News Release - BSMTTC News 146
Dateline: 18 September 2022

A Great Day Out!

What a fantastic day of table tennis! For the first time in 3 years the Club was once again able to hold its annual tournament as a one day event! Making use of the excellent facilities at Anfield Sports & Community Centre the 32 members who took part, a perfect number for the competitions, were able to play across 8 tables, which meant that we were able to complete the tournament in a single day. Ideal, as the Liverpool District League starts on Monday 19th, leaving little space to fit in any remnant of the tournament at Marine!

It was great to be able to return to including doubles in the tournament. The Fun Doubles is rightly named! And there were some very interesting pairings! Another first was the fact that this year the Club was able to include in the tournament a Junior Singles event, as there were 10 juniors attending on the day. It is fabulous to see so many new juniors coming to table tennis at Marine. Once again the Main Event was the Handicap Singles Trophy being played for the Ron Georgeson Memorial Shield. So far no player has won this shield more than once, so could the current club champion, Dermot Tierney, hold onto it for another first? The third competition for the day was the Consolation Singles (Plate), which gives a second chance to all players who fail to get through the 1st round of the Main Event. This ensured that over the day every player would get at least 7 sets of table tennis, and a minimum of 9 sets for every junior player - as all the juniors also played in each of primary events. So, there was plenty of play for everyone! Play began around 9am on Saturday morning, a time of day often not recognized by some who took part! And miraculously concluded on time by 4:30 in the afternoon! Lesley Blanchard took much of the responsibility for the control table on this occasion, and did a very good job, assisted by Club Secretary, Graham T.

The Ron Georgeson Memorial Shield was the main trophy being played for at the 2022 Club Tournament. But there were also gold and silver medals for the winners and runners-up in each of the other events, and a brand new shield presented for the inaugural junior singles trophy.

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Fun Doubles

To ensure that everyone got to play right from the start, the day began with the Fun Doubles. Four groups, each with 4 pairs and with each group playing on 2 tables meant that everyone was in action straight away. Each set was the best of 3 games up to 11, often making the third game in the set decisive! The interesting fact is that each of the groups was won decisively, and not always by who you might have expected to win! In Group 1 the decisive set was the 5th set between Julian & Sue and the teenagers, Scott & Valerii. The young boys had done well up to this point, but simply had no answer to Julian's superior skill and experience. 5 of the players in this group were playing in a club tournament for the first time. In Group 2 it was similar, 4 of the players playing in their first club tournament. In this group there were some real surprises with 16 year old Ivan, who has only recently come to the club whilst living away from his native Ukraine, who led the way even with two very experienced much higher ranked players in the group. In his partnership with Jenny Givens they didn't put a foot wrong taking all 3 sets, even if they were made to work all the way for their wins. With the top two seeds from the singles in opposing teams in Group 3 a real opportunity existed for the other two pairs! And also what a privilege for two of the youngest and newest players to be paired with, watch and learn from, two of the club's best players! Again 5 players playing in a club tournament for the first time! It was the Mark's who took the honours after some very close sets. In Group 4 a late addition to the line-up was made. Isaac, aged 8, who has only just started playing table tennis came along to watch his Dad play, but really wanted to join in! It was tough for him, but he did his best! The strong experienced pair of Steve & Bob took the group, seemingly with ease. Perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise as Steve has done very well in the Fun Doubles in the past! 

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The Main Event

From the doubles the action moved straightaway to Round 1 of the Main Event. This was played in 8 groups, with each group on a single table. Every group contained one of the 8 seeded players. One the most interesting things about all of the groups was how few people could actually add up the scores to compile the group table! Fortunately the errors of maths didn't affect the outcomes! Only the group winners would proceed to the second stage of the competition, with all those who didn't get through the first round going into a Consolation Singles (Plate). In this event all 5 games in a set are played and any handicap difference is added to the points total of the relevant player, the set is then decided on total points won and lost including the handicap. Seems simple enough, but it seemed to confound many! Clearer explanations obviously needed next time round! The tables clearly show just how important each point is when every single point counts! So, even if you loose a game or a set on games, you can still win once handicap points are added on! Nevertheless, once all the counting was done and adjusted and in some cases recounted, it was the top 8 seeds who won their respective groups, by just a single point in the case of Group 3! There was some exceptional play throughout the groups, with some of the juniors putting in tremendous performances against far more experienced players. The scene was thus set for the 4 Quarter Finals which would feature 8 of the club's best players.

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The Consolation Singles - Plate

Next to the tables were the first two rounds of the Consolation Singles. It was decided this year to make the Plate a straight knock out event, but otherwise the Plate is played in exactly the same format as the Main Event. All 5 games played in a set and handicap difference added to points won with the player with the most points including handicap winning the set. At least this meant no complex tables to compile! Ian Brownrigg made a strong start in the Plate with a good win over teenager, Valerii Maksym. But he couldn't repeat that success against Valerii's older brother, Ivan. Ivan becoming the first in the Quarter Final stage. As expected, Mark Benson came safely through the first two rounds to face Ivan in the Quarter Final. Bobby Vint had to face two lady players to move into the Quarter Final, where he would face Steve McCormick who also made straightforward progress through rounds 1 & 2. Rafal Glowacki, a new member to the club, made the most of his slightly generous handicap to fight his way through to the Quarter's where he would face Marcin Bytnar, another new member playing in his first club tournament. Another slightly unknown quantity, Mark Evans, took up the seventh spot in the Quarters where he would face teenager Izzy Boyd who had come through a very close duel with fellow teenager, Kai Morgan, to gain the last place in the Quarter Finals.

The Quarter Finals produced some really good table tennis. The experienced Mark Benson faced 16 year old, Ivan Maksym. Ivan starting with a 10 point handicap advantage. That advantage proved crucial, for although Mark won the set narrowly by 3 games to 2, Ivan did more than enough to ensure that when the handicap was added on he won the set 53pts to 48. Steve McCormick proved far too strong for Bobby Vint in the next quarter final, the handicap difference only taking Bobby up to 23pts compared to Steve's 55! Giving away 16points Marcin Bytnar was forced to work extremely hard to overcome Rafal Glowacki, but overcome him he did, 55:42. Mark Evans was the surprise winner in the fourth quarter final, not needing his 6pt handicap advantage for a 59:37 win over 13 year old Izzy Boyd, who is really showing such promise. The scene was set for the two semi-finals. 

Junior Singles

For the first time the decision was taken to include a separate Junior Singles event as part of the tournament. The 10 juniors were divided into 4 groups with each group having a 'seeded' player. The event would be a straight knock out this time with each set being the best of 5 games up to 11. Top seed, Ivan, was placed in a group on his own! In Group 2, hardly a whisker separated Daniel & Scott, but Daniel just got the edge in the first 3 games between the two to give himself a semi-final place. Group 3 produced a real surprise, with unseeded Kai Morgan continuing the excellent form he had shown in the main tournament matches to overcome Valerii 3:2 to snatch a semi-final place. And he was involved in a further titanic battle in the semi-final against No.2 seed Izzy Boyd who had sailed through Group 4. Another 5 game set, Izzy had to come back from 2:1 down to take the set 3:2. In the second semi-final Ivan made light work of Daniel with a decisive 3:0 win. In the final, played as the very last match of the tournament, Izzy seemed to let nerves get the better of her. Ivan by contrast had already come through some very tough battles, he also had the greater match play experience and composure and made this tell as he took control of the final, winning 3:0. A very worthy winner. Izzy will only get better and her day will surely come too. It was an excellent competition, and is sure to become a regular spot in the club tournament.       

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Club Chairman, Bernard Cooney, presents the new Junior Singles trophy to Ivan Maksym and Runners-Up award to Izzy Boyd. Both playing in their first Club Tournament. It was a particularly busy day for Ivan, he also reached the final of the Consolation Singles and the semi final of the Fun Doubles. 

Below is a short video selection of pictures from the Junior Singles. Hopefully all 10 players are in it somewhere! They definitely deserve to be!

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Fun Doubles Finals

The first semi-final in the Fun Doubles featured Julian Quirk & Sue Kirkwood against Ivan Maksym & Jenny Givens. Great to see two of our female players in the latter stages of the tournament. Being the only 'seeded' player in the whole of the doubles semi-finals Julian showed his class in this encounter. Shielding his partner well and allowing her to do the simple things of just keeping the ball in play. It proved an effective combination as they breezed through 2:0 in the best of 3 encounter. The second semi-final was a much closer affair, featuring the Mark's (Benson & Evans) against Steve McCormick & Bob Wolstenholme. The Mark's whistled through the first game, but were then pegged back in the second, and having got back into the match Steve & Bob were not going to give it away. The change of order halfway through the third end, to the arrangement which gave them a win in the second game, was enough to enable them to see out the game and take the set 11:8 in the third. The final was almost a reverse of this second semi-final. Steve & Bob took the first end, then somehow didn't win a point at all in the second end! Again it was the change of order at 5 in the third which gave Julian & Sue the edge to the order that had favoured them so heavily in the second game. They made the most of the change, taking the title at 11:8 in the third. New champions were crowned, and both playing in a club tournament for the first time. Sue couldn't believe it! At first she wasn't going to play in the tournament at all, but the smile on her face when she received a winners medal said it all! As did the applause for her effort in supporting Julian. A tremendous and popular win.

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Above, the new Fun Doubles champions, Julian Quirk & Sue Kirkwood being presented with their winners medals by Club Chairman, Bernard Cooney. And below a short video of all the pairs playing in the Fun Doubles. 

Consolation Singles (Plate) Finals 

The two semi-finals of the Consolation Singles provided some really good quality play and very close matches! 16 year old Ivan Maksym was again in action in the first semi-final, and his No.1 fan, his Mum, Olena, who had come along to watch was willing him on! He faced a tough challenge however in the form of Steve McCormick, and this time with only a 4 point handicap advantage in his favour. In a cagey first end Steve stole the deciding point to take the game 10:11, but Ivan showed his fighting spirit taking the next two games. The 4th end was another cagey affair, Steve just holding on for another 10:11. In the final game everything went Steve's way as he ran away with a 2:11 win. Then all the points were added up and the handicap added in. Even though Steve won 2:3 on the table in points it was 48:46 in favour of Ivan. A tremendous win for the youngster, and a place in the final.

 

In the second semi final two new comers to the club tournament faced each other, Mark Evans and Marcin Bytnar. And here Mark had a 12 point handicap advantage to work with. But there was no doubt that Marcin had the superior game. Each game was close but all 5 went in favour of Marcin and when the handicap was added on it wasn't quite enough to turn the match away from Marcin who went through to the final 55:49.

 

And what a match the final was! It couldn't have been any closer with just 1 point separating the two players after 5 games, once the 4 point handicap advantage in favour of the youngster was added in. Every game was close with Marcin taking the first 4. The fight back by Ivan in the fifth was nearly enough, but not quite! A fine win by Marcin, 50:49! A fitting climax to a very keenly contested event.      

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Club Chairman, Bernard Cooney, presents the Consolation Singles runner-up medal to Ivan Maksym (16), and the winners medal to Marcin Bytnar
More pictures from all of the singles matches can be found in the video at the end of this page.

The Main Event Finals

The 4 quarter finals of the Main Event went entirely with the 4 top seeded players and proved the extent of the gulf between 1st division players and the rest. As well as the underdogs played the top players just play better! Even with the handicap advantages which ranged from 11 to 18 points it was not enough to enable the top 4 seeds to be seriously troubled! Dermot, Colin, Sam & Julian duly took their places in the semi-finals. Indeed it was fitting that the 4 best players in the tournament should be at this stage of the Main Event. As you might expect the two semi-finals were quite different matches. Table tennis of the highest quality was on display throughout, making it well worthwhile to the crowd that had stayed on to watch these last games. In the first semi-final, reigning champion Dermot Tierney took on Julian Quirk, returning to the club after an interval of a few years. Dermot took the first two ends 11:10 & 11:6, Julian fought back taking the next two ends 9:11 & 9:11. So that after 4 ends, and taking into account Julian's 5 point handicap advantage, Julian was just ahead by 2 points. In the fifth end, Dermot just turned up the heat, starting up the booster rocket! A fabulous game ending 11:4 in favour of Dermot, enough to get him into the final 51:47.

 

The second semi-final was even closer. Colin Turner took the first two ends 4:11 & 9:11, but now Sam Pierce was warming to the match, stunning Colin by taking the next two ends 11:4 & 11:10 leaving him 4 points ahead with his handicap advantage of 5 points. Colin struck back and after some blistering table tennis took the fifth end 7:11. This left the points exactly even at 47 each! The tournament rules though say that in the event of a draw 1 extra point is added to the score of the player with the highest handicap. For the first time ever this rule was used, which meant Sam gained an extra point, and a place in the final 48:47.

 

There was some truly brilliant table tennis from both players in the grand final. Although Sam took the first end and had a 5 point handicap advantage, Dermot was totally determined to retain his crown and fought hard to take the next 4 ends. And once the sums had been added up the crown was indeed again his, 43:54. The first time a player has won the coveted trophy twice! A brilliant match and a very fitting climax to an excellent day of table tennis.    

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Club Chairman, Bernard Cooney, presents the Ron Georgeson Memorial Trophy to Dermot Tierney, champion for the second year running. He also presents the runner-up award to Sam Pierce.

Below is a short video with a selection of pictures from both the Main Event singles and the Consolation singles.