Friday, April 16, 2010

The 5-Let Rule Passes a Test

There was quite a bit of interest in the idea of the 5-let rule (see here), which was recently given a test run at US Pro Squash's Franklin & Marshall Invitational Tournament. Many comments were rabidly against the idea, while others were more open to it. My reaction was positive, since I thought it was at least an attempt to address the fan experience, which I believe is hampered by bickering over lets. 

Guy Cipriano, long-time hardball player and doubles aficionado, was able to get a brief e-mailed comment from John White, F & M's squash director, who played in the tournament. Guy was kind enough to share White's comments with me.

White felt the experiment with 5 lets 'went well.' He noted that the 'players played more balls than normal when there was minor interference.' I think that's the principal result of this rule: players will not automatically stop when they could just as easily nudge around their opponent and get to the ball. White also said that Mike Riley, the ref, was careful to award strokes if he felt the opponent was blocking the other player, trying to force the player to use up a let call. 'This made players get out of the way more.' Another good result.... White's feeling was that the 5-let rule needed a few more trials to test its overall utility, but so far, so good.

This of course was a limited test. You had top players who were willing to give this new concept a go (including Baset Chaudry, who despite reports has apparently not given up the game of squash), and a capable ref who was prepared to handle the different dynamic that resulted from the new rule. Is this a good idea for amateur tournaments? Clearly, no. For other pro tournaments? Quite possibly yes, if further trials pan out.

While the new rule was a success, the tournament was not a success for John White. Most unfortunately, White suffered a torn plantar fascia on the bottom of his left foot in the semis, and now can be seen shuffling around in an orthopedic boot waiting to heal. Having had to wear just such a boot myself in the last few months, I deeply sympathize!

1 comment:

Sorry, but due to increasing spam, I've added the Word Verification step. My policy on comments is anything goes, as long as it is about squash and as long as it isn't unnecessarily nasty....