Classic Hardbat World Championships... and AMIBO - Butterfly Table Tennis
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Classic Hardbat World Championships… and AMIBO

By Larry Hodges and Steve Claflin

Something extremely odd happened this past weekend at the 2022 Classic Hardbat World Championships. In fact, three out-of-the-ordinary, very odd situations occurred:

  1. There was continuous Live Streaming of players on two center courts. The very best and the very new…
  2. There was Convenience and FREE Entertainment for the players, friends, and family too.
  3. And there was NO Control Desk to be found! ANYWHERE! We filed a missing table report!

First, players like ‘Bryce Bryce Baby’ Milford, Alexandru Cazacu, Xin Li, Jimmy Butler, AJ Carney, Randy Hou, Bob Koch, Nathan Flosser, Brian Jortner, Gloria Adamolekum, Alex ‘The Flash’ Flemming, and many more ALL enjoyed being seen by friends and family around the world!

Secondly, there were: shuttles between the hotel and playing site conveniently available every 30 minutes; free meals delivered to the venue in the player lounge (Soliz Tacos and Shipley Donuts for breakfast, Center Court Pizza and Domoishi Asian food for lunch); players comped a free Astros’s AAA Space Cowboys Baseball Game on Saturday night with motorcoach transportation; a Player Gala with open bar (motorcoach again); Big Heads (Cardboard Cutout Standees) of many players were displayed on the wall at the venue; EVERY match on Tables 1 and 2 was Livestreamed around the world courtesy of Table Tennis Life (Alhasan Mohamed and Dan Hassan; AND a table was generously donated to Thurgood Marshall High School (Principal Dr. Sanders) by We R Table Tennis, Inc. and Domoishi to promote our beloved sport!

Finally, there absolutely was a Control Desk issue! I have been playing table tennis 50+ years and there is ALWAYS a control desk. Right? But this past weekend … players did NOT stand around trying to find their clipboard, players did NOT return clipboards with their scores, and names and table assignments were NOT blasted over a loud disruptive PA system. Players were left confused (and pleased) as to why events started on time, matches started on time, and the tournament actually ended EARLY. This was ODD indeed! I repeat … WHERE was the Control Desk? We may have to report Steve to the Classic Committee for some kind of violation!

Further, before the tourney started, someone named AMIBO determined that Tourney Director, Steve Claflin, was a Potential Problem Player in his tournament. Steve went ahead and played in every event eligible. That takes more than a few official Butterfly R40+ official spherical polymers. Right? So … WHO or WHAT is AMIBO?!

AMIBO is a new tournament management system. AMIBO is not software you learn to use, but a system that runs your tournament for you. It’s an acronym – All Matches In Best (Match) Out. Steve Claflin imagined and designed it, it was created by We R Table Tennis (Stan Pennington, Igor Negovetic, and Chris Schabel), and it is fully integrated with TT Notify by Jack McCarthy. TT Notify also made its prime time debut. TT Notify is an App players can use to receive match assignments and report scores. TT Notify data is sent directly (and automatically) from AMIBO through TT Notify to the players! Scores can be reported from the TT Notify App back to AMIBO. NO control desk needed. AMIBO and TT Notify did almost all the work! Stan and Jack WATCHED AMIBO operate! Steve played!

Essentially, AMIBO is a player piano. It’s Artificial Intelligence that downloads and uploads all the information necessary to run a tournament – Events (RR, SE, how many advance, start time, etc), Players (events entered, ratings, etc), Tables (how many, which ones are to be anchored for RR groups, etc), and then … the magic begins. A brew is concocted. Ingredients are analyzed to confirm the tournament can be done in the amount of time allocated – a ‘Completion Confidence Calculation’ or CCC. AMIBO then identifies the players that may cause potential problems because they entered in events that overlap – ‘Potential Player Problems’ or PPP.

Its finally game time … the bell is about to ding … the tourney is about to start … and AMIBO runs the show! AMIBO alone decides event after event, match after match, player after player, table after table – which match is the best match out – the most important match – to play next. For example, if a tourney has 10 tables, AMIBO determines the first 10 matches that should begin. AMIBO keeps going all day long! No lunch break. No nada.

AMIBO gets better and better at its job the ‘bigger and badder’ the tournament. It’s easy to stay on schedule if you have one table and 10 matches to play. Steve said, ‘what’s challenging is when you have 7 days, 110 tables, 112 Events, 7,000 matches, and player conflicts galore’. This is where AMIBO will dominate! This is where Deep Blue will TKO Kasparov!

AMIBO determined and tee’d up 221 CHWC matches to be played over 5 events, on 10 tables, in 2 days. AMIBO started on time, finished early. AMIBO notified every player and opponent where to play. AMIBO displayed three queues on three large-screen monitors around the venue (much like an airport terminal screen) displaying Upcoming Matches, Matches In-Play, and Completed Matches. AMIBO sent players ‘Congratulations’ messages when the event was completed with detailed statistics about their performance. AMIBO did things few have imagined and we’ve seen a LOT over the last 50 years.

AMIBO was designed specifically with the rookie and expert Tournament Director in mind. Having been a rookie, it can be difficult to organize and run your first tourney. If it weren’t so complicated and stressful Steve thinks ‘we would certainly have more organizers, more competitions, and more players.’ AMIBO is also for the expert. Volunteering to run a LARGE tournament can be a tiresome and thankless job. AMIBO provides the ‘warm and fuzzy’ to run the largest, most complicated tournament imaginable.

AMIBO involves other people aside from just the Tourney Director. The goal would be to have as many managers as needed. Such ‘pattern pros’ and ‘data generals’ would divvy up the work likely by event, i.e., divide and conquer. But – if AMIBO is doing its job – there is not much a manger would do. Just sit back, eat bon bons and watch the AMIBO dashboard displays update every 10 seconds. If AMIBO was to determine events are running behind, these managers could make adjustments to help players and events. Essentially, AMIBO enables USERS to manage, provide input, have a view, account for geographic separation, spot errors, control matches, schedule main court matches, etc. Such ‘checks and balances’ are essential when running a large tourney and AMIBO offers much. Want to manipulate and analyze tourney data? Don’t have enough paralysis-by-analysis? AMIBO has plans for exporting data to Excel for those wanting more data! AMIBO works on the desktop, in the cloud, and is multi-user.

The next major release of AMIBO will include Social Engagement. ‘Social Engagement’? Steve said this feature will transform our sport by engaging the FANS. Steve believes that if we want our sport to REALLY grow, we need to invite friends, family, and fans to participate; we need to engage everyone and not charge them at the door. AMIBO will be FREE for all to use.

Steve DOES have a long list of heroes, sponsors, and friends he would like to thank; all those that made the 2022 Classic Hardbat World Championships possible!

HARDBAT HEROES:

  • Missouri City – Mayor Robin Elackatt, Jason Mangum, Emerson Yellen, Daniele Stewart, and Tyson Stittleburg
  • Jack McCarthy – Live TT Scoreboard and TT Notify
  • Larry Hodges – TableTennisCoaching.com and LarryHodges.com
  • Al Hasan Mohamed and Daniyal Hassan – Table Tennis Life, LLC
  • Conrado Garza – TT Planet
  • Willy Leparulo – President, NCTTA
  • Bowie Martin Jr. – Butterfly and Bowmar Sports
  • AJ Carney – Club Manager, Triangle Badminton and Table Tennis
  • Gary Search – Honorary CHWC Assistant Tourney Director
  • Robert Mayer, Torsten Pawlowski, and Scott Gordon – Subject Matter Experts
  • Marguerite Cheung and Rick Mueller – Friends Extraordinaire
  • Craig Krum – OmniPong
  • Mike Babuin – 2022 US Nationals Tournament Director
  • Ty Hoff – USATT Classic Hardbat Committee Chair
  • Dylan Nguyen – Texas Table Tennis Club
  • Vlad Farcas – San Antonio Table Tennis Club
  • Raven Umeh, Ding Kir, Eternity Reyes, Sianne Hill – the AMIBO girls!
  • Stan Pennington, Igor Negovetic, and Chris Schabel – We R Table Tennis, Inc.

PLATINUM Sponsors:

  • Karisma Resorts – the 2023 sponsor in Cancun, Mexico. May 26-29, 2023
  • Unichem Pharmaceuticals (USA)
  • Scott B. Delaney – ‘The Tiger’s Eye – Angels in Mumbai’
  • Domoishi Asian Cuisine
  • Cardboard Cutout Standees

GOLD Sponsors:

  • I9 Sports
  • Big Mommas Home Cooking
  • Bushi Ban Martial Arts
  • Butterfly
  • Center Court Pizza
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites
  • Gala Bethany Photography
  • Hayes Group Real Estate – Keller Williams
  • Pamela Printing
  • Sienna Smiles Dentistry
  • Skyler Stewart Sweat Equity – Sky Fit
  • Sugar Land Space Cowboys
  • Senoda
  •  Printing
  • Wolf Diamonds

BRONZE Sponsors:

  • Bean Here Coffee
  • Brad @ Houston Properties
  • Balanced Foods
  • Brandani’s Restaurant
  • Energie Row Commodities
  • The Finity Group
  • Joola Global
  • Leonetti Graphics
  • Perfect Events Travel
  • Sara Appliances and Electronics
  • Sharp Minds Academy
  • Thai American Bistro
  • Quail Valley Jewelers
  • Wyatt Custom Travel

FRIENDS and FAMILY:

  • Cornerstone Christian Academy
  • Jada Hill Real Estate
  • Olympia Gymnastics
  • Yvonne, Faith, and Luke Claflin

AMIBO then cleaned the player lounge, shuttled players to the party, and turned the lights out. Wait – it was still light outside. This is really odd. Tourneys don’t end early. Let me check my source on this information. I never even interviewed AMIBO. I don’t even know what AMIBO looks like. Man? Woman? I suppose AMIBO is binary…

2022 Classic Hardbat World Championships 

Results

TEAMS

GROUP A:     1st place:         Dream Team – Jimmy Butler and Alex Flemming

                        2nd place:         Team Romania – Alexandru Cazacu and Vlad Farcas

                        3rd place:          The DR and NC – Alexis Perez and Bryce ‘The Kid’ Milford

GROUP B:      1ST place:         Team America – AJ Carney and Joey Cochran

                        2nd Place:        Team China – George Guo and Bin Hai Chu

GROUP C:      1st place:          Women of Wesleyan – Xin Li, Zhen Deng, and Jiaqi Lin

                        2nd place:         The Czech Republic – Marek Zaskodny and Antonin Zavadil

WOMEN’S     1st place:          Xin Li

SINGLES       2nd place:         Ning Cheng

JUNIOR         1st place:          Bryce Milford

SINGLES       2nd place:         Michael Guo

SENIOR         1st place:          Randy Hou

SINGLES       2nd place:         Bin Hai Chu

                        3rd place:          George Guo

                        3rd place:          Larry Hodges

OPEN             1st place:          Alex ‘Flash’ Flemming

SINGLES       2nd place:         Jimmy Butler

                        3rd place:          AJ Carney

                        3rd place:          Alexandru Cazacu

                        5-8 place:         Bryce ‘The Kid’ Milford

                        5-8 place:         Vlad Farcas

                         5-8 place:         Randy Hou

                        5-8 place:         George Guo

  

___________

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