PSA New Scoring:
GAME ON ... 
Steve Cubbins plays the new scoring game
With the Summer recess in place (is it me, or does it seem even longer this year?), now seems a good time to have a look at the new PSA scoring system - how the trials went, what the interested parties think, and the prospects for the systems in use for the coming season.

Since there's precious few squash matches to enjoy at the moment, we might as well make a game of it,
and whatever scoring system we use, we always start at:


The game started on 9th March with the original announcement of the move to "PAR to 11, 2-clear at 10-all". The PSA stole an early lead here, since it came as something of a shock, even to many of the players, who had not been generally consulted.

The race to Hong Kong (where the system was to be introduced in September) was on, with the PSA seemingly taking on all-comers and leaving the WSF's task force in its wake.

The opposition's cry of "I wasn't ready!" received short shrift from the referee.

Reaction to the move came quickly. Ian McKenzie, WISPA and the WSF landed the early blows ("a move too far", "we continue to be aligned with the game as a whole", "not entirely pleased"), but Super League's Dave Howell struck back with "we applaud this decision".

The newcomer was pegged back, but assistance was on the way ... with a sting in the tail.

The new system was to be trialled at the Super Series Finals in May, but even before then another, different, new system emerged as the inaugural Canary Wharf Classic used "Par to 9, 2-clear at 8-all", and added best-of-seven  in the final for good measure.

Reaction to the lower target was good, with attacking squash prevailing, and fears of too-short matches proving largely unfounded. Match times ranged from 27 to 80 minutes. The best of seven final took 87 minutes. The organisers admitted that 'best of five would have been fine", and went on to throw their weight behind a universal target of nine (Canary Organisers Prefer Nine).

"I think the decision was hasty," said Peter Nicol, "that it should have been tried first. We [the players] were not consulted, and I think itís a mistake. Why couldn't they wait for this tournament, to see how PAR to 9 would stand in a big event?. We should only have scoring up to 9."
Another winner from the world number one.

Shortly after that, news leaked out that the WSF had decided that doubles should in future be played to 9 rather than 15. It was almost as if someone in the crowd had distracted the newcomer as he slipped further behind.

  Time Out 
So the early lead had disappeared, with the odds seemingly stacked against the new kid on the block. But the rest of the game was likely to be played on his home courts. London's Broadgate Arena for the Super Series Finals, the first outing for the new system, was where the comeback began.

The results of the change, at least in terms of match times, were surprisingly simple. Average game time dropped from 2003's 15 minutes to 11 minutes - coincidentally corresponding with the points required to win the respective games.

In terms of scheduling and spectator enjoyment it was a success. Close matches were long enough for stamina to be an issue, and each session finished before the crowd decided it was time to retire to the bar for last orders.


Other 'unofficial' trials included May's Cleethorpes Invitation event and the BSPA Grand Prix Finals. Momentum seemed to be growing. Although no ranking points had yet been at stake, it looked like supporters might be able to cheer the new boy home.

Leaving aside for a moment the arguments about playing time and match tactics, one issue arising from the trials is the simple recording of the score.

At Canary Wharf they used the 'deuce/advantage" method, with all matches that went to 'deuce' being recorded 10/9. Easy. PSA is treating the tie-break as a mini-game, the winner being credited with an 11/10 win and the 'tie-break' score in brackets.

So, X bt Y 11/7, 10/11 (4-6), 11/10 (2-0), 11/8.

Is the way scores may look next season, which might cause a few problems with old marking sheets, scoreboards, and teletext pages.

And what about the referees - what do they think? Match Referee Linda Davie's 'favourite' system is Par to 9, but marker John Masarella 'hates' it. Yes, Let, here then.
What the refs think

It seems pretty clear that the PSA's objective of reducing match times will be achieved (although the odd 26-24 tie-break would again wreak havoc with schedules). For the other aims we'll have to wait until a few more tournaments have used the system, but the roof certainly hasn't fallen in.

  9/9    GAME BALL ???
So who's in favour? The PSA, obviously, and some players. But the WSF really doesn't like it, WISPA seems dead set on staying with 'standard', National League and Super League look certain to stay with their "2-clear at 8-all" method, and there are rumours of a player revolt.

So will we really end up with a myriad of scoring systems, differing by sex, class of event, organisers' whim, phase of the moon etc? Or will everyone rally round to the common cause.

This game's not over - we've not even decided if it's up to 9, 11 or 15, so we can only finish as we began;




Writing in issue 2004-04 of The Squash Player, Ted Wallbutton of the WSF and Gawain Briars of the PSA have differing views on the matter, as you can tell from these extracts:

Can you imagine watching tennis and seeing the top players use a different scoring system from the club player?

The WSF is totally committed to the concept of one scoring system.

Moving from 15 point PARS to 11 point PARS does nothing to overcome this problem.

Standard, hand-in, hand-out, to 9, with the best of three up to the quarter-finals and best of five thereafter would work well.

Full text of the PSA/WSF articles

The reasons for this change are many and varied; and I say that this has been a weighty decision taken with great care and respect for the opinions of our sister organisations.

Fundamental scoring issues concerning the length of matches, player injuries, player match tactics, maintaining momentum in matches, reaching for a more dynamic and attacking style of game but without straying far from the traditions of stamina, line and length, greater appeal to audiences both live and televised, assisting promoters and sponsors with their scheduling, all these have been brought to bear in reaching this decision.

We do consider that a further reduction from 11 would be too far away from traditional values.

The proposal that a uniform world scoring system to 9 points would enhance squash's Olympic appeal is, I believe, erroneous.

Full text of the PSA/WSF articles




Super Series Scoring Analysis

Year Matches Avge Games Avge
2004 14 44m 53 11m
2003 13 62m 61 15m




Scoreboard work needed ?





Now: PAR to 15, set 1 or 3
New: PAR to 11, 2 clear
Standard to 9
Standard to 9
International Doubles:
PAR to 9
Standard to 9
PAR to 9, 2 clear
Women standard to 9
PAR to 9, 2 clear