Table tennis baffles me: something geometrically-complicated and rapid happens on a table between two people and I do not comprehend what I have seen. Beside which, I have rarely paid any attention to professional sports, period. Yet buoyed by the recent success of the Singaporeans at the SEA Games I made up my mind to diligently follow their fortunes in South Africa. I then unmade my mind almost immediately when I saw the draw: how unfortunate (cruel even!) that the entire contingent of one tiny island's players should be drawn in their very first round against the very top seeds (4, 9 and 12!). I couldn't bear to watch them all be demolished so utterly, so I shan't watch any of their matches, which would save time.

But on the advent of the first match (with Izaac Quek, teenage sensation and the media's designated Schooling replacement as local sports wunderkind, playing) which I was pointedly ignoring while perfectly conscious of the approaching of the start time, I felt it was morally feckless to be an ostrich, so I pulled up the real-time scores in google to follow the overall arc of the match without, I hoped, having to get myself overwrought by all that colour and motion and drama.)

In fact, this experience was a total mistake and left me utterly nerve-racked. The suspense from staring at your phone not knowing when the moment would come when the screen would suddenly flicker and the score jump before your eyes was exhausting emotionally, as was the effect of rapidly mounting numbers by one name until an eventual, irredeemable defeat. And because there's no visual, no commentary, no sound even, no means of knowing what was happening on court, the scores arrived on screen out of an utter information void, stripped of all context, like alien numbers being telegraphed from another galaxy...after that I gave up the entire enterprise and stuck to next-day print reports in the ST.

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