Table Tennis Tidbits #44

By Robert Ho | Feb. 23, 2019, 12:39 p.m. (ET)


Not Losing vs Winning

At the 2018 China Championships, Wu Yang, currently the top woman chopper in the world played teammate Ding Ning, twice Women’s World Champion, and an Olympic champion.  Although they have had numerous close matches, I’m not aware that Wu has ever beaten Ding.  In this match, Ding won 4-0.

During the whole match, Wu used her FH serve from her BH corner 3 times in a row during game 2 and won the point twice; the third time she lost the point and the game.  During the rest of the match she used her BH serve from a more central position at the table and assumed “defensive positions” away from the table sometimes using modulated topspin returns but usually chopping returns.

Except for the 3 occasions when she used the “3 ball attack”, one may say she was depending on her “defensive moves” to not lose the point.  The fact that she won the point 2 out of the only 3 times she employed the “3 ball attack” raises the question why she didn’t employ this maneuver more often.  It is also ironic that Wu lost the point as many as 8 times with a chopping error during games 1 and 3, a major factor in her losing those games.

Against competitors from countries outside China, Wu has a very high success rate.  Against her teammates who have developed offensive maneuvers to the highest levels, she often falls short.  This is an argument for using chopping primarily as a prelude to attack, alluded to in Tidbits # 32.  This is the difference between a chopping strategy—winning by not losing the point but awaiting the opponent’s error, versus the tactic of  chopping as a prelude to attack or setting up an attack to actively win the point.   In addition the 3 ball attack becomes an important element in the more common “chopping style” of play.