The rally-tally-ometer

In games where a ball or other mobile object is shuttled back and forth between players according to defined rules, the exchanges constitute a rally, which ends when one of the players breaks one or more of the conditions, declaring the other as the winner.

Despite the high entertainment value of long rallies, the length of the rally typically has no effect on the score awarded to the winner.  Counting the number of returns in an exciting game would have been fraught with difficulty, but with the universal availability of sophisticated technology, this need no longer be the case. In one little-known, sport, table squash, rally counting is extremely simple to implement, because each exchange causes a single impact of the ball on the wall board, and, given the initial identity of the server, each impact can be attributed to the player who delivered it. In addition the time between impacts can be recorded. This can be used to design a number of new scoring systems, previously too unwieldy to handle.

As in the case of its parent sport, table tennis, the service alternates every 5 games, and every 10 games the players change court.  In table squash the ball is served onto the player’s home court, to bounce off the wall board and land on the opponents’s court. It is then returned either directly or indirectly to the wall board to land on the opponent’s court. The rallytallyometer (RTO) can be set to keep the score automatically, the only required input being the identity of the first sever, but it can also introduce new rules and scoring procedures. The original intention was to use it to score on the number of returns in the rally, herein called the rallytally and to identify the player whose tally first exceeds a chosen target number. However bearing in mind the historical fact that in one international table tennis competition where the first rally of the first game lasted for two hours and, in consequence, the rules were modified to limit the length of rallies, it might be judicious to devise other limits. One attractive approach is to time the returns and at a certain stage in the rally, set the condition that subsequent return times must be either shorter (the fast game) or longer (the slow game) than the preceding return.  

Only when a body of experience has been accumulated will it be possible to tell if any of these approaches increases player satisfaction and encourages the development of new strategies and whether or not these developments might be applicable to other such sports.

Currently the RTO is under construction by James Sinclair.