindered Ken and was to George’s benefit as he won in 5 ends. Kristian and Rachel both lost to Ken – due to his bat? Probably not. If Ken had played with a normal bat he may have won far more comfortably. That’s not the point though is it? What’s he doing playing with an illegal bat? It surely doesn’t matter if the other players agree to him playing with it – if it’s illegal it’s illegal! Our Rules man Ian Hislop has asked whether it should just be Ken’s matches that are awarded to team 5 or the whole match forfeited given that the Match Secretary should be setting a better example!! Oh well an Appeal to the Match Secretary we think – we wonder how that will turn out…….