Thursday, January 27, 2011


I'm a big fan of the Tournament of Champions (ToC) and check it out obsessively each year when it rolls into Grand Central Terminal (GCT), a beautiful building from where I have the pleasure of commuting every day.

Unfortunately, this year the ToC hit as I've been suffering from a very stubborn case of bronchitis, so I only went to one match and hacked and coughed my way through it, not really enjoying the experience. (I went with none other than Schumacher, my arch-squash foe.... Grrrrrr. We ate at the Oyster Bar, so I can report that he slurps his oysters. I also saw Teddy C, working the entryway as a volunteer, who refused my bribe to get in free! What kind of a New Yorker is that guy?)

Early on I picked Nick Matthew to win it all, because I think he is in the best shape of all the top players, and he is as on-form as any of them. But he will have to go through Ramy Ashour to get the title, and that will not be easy. The one match I watched was Ashour dismantling the efforts of David Palmer, and the impression I had was that Palmer was nothing more than a gnat buzzing around annoyingly in Ashour's face, until SWAT!.... he was taken care of.

One question that one might fairly ask is whether the current discord that is roiling Egypt might possibly have an effect on Ashour's concentration. Surely he is hearing from friends in Egypt about what is going on, and no matter which way his political sensitivities go, he must be at least concerned. So the Tunisia-like riots must add on yet another layer of complexity for Ashour as he seeks to outdo Matthew in tonight's final.  Good luck to you, Egypt!

Although I have not been able to cover the ToC, a fellow New York City blogger has, and has done a splendid job. Check out this site for some great interviews and photos.

Monday, January 24, 2011

PST: From One Court To Another

Working on the theory that a lawsuit against the PSA would just enrich the lawyers, the Pro Squash Tour's Joe McManus recently announced that he was dropping his suit and would concentrate his efforts on the court of squash rather than the court of law. I asked him a couple of questions:

1. Where does this decision leave the original points of contention? For instance, the PSA did not like the fact that you ranked your players. Will that continue?
"In October 2010, the PSA banned their members from playing PST tournaments. After three months of negotiation, we came to the conclusion that an agreement wasn’t possible. To win the lawsuit would have taken as long as two years and over $100,000. We decided to spend the money on players instead of legal fees and withdrew the court case.
Regrettably, the ban forced us to defend ourselves and compete against the PSA. Before the ban, we viewed the association as a friendly group who shared our interest in growing the fan base for pro squash. Now their public and private actions have created a divide.
PSA is run by ex-PSA players. But their recent decisions are hurting the ability of current players to earn more money playing squash. In the fullness of time, this moment will be viewed as a stain on the PSA’s history. We continue to call on PSA to lift this ban. PSA changes leadership frequently enough. Maybe, the next group will be more thoughtful."
2. Is the PSA continuing to ban players who play in the PST, as they announced back in October? 
"PSA isn’t telling its players what the punishment is for competing in our tournaments.
Ned Marks, a PSA member, played in our Connecticut Open. PSA suspended him for a month as a result and pulled his entry from the Tournament of Champions. No one is truly sure if that should be viewed as a precedent-setting moment. They don’t really value transparency in their operations.
Our next tournament is the Westchester Open. There are 16 players registered. 6 of them were PSA members as of December. We have 3 players registered for February’s Baltimore tournament who were listed as PSA members in December. PSA is going to lose a lot of membership dues if they continue with this ill-conceived ban.
PST does not charge players to compete in our events. Our players are professionals who earn money competing in our tournaments."
3. In what ways has the PST changed so that the court case is no longer an issue for the PSA? 
"Pro Squash Tour is unchanged, except that we continue to grow."
4. I'm assuming your competitions will continue to be no-let matches, is that right?
"Absolutely. Once you’ve see what the pros can do without the hindrance of a let, you don’t want to go back to the old style of play."
5. You also announced a $100,000 signing bonus for a top-ten player from the PSA to jump ship and play the PST. Any bites? An excellent blog at, proposes that Thierry Lincou might go for it. 
"I have spoken to four players. Each asked for confidentiality. For the moment, I need to leave it at that. Brett wrote a very fair and thoughtful piece. He’s a good guy who loves the game. Squash has the benefit of having some very reasoned bloggers. 
Regarding Thierry Lincou. He is a professional’s professional. If you need him to be somewhere at 3:00, he arrives at 2:55.  He is more reliable than a sundial. He also plays the game in the manner it was intended to be played, and he is one of the best players in the world. I believe he could win another World Open or World Series. However, if he chooses to join PST, we would enthusiastically welcome him as the face of our tour. 
We intend to make the person who accepts our offer the most famous squash player in the world’s largest market." 
6. You announced that you are also starting an apparently separate entity called Premier Squash Tour. Is that correct, or will the Pro Squash Tour become the Premier? Can you give any specifics on how you see this new Tour developing? 
"Premier Squash will provide exclusive squash experiences tailored to the desires of the host. We do not anticipate publicizing these events and will do a select few of these each year."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's Alive!

The original posting has been removed because the blog was about a squash site that no longer exists. 

Please check out the latest postings here: The Squashist

Monday, January 17, 2011

The ATCO World Series Squash Final Goes Pffffffttt.....

I'm normally pretty sympathetic to organizations, particularly those involved with squash, which run into unavoidable trouble and have to scramble. I don't want others to act like a jerk to me and I hope I'm not a jerk to others. For instance, I'm in the publishing business, and sometimes ads don't work out quite the way the customer wanted them to. So we run a make-good, or an extra ad in the next issue, or something to let them know we have their best interests at heart. Usually everything works out fine.

Nonetheless, the news that the finals of the ATCO World Series Squash Finals will be indefinitely postponed due to a technical issue with the inflatable building in which they were playing the series elicits very little sympathy from me. So, here comes the jerkiness....

When I originally read that the tournament had created this very odd bubble venue my first thought was, 'Why, dear god, why?' You are playing in one of the great cities of the world, and you create a microenvironment that displays none of the city other than the inside of some latex?

And typically for the PSA, they have released short, constipated press releases that fail to discuss exactly what happened, when the final might possibly be played, who was the fellow responsible for the big balloon, what did it cost, will they get their money back, etc... 

I have an idea; both finalists, Matthew and Shabana, will be attending the upcoming Tournament of Champions in NYC -- not in a bubble, but in the magnificent Grand Central Terminal. I say start the tournament off with their final, giving them a bye to recover into the second round. We New Yorkers will show the PSA how these things should be done....

If the sport of squash wants to play with the big boys it will have to do better than this. I'm embarrassed, actually. This sport needs better than this...    

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Schumacher, Arrrrgh!!$!#$Y%$Y^@!!

Well, I played this fellow Schumacher, and once again the lazy dog beat me.

You have to understand that this Schumacher guy is at heart a phenomenally lazy player, really fantastically lackadaisical, perfectly content to shoot whenever possible and avoid running around the court, which might somehow upset his delicate equilibrium. He’s well known for this tactic, and, unfortunately, he’s successful at it, a good A player.

When you play someone as lazy as Schumacher, you can’t help but be drawn into his game. I’m not playing my game out there, I’m suddenly shooting along with Schumacher, trying to out-shoot Schumacher, even trying to out-Schumacher Schumacher, and that takes me well out of my comfort zone and into his. Which explains why he does a lot of laughing on the court when we play.

Ha ha. Very funny.

Schumacher is a ridiculous player but I will eventually get him. I will. Schumacher, I hope you are reading this. Be forewarned. As soon as I smoke you on the court the whole world will know. Ha ha, now that's very funny!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Gott Nytt år och Fred På Jorden!

That's Swedish for 'Happy new year and peace on earth,' a wish that seems to crop up every year about this time and which gets subsequently dashed among the sharp rocks of reality sometime during the first week of January. Oh well, keep hoping, people....

As the year has ended it is good to look back and wrap up a blog or two from the past year. Recently I highlighted the possible demise of the squash courts at the Printing House, a NYC club. Despite a concerted effort, those clubs are indeed history. A corporate fitness group bought the club and, in their genius, told the squash players to take a hike. I hope they do....

The PSA and the Pro Squash Tour are still at loggerheads. There apparently has been some discussion between the two organizations in an attempt to settle their jurisdictional dispute amicably, and these talks have not been without some success, but in the end fundamental differences persist. It looks likely that this will be decided in court. Meanwhile, the PSA and John Nimick will soon put on the fantastic show known as the Tournament of Champions; I'll be there, still irritated by the PSA's stance but too enticed by this great tournament.

Some things don't change: the incomparable Nicol David, the greatest twinkle in the squash firmament, is still number one, and is likely to remain so as long as she can maintain her focus (Question: Why isn't there a women's ToC?). And Nick Matthew is again number one on the men's side, as he was early last year. He seems to be in the best shape of all the men at the moment and I pick him to win the ToC; sorry James Willstrop!

A bad thing that happened last year: the squash world lost SquashZAG, which was a much-needed and much-appreciated addition for squash's chattering classes. Squashsite is a good site, I log on every day, but could we get another decent squash news site that would add another voice? Please? There are some good blogs out there, and some non-news squash sites that are interesting (here's one: check out South Africa's own SquashBall site), but no other major English-language squash news site. And could a major sports firm put the money needed to push squash up a notch in the sports world's conciousness? And make a lot of money in the process? Hellllloooo, Nike, is anyone home over there????

Personally, I've had a tough year physically, especially early on, with nagging injuries and, in January 2010, an ankle operation. But I'm feeling better lately, partially as a result of finally getting it through my thick skull that I can't play 4 or 5 times a week anymore, I'm not that young anymore, and that 1 or 2 good squash matches a week may be the best approach for me (with 1 or 2 tennis matches thrown in for spice). The end result is: I'm still having a great time out there on the court, still playing pretty damn well, and looking forward to the next time. 

Which in my case will be this Monday morning against my old nemesis Schumacher -- man, he bugs me. I must get Schumacher....