Squash Miscellany

23:42 Tue 02 Jun 2009. Updated: 12:49 02 Dec 2009
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Monika and I have been playing squash at UCSF Mission Bay for about a couple of years, but with a ruleset that was based on our past experience rather than actually looking up the rules. For the past couple of months I’ve had the responsibility of doing that looking up, but have always forgotten about it except when either at the court or on my way there. This evening I finally examined the Wikipedia entry for squash.

The two major variants for the scoring system are “English” and “American”. The former allows points to be scored only by the server; if the server loses a point, then the other player becomes the server and has a chance to score. The latter dictates that whoever wins any rally scores a point.

Apparently the “English” system is generally played to nine, but Monika and I have always played it to 15. I’m not sure where 15 came from, but I recall playing to that number at some point in the past. You have to get two points ahead to win, of course—in my opinion very few games benefit from doing otherwise, particularly if one isn’t organizing competitions that are time-constrained.

Playing to 15 with the “English” system works for us because the games are longer but not too long. Playing to 11 with the “American” system (which is the emerging standard for competitive play) is something we’ve tried, but the games seem to go too quickly. This is related to our skill level, which isn’t that good… apparently good players often have rallies lasting 30 shots. We don’t tend to have that, with many rallies lasting about three or four.

Squash has rules for obstructing the opponent, and we’re generally fairly lax on those, replaying the point (rather than awarding it in certain cases) when this seems to have occurred. One area where we appear to have gotten the official rules completely wrong is that if a player is struck by the ball, we either reply the point or award the point to the struck player—but the right way is that if the ball was travelling to the front wall when it hits a player, their opponent is awarded the point.

It’s a fun game, and I enjoy it a lot, but I really should be better at it than I am. I’m hampered partly by the fact that my strokes are all essentially modified tennis strokes, which are a liability in squash because they require more backswing and hence preparation time than would be ideal. They also take up more space, and are probably more dangerous for my opponents, although I do try to be careful about that.

I like playing it as a game primarily for fun, and don’t have ambitions to really improve at it the way I do with tennis.

It’s also a reasonable workout, although at my level of play probably not the really intense level that apparently burns 70% more calories than tennis. I still find tennis harder in a number of respects, not least in the simple aspect that the ball and racket are heavier and thus it’s physically harder to hit a shot (it’s also much more difficult in terms of coordination to hit a legal tennis shot than a legal squash shot).

2 Responses to “Squash Miscellany”

  1. Stephen Casey Says:

    My guess is that you’ve picked up the hybrid english/american scoring as a result of playing as a teenager in some summer camp or other. We played to 15, score a rally, you’ve forgotten the latter part and retained the former.

    For what it’s worth, 9 points, server scores works very well for 45 mins of exercise for two reasonably matched players playing best of 5 games. 9 points, score a rally works very well if you’ve got sponsors and advertising time to sell.

    Cock your wrist, keep your racket up at all times, play to the corner aiming for a first bounce just behind the service box. Here ends the tuition of someone who’s consistantly beaten in his league games.

    All that said, how the hell did you manage to start playing squash in The States? Raquetball seems to be by far the dominant variation, I couldn’t even find a squash racquet in the shops there.

  2. monsun Says:

    “apparently good players often have rallies lasting 30 shots. We don’t tend to have that, with many rallies lasting about three or four” – I just wanted to clarify (for those who do not know you well enough) that our rallies are so short because you are competitive and mean to me :P

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