by Ian Marshall
It is very much a refinement of the regulation passed by Congress at the 1983 World Championships in Tokyo.
In the late 1970s several new racket coverings had appeared on the market, in particular long pimpled rubber and anti-spin in various subtle guises.
Contact the ball with the side of the racket that had the traditional smooth rubber, contact with the anti-spin or long pimples, the effect was totally different.
Prior to 1983, the regulation stated that both sides of the racket must be the same colour; you could buy a Richard Bergmann racket with blue rubber, or one endorsed by the leading Swedish players of the 1960s with green or red rubber.
However, with the advent of the racket coverings, it was difficult for an opponent to detect which side of the racket had been used to make the contact. The art of “twiddling” to bamboozle the opponent became popular.
Thus, in Tokyo, the basis of the regulation was changed to two “distinct” colours but of course, the less scrupulous would argue red and maroon were distinct! It was an age of experimentation; there were even some who baked racket coverings in ovens!
Two years later when Congress met in 1985 in Gothenburg the regulation that one side had to be black, and the other red was agreed.
Now we have the first change in colours since that date and another step forward in promoting table tennis as up-to-date, as they say “cool”.
The aim now almost 40 years ago in Tokyo has been met; most importantly, in a manner pleasurable to the eye and in the best interest of table tennis.