News of The First Round of The Handicap Cup 2023-2024 between Edinburgh International 2 v West Lothian 5
In a break from ELTTL league duties, this week saw the first round of the Handicap Cup; a competition enjoyed by a lot of players as it gives the opportunity for lower ranked or improving players to test themselves against players from higher divisions in the leagues.
The West Lothian team comprising Mei, Martin and Jim were allocated handicaps of +1, +3 and +3 respectively.
From the Edinburgh International team they were playing Alistair, Julia and Alan, who had handicaps of -6, +4 and +6, it was going to be an intriguing evening.
What is the Handicap System in Table Tennis?
If you’re not familiar with the handicap system, and using Alistair v Mei as an example, the minus is added to the plus, so Mei gets 7 of a start against Alistair, but the minus is also added to the usual winning target of 11 points to give the stronger player an opportunity to reduce the deficit.
So it was 0-7 of a start, playing to 17 in that instance. When there are 2 plus handicaps matched up, the handicap is simply the difference between the lower and the higher and it still just plays to 11 points.
What happened on the night for the West Lothian Team?
The first match
In the first match of the evening, Mei had an engaging match against Alistair, however she quickly found herself 2 sets down. Winning the 3rd set gave Mei some hope, but Alistair ultimately proved too strong winning the match in 4 sets.
On an adjacent table, Martin was up against Alan and was giving away a 3 shot start. Some fabulous back hands from Alan saw him easily take the first set 11-7. Martin however is a wily competitor and changed his approach and that saw him win the next 3 sets to win his match.
In Jim’s first match, he was up against the youngest of the EI 2 team in Julia and it looked an evenly matched game with only the 1 shot being given by Jim to Julia. However, no one gave the evenly matched script to Julia and she quickly moved 2 sets ahead. Jim fought back to 2-2, but Julia ran out an easy winner in the 5th end. Definitely a star of the future for Edinburgh International in young Julia.
In the next round
In the next round of matches, Alan v Mei, Alistair v Jim and Julia was against Martin.
Mei v Alan went the distance with Mei just edging it 13-11 in the 5th end after she focussed to engage fully in securing the win.
Julia v Martin also went the full 5 set distance, but Julia ran out a worthy winner securing the 5th end 11-8.
In Alistair v Jim, Jim took the first set, but Alistair showed why he’s handicapped at -6 with some strong play in the second set with Jim only winning 6 points to Alistair’s 17. However, Jim knuckled down to win the 3rd set and give himself a boost. The 4th set was a beauty, with Alistair playing some good TT to level the scores at 15-15, however Jim calmed his nerves and won some good points to edge the set 20-18 to take the match.
In the final round
In the final round of matches, Jim proved too strong for Alan winning in straight sets and Julia proved to be the unbeaten star of the night for Edinburgh International in winning against Mei, who despite being fully engaged in the task, lost out in 4 sets.
This meant the score was tied at 4-4 between the teams with Alistair and Martin playing a decider.
Naturally, it was a 5 set nail biter with Alistair winning the first two sets and Martin somehow finding a way to win the next two to set up a dramatic 5th set. Despite a strong showing from Alistair, Martin held his nerve to take the last set 16-13 and secure a 5-4 win for WL 5 on the night.
As ever, it was a match played in good spirit and a wee nod to Ken Ben for his officiating on the night; can’t believe he chanced his arm to try and get himself voted as player of the evening simply for refereeing a few matches…
Oh, and if you haven’t been paying attention to the narrative on all of Mei’s games…huge and hearty congratulations to Mei who announced her engagement this week! Warmest congratulations from all the club members at West Lothian Community Table Tennis Club (WLCCT).