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1947-48: Dec./Jan.Tournaments. 1948: U.S. Men’s and Women’s Warm-up Matches for London World’s1948: U.S. Men’s Swaythling Cup Play. 1948: U.S. Men’s World’s Singles and Doubles Play.

Before U.S. Team members left for the World Championships, the Eastern Zone offered just one tournament they might play in—the New England States, held Dec. 13-14 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Only Mae Clouther showed, though—and she was beaten 3-0 in the semi’s by Peggy McLean. Which, combined with Peggy’s CNE victories over the Thalls, made one wonder the more what had happened to her that day of the East-West finals, and if a case couldn’t have been made for her to be on the U.S. Team to the World’s. But then, in the final, up 2-1, she lost to Mildred Shahian, 19 in the 5th. Paired with Cal Skinner, it wasn’t Peggy’s lot to win a close one in the Mixed either. Up 2-1 against Shahian and Les Lowry, they lost 22-20 in the 5th. In the Men’s, Lowry downed Skinner in 4, but the best match of the tournament was colorful Cal’s –13, 16, -20, 21, 20 semi’s win over Dwelly.History of U.S. Table Tennis Vol. II:1940-1952 "The War Years: (Some USTTA Victories, But The 'Wounded Soldier Needs a Blood Transfusion')" By Tim Boggan USATT Historian

In the Central Zone, Louisville hosted the Dec. 6-7 Falls Cities Open. Guy Blair did some fancy flying—rolled rollickingly by Bob Green in the Men’s final, and, partnered by his friend Jim Irwin, also won the Doubles from Green/Sage. The Thall sisters must have been busy packing, for Cincinnati’s Delores Fife was an easy Women’s winner over Indy’s Norma Felton.

The Illinois TTA that made up 7.8% of the total USTTA membership (matched by Michigan and exceeded only by Pennsylvania’s 11.5% and Ohio’s 8.2%) continued to run monthly tournaments. At the Lake States Open, held Dec. 13-14 in Chicago, Billy Holzrichter, on learning he’d not been selected for the U.S. World Team, had to be "down"—and though he won the Men’s, his 27-25 in the 4th semi’s struggle with Wayne Stille, and his 5-game final with Jimmy Shrout probably reflected the difficulty he had motivating himself. Shrout was fortunate to reach the final, for, before beating Norm Schless, 19 in the 4th in the semi’s, Jimmy had been –10, 22, 22, -14, 23 outscored, but not outfought, by Russ Niesen, recently elected President of the Illinois TTA. The prize for sheer tenacity, however, had to go to Men’s Doubles winners Stille and Sterling Mitchell: in the quarter’s they knocked out Dick Ichkoff/Al Gross, -20, 24, 23, 21; in the semi’s, Niesen/Bast, -19, -10, 16, 20, 17; and in the final, Holzrichter/Al Nordhem, -15, -16, 19, 17, 18.

Illinois TTA Treasurer Peggy Ichkoff won the Women’s Singles over Shipman—but was pressed 23-21 in three of four games with Carolyn Wilson. Bob Johnson took the Boys’ from a 7-entry field that included Chicago’s Marvin "Marty" Prager who would go on to enjoy lifetime recognition as a player/coach.

Noteworthy at the annual Indiana Intercity Matches, held Dec. 20-21 at the Hammond Civic Center, was the entry of two intercollegiate teams. Purdue (0-6) finished last in round robin play among the 7 teams, but at least Barney Arnold, their best player, and later President of the Indiana TTA, had a respectable 9-8 record. Indiana University at Bloomington, meanwhile, with Dale McColley, 13-1, leading the way, almost won the Championship. The last tie, between the undefeated South Bend and Bloomington teams, went to the 9th match where the as yet unbeaten Barclay managed to outplay the as yet unbeaten McColley. The unsigned Topics article said that, "All players were furnished [with] attractive, numbered jerseys, in dark colors, with State insignia, each team having a different color for easy identification. This provided the ‘best dressed’ Tournament ever held in this Country."

A Christmas present of sorts was given to Oskosh, Wisconsin players with the opening of their new Club. Current members, who did all the work and painting necessary to remodel rooms in an old warehouse, followed up with their first Fox Valley tournament. In the Men’s (no Women’s matches were reported), Russ Sorensen rallied twice to win the title—from down 2-1 against Dick Peregrine, then in the final from down 2-0 against Bill Holton.

The last January ( 24-25th ) tournament in the Central Zone, the Illinois Open, was held in Chicago, but Holzrichter, who’d just won the St. Joe Valley in South Bend, didn’t play. Dan Kreer was the 37-entry Men’s winner—over Ralph Bast. In the Women’s, Peggy Ichkoff defeated Illinois TTA Secretary and Membership Chair Mary Specht.

Winter’s Western Zone saw the Dec. 13-14 10,000 Lakes Open in Minneapolis and, as surely as Lake Minnetonka would ice, so would Harry Lund win the Men’s over the Twin City Eds—Litman and Sirmai. Drawing most of the spectators’ attention, though, was not so much Bob Ferguson—he’d come up from Omaha to lose to Sirmai in the semi’s—but young Alan Goldstein who, before losing to Clarence Smith in the Men’s, had outlasted Sol Krawetz, -18, 22, 30, and had also won the Junior’s over runner-up Bob Stotts and semifinalist Eddie Kantor—Eddie the more formidable because in the Men’s quarter’s he’d led Sirmai 2-0. Marilyn Jensen again prevailed in the Women’s—this time over Shirley Lund 23-21 in the 4th, then Mabel Smith in 5. Sirmai/Jensen took the Mixed despite the –14, -11, 28, 26, -14 Thermopylaen stand by the Lunds.

The Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Kansas City, Missouri Open had much the same results as the Ozark States three weeks before. George Hendry again beat Don Laster in the Men’s. Hendry/Lasater again won the Doubles. Wally Gundlach, who’d been pressed by Kansas University student Dave Cowley in the Men’s, again won the Junior’s from John Stewart. In the Women’s, in Betty Jane Schaefer’s absence, Joan Gummels was the winner—over Melba McClain. Senior’s went to George Wicker after finalist Dominic Rocca, down 2-1 and at 21-all in the 4th, got by Cecil Woodworth.

Back East, before the U.S. Team left on the Queen Elizabeth for Europe, a Newsweek reporter interviewed Miles for its Jan. 19 issue:

"Even though Dick Miles has been the top American for the last three years in a sport that claims 15,000,000 players in this country table tennis hasn’t given him much of a payoff so far. [This decades-long equation of the many who play the game of ping-pong with those who seriously play the sport—that is, play in tournaments, is just silly.] He has about 100 trophies, but his jaded eye lately cherishes only the ones he can use as ash trays for his own daily two cigarettes and his girl’s one pack or so. For his expert knowledge of the game, he has received free piano lessons in a teaching deal with a musician. Out of the five weeks of practice matches he plays before a tournament, he may pick up $10-a-set bets here and there. [Dick always said it was "unthinkable to play a match without a wager."] A scrawny schedule of exhibitions is believed to have grossed less than $1,000 a year.

But things could be better, and Miles blames only himself and his behavior in the 1947 world championships in Paris. "I was pretty cocky beforehand," he confesses, "but I got the arm…. My own teammates told me they’d never seen such a case. I was up against John Leach of England, a chiseler…and I got a nervous cramp in my neck. Then it worked down my arm. Then my hand froze.

Afterward, Miles promised himself that he would forget it. Instead, he finally wrote an article based on it. The title: ‘This Time I Won’t Choke.’ Nobody bought it."

U.S. Team’s Warm-Ups for London World’s

Thelma "Tybie" Thall said her mother had misgivings about her 23-year-old daughter, who’d never been on a ship before, taking the long voyage. Was it really worth it? Who was she apt to beat? What was she apt to win? Well, maybe quite a few Hostess cupcakes. Hostess had sponsored a radio audience-participation show, and Tybie, before sailing, had participated in it and had unabashedly said, "I’m on my way to London to win a world title." Really? Well, if you win, said Hostess, come back and see us and we’ll give you plenty of cupcakes. (Tybie, who to my surprise once confided that from birth she had a slightly misplaced jaw and never in her life had a proper bite, and who was then at Miles’s weight—119 pounds—later confessed that it was these cupcakes that started her on the way to gaining 40 pounds.)

It was a blustery trip over to London. "Talk about having an excuse for missing a shot," said Tybie, "try playing table tennis on a ship crossing the Atlantic in winter. And yet," she said, "Reisman kept doing his cigarette trick [this I’ll explain shortly]—never missed it." Uncanny—that was the word she might have used to describe, no, not Reisman’s hand/eye coordination, but the ("He never smiled") dour look of Garrett Nash.

On arriving in London, the Team didn’t stay there, for they had obligations to play friendly matches in Sweden. The Programme for the ’48 World’s cited "500 clubs" and "11,323 players" in Sweden, and said that the "Swedish T.T.A. is extremely enterprising and deserves success for its many youth-training schemes" (13). In Varberg, on Jan. 20, our U.S. women played the Swedish women, who at the 1947 Paris World’s had come dead last, losing all 6 ties and winning but 1 match out of 19. Of course we beat them—Maya Halling, Margareta Winqvist, and Eina Eriksson—5-0 easily. In two accompanying matches, Capt. Bill Price and Leah Thall defeated Sweden’s first great male star, Tage Flisberg, and Swedish Women’s Champion Halling in a close match, then Flisberg took Price, 18 in the 4th. Flisberg would be World runner-up in 1954, and Miles, struck by his big, open strokes, would later compare him to Erwin Klein, the 4-time U.S. Open Champion.

At the King’s Club in Stockholm, three days later, the U.S. men beat the Swedish men—Flisberg, Bengt Grieve, Weine Fredriksson—5-1 (Flisberg downing Nash, 2-1). In two accompanying matches, Leah defeated Tybie, and Mae Clouther defeated Winqvist. Along with a report on these matches in the Swedish Bordtennis magazine, a passport-size photo showed Mae’s face smiling out from between U.S. and Swedish flags crossed at her neck (Nr 2, 1948, 14).

Mae and everyone else (even Nash?) must have smiled when they heard about Tybie’s misadventure. Seems that in connection with one of the exhibitions she was giving she’d found a room she thought she might change in, had set down her shoes and a rolled-up poster she’d been given, only to be shocked to find others there—five Swedish male athletes, all naked. Taking up her shoes and poster, she blurted out, on leaving, the only line of Swedish she knew—"Thank you very much."

Nothing like a compliment, eh?

Certainly Capt. Price was ready to be gracious, for by the time our men played other Swedish Internationals—Kolmodin, Neidenmark, Larson, and Almpinst—the competition had been challenging enough, the venues packed, the autograph seekers everywhere, and the food marvelous.

Sam Kirkwood, London Correspondent for Sporting World Limited, who’d on occasion keep Topics readers aware of table tennis abroad, spoke of seeing Price and his Swaythling Cup Team at Kirkwood’s London Bishopgate Institute Club having a "knock-around"—and complaining that the ball wasn’t rising sharply enough off the bounce, hadn’t the "uplift" they were used to back home. Sam was particularly impressed by Reisman. As for Marty at his first World’s, it was an inspiration to him there at London’s 770-room Royal Hotel to watch the best players on the Continent arrive, carrying their egos with the same care as they would their favorite rackets. Marty’s play at Lawrence’s was lineage enough: though he lacked world-class experience, he had the requisite confidence and sense of self to be accepted into such rough-hewn royalty. Their values were his, and—whatever the country, whatever the court—he would share with them the action he lived for.

U.S. Team’s Swaythling Cup Play

In the 21-team Swaythling Cup play, by defeating Sweden (5-1), Hungary (5-2), Jersey (5-0), and England (5-2), the U.S. men advanced out of their round robin group—probably the most challenging one—to the semi’s. Miles was 10-0 undefeated (didn’t even lose a game)—with notable wins over the Swedes Flisberg and Grieve, the whole English Team of Victor Barna, Johnny Leach, and this year’s about-to-be Singles Champion Richard Bergmann, as well as the whole Hungarian Team of Josef Koczian, Ferenc Sido, and Ferenc Soos, all of whom were already or about to be World Singles or Doubles Champions. A very impressive performance—Miles was surely one of the world’s very best players. Reisman posted a 4-3 record—losing to Bergmann, Sido, and Flisberg, but scoring 3-game victories over Koczian and Fredriksson, and a gutsy (20, 23) win over Leach (after being down 20-14 in the 2nd). Nash, 5-2, lost to Barna and Soos (though Swedish Women’s Champ Inga Brehmer said Nash had bested Soos in a curtained money match); but he beat Grieve, Fredriksson, Sido, and, often catching him on drop-shots, Bergmann (as he had in his celebrated match during the War years). Price made a token appearance to down the very weak Jersey players.

Against Defending Champion Czechoslovakia in the semi’s (thus far 5-0 victors throughout), we lost 5-2, for, though Frantisek Tokar dropped matches to Miles and Nash, Ivan Andreadis ("the best stroke player of the day," and winner over Vana at the Jan. 31st Netherlands Open), by moderately but relentlessly topspinning, beat both Miles and Reisman. English Coach Jack Carrington (see the June, 1948 issue of Table Tennis) praised Andreadis for his grace and rhythm, as well as his touch, stressing his drop-shots, his "famous sliding-sidespin backhand push," and his " sidespin curving-away shots." What he didn’t have, though he could "so easily maneuver openings" for it, was a "flat kill"(8)—but apparently he didn’t need that, at least for the moment, to beat Dick and Marty. Equally disastrous to the U.S. hopes was the fact that none of our players could stop Defending World Champion Bo Vana—though Miles made a very good try (losing 18 in the 3rd after having led 17-14) and Reisman an even better one (losing 15, -19, -19). Czechoslovakia then went on to defeat France 5-2 to retain their Swaythling Cup title.

Marty, though not Dick, would always talk about the gambling matches going on in some practice room at this or that World’s—here he was giving Soos 5, was he? Sandor Glancz had supplied Reisman with hundreds of ball-point pens, and these, along with cooking fat, salami, Hershey bars, cigarettes, and nylons—all much wanted items after the War—were sometimes the currency of choice (the Czechs brought Czech crystal). Marty of course always talked a good game—then and later. When our 1971 U.S. World Team Captain Jack Howard asked Reisman what he thought of Vana, Marty said, "Aah, he had a creepy little forehand." But on another occasion he confessed that "unlike other teenagers who went to the movies and thought of Chaplin, or Bogart, or Tracy, I thought of Barna, and Bergmann, and Vana."

Table Tennis had this to say about Vana’s key wins in the U.S.-Czech tie:

"…Vana was very lucky to overcome young Reisman, although he showed supreme champion’s spirit when he realized that a faint chance remained. He pulled the 3rd game out from a losing spot of 9-14, and the last 5 points of one-hundred-percent attack against inspired youth made him a firm favorite with the crowd, and probably restored his own confidence for the whole tournament."

Vana seemed to remember this spasm when playing Miles, and almost exactly repeated himself in the 3rd game. Here Miles’s nerve became suspect in that he never varied from this heavy backhand chop stroke during the critical 5 points, notwithstanding that Vana was obviously gaining on the ‘rate of exchange’" (February-March, 1948, 19).

"There are two mysteries about U.S. Table Tennis," the Programme for the Wembley World’s had said. "One is why in so great a country, where the game is played so much and so well, the Association remains so small ["60 Clubs, 3,000 players" as opposed, say, to Wales, "350 clubs, 20,000 players"]; and the other is how, of so few organised players, so many turn out so brilliant and strong" (13). After watching play at Wembley, one London correspondent was of the opinion that when 22-year-old Miles and 18-year-old Reisman "are on form they are unbeatable; no one can stand up to their terrific hitting to both wings at sharp angles."

Indeed, many Europeans thought the ITTF should raise the net, for, echoing what had been said about McClure, Blattner, and Schiff the decade before, they felt the attacking style favored by the Americans gave them a big advantage.

U.S. Team Captain Price spoke of how the forehands of Miles and Reisman were "admired by the Europeans." He then went on to contrast them:

"…Miles starts his stroke about head high and describes a rather large loop which gives him a terrific snap, while Reisman starts his stroke at a point only slightly behind contact which means he doesn’t have nearly as much of a backswing as Miles. However, he generates considerable racket head speed…in that short space" (TTT, Mar., 1948, 2).

In the ’49 English Open Programme, Jack Carrington, England’s famous coach, spoke of Marty’s weapons: a "deadly forehand drive" that was "produced by a sharp upper-cut action," a "better backhand counter-drive than Miles’s…and [an] astonishing eye for short defence."

About Dick’s game, and particularly his forehand, Carrington said:

"…The ‘Miles Forehand’ threatens to become as famous as the ‘Barna Backhand.’ It is produced by an unbelievably fast circular whip of the forearm and wrist….[If you] try to follow the bat with your eye, you will find it almost impossible. The effect is a fast bounding ball imbued with twice as much topspin as most players use. Miles can take the ball so early he can keep most opponents scouting the deep….As for defence, the speed with which he falls back and the controlled returns from either wing are beautiful to watch" (21).

Men’s Singles

In the 212-entry Men’s Singles, I might note the advance of three Qualifiers: England’s Brian Kennedy, a lefty Junior about to graduate to Swaythling Cup status; Sweden’s Nils "Nicke" Bergstrom, destined decades later to be ITTF Vice-President for Europe; and Yugoslavia’s Zdenko Uzorinac, the Sport’s future Historian who was already tucking away observations, like Miles—he’d never seen anyone do it before—trying to groove his stroke (or should I say trying to warm up?) by continually hitting the ball against a wall of the venue.

Some exciting early-round matches were: England’s Sweetland over ex-Yugoslav National Max Marinko and his oversized wooden bat, 19 in the 4th; Leach over Koczian, deuce in the 4th (some unseeded 1st-round match this was! and of course no surprise that Koczian would go on to win the Consolation); and Hungary’s Soos over Sweden’s Flisberg, also in 5. It would have been nice if the Programme had some "snapshots" of the players like the April, ’48 issue of Table Tennis skimpily offered. For example, here’s one on Zarko Dolinar, whom we’ll hear more of in the future:

"…large young Yugoslav, wielding an enormous lop-sided wooden-clacker bat with deadly affect, attacking with penholder grip and chopping with orthodox grip! Incongruously clad in tiny shorts and a green celluloid cap, he looked good for the quarter-final and in fact beat [Austria’s] quarter-finalist Just in the team matches. But an attack of nerves lost him a 5-set tussle with France’s Manchiska" (19).

The U.S. players? Ah, Reisman, Nash, and, as I’ll note in a moment, Miles all lost yearned for, what-might-have-been matches—instant replays for a lifetime. On getting by Sweden’s Sven Cedarholm (with "a dazzling two-winged attack" in the 5th) then France’s Croix de Guerre Resistance fighter, Alex Agapoff (19, 19, 22), Reisman, dropping a pivotal 4th game, went down in 5 (20, -18, 14, -19, -12) to the eventual Champion, Bergmann, who said in Twenty-One Up that it was his "block defence" that beat Marty.

Nash finally succumbed 25-23 in the 5th (after being down 12-3 and up 17-13) to 5-time World Singles Champion Barna, now near retirement. Price lost docilely to Tokar who’d be beaten by Amouretti, 5-game conqueror of Leach in the eighth’s. An "Overseas News" article in Topics (this regular feature is usually unsigned and is not written exclusively by any one columnist) was critical of both Barna and Leach. "Barna should give up competitive play" and do "exhibitions and stage work….He showed his age at Wembley and was—horrible thing—the object of pity." Leach "will never win a world title. He doesn’t use his brain sufficiently and lacks real sting….[He’s] too much in love with pretty-pretty play and against a class attacker shows little initiative" (April, 1948, 6). Harsh words…from a big ego.

Quarterfinalist Tokar, I might add, would later play for Slovakia in the final of the European Cup. There he would down both Vana and Andreadis, and partnered by Marinko would upset Vana/Ladislav "Laci" Stipek, the new World Doubles Champions here at Wembley.

The writer of that anonymous "Overseas News" article (he was said to be a Top 20 player—Bergmann?), who claimed so definitively Leach would never be a World Champion, also had his post-World’s opinion of Miles. He "has a wonderful and efficient forehand and a deadly chop on both wings, but he has no stamina, no match temperament and no backhand attack."

Dick, after eliminating Vilim Harangozo—at the ’39 World’s this Yugoslav had been match point up on Defending Champion Vana—downed Sido, 19 in the 4th, then met Vana, again the Defending Champion, in the quarter’s and, though leading in the 5th was suddenly the victim of a dramatic reversal. As one observer commented, Dick "blindly" hit himself out of the match; up 17-14 (or 18-15?), "he overhit four balls in succession." Thus in effect just reversing the losing defensive strategy he’d employed against Vana in the Team’s…only to lose again.

Fifty years later, musing on this match, which he considered his best playing effort ever, Miles felt that, had he gotten by Vana, he probably would have been World Champion—with wins over France’s Guy Amouretti, whom Pagliaro had beaten in ’47, and Bergmann, who hadn’t averaged 15 points against Dick in their earlier-played Swaythling Cup match (Richard didn’t like Dick’s "down-the-middle" shot). Up 2-1 against Vana, and having won the 2nd and 3rd games at 17 and 14, Miles had taken a 5-minute rest. Should he have done that? Carrington thought him foolish for doing so—Dick was stroking the ball so well. The Europeans never took 2-1 breaks. Indeed, watching them on tape, one is struck by how continuous their play is; the serves are non-stop. Miles, however, always took a 2-1 break, so why shouldn’t he now? Vana couldn’t believe it, though—was left on court mumbling to himself.

The Europeans thought it strange, too, that Dick would rather have, as he put it, the "correct" side of the table rather than the serve (though of course he usually did nothing more with the serve than put it into play). But, said Dick, "often the tables in those days were slightly warped or on a slight slant. If the opponent’s end of the table was on a rise and you were hitting up the incline you’d have the advantage. There’s a point on my thigh," he said, positioning his finger there by way of dramatizing it, "which is exactly 30 inches up. It’s as if I still feel pressure there, still have a bruise."

Naturally, Dick’s mind, like anyone else’s, sometimes likes to play tricks on itself—it seemed to him, albeit without much reflection, that he was down in that 5th game with Vana, then leading 18-15*….At any event, on returning to the locker room dejected, disgusted with himself, he bet Andreadis $100 that he would never come to a World’s again.

Bergmann, who attacked with the European elbow-out forehand so different from the American style of Miles and Reisman, was a popular Champion. Born in Vienna, the son of a Polish father and Italian mother, he was a naturalized Briton who’d served in the Royal Air Force during the War. His come-from-behind win over Andreadis in the semi’s was something to behold. He was down 2-1 and 9-4 (when, inexplicably—a case of nerves?—with a 20-minute time-limit on the game, the Czech began to "force" his attack). Later in the 4th, Bergmann was down 3 match points, then behind 9-4 in the 5th, yet was able to advance to the final.

Having watched the ensuing Bergmann-Vana Championship encounter, Miles later wrote how he’d been struck by Bergmann’s "strategy" when he was up 2-1, but had gotten off "to a very poor start in the fourth game" and was "down something like 10-2." Dick said that "instead of trying to catch up, he threw the next seven points." Then, "with the score something like 17-4 against him," he began tenaciously "returning everything Vana hit." Dick felt this mind-game (I’m giving up—no, I’m not giving up) affected Vana psychologically, for, though he finally won the 4th at 14, he lost the 5th badly at 10 (TTT, July-Aug., 1970, 11).

For the sold-out audience ecstatically cheering, Bergmann’s victory was as popular as an RAF one. Local reporter John Macadam wrote that, "Even the ball boys squatting round the small green table in the center of the vast arena cheered and clapped madly as it became apparent that Bergmann had dropped his defensive style and was attacking viciously all out to win."

Miles said Bergmann was the "most determined" player he ever saw, and ITTF Presidents Ivor Montagu and Roy Evans spoke of his "gamesmanship." Writing an In Memoriam of Richard (see the English Table Tennis News, April, 1970), Montagu said, much like Miles might have after watching that 1948 Wembley final: "[Bergmann] used defence to break the heart of his opponent. What enabled him to win was his physical fitness, his quick intelligence, his games-player’s intuition, his powerful will, his character perpetually testing out and striving to dominate his challenger."

In adding to the World titles he’d won in ’37 and ’39, Richard had reason to be a proud man, and one who believed he was not getting his just due. At last year’s Paris World’s, he’d deigned not to defend his Championship and instead had proclaimed himself a professional and had tried ineffectually to promote a Challenge Match with anyone willing to accept his wager of so many pounds. Now, after his win here, he was echoing to London covering reporter W.J. Hicks the sentiments he’d expressed in Paris:

"In future I shall concentrate my activities on coaching and exhibitions, and I shall only reappear in competitive table tennis if an all professional association is formed. My decision is based on the fact that it is possible to reach the top in world table tennis and still be a poor man. I have played here tonight before more than 8,000 spectators, and for my performance I shall receive no reward."

Indisputably Bergmann had a great belief in himself, and no doubt he was a powerful influence on 18-year-old Reisman who, 50 years later as the U.S. Hard Bat Champion, would still have that faith in self, that Bergmann-like self-esteem that would allow him to believe his past could be resurrected, become again his present. Even today, as I write, when (less often now) Marty does his trademark "cigarette trick"—that is, near the side edge on the far half of the table he stands a cigarette on its tip, then comes back behind the net, positions himself tableside, takes deliberate, dramatic aim with bat and ball, and…crack!—there’s a reverberative echo of self assurance as the cigarette splits in two. When Reisman’s friend, the late Bill Marlens, asked him how he had the nerve to do this trick before an expectant audience time and again, Marty said, "Well, Bill, I throw the ball up…I take my racket…and I just believe. That’s it…I just believe."

Our men lost in the Doubles to teams that made the semi’s: Nash and Price falling to Barna/Bergmann in 4; Miles and Reisman (perhaps over-confident and slacking off after leading 2-0) to the Austrians Bednar/Wunsch. However, it’s not difficult for us to believe that, according to one knowledgeable observer at these ’48 World’s, Miles and Reisman should be ranked among the Top 5 players in the world, and Nash, whose picture was on the cover of the Sept., 1948 English TTA magazine, close behind them.


*It’s not clear to me, or perhaps to Dick, what exactly Miles’s 5th game lead in the Singles over Vana was. Former U.S. Historian Leah Neuberger and future ITTF Historian Zdenko Uzorinac both say (though one may be echoing the other) he was up 16-9. This is not corroborated by Topics’ London Correspondent, Sam Kirkwood, who says only that Dick was up 17-14, and then lost four points in a row. Uzorinac goes on to say Dick was up 18-15—which, if true, means that since the final-game score was 21-18 Dick lost the last 6 points. Go figure—something’s wrong somewhere, though all three observers were at the tournament. Adding to the discrepancy, Uzorinac says that Miles’s lead over Vana in the 3rd and deciding game of the Team’s, one that Dick also lost at 18, was 17-14. Easy, after all these years, even for Miles, to mix up what actually happened in two 21-18 last-game matches against the same opponent.