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Why not a stroke?

Published: 15 Jul 2008 - 21:24 by mike

Updated: 26 Sep 2008 - 07:03

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Please consider this image of White and Iskandar in the Irish Open Final (click for larger view)

Yes Let

Iskander is on the T, and has hit a backhand shot (he turned to his right after hitting) which has bounced off the right sidewall and come to White standing behind him. The ball did bounce off the backwall too.

White got a let, and it seemed to be the decision both players expected. It's the decision I expected too, because it happens this way so often in the Pro matches I see, but I don't understand why.

White clearly does not have access to hit to any part of the front wall. The left part of the front wall was not available to White, so to my eyes it should be a stroke (regardless of where he actually wanted to hit the ball)

I know it's hard to judge from a still image, but it's a very common scenario in the Pro matches. I believe White could have hit a crosscourt from his body decision if he wanted (if not for the opponent).


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From rippa rit - 18 Jul 2008 - 07:53   -   Updated: 18 Jul 2008 - 08:03

Thanks Mike for that video of the rally - a good rally too. No, I would not have given a Stroke for that, if anything the previous backhand rally had more interference than that one, as the player dips back to give room for the shot.  I think it was a bit of "foxing" as there was sufficient room, and, as I said only a reverse boast would have been a problem, and that would have ended in a let anyway.

I have played that rally several times over, and what was the difference between the point in question and the earlier point (about the 3rd shot after Iskander serves) on the forehand, White hesitated and played on, it could have ended in the same kind of dispute too I thought.  Sorry, but I still feel a let was in order, and if play was stopped every time a situation like this occurred the game would be very disruptive.  It did not look dangerous, and I bet if White had decided to give it a good clout Iskander would have tucked himself in a bit further out of the way as John contacted the ball. Think so.


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From mike - 18 Jul 2008 - 00:14

Video Available

Download/View .avi (3.5mb) of this rally.

Unfortunately there is no sound. Premier Pro has trouble importing this type of file, but it at least shows the players and ball in motion.

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From rippa rit - 17 Jul 2008 - 15:44   -   Updated: 17 Jul 2008 - 15:47

I would like the video link to that rally in question.  Without knowing that, it all looks fine to me.  The striker is still preparing to make the shot, the opponent is not too far in the pathway that he could not just take a step to get out of the line of fire unless it was, maybe a reverse boast attempted, which I doubt as the ball looks to be still travelling towards the back wall.  The opponent is definitely keeping a eye on what is going on so the necessary steps can be taken. If the player attempts a cross court there is room, since the target on the front wall for a cross court is about mid way across the front wall (give or take a bit, and if the target is further across the front wall it will be a lousy cross court and easily intercepted by the opponent). Interference is hardly applicable, except for "fear of hitting the opponent", and I quote:

"if the striker stops play for fear of hitting the opponent and the opponent, though close to, does not prevent the striker's reasonable swing, the Referee shall allow a let under Rule 13.1.2 - reasonable fear of injury.  As long as the opponent does not prevent a reasonable swing, a let is the appropriate decision.

If the striker stops play for fear of hitting the opponent and the opponent is well clear of the reasonable swing, the Referee shall not allow a let, as the striker has judged the opponent's position incorrectly."


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From mike - 17 Jul 2008 - 11:41

fmlouge, I think you make good points.

The 3/4 convention is definitely something I've observed. Most players, quite rightly, do not appeal for a let if a part of the front wall they did not intend to use is blocked. It's good for continuous play.

However if they do appeal, for want of access to a blocked part of the front wall, they should get a stroke IMO (turning excepted of course).

I think this convention leads to people (the non-striker) standing on T as though it's a divine right. In reality you should only stand on the T if that still gives the striker access to the front wall.

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From aiw - 17 Jul 2008 - 10:35

It would have been turning if the ball had traveled around White's body, which isn't the case if I understand the situation correctly.

This is an instance of what some people call 3/4 front wall convention (you can find a discussion here: This convention is widespread in spite of not being part of the rules of squash (the rules say that the striker gets a stroke even if he stops)

If you ignore Iskandar's racquet (which actually is in the way), his body only blocks the left quarter of the front wall. The rationale of this convention is that there is room to hit most shots, including (importantly) a cross court drive. It only rules out "heterodox" shots from this position like a cross court drop or an inverted boast.

In my opinion, this convention is somewhat inconsistent. If White actually hits Iskandar he would get the point since Iskandar is blocking part of the front wall (although he might also get a warning for dangerous play). If White stops, he gets a let (there is room to hit, but the referee invokes some kind of reasonable fear of injury). Consistency would require the same decision regardless of whether the player hits the ball or stops. The rules give a consistent criterion, despite of not being used in cases like this one.

Often times the opponent blocks a good half of the front wall (preventing thus a cross court) and the referee still applies this convention (players get only a let if they refrain from hitting). In my opinion, this is going too far.

Apparently the rules will be revised soon by the WSF and this issue might be considered (see Hopefully they will be able to rewrite this rule (maintaining its consistency) so that people start applying it as it appears in the rulebook.

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From rippa rit - 16 Jul 2008 - 07:45   -   Updated: 16 Jul 2008 - 08:11

This link to the WSF Rules Forum, in particular "turning" which gives many on court Q and A explanations.

If you cannot find the answer to your question just submit your query to Don Ball.

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From Adz - 16 Jul 2008 - 00:11

By taking your eyes off your opponent you cannot know that they are going to be somewhere, you can only assume they haven't moved.

Although you are right when you say that turning is when you strike the ball on one side of the body after following it around from the otherside of the body.

So this leads to a spot of confusion which I honestly cannot find the answer to in black and white text.

Personally I have always judged the situation that one player has lost sight of the other, doesn't know where the opponent is and thus calls a let to avoid dangerous play.


Perhaps someone knows where this has been officially addressed elsewhere?



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From mlongobard - 16 Jul 2008 - 00:02

I'm in the same boat as Mike here -- I've seen this scenario a hundred times, and I've always wondered why it's not a stroke. There seems to be a sort of gentleman's agreement among pros that this situation is a let. In the 2007 British Open final, Gaultier was in a position like White in this example -- he struck the ball, and it hit Lincou. The ref awarded Gaultier a stroke, but Gaultier refused to take the point and they ended up playing a let. 

My theory about this is that in such circumstances the striker might, at least in some cases, have the option of hitting the ball before it reaches the back wall. If in Mike's example White had done that,  Iskander's position would have provided sufficient clearance. I'm not sure that actually makes sense as a reason for calling a let instead of a stroke, but if you take the let as a given and then try to reason backward as to how that could be the correct call, perhaps that's the justification.

Also -- I think you're off base, Adz, in your interpretation of turning. In order for there to be a turn, the ball has to pass from one side of the striker to the other, so that what could have been a forehand becomes a backhand, or vice versa.

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From mike - 15 Jul 2008 - 23:13

Thanks for your input.

It's true that at the exact moment of this photo White is facing the back and thus doesn't have view of Iskander, however Iskander has not moved position (just rotated) from the time he hit his shot. Obviously you aren't to know that Adz, without the benefit of video. 

White would have known exactly where Iskander was as he glanced down at the ball just before this preparation. Prior to that he was looking up to observe Iskander where he is in the photo.


Your definition of turning is also different to what I understood.  Appendix 2 defines it as:


The action of the striker when the ball is followed around and the striker physically turns, or the ball is allowed to pass around the striker who, in either case, strikes the ball to the right of the body after the ball has passed to the left (or vice-versa).

In this case the ball remained to the right of John White the entire time, and he was also facing this direction (again, I realize you can't know that without the video). White, IMO, knew where the ball and his opponent were at all times.

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From Adz - 15 Jul 2008 - 22:03

I would call this as a LET and not a stroke..........


Why? Simply because White has lost vision of his opponent, and so the turning rule comes into effect. Therefore the striker (white) before hitting the ball has called for a LET as he feared he may hit his opponent (whom the picture shows he cannot see!). The referee using rule has awarded the LET ball.

Now, a different can of worms get opened had White actually struck the ball. As if he had hit the ball directly into Iskander either a stroke is awarded to White or a stroke is awarded to Iskander. There is no middle ground. A referee judging White to have turned sufficiently to have lost sight of Iskander will give Iskander a stroke due to dangerous play by White, however a referee judging White to have NOT turned will give a stroke in favour of White as the ball would strike Iskander en route to the front wall.

Very tough decision either way I think, and it relies fully on whether the referee decides White has or has not turned in approaching this shot.

Note that turning does NOT mean having to turn fully around to play the ball, but mearly to turn in the opposite direction of play.


Anyhow, given that White is facing the backwall, I'd have judged him to have turned and therefore issue a let if I felt that there was REASONABLE fear in White's mind that he might hit Iskander with his return (also assuming that Iskander was not deliberately impeeding or crowding at the time - which he clearly isn't as he's on the T).


I'm sure others will have a few opinions on this one, so I await agreements or disagreements!!




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