Team 2 made the trip on Tuesday 7th March to take on Edinburgh Sports Club in Division 1. Team 2 are in real trouble and although we were criticised a little for having written them off somewhat prematurely as relegation favourites earlier in the season, their recent run of form has done nothing to give us any hope that they might by some miracle manage to stay in the Division. Their last two defeats have been by 9-1 and 10-0 scores. Whilst their opponents are going to miss out on promotion they sit comfortably in fourth position in the table. This match was never, therefore, going to be easy for Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Gary McDougal and Abby Wighton. They faced Chris Shaw, Alan Nisbet and Alexander Asyunkin. This match was played out of order with Team 2 allowing Chris to play his 3 matches at the outset – something that Team 1 Captain, Colin Green, would never have allowed – surely it gives the player an advantage of warming up, getting into a nice rhythm and playing players who are cold – but hey Team Captain Krys is obviously too nice – he might have been regretting his decision when Chris won all three of his matches dropping only two ends in the process. At 3-0 down the team’s chances of picking up anything from this match were fading away. 3-0 quickly became 6-0, and by that point spirits were down heading into the doubles. Abby & Gary took on the two remaining ESC players and never really threatened – the night ended as it had begun with another three wins for the hosts as Team 2 suffered a 10-0 loss. Three matches left for the Penicuik trio and the problem for them is that whilst they sit 3rd from bottom at present the two teams below them who sit level on points and one point below them respectively have still to play each other – whatever the result of that match, one of the two teams is going to leapfrog Penicuik. That means Team 2 needs at least a point and maybe 2 from their last three matches to have any chance of survival. Eight matches for Team 2 have resulted in 6-4 scorelines and SEVEN of them have been defeats. That’s got to hurt!
The only other match this week saw Team 5 travel to the Gyle to take on Murrayfield 11. The reverse fixture resulted in a 5-5 draw at Ladywood. On this occasion squad rotation resulted in the visitors fielding Aidan Craig, Ian Millar and Chamika Diyunugalge. When Aidan lost the first match of the night, the Penicuik trio feared the worst. Despite losing his first end of the night 11-2, Chamika then won the next 12-10 before losing the third 10-12. He was well the match – oh hold on, his inconsistency resurfaced with an 11-1 loss in the fourth! That’s something to work on! After Ian lost match 3, Aidan got the visitors on the board in match 4. That was as good as it got unfortunately for Team 5 as they fell to a disappointing 9-1 defeat.
And so, to our player of the week award. Well this is difficult! 6 players in action, 20 matches played and ONE solitary win – that came from Aidan but we can’t really give out a player of the week award for that, can we?? Hmm? Even more bizarre would be to give it to someone who won no matches, wouldn’t it? So for the first time (and hopefully only time) this season, we’re looking back to any contenders recently who were unlucky to miss out – Patrick last week was undefeated and as for Week 20 we ignored that both Bob and Richard were undefeated and gave it to Phil who only won two! We came in for some criticism for that decision! Surely it’s time to right that wrong? Eh maybe not! We can’t go back a couple of weeks – last week we overlooked a player who deserves a mention. A new player this season, he turns up regularly at practice on Wednesdays and Saturdays and takes on board all advice given out. From his start point at the beginning of the season, he has made terrific progress and if he can convert his practice play to match play his win rate will improve dramatically. Week 21 saw him win his first match of the season (if we ignore his win against Mr Walkover earlier in the season). That win secured a 5-5 draw for his team as well – Congratulations to Roscoe – keep up the hard work.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. As we mentioned above, Team 2 agreed to a player playing three matches in a row – in the end it didn’t have any impact on the result. In a similar vein though we had to seek a ruling in advance about a team (or player from a team) seeking to turn up late. The player was going to turn up over an hour after the starting time. We expressed unhappiness at this prospect and ultimately the player wasn’t late. The ruling however was a little strange. It was suggested we didn’t have to agree to such and we could claim the players games in those circumstances. We don’t think that’s what the rules say. What we seem to be stuck with is the rule that if an opposing team or player is more than half an hour late then if the match can’t finish in time (and only in that event) any matches that can’t be played are forfeited. The old rule was that the opposing team / players had 30 minutes to show up failing which the match would be forfeited. Now though a player could turn up a couple of hours late, we’ve played virtually all the other matches but we have to play the late player. In what other sport would that be allowed. We’re not quite sure why the old rule has vanished – seems bizarre.
We also had reason last week to question why new players can’t be registered after 31 January. We had a couple of new players join the Club in February. One of them is only here for six months and wants to play competitively. He’d love to play in the League. But he can’t. The rationale? A strong player coming in after that could affect promotion and relegation. Opponents playing against a new strong player after 31st January could complain that other opponents who played against the team earlier did not face that new strong player, and so post 31st January opponents would be at a disadvantage, which could affect promotion and relegation. Surely that’s too early? By 31st January this season our Teams 1 and 2 still had 8 matches to play - more than a third of a season’s fixtures. And what’s the difference between a new player being registered on 31st January or a week or two later. Makes no sense to us.
Oh well on we go to Week 23, missing from our league membership a couple of players who, had they arrived a couple of weeks before at the club, could have played league table tennis.