Tactics For Playing Someone Rated Much Higher

Table Tennis Match Strategy

Last updated 8 years ago

Mike Deubig

Mike Deubig Asked 8 years ago

Hi Coach and Jeff :)

I love your podcast and the answers that you have supplied for me have been awesome! Normally I would ask this in the podcast but since this needs a bit more of an explanation, I'll post it in here. I'm going to be entering three events in one of the biggest tournaments in the country. It's called, "The Badger Open."

Last year I played in three events, one of which was very unique, something you guys have most likely never heard before. It's a non-rated event called, "51 Point Handicap". Depending upon your rating, say one person is rated 1400 and the other is rated 1900, the lower rated player is awarded points to start out with. Let's say the 1400 is awarded 21 points. So the game starts out 21-0, with the lower rated player leading. The first person who reaches 51 wins the match. There are no sets, just one game up to 51. If there is a tie at 51, you must win by two. Players 2300 or more can enter the event for free.

When I played in last year, I made it all the way to the semi-finals with my 1500 rating, knocking off two players who were 2200 plus. One of the guys I beat, made to the Quarter-finals in the regular open event. I'm planning on playing again in this event and my question to is this...How do you prepare and develop some tactics for players who are rated much higher?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 8 years ago

Hi Mike,

We have seen a lot of these events.  In fact Jeff used to organise one at the club and even set up a computer program to run it.

The handicap system is an interesting one and makes the game quite different.

I think when you are playing a higher ranked player and need less points, it is best to take a few risks.  If you play a controlled game you will often find your opponent is better at controlling the ball and will be able to win each point.  However, the thing that they fear the most is you hitting some winners.  Since you don’t need to win as many points this makes it awkward for them.

Good luck at the Badger Open.

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Dakota Castleberg

Dakota Castleberg Posted 8 years ago

Hey Mike,

Noticed that you also live in Wisconsin (based off the tourney name I knew you were in the US, then looked you up on ratings)!

I don't want to fill up this question page but was just curious what club you play at? I play in Madison although I have been to the Milwaukee club. Good luck at the Badger Open, and I may see you there as after my tourney results from this last weekend get put online we will be close in rank.


D K Posted 8 years ago

Jeff can make programs???

Being a beginner of programming myself,I want to ask-could he show that program??

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Hi D K,

That was way back in the 1990's when I wrote that program. I don't think any copies of it still exist :(

Mike Deubig

Mike Deubig Posted 8 years ago

Hi Dakota,

I have only been playing at the club for a little over a year now as I returned to playing table tennis. Before then, I played with the 30mm ball and the game was to 21...lol It's great to see a local on here :) I have played at the club in Madison once last year, it was the week of the Badger Open. I might do it again this year. Since I work second shift, I mainly play at West Allis on the weekends. Perhaps we were run into each other...:)  


D K Posted 8 years ago

30 mm ball?
So small ball has never been used in competitions,hasn't it?



And Jeff-I know it is a little off the table tennis the SuperSport topic,but still I would like to know more.

Can you at least tell me what programming language did you use to create it?
And can you at least desribe what that program exactly did?
I am curious if I am capable of redoing it.

Gordon Hume

Gordon Hume Posted 8 years ago

I love handicap competitions, at least as a change from 11-point, best of five, fixtures!  I ran a doubles handicap session for a year at our local leisure centre, playing up to 31 points, with the best players on -10 and the weakest on 26 or so.  What astonished me was how, by the end of the year, all the weaker and intermediate players had improved so much!  I think that's down to the feeling you have that, no matter how better your opponent(s) may be, you still have a good fighting chance of winning (and pulling them down a peg or two!), and that seems to bring out the very best in players and helps them to try just that little bit harder.  The winner at the end of the year had started off with a handicap of just 24.

DK:  I organise the weekly Juniors' night at our club and we're about to try a 31-point handicap singles competition.  If the kids like the way it works, I'll be rewriting my original computer program to convert it from doubles to singles, so if you're interested I could either let you have a copy of it or offer some advice for making your own.  I wrote it in Microsoft Access database form, and it has tons and tons of macros!  LOL



D K Posted 8 years ago


Thanks for offer.

But all I need is to describe what it does and how it looks like.

I am unable to work with MS Access,and I do not even consider it "programming".

Although I am very incapable at everything I do,I think I can recreate such a program,I just need cues about what should it do and how should it appear

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Nice work Gordon. It is fun to run these types of competitions.

DK: My program was also in Access. I gave each person a rating which was a ratio of how many points someone would get compared to another person. The lowest rating was 100. So if a 100 player versed a 2000 player, it meant you would expect the first player to win 100 points for every 2000 the other player won. The tournaments themselves would be in groups with similar standards playing together. Then there would be a knockout draw from the top players from each group. The players that made the knockout draw would have their handicaps increased by a percentage to keep the competition fair.

Mike Deubig

Mike Deubig Posted 8 years ago


Not anymore, 30mm balls were used quite a lot in competitions when I used in college and some years after that which was back in the mid-80's to early 90's. In my opinion, I think the 30mm balls were faster and had more spin than the 40mm. But the 40mm ball makes it more fun with the longer rallies :) 


Sounds like fun, let's us know how your handicap event turned out in the singles format...:) I love the handicap event because it gives one quality experience against really good competition and it puts the pressure on the higher rated players to perform, also helps metal toughness and the lower rated player has a pretty good chance at winning :)  

Josef Novy

Josef Novy Posted 8 years ago

Mike, I believe you are talking about 38 mm balls, not 30 mm, I never heard about 30 mm balls....


D K Posted 8 years ago

If it was in Access,I would consider it rather an interactive database than a program.

You were just fulfilling the the cells,werent you?
I am talking about the command-by-command programming.

And as I must be very stupid,because I still do not really understand the tournament you organised,can I at least ask...I do not know if it is the same in all countries,but-what is the scheme of an usual tournament like "X groups of 4 or 3 members,the two best go into the play-off,the two worse go down into.. so called 'comfort play off',which is simply the reverse play off that gives each player his ranking in the tournament"
I would like to create a program that works with it.

I would ask our tournaments' organisers,but I want to surprise them by that program.
It is very time-consuming when they write the tournaments' results,and I want to help them,as it makes every player to wait for hours between matches.

I agree with Josef (my compatriot I suppose,according to a name),that the balls you mean were 38 mm.
I know their properties and they really were faster and spinnier,but it was better than the plastic balls.
Even the most capable spin-creators I know did not manage to give it their usual unhandlable spin.

It is possible that the 30mm balls once existed,but I am sure that there is no living person that can remember it.
If they were used,then it had to be in the 19.century,as the celluloid balls were invented in 1899.
If there ever was a 30mm ball,then it was made from rubber,cork or wood.

Gordon Hume

Gordon Hume Posted 8 years ago

DK:  Microsoft Access is a very powerful programming tool: it can be used simply to set up an address book, for example, where you are indeed probably just going to fill in a form that you've designed; at the other extreme it can be used for much more sophisticated programming (in my old copy it's the VBS language) in order to manipulate data, import/export data from/to external sources, update websites, mail-merge, generate emails, run external scripts, and so on and on.

I don't have a copy of my doubles handicap database on this computer, but as an illustration, here's a small excerpt (the introductory to a much longer script in an accounts database I wrote where, here, data is checked and transferred from an accrual to a transaction purchase ledger):-


Private Sub PostTransactionButton_Click()
On Error GoTo PostTransactionButton_Err

DoCmd.GoToControl "Narrative"

If (Forms!Accruals!Type = "Profile") Then
' Warn if Type of accrual is Profile.
MsgBox "Selected record is NOT a transaction type of accrual.", vbInformation, "Type Mismatch"
Exit Sub
End If

If (Forms!Accruals![Apply Date] > Date) Then
' Warn if Type of accrual is Profile.
MsgBox "This accrual is not yet due.", vbInformation, "Date Error"
Exit Sub
End If

If (Forms!Accruals![DateCheck] <> 0) Then
' Warn that dates don't match between main record and nominal subrecords.
MsgBox "The dates showing in the nominal sub-records do not match the date in the main Accruals record.", vbInformation, "Dates Error"
Exit Sub
End If

If (Forms!Accruals![SubFormBalanceWarning] <> "") Then
' Warn that nominal subrecords do not balance to zero.
MsgBox "The nominal sub-records do not appear to balance to zero. This may be due to a programming error awaiting attention.", vbInformation, "Nominal Sub-Records Error"
End If

If (Forms!Accruals!Posted = True) Then
' Check that the "Posted" control is not already checked
MsgBox "This record has already been posted to Transactions", vbInformation, "Transaction Posting"
Exit Sub
End If

If (Forms!Accruals![To Post] = False) Then
' Check that the "To Post" control is checked
MsgBox "You must flag the 'To Post' control first.", vbInformation, "Transaction Posting"
Exit Sub
End If

If (Forms!Accruals!SubRecordCount > 8) Then
' Check that there are no more than 8 subrecords to post
MsgBox "Too many sub records to post. Post transaction manually instead.", vbInformation, "Transaction Posting"
Exit Sub
End If
' Had problems with 'null field' messages. This might help:
Forms!Accruals![Accrual Number].Enabled = True
Forms!Accruals![Accrual Number].Locked = False
DoCmd.GoToControl "Accrual Number"
DoCmd.RunCommand acCmdSaveRecord
DoCmd.GoToRecord , "", acPrevious
DoCmd.GoToRecord , "", acNext
' -----------------------------------------------------------
' Unset the "To Post" control
Forms!Accruals![To Post] = False
' Set the "Posted" control
Forms!Accruals!Posted = True
DoCmd.RunCommand acCmdSaveRecord
' Off, to avoid screen flicker
DoCmd.Echo False, ""
' On
DoCmd.Hourglass True
' Open Transaction Posting form
DoCmd.RunMacro "Transaction Posting.Load Transactions Form", , ""
' Set focus to Accruals form
DoCmd.SelectObject acForm, "Accruals", False

' Set focus to Transaction Posting form
DoCmd.SelectObject acForm, "Transaction Posting", False
' Source Code
DoCmd.GoToControl "Source Code"
' Source Code
Forms![Transaction Posting]![Source Code] = Forms!Accruals![Source Code]
' Transaction Date
Forms![Transaction Posting]![Transaction Date] = Forms!Accruals![Apply Date]
' Cheque Number
Forms![Transaction Posting]![Cheque Number] = Forms!Accruals![Cheque Number]
' Payee
Forms![Transaction Posting]!Payee = Forms!Accruals!Payee
' Total Amount
Forms![Transaction Posting]![Total Amount] = Forms!Accruals![Total Amount]
' Narrative
Forms![Transaction Posting]!Narrative = Forms!Accruals!Narrative
' Bank Reconciliation (to default to its preset value)
DoCmd.GoToControl "Bank Reconciliation"


As regards a table tennis handicap programme, it's going to depend on whether you're running a single, one-off tournament or whether you need to run a weekly, year-long competition which will require constant updating of results, handicap changes, accurate allocation of matches so that everyone plays against everyone else, allowing for frequent non-attendance, possibly a fair allocation of tables to everyone each session if some tables are regarded as "better" (better lighting, for example) or if there are more players than tables available so that everyone has a fair turn at sitting out a round.  Etc, etc.

Simple form-filling it ain't!


D K Posted 8 years ago

Oh,so you are using the Access' comandline programming...
Sophisticated,but it is not my style...
I am using another tools and I think I would be able to create a tournament holder.
At least the one what I mean.

I am talking about regular tournament in the style  I described.
This means,there is a number of charts,4 or 3 players in each,two best from each go up to play off,two worst go down to another play-off-like stage where they decide their final ranking in the tournament.
I just do not know which winners/losers will clash

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