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… Scoring, "VOS", more …

Global Gallery, April
1, 2004

Martin Bronstein, writes this month from his
home base in London.

© 2004 All rights
reserved. photos © 2004, Suashtalk, D. Tessier,

James Willstrop
from Yorkshire: Future #1? .
photo: (©
2004 Fritz Borchert)


If you haven’t noticed already, the Yorkshire-produced BMW is set
to take over the men’s squash scene. No, not the German car, but
Beachill, Matthew and Willstrop, those three Yorkshire-bred players who,
each in an entirely different manner, are heading inexorably to the top
of the rankings. This BMW model will almost certainly comprise the next
England team, and I cannot at this point see any other country challenging

Right now they
stand at four, ten and thirteen in the PSA rankings and within two years
I expect them to be hitting the top three spots with Willstrop at one
and Beachill and

Lee Beachill:
Proven Potential from Yorkshire.
(© 2004 Debra Tessier)

Matthew joshling
for second spot..

The driver of
note for this journey is the doyen of Brit squash coaches Malcolm Willstrop
who has guided both Lee Beachill and his son James Willstrop throughout
their entire careers. Nick Matthew has had other mentors, but having a
father who ran a squash club in Sheffield wasn’t a bad start for
a squash career.

Willstrop’s skill, talent and artistry is no surprise
to anyone who saw him in his latter years as a junior. The only surprise
is how quickly he has shot through the senior rankings into the top twenty
and now banging on the door of the top ten.

We all knew that Beachill had it in him: anyone who saw
him destroy Peter Nicol in the quarters of the 2001British Open (15-7,
15-17, 15-6, 15-4) recognized his ability. His only problem was consistency
and over these last five months he has finally got it all together –
even though he always looks thin, disheveled and on the edge of death.

Nick Matthew
: Potent offenseive and defensive threat from Yorkshire.

photo: (© 2004 Debra Tessier)

It is Nick Matthew,
the quiet man, who has surprised us all. To be blunt, he was regarded
as a bit of a hacker in former years, but then last year he started to
come good and since then has been picking off higher ranked players with
regularity. He now uses a potent mix of defense and attack.. It will be
interesting to see if he can overtake Beachill; the way he has been producing
lately, it seems nothing is beyond this determined player.


So the scoring debate is back in full swing. Oh dear. This is becoming
almost as boring as the ‘does-squash-televise’ debate.

recap a brief history. First there was hand-in to nine. Then 16 years
ago the PSA changed to point-a-rally (PAR) in order to make the game simple
for the couch potatoes who would not understand the terribly complicated
rule that only the server could score a point. And then the US Colleges
decided to switch from the traditional American scoring of PAR to 15,
to traditional hand-in scoring. (Now that was a surprise). But WSF and
WISPA stuck to the hand-in to nine – the system used by most club players
throughout the world. To add a little confusion, doubles was played PAR
to 15.

Suddenly the
PSA announced that later this year they would change to PAR to 11 in an
attempt to make it more exciting (the ‘graveyard period’ from
1-10 was mentioned as being unexciting) as well as try to get matches
finished within 60 minutes, thinking once more, influenced by television.

The British
National League has been using the PAR to nine with tennis style deuce
if the score reach 8-all. And this system was used again at the inaugural
Canary Wharf Classic in March.

All the arguments that the scoring would make the games
shorter/longer, more exciting, more attacking and so on, are pure baloney.
It is true that I wrote that the squash at Canary Wharf was all-out, 100mph
attacking squash, but the tournament carried no ranking points and so
nothing could be lost in defeat. The players had a great time, not taking
things too seriously. After all John White took a game off Lee Beachill
in 3 ½ minutes. Trust me, that would never happen in a ranking

I’ve written
this a few times before – in fact, I have written it so often I
am getting bored by the sound of my own computer:


Players create the game, not the rules, nor the scoring.

At Canary Wharf one match lasted around 30 minutes, another
almost ninety. In the British Leagues there have been some mammoth battles
that went almost two hours – and that was playing PAR to nine.

So where do we go from here. To the magic number nine.
Comments from many of the top players and other informed sources are all
in favour of using nine as the finish line, so that there is a uniformity
in scoring right across the board. It only needs the WSF to make a courageous
step to change doubles scoring to nine and we would have that conformity.
(The quicker the better: most doubles to 15 are just a bore and when played
on singles court, as most are in Britain, the constant string of lets
make watching a paint dry an attractive proposition.)

I am quite sure
that within a couple of years the PSA will come down to nine and the conformity
that the WSF tried to get to make squash more attractive to the IOC will
happen, even if some play hand-in and others PAR. Perhaps Ted Wallbutton
should try to push through the change to doubles scoring before he resigns.
He will be remembered for it.


Robert Edwards, who coyly bills himself as The Voice of Squash, once told
a WSF executive, that he had no ego. How about this from a Bermuda newspaper
after the Bermuda Open.

“For a first time tournament this has to rank as
the best in the world,” said the Voice of Squash Robert Edwards,
who described his pre-match introductions and compering as “the
cream, with the players being the cake”.

He also once
said that the Irish Open (which he ‘ran’) was better run than
the Tournament of Champions. The Irish Open is now a WISPA tournament
and the TOC is considered the most exciting event on the calendar.


Do you remember Buck Rogers? No? Ask your father. When I went to the movies
every Saturday morning, Buck Rogers was the science fiction serial. The
backgrounds and architecture were staggeringly different. When I came
out of the subway on Canary Wharf, I looked around and realized the future
had arrived. The only thing missing was Buck Rogers and his spaceship.

Canary Wharf, London’s wonderfully revitalized docklands
(the vision of a Canadian), is staggering in its size and scope. The buildings
just soar and the use of glass reminds me a little of downtown Toronto.
The East Winter Gardens where the Canary Wharf Classic was held, is one
of the newest structures, a soaring glass and metal arch. Next time you
are in London, get on the Jubilee Line and go to Canary Wharf –
it’ll knock your socks off and dazzle your senses.

If one of the many financing companies who are based in
Canary Wharf doesn’t grab that tournament and put some real money
into it for next year, the world is mad.