One good event to keep my mind off my er... light workload is the Intrax Ping Pong championships. A great idea that has occurred only once previously. It will be in the afternoons for the next three afternoons, with single prelims tomorrow, doubles prelims the next day and the championship finals on the Thursday. It should be very interesting. I have a couple of intense rivalries with players so it will be interesting to see how it pans out. I have a reasonable chance of winning either of the competitions.
I have gained a couple of new tricks since my return. One of them is being able to reflect smash shots, which is something I could never do (although I have vivid memories of a former Chinese student doing it to perfection years ago). Doing so, in itself can be a winning shot because when you smash you expect to win the point immediately (or hit the net immediately and lose a point) and it is psychologically strange to have to play it again, and sometimes difficult because it comes back only marginally slower than it is hit, and when it comes from me, it comes bearing a little spin too. There is one kind fellow, who has me as a bogeyman. He is a good smasher, can smash anything really, but tends to smash very straight (not to the corners). A usual point with him will be him swinging successive smashes at me, with me flicking them back each time till his frustrations get the better of him and he hits it into the net. The most important thing is to stay close to the table (unless it is an overhead smash).
The Japanese student who, with me, restarted the ping-pong fad originally struggled to reclaim his prowess (being the only person who has actual ping-pong competition experience), but now is coming into form. He underspins it better than me, although just recently I have discovered a few ways to repel his serves. But he can be unplayable, with some of his arsenal. One other factor that opens the door is that the other teacher who plays ping-pong has been tied up in the new course he is running and it is nice to play a little before going into matches like that.
Probably the greatest danger for me now is my serving. Traditionally my serves are lethal against anyone who doesn't understand spin but seemingly innocuous to anyone who has played me in a few games. In fact, one of my core serves can be easily preyed upon in doubles matches leaving my slow partner no time to get to the inevitable cross-court shot.
One interesting fact about doubles is that it is not necessarily the pairings that matter, but who receives from who. I am better, of course, against the smashers and the spinners. Anyone who serves flat and fast or places the ball with speed gives me nothing to work with and can reduce me to my simply return shots, which in turn can set up a smash shot at my less accomplished partner.
So yeah, a report will follow tomorrow evening about the results (or my crying disappointment).