Warming to the
New Scoring
Steve Cubbins looks at the first 'official' outing of the new PSA scoring, and the players' initial reactions in Hong Kong as "PAR to 11, two clear" finally becomes a reality  ...

full coverage from Hong Kong


Bradley Ball (right) practicing for Hong Kong at a charity event in Malaysia last week


Details of the new system
which will be used at ALL PSA-sanctioned events from 29 August:

1. Each game is scored up to 11 (eleven) points, point a rally.

2. Matches are best of 5 (five) games.

3. Rest in between games to remain as per PSA rules (two minutes).

4. a). If the game score reaches 10-10 (ten all) there is no election by the receiver. A player must win the game/match by two clear points.

b). The Marker to call: "10-10 (ten-all), tiebreaker, player to win by two clear points." This announcement to be made only for the first game where the score reaches 10-all. Thereafter, the Marker to call from second game on, at 10-10 (ten-all): "10-10 (ten-all), tiebreaker."

c). The Marker to then call the score as: "11-10 game ball (or match ball)", then "11-11" (eleven-all), then "12-11 game ball (or match ball)", then "13-11 game to ** (match to **)."

d). Service to continue as per current PSA rules.

5. The game score is then recorded, for all purposes, as: 11-10 (3-1). All scores are recorded with 11 as the winning player's score.


Nicol and Power looking forward to the new system


Out with the old, In with the New

The Qualifying competition in Hong Kong marked the start of a new era with the official debut of the PSA's new "Par to 11, two clear" scoring system.

The first match played under the new regime saw qualifying top seed Olli Tuominen lose out to Bradley Ball in a scoreline of 11/7, 1/11, 11/6, 11/10 (6-4) in 48 minutes.

So in reality Bradley, whose experience playing "to 9, 2 clear" in the National League probably helped, won the fourth 16-14, but all 'tie-break' games are recorded as 11/10.

Someone clearly hasn't quite got the hang of it yet, because the official score for the next match, Raj Nanda v Ben Garner, was 11/10 (2-1), 9/11, 11/8, 11/10 (3-1).

Looking at that first game, I find myself thinking "don't you have to be two clear?"

Oh well, no doubt we'll all get used to it.

Start the Clock

From a statistical point of view the matches were certainly shorter than usual, as was to be expected.

Ranging from Azlan Iskandar's quickfire 14-minute win to Peter Barker's 79-minute 'marathon', the twenty-four qualifying matches averaged 40 minutes with a 10.7-minute average for the 90 games played.

This tallies with the Super Series Finals 'experiment', where game times reduced from 15 minutes in 2003 to 11 minutes this year.

After months of debate, now that the new system is here many of the top players seem to be broadly in favour, based on what they are saying in Hong Kong.

The Players' View

World number one Peter Nicol initially had mixed feelings about the change, but told the South China Morning Post yesterday as he prepared to open his challenge at the Hong Kong Squash Centre, "It works much better."

"It's more exciting, dynamic, more of an attacking game. There is less deadball action. We'll just have to be more adaptable."

World number two and second seed Lee Beachill said there would be "more crisis points, which will be good for people to watch", while fifth seed John White added: "It's more exciting for players and spectators."

Beachill said it would affect players' styles as "fitness doesn't come into it as much, but starts are now going to be very important".

Jonathon Power also welcomes the change to the scoring system: "For the spectators it will bring a more explosive and sustained excitement to the game. For the players, especially those maturing like myself, it will remove those dead meaningless rallies that spoiled the middles of so many matches under both the traditional nine point system and the PAR 15 point system.

"For me personally the change has the added advantage of securing my record of having always called one point in tiebreaks for all time," Power added. "I have called one point tiebreaks for 15 years and now nobody can ever outdo me."

France's Jean-Michel Arcucci, however, is concerned that the decision to write down every tiebreak game as an 11-10 result will make the game appear duller in retrospect than it actually is. "With a two point difference required some games could go into the twenties and beyond, but the record will show 11-10 with some meaningless figure like 10-8 added in brackets. It will not show how hard that contest was," he said.

Chas Evans, the New Zealand referee, is defensive of the counter-attacking elements of the traditional nine point scoring system but accepts that 11 points appears to reduce the negative spasm often activated by a game regarded as lost at , say, 10-3 under the PAR to 15 points previously employed by the PSA.

So, it's Game On in Hong Kong at the start of this
new era. More to come, that's for sure ...

Steve Cubbins