4 years ago
Here is an interesting article written by Glenn O'Dea. Said to be inspired by Jeff's love of numbers. Don't encourage him Glenn!!
Glenn is the editor of the popular Melton (in Victoria, Australia) Table Tennis Newsletter, Across the Net. If you would like to subscribe to the interesting newsletter contact Glenn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now it's time for some simple maths. What? You didn't know that table tennis had any maths in it? Well, you have been misled, my friend. Allow me to explain.
I was thumbing through a catalogue the other day, and my thoughts wandered to combinations. How many different types of table tennis bat can you buy? How many different types of rubbers? Although I wasn't seriously involved in the sport back then, I have read reports from the mid-seventies that there were very few players who used anything except Sriver or Mark-V rubbers, so it would seem that the market was much more limited.
But now players have so much choice that even the experts would have trouble explaining the difference between the relative benefits of Shifter, Shifter Powersponge, Saviga, Super Power, Slice 40, Sonex JP, SP Transcend, SST, Super FX, Sapphira, Spin Art, Sriver, Sriver EL, Sriver FX, Sriver G2, Sriver G2-FX, Sriver G3, Sriver G3-FX, Super Anti, Sharping, Skyline TG2 Neo, Skyline TG3 Neo, Shark, Sigma I Pro, Sigma II Euro, Sigma III Pro, Shadow, Six Shooter Magnum, Six Shooter Pro, Super 40 Defense, Super 40 Defense Soft, Super SpinPips, Sirocco SF, Snowflake Long Pimples, Snowflake Special Long Pimples, Soft Anti Special, Soft Anti- Spin Special, Spring 3B, just to name some of the available rubbers which start with the letter ‘S’.
Browsing through the online catalogue of a well-known, reputable table tennis supplier, I found 650 different types of blade. The same supplier listed 635 different types of rubber. So here's where the maths comes in. The possible number of combinations of blade and rubber is 650 times 635, right? That's a possible 412,750 different combinations. But wait, there's more. You don't have to have the same rubber on both sides of your bat. So we can take that figure and multiply it again by 635. This gives a staggering 262,096,250 different combinations of blade and rubber for you to choose from.
And let's not forget that the vast majority of these rubbers also come in a variety of thicknesses, so the figure could be far greater than the over 262 million that I've calculated. Plus the fact that there are blades and rubbers available through other sources which I haven't considered. The actual number of combinations could easily exceed half a billion
And you wouldn't buy a car without kicking the tyres, would you? So you'll want to try out these 262 million various combinations, right? Have a hit for about 5 minutes with each one to work out what suits you? Well, you should probably get started fairly soon. To spend 5 minutes trying each combination you will need to be at the table for just over 2,493 years. And that's if you're playing 24 hours a day with no breaks.
So when someone tells you that they've found the perfect combination of blade and rubber for their game, check their birth certificate. If they're less than 2,000 years old, they haven't really been trying.
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