Friday, February 23, 2024

Squash Mad Comment: Harsh rule opens the door to some odd calls

Nour El Sherbini on the attack against Camille Serme in the World Series Finals

Camille Serme is punished for opening the court door in Dubai
By KIEFER WAITE – Squash Mad Corespondent

The first semi-final match of the World Series Finals between Nour El Sherbini and Camille Serme was unfortunately overshadowed by a slightly silly rule that has been recently implemented by the PSA.

In a very close and exciting third game, the score stood at 8-6 to El-Sherbini. Serme accidentally caught El Sherbini with the racket while hitting the ball and stopped the rally to ask for a let.

Without getting into the nuances of this decision, Serme was given a let but was evidently hoping to be awarded a stroke. Serme then opened the door and very politely asked for an explanation from the referee. The French star was immediately punished with an automatic conduct stroke for opening the door. Serme was now down 9-6, and the match ended with a whimper as the energy was sucked from the building and El Sherbini cruised to victory.

Although she finished out the match like a consummate professional, one can’t help but feel as though the result was stolen from Serme (below). From a viewer’s perspective, this single decision overshadowed what was an otherwise very exciting match.

This should have been the exact kind of match that would be a great advertisement for the quality of the PSA World Tour right now, with two players from different parts of the world playing contrasting styles of squash pushing each other to the limits with very few decisions and stoppages of play.

Instead, the match ended up with the crowd booing the decision and both Nour El Sherbini and Joey Barrington commenting on the confusing nature of the decision in post-match interviews.

The problem with this rule is that the referee has no discretion as to when they can award conduct strokes. For matches televised on SquashTV, the referees very rarely go to code of conduct when players are arguing, blocking, or otherwise misbehaving on court; however, under the current rules, a simple opening of the door to better hear what the referee is saying warrants a conduct stroke no matter the context.

A player opening the door to scream at the referee is punished the same as Serme’s polite request for a clarification of a decision (which, I might add, was never given).

To be fair, the blame can’t be placed squarely on the referee, Roy Gingell, as he is simply following the word of the rule book. Would Gingell have awarded a conduct stroke to Serme if he had been able to use his own discretion? Not a chance!

The PSA has demonstrated that they are willing to tinker with rules to improve the presentation of squash. For example, the fact that the referees have been forcing players to start immediately after coming on court between games keeps the action flowing and makes for a better viewing experience with less down time.

But although positive changes have been made on cleaning up certain aspects of the game, any rule that rewards an automatic conduct stroke will, in my books, inevitably create problems.

Given that the referees we see on SquashTV are the top officials in the world, we do not need to be tying their hands by forcing automatic code of conduct penalty points; they are capable of making such decisions themselves based on the context of the call within the match.

As a viewer of squash, the primary things that I don’t like to see are excessive stoppages in play and excessive arguing with referees. While referees do have the ability to, at the very least, mitigate these issues by awarding conduct points, the fact of the matter is that referees very rarely go to code of conduct when players are blatantly blocking or behaving badly on court.

To see a player punished with code of conduct for opening the door to politely ask for an explanation of the rules is a particularly difficult pill to swallow when thinking of some of the blatant blocking that often occurs on SquashTV that goes unpunished (and even rewarded).

From this viewer’s perspective, if the PSA is interested in improving their product for the casual squash fan, they should be looking at reducing the amount of blocking that occurs on SquashTV and resort to code of conduct perhaps more often, but always at the discretion of the referees based on the context of the match. 

Commonwealth Games calls cause confusion

Readers are invited to join the debate and add their comments below  

Pictures by PATRICK LAUSON and PSA 


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  1. A well-written account. It would be helpful if the squash media could also comment on the “legal basis” for such ruling decisions, and who the people are who are coming up with these rules – they clearly need to consult more with the wider squash community.

    Is this “rule” actually a rule, or a guidance note to referees? What does the “rule” actually say? If we need this “rule”, why haven’t the WSF rules of squash been changed? Do we really need one set of “rules” for the PSA, and another for the rest of us?

    PS: Re “forcing players to start immediately after coming on court between games keeps the action flowing and makes for a better viewing experience with less down time” – no-one is forced to start immediately after coming on court, are they – they just need to get on court in good time if they want a quick knock-up, and be ready to start play when time is called. In any case, I think this makes little or no difference to most viewers

  2. On the wider point, about trying to sterilize the sport by (apparently) stamping out all interaction between the players and the referees. Forget about misguided attempts to appease some faceless IOC apparatchiks – they’re only interested in money, at the end of the day, and the Olympics are in any case a blight on society.

    The contentious decisions are one of the dramatic features of the sport. There’s nothing worse than paying to sit in the crowd, or tuning in online, and not being able to hear what point the player is making. It can also add perspective for the spectators (and refs) by drawing attention to e.g. cynical movement by an opponent.

    If players go over-the-top, the referees already had the discretion to deal with that, and just needed to use it.

    If and when there really is bad behaviour, that’s also part of the drama and publicity for the sport (witness John McEnroe, Nick Kyrgios in tennis). The disciplinary fines etc are in any case pretty trivial – that’s a governing body issue, not a refereeing issue

    • I would agree with your point that the banter between players and referees is something that should be preserved as it adds drama to the game and displays personality of the players.

      Im not sure that bad behaviour or controversial decisions add to the drama of squash. In my neck of the woods in Canada, we were witness to the longest match in history between Shawn DeLierre and Leo Au at the Medicine Hat PSA tournament in 2015 at 170 minutes. You might think this was an epic match, but the response from the crowd watching was that the match was, more than anything, boring, as there was let after let being called. The sponsors, whose were casual squash fans, were very confused with what was happening and left about half way through the match.

      I would argue that fans (such as myself) appreciate matches that end on epic and fair rallies, rather than on controversial calls.

      • Well, the player-referee exchanges will be difficult to preserve when people can’t hear what’s being said (because opening the door is a sin)!

        There will always be boring matches, and DeLierre v Au and the interaction of their two styles on that particular day, may not be the top draw at the box office.

        The behaviour and decisions can’t have been really bad or controversial, can they, if people found them boring? (Perhaps they could be, if considered as a whole, rather than each individual incident.) Most decent refs are able to deal with excessive requests for lets, I think. Not sure how much casual squash fans would appreciate an attritional, stalemate squash match in any case, even if there wasn’t a single refereeing decision

      • Interesting you reference that particular match between Shawn DeLierre and Leo Au. One key point to address here is that that match was marked by a player, not a qualified referee. In such circumstances, I wonder if it should qualify for an official world record.

        • Surely the record should have even “higher” status in your view Alan, given your dubious contention that the weaknesses of refereeing is due to them not being PSA pros!

          • James. I’m disappointed that you have used part of a private conversation and completely taken it out of context in this fashion. The point I made to you in private was that, despite several years of liaison between the PSA and referees, not a single ex-PSA member has stepped forward to train to become a referee. With the correct training and experience, I doubt if an experienced referee would have allowed so much interference for a fifth game to produce something like 40 lets.

          • Alan, apologies if your comment was taken out of context, and in that case do feel free to delete, it’s a peripheral discussion – however similar comments are raised on at least a weekly basis in comments on squash forums (and the point has been raised on this forum previously, if not by you then by another observer), and I’m afraid that I don’t keep detailed records of who-commented-what-where.

            Many such comments are indeed along the lines of “if only the refs were players, we’d never have a problem with refereeing again”, which would make it ironic if the longest-match-in-history was (at least in part) attributable to the ref being a player. Of course, isolated examples do not prove the case either way

          • Thanks James. Apology accepted. Of course, not all ex-professionals (in any sport) make great coaches, and, by the same logic, not all of them can be expected to become top referees. However, the total absence of any ex-professionals in the refereeing ranks in squash is something of a disappointment.

          • Actually Nathan Turnbull, who I thought was unfairly criticised by some for the Commonwealth Games refereeing, is said to be a strong player (the ex-PSA 151, according to SquashInfo). When I watched him, Gingell and Massarella in action over the week of the Wadi Degla World Championships, they were all consistently excellent (one or two questionable moments in the Ashour-Dessouki match, where Dessouki walked off, but that was an awful match to referee). Tammer Alnaggary, who reffed many of the earlier rounds, was also spot-on

  3. What a bunch of crap. Yeah, right, buddy, the result was “stolen”.

    You know what? You don’t want to lose a point – then don’t commit a known conduct violation.

    And players are not entitled to explanations of the rules of squash during the match.

    • I appreciate the strong opinion Ted!

      To be clear, I’m not expressing support for either player; I am trying to be a neutral party examining the product that the PSA is presenting to their customers.

      Do you think that penalizing Serme added to the quality of the squash? Did you notice the crowd booed the decision? When was the last time you have heard a crowd boo during a squash match? Most often when referees award conduct points the crowd supports referees with applause.

      I am not criticizing Serme, I am criticizing the rule book.

      • Kiefer, Now you’re going further off the deep end.

        It’s a sport -there are rules – you don’t throw the rulebook out at 8-6 in the third because the crowd isn’t going to like the decision.

      • The last time we heard a crowd boo in a squash match was, umm, during the last match of the immediately preceding tournament!…

    • If making such an angry, aggressive comment on a thoughtful article, you could at least get your facts right.

      The writer is primarily criticizing the PSA / the makers of the rule, not the referee who has the unfortunate task of applying the rule. At no point did they say the result was “stolen” – you just made that up.

      Explanations are clearly envisaged in the rules and are common practice:

      3.7 The Referee, whose decision is final:
      3.7.10 must ask the player for clarification if uncertain about the reason for a request for a let or an appeal;
      3.7.11 may give an explanation for a decision;
      8.3 The Referee, if uncertain about the reason for a request, must ask the player for an explanation.

  4. Ted – well put!

    And we generally agree with the thrust of your message! It not only applies to Players but also toCoaches!

    In refereeing a US Junior National match at a local School I had a similar experience. A Professional Squash Player who was also the Coach of the High School – as well as that of the loosing player on the court had erupted against one of my calls! There was contact between the 2 players in the forehand front corner way before the Receiver could make it to the Ball which ‘lobbed’ into the center of the court. A let was requested by the Receiving Player at or very close to the contact point, the Student Referee looked to me for guidance and I suggested that she grant it. This precipitated an outburst of invective from the Coach! In this case it was both a technical as well as a conduct violation! US Squash Rules Online:

    However, refereeing Squash is loaded with judgement calls! At least partly emerging from the obstructed view of a semi contact sport with Players performing on the same (side) of a single court – unlike Net Sports! Referees are generally professional but can be very fallible. This is explicitly acknowledged in section 11 of US squash Rules:

    In a recent (2017 ?)US Open match at Drexel University an egregious error was clearly made by a Professional Judge from US Squash! It was a call at match point in a Semi Final or Quarter Final match. The Players in question will remain unnamed but are a recent World #1 and a Rising Star near the apex of the rankings!

    The Stroke Maker (A) had dropped the ball into the backhand left front corner. The drop was really good – it was tight, low and short!! But after making it, A backed up directly in the direction of the T instead of arching out of the way. He therefore blocked the Receiver (B) who had the right of direct line to the ball, and so collided with him.

    Because of the lightening quick moves of Pros this collision was inevitable and so a let should have been called against A! Instead a conduct stroke and the match were awarded to A (and against B)! The latter was vocal in his protests – and rightfully so! Compounding this error throughout that match it was A who was predominantly and most frequently blocking and colliding with B! The Referee did not use context!

    The judgement was plain wrong and the Players are entitled to some form of On Court appeal in such cases! Although its likely purpose is intimidation or confrontation, opening the door may be the only way for the Player to be heard! So there should at least be some leeway with an addendum for appealing but one that cannot be ‘gamed’ by the Players!

    The American Hardball system of judging a match was based on a Referee and 2 Lines persons (Markers) on the court back walls. It has been replaced by a Referee, a Marker with a (TV) Replay Appeals Marker (?). However, the images of Squash Courts/Players/Balls on TV themselves can be obscured and so are fallible. There is a real need for the 1 Referee + 2 Lines Persons to be reinstated.



  5. “To be fair, the blame can’t be placed squarely on the referee, Roy Gingell”

    Blame for WHAT?

    Read the rules of dissent and educate yourself.

    ‘Prolonged questioning’ is stopping play and opening the door.

    Regardless of any new PSA mandate.

    And regardless of the fact that Nick Matthew and others have gotten away with it their whole career.

  6. I posted a detailed response to both commentators as well as the article around an hour ago. Squash Mad and Word Press requested and were given a validation which excludes this as the reason for its absence. Hopefully it will be released soon.

  7. That would be the blame for applying a rule which the vast majority of observers don’t agree with.

    I don’t need educating about the rules, thanks, though I just had to quote a few at you given your misleading comment re explanations.

    Nobody except the unhinged would accuse Camille Serme, of all players, of dissent or prolonged questioning – the questioning lasted 3 seconds before she got the conduct stroke.

    Nick Matthew certainly had his moments, and when he did, should have been dealt with accordingly by the officials

  8. You can’t have a grey area, where everyone is allowed to open the door and argue, and then the ref is supposed to determine what is TOO MUCH ARGUING – and at the same time factor in the fact that a particular player has an otherwise good reputation!

    Silly. We’re trying to professionalize the sport, not regress it.

    Tennis players used to be able to walk up to the chair and argue as well.

    Then tennis got sensible, and they defaulted McEnroe in Australia.

    You see players doing that now?

  9. Of course you can have grey areas – the lines between no lets, lets and strokes are an example.

    When you have grey areas, people need to apply judgement, and this has always been the case.

    Refs are still required to determine what is TOO MUCH ARGUING (do you find the capitals help you?), as they have not yet introduced a rule which requires the players’ mouths to be taped up. How on earth will they manage?

    Tennis players argue with umpires all the time. People are still talking about McEnroe 20 years after he stopped playing, and like him or loathe him, he was a phenomenal asset for raising the profile of the sport, just as the mercurial Eric Cantona was for football

  10. Now you’re explaining yourself. You want players to be able to run roughshod over the refs because it’s ENTERTAINING.

    However, tennis continues to be entertaining, and they’ve curtailed the buffoonery.

    You stop play and approach the chair and argue: It’s point, then game, then match.

    No screwing around with warnings. No grey areas.

  11. “Now you’re explaining yourself” – what are you talking about? I explained myself in similar terms in the first comments on this thread.

    As for “You want players to be able to run roughshod over the refs” – nonsense, I want no such thing. The rules of the game have always allowed a full range of sanctions, and no-one gets to run roughshod unless referees and governing bodies are weak and fail to apply the rules. When controversy occurs and sanctions do need to be applied, that may well generate interest – that’s how the media and human nature work. Who wants to watch a bunch of sterile automatons?

    That’s enough time spent on your “alternative facts”, but here’s your imaginary “no buffoonery, no warnings, no grey areas at the tennis Australian Open”:

  12. You and the guy who wrote the article are fans, and that’s great. The sport needs you both – happy to have you on board.

    And it’s common in all sports for fans to bring the officiating into it, when a match or game didn’t go the way they wanted.

    My view is different.

  13. I want rules to be clear and applied and for referees to maintain a consistent approach to cynical movement, fishing and tantrums on court.

    It is my understanding that a player is allowed to ask a referee to exain a decision and that the referee should give that explanation. I agree that further debate is pointless and shouldn’t be encouraged.

    However I have also lost count of the times I’ve seen a player attempt to speak to the ref, whether to ask for an explanation or a review, only to have to shout, yell, bang on the glass or – horror – open the door just to get the ref to look up from his iPad and notice that he is being addressed. This was not a factor in the Serme incident but my point is that there are practical difficulties in communicating in a noisy environment with a person some way off when you are in a glass box. Serme isn’t the loudest player out there. Maybe she just wanted to hear and be heard. Yes, it’s a rule but perhaps going forwards thought needs to be given to how legitimate interaction with the ref can be made possible without breaking it.

  14. Jack and Squash Mum,

    That rule states that the ref ‘may’ give an explanation for a decision.

    Referees have no obligation to do so, meaning players are not entitled to explanations.

    In reality, refs often do give explanations, and they typically backfire and make the sport look unprofessional.

    For example: “You took the wrong line.”

    Silly, and generally makes the ref now look bad.

    There should be little or no discussion between player and ref during a match.

    Players are responsible to enter the court knowing the rules.

    My guess is Serme didn’t know the contact-rule, and assumed she was automatically entitled to a stroke when she contacted her opponent.

    Either way, she lost her poise at a critical juncture, and SHE lost the match.

    The match was not ‘stolen’ from her, as the author ludicrously implies.

    • Another bizarre comment from you, Ted. Referees’ explanations do not “typically make the sport look unprofessional”. The explanation “You took the wrong line” is not “silly” and does not “look bad”. It simply means that the referee thinks the player took the wrong line! As opposed to, say, the explanation “You wouldn’t have reached the ball”. Next time a similar situation occurs, the player then knows they need to find a line through to the ball, or risk a no let – maybe you’ve heard that people are keen to encourage continuous play rather than an excess of lets?

      The suggestion that a Top 5 player such as Serme does not know Rule 8.9 re a let for a swing “affected”, versus a stroke for a swing “prevented”, is about the most ridiculous comment so far, but maybe you have more up your sleeve?!

      I’ll retract one earlier point and agree with you that the author did use the world “stolen” – it’s not ludicrous, given that the original contact is often given as a stroke, plus the controversial conduct point, plus a soft let given to Sherbini a couple of points later. It may be over-stating the case a little, but the article as a whole is balanced, and it’s okay for journalism to use punchy language

  15. i agree with kiefer that referees shouldn’t be forced to impose a conduct stroke when a player opens the door … referees are professionals and are certainly capable of exercising good judgment in such situations. this was a shameful situation and no amount of arguing about it can possibly excuse it. the rule should be re-written, regardless of the best intentions that may have gone into its adoption. it’s hard for players to hear and be heard, and there are many instances when it’s obvious to the viewer that the referee can’t hear what the player is asking or understand the reason why the player is asking for a let, and it’s also obvious that the players can’t hear the referee. until a technical solution (such as on-court microphones for the players to speak into and monitors to allow the players to hear the referee) is implemented, it is understandable that a player may decide to open the door to more easily and quickly communicate with the referee, and it doesn’t interfere with the flow of the play nearly as much as having court attendants stepping onto the court or having to wait for referees to make decisions (it is much better now than it was with the 3 referee system, where there were very long delays in making obvious decisions on very simple calls).

    the issues regarding the fact that the game is confusing to non-players (including sponsors and potential sponsors and decision-makers) is mostly connected to situations involving interference, and i think the presentation of squash could be enhanced considerably by providing clear explanations during the course of the match so that viewers could better understand such arcane subjects as the referee’s line of thinking, the correct path to the ball, and the differences between reasonable and excessive backswings and follow-throughs. i have ideas on how to do that if anyone’s interested …

  16. The PST’s No-Let rule appeared ridiculous at the time – but look at the confusion now among fans of PSA matches, just in this forum.

    When a ref denies a let and tells the player he took the wrong line–and the player could have gotten the ball–then the casual fan you’re trying to help is confused.

    The reason they are confused is that the current interpretation, aimed at reducing stoppages, encourages players to block.

    Players are now rewarded for blocking.

    Hit your shot, deny the best access, force the opponent to take the line of the worst access–and if he doesn’t, he risks the no-let.

    You don’t want to cater to the stooges at the IOC, but honestly, the sport would present itself better to the non-fan if it adopted the PST No-let rule–where if a player does risk stopping play, the player deemed least at fault is awarded the point.

  17. I don’t think there’s much confusion, actually, but it’s true that there’s always been a debate about borderline behaviour and borderline decisions, between followers of the sport and (when allowed) between the referees and players themselves. You want to stamp the latter out, whereas I want to preserve these contentious moments, with penalties only where it becomes prolonged or disrespectful.

    It’s true that some people questioned the approach at the Commonwealth Games, where they were stricter about playing through minimal interference – I supported this, and there were many excellent rallies which would otherwise have been curtailed by a let.

    That’s a good point re blocking – “taking the wrong line” needs to be punished in both directions, and that needs to be a continued area of focus.

    However, in perhaps the most significant single decision of the season, Rodriguez hit a loose shot at 9-9 in the final game of the British Open, and had to sprint away from the centre in order to clear the ball. Shorbagy hit his best dying forehand of the match back into the corner, which would have been very difficult to reach, but made an additional movement which blocked Rodriguez’s only line with a chance of reaching the ball. Rodriguez expressed his frustration at the block (there’s that communication thing again), and the video ref punished Shorbagy’s movement by giving a let, and Rodriguez converted the match ball.

    I wouldn’t mind if they tried the PST no let rule you mention – the sport needs to experiment, and observers can give their view on what works best. The excessive number of points in each set is a bigger issue, in my view.

    I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on appealing to non-fans – happy to be proved wrong, but I think the vast majority of people get into squash when they try it the first time, and realise how enjoyable it is, and can then understand how difficult it is for the professionals to do what they do. To the casual observer, all but the more extreme rallies look “easy”, when they are far from it.

    Compared to, say, football/soccer, where you just need to know a couple of rules and can then appreciate what’s going on. There are too many subtleties about moving and hitting with precision in an enclosed box, for someone with no exposure to the sport to appreciate it in the same way.

    So I wouldn’t let hypothetical non-fans influence things too much, but if the sport does get exposure to mainstream TV, like at the Commonwealth Games, I agree with the presenters’ efforts to explain things in a more basic way, even if the explanations are a bit boring for seasoned observers.

  18. Agree rules are there however seen a certain way refs being a tad power hungry and it’s not all about them it’s the match and that match can be ruined by over power hungry refs wanting all the attention which can be avoided with a bit more tact and compassion to players efforts
    I personally think if you know the players and their attitude and nature it deserves a bit respect in return at and of the day these athletes are fighting and trng their ass off as a living that’s not great in respect of other sports. Hate tennis however……their attitude and their place within that sport merits my respect as it’s not about them it’s about the players and a great spectacle to watch not ruined by someone watching to see who’s watching them ???
    Authority and control can be created with a better manner without the sergeant major approach ? And a bit of common sense towards what’s at stake and passion at heat of moment ??

  19. You could tell that John White and David Palmer didn’t care for the PST No-Let rule – but that said, it was refreshing to watch a whole match without a stoppage.

    Clearly the PST had an effect on how the PSA is trying to regulate stoppages now.

    Separately, I would agree the scoring system needs to be changed.

    A new system can yield more critical points.

    Right now there are too many games where a player gets up 6-2 and nurses it home 11-7, and there wasn’t one critical point.

  20. Alan, this has reference to your comment of:
    Alan Thatcher June 12, 2018 at 10:14 pm.

    In all similar activities as Racket Sports, (Squash, Tennis), Music, Medicine, Engineering, Law, etc.., there are at least 2 sharply divided dimensions. There is a formal ‘theoretical’ or conceptual or University or classroom dimension on the one hand. And an application or ‘Real World’ or On Court or Orchestral or Surgical or Field or Court Room or Construction site dimension on the other hand. The 2 dimensions complement each other in contributing to the analytical and judgemental capacities of good Referees, Coaches, Captains and Players!

    Competitive Squash Players and especially PSA Players have predominantly gone through the crucible of the latter at its highest levels of pressure, and little or none of the former – as you partially pointed out! This may leave the impression that they ‘know it better’ than any Referee who has not gone through this process possibly can ‘know it’! But at least part of a Professional mind set is to never concede a point – and this may contribute to the observed misinterpretations.

    I know my thinking about Referees and Senior Competitors at my peak!!!

    In the example of Player A and B at the US Open that I provided above, B was more of a smooth and deadly accurate stroke player i.e. like Roger Federer and A was more of a grinding, physical, great recovery type Player i.e like Rafa Nadal. Player B depends on smooth rhythms, momentum and physical collisions gets him tense and disrupts his stroke reliability, reproducibility, precision and accuracy. Player A is not affected as much by contact. And so the impact disproportionately affects B over A who is favored which is its purpose. A good referee would spot it and never allow it to unfold – PSA Players may not think anything of that contact!

    In addition as you and others know a great Player does not necessarily become a great Coach or a great Referee! For one the analytical and communication skills are not as well developed until they practice the High Art and Science of a Referee’s Judgement !

    • hey ferez that is a very thoughtful post. separately from what you have identified as “the two dimensions,” consider how the ego and desire can distort perceptions and apply a strong bias to what actually happens. often in a squash match the viewer can see the player defend their appeal by miming the “frozen moment” or pointing to the spot on the court where they are claiming something happened, and when the replay is shown it is obvious that the player is mistaken on these points of fact. and in tennis, note how often players will appeal a linesperson’s call and the replay will show that the call was correct — often times the player seems very sure of themselves and the call was not only correct but not even very close.

      imho the most interesting aspect of the roles of referee / player is that the referee is an objective observer and is only interested in making calls that correspond to objective fact, whereas the player is totally invested in the outcome that satisfies her desire. what makes squash so engaging is that it is so dynamic; for example an incoming striker may believe that the outgoing player is clearing sufficiently and that at the moment of contact she will have freedom of stroke, and commits to the shot, but the outgoing player stops her clearing movement and is then interfering, but the striker is already moving in and unable to stop sufficiently for the referee to see that she has not accepted interference but was in fact lured into a situation not of her own making. common sense should dictate that a let is allowed, but in almost every case the referee will not allow it. back in “the day” jonathan power would aggressively argue that despite playing through interference he should receive a let, sometimes he would argue that he was merely demonstrating that he could have reached the ball and wasn’t actually playing through the interference. imho jonathan’s arguments almost always had merit, and i think it’s unfortunate that in today’s game the players are deprived of the ability to explain themselves and referees shut down comments from players and don’t seem to have any interest in hearing what they have to say. it’s doubly unfortunate when the viewer can clearly understand what the player is trying to say and recognises that it has merit, and shares the player’s frustration with the referee’s choice of ignoring the players.

      all that being said, i think the psa referees are overall very good at their jobs and deserve a lot more respect than they receive. i don’t think that it matters at all that they haven’t played at that level, and i hope they spend a lot of time reviewing video with the actual players so they can better understand what’s happening on court and can continually improve their abilities to apply their judgment and earn the authority that is granted to them as the ultimate arbiters of truth in situations that could easily be seen differently by people who do not enjoy the referees’ position of authority.

  21. Ron, you have to understand something.

    By the time a Jonathan Power opens the door and goes into his University Lecture act, the call has been made.

    A good ref is not going to change it based on the lecture. Sorry.

    If referees start changing calls based on player explanations that they didn’t request, we’re in trouble.

  22. Hello Ron,

    Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my comments as well as for your kind words. As this conversation and comments unfold, it becomes clear that there is more of substance in it that all the conversants share than they disagree on. Although it would appear otherwise!

    You have raised really good points articulated as in: (1) the “frozen moment”, (2) Players “can distort can distort perceptions and apply a strong bias to what actually happens” and (3) “the roles of referee / player is that the referee is an objective observer and is only interested in making calls that correspond to objective fact.”-(at least hopefully without muddying their judgements when Referees have their heated exchanges with Players).

    But most of all we agree on the judgement a good Referee must bring to the game in allowing a good Player to play through the points and make a difficult “get” that he can reach as opposed to “gaming” the “get” and “fishing” for lets and points. This effort is also mandated by the requirement of the PSA rules. It is the one that states that the Player must make an effort to retrieve the ball. Clearly your point about Jonathan Powers claim that ” he could have reached the ball and wasn’t actually playing through the interference” is not included.

    And we (and others) seem to agree on another important technical reason for making the effort to “get” what seems to be that impossible ball – you actually get to it!Why? There are speculations. There is (1) an improvement in the sensory ability of the brain/mind of the Receiver to “read the stroke” of the opponent so as to allow making the “impossible get”,, (2) the groups of muscles and motor skills working better and growing stronger to allow making the “impossible get”, (3) and the probabilistis and psychological impact of an “impossible get” on the Stroke maker. He tries to make it better, reduces the margin of error further and so makes and unforced error. Retrieval is the defining Hallmark of Squash!

    The point that I was making about Players using deliberate NFL tackle style collisions as a weapon against great Stroke makers is a very different matter! It is listed in my comments above. Some Players simply do not recognize the rule that direct access to the ball shifts to the Receiver the moment Stroke maker touches the ball with his/her racket! Additionally standing in the triangle from Stroke maker to the corners of the court, cutting them off from his/her repertoire is illegal! This is like “Holding” in (American) Football! Returning to collisions between players – they actually reduce the standard of play by lowering the reciprocal pressure that great strokes and great “gets” exert. This is the intent of the loosing Player – namely of tensing and disrupting the Stroke maker as he/she relies on finely balanced, highly coordinated and sensitive neuromuscular movements to execute strokes. It also affects his/her retrieving capacity and in loosing them loose his/her momentum. The retrieving type Player who is loosing to the Stroke maker and his momentum is not affected as much by the collision and goes onto win.

    It has been done to me as a Player (even when mostly retired in the US) when winning or losing even against 6.0 Players. I’ve had to make calls on it as a Referee. And of most importance I’ve seen this being done by the Pros at the highest levels of Squash – one that I never got to in the Wildest of my Dreams!

    However, because it affects the game so much, and so negatively, it is absolutely imperative that the Leaders and Rule Makers in the Squash community draft new rules or modify the existing ones to take all these concerns into account.

  23. Could someone explain to me, which rule precisely states, that the referee has no discretion when it comes to awarding conduct stroke in such case?

    As far as I know the rules state that:

    15.7 A player guilty of an offence may be given a Conduct Warning or penalised with a
    Conduct Stroke, a Conduct Game, or a Conduct Match, depending on the severity of
    the offence

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