In The Red Open
April 25, 1999

The MIT Table Tennis Club named its annual spring tournament the “In The Red Open”. The name is explained by the fact that the club bought 14 Butterfly Europas this year (we run tournaments to pay for tables and we buy tables to run tournaments—a vicious cycle). Since I didn’t want to run tournaments on old tables or, even worse, a mix of old and new tables (suddenly every match produces a discussion between the control desk and the players regarding table assignment), I loaned the club the necessary funds.

This time, we had 93 players, down from the 118 players we had at our fall tournament. However, 118 is more than we can really handle considering the number of tables and time that we have. On Saturday night, I estimated that we would finish a bit after 8 p.m. (351 entries minus 18 events times 23 minutes per match divided by 14 tables plus 1 hour plus the 10 a.m. start), and we actually finished a bit after 9 p.m. In the last match, Stacy Schoenberg defeated Doug Smith 13, 9 to win the Under 1925. Stacy had come from N.Y. to visit MIT because she will be applying to MIT as her first choice for college. Stacy defeated the #1 seed Yin Wang (1922) in the semifinal −18, 10, 16. Stacy also got to the semifinals of the Under 2025, but lost to Benno van Dalen (from MIT) 19, −19, 16. Benno won the event defeating Michael Lazarev in the final 16, 16. Thirteen year old Yin Wang (1922) had a tough day, losing to Stacy (1799), Michael Lazarev (1759), and Xue Di (1943). On the other hand, Yin had wins over Jose Borges (1716), Steve Yee (1687), and Doug Smnith (1866). Yin spent the day pleading with us to run the doubles events, but considering the number of entries, we (wisely) declined.

Many players commented on how well organized the tournament was, usually adding “as always”. We used double clipboards and, with the computer tracking who was playing, never paged someone who was already playing a match or who was out to lunch. This was the first tournament that I used my new computer and laser printer (replacing my decade-old 386 and dot matrix printer). The new laser printer was a joy, but since the software has its roots in 1985, it had a couple of annoying, but not serious, incompatibilities with the new computer. I hope it holds out until I can find time to do a new, Windows version.

Donald Hayes and Alex Landsman ran the control desk with me, and Daniel Wang showed up to help with breakdown. Both Donald and Alex played while commenting (again) that it was a poor idea to play in a tournament that one is running. This is a lesson I learned many years ago. We conscripted David Wong’s children Doreena and Michael to help run the desk. Children seem to find running tournaments fun.

Todd Chen (13 years old) lost in the final of the Under 1625 to Garry White 17, 18 (but Todd defeated Garry −9, 6, 11 in the Under 1825). Todd didn’t like the name of the tournament, much preferring the name of our fall tournament: Beantown Pro Duck Tour.

Conditions in MIT’s du Pont gym were good with a wood floor and a very high ceiling. The lighting is normally mediocre, but this time several burned-out bulbs made it somewhat worse. MIT informed me that a work order to replace the bulbs had already been submitted and the bulbs would no doubt be replaced before final exams! (The gym is pressed into service for exams during finals week.)

There was no enforcement of the serve rules. Donald (the Chief Umpire) and I (the Referee) have no idea how to solve this problem. Almost no one seems willing to umpire and even when we come up with an umpire, we are unable to convince the umpire to enforce the rules.

The first seed, Liang (Vincent) Liung (rated 2212), showed up three hours late. Seems his car had been towed and he’d spent the day retrieving it. He was still in time to play the Handicap event where he promptly lost to Mark Hamilton (rated 1767) 51–49, thus ending his day. Mark said that Liang took it easy on him since Liang was way behind, but then almost caught up. No doubt Liang had other things on his mind.

In the Open Singles, Kurt Douty (the #3 seed) took advantage of Liang’s absence to get to the finals without losing a game. There he defeated the #4 seed Artur Samek −19, 20, 14. Artur defeated the #2 seed Kwing Yiu (Albert) Lau in the semis 15, 17. Kurt and Artur then played a rematch in the Under 2225, but the result was the same with Kurt winning 18, 18.

Eugene Shuster (an MIT graduate student) defeated Inna Laskova −19, 16, 20 to win the Under 2125. Matt Despathy won both the Under 1025 and the Under 1125. Jim Baird helped slow down the tournament by winning the Under 1325 and getting to the semifinals of the Under 1425, the final of the Under 1525, and the semifinals of the 1625. To help speed up the tournament, Jim defaulted out of the quarters in the Handicap. Thanks, Jim. The Handicap was won by Garry White, 1583. Garry also won the Under 1625 and got to the semifinals of the Under 1725. Michael Atighetchi defeated Hiroe Hayashi (from Japan) 12, 15 in the Unrated Singles. David Cheung made his return to Massachusetts. David graduated from MIT, but had been living in Maryland where he grew up. David lost in the semifinals of the Under 2125 to Eugene Shuster 12, 19 and again to Eugene in the quarterfinals of the Under 2225 −17, 16, 17.

The only complaint that we had was from a parent who, in the evening (after the child lost a match), told us quite vociferously that the schedule was unfair because players had to wait longer between matches in the morning than in the evening. Since the schedule was the same for everyone and since we were running eighteen single elimination events and thus, naturally, the wait between matches is greater in the early rounds than in the later rounds, neither Alex, Donald, nor I understood why the schedule was unfair. This parent had made similar complaints about our lack of fairness at the fall tournament.

We sold twenty-eight memberships of which eighteen were first-time members. The next tournament the club will host will be the Bay State Games (Massachusetts State Olympics) on July 17. After that, we plan to hold a USATT-santioned tournament in the fall.