Welcome to the first edition of the ‘Behind the Glass’ newsletter in this new email format. Still, we’ve got the same line up for you, featuring cutting-edge journalism about officiating, news items, technical articles, announcements - - - and a touch of humour.
And we’ll add, during these unsettling times, that we in the reffing community urge everyone to stay safe and take the correct precautions. Please don't force us to invoke the Code of Conduct! Here's looking forward to all of us getting back to the things we love in better times, one of those things being squash.
Let’s get to it.
The following are the latest achievements by some of our refs moving up in the program:

  •  Alamdar Murtaza has been promoted to Local Referee
  • Assad Khan has been promoted to Local Referee
  • Colin Schille has been promoted to Local Referee
  • Mary Jane Pilgrim has been promoted to Local Referee
  • Ben Groot has been promoted to Provincial Referee
  • Lee Kirby has been promoted to Local Referee
  • Jimmy Valliere has become a Provincial Assessor
Congratulations to them. Congratulations also on the too-many-to-list individuals that have attained Club Referee Level by taking the on-line or in-person Certification courses. The progression isn’t always easy, and it can take a long time - but persistence pays off. Remember: “ What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – usually!” In any case, thanks to people like this contributing to maintaining our standards - our program is among the best on planet Earth.
A player disputes a Not Up call with the Referee and then finishes by asking the ref to call the not ups more quickly. The ref then points to the Marker and says: " Talk to him - not me ".
First, a little history
The rules have always required the striker to make every effort to play the ball, but as the 2 nd millennium was ending, the writers of the rules realized that the ‘every effort’ requirement didn’t seem to be enough to promote proper continuity of play. It was quite common to witness far too many lets, and that in turn tended to spoil matches. Quite often we’d see one player busting a gut playing through significant interferences (often compromising the return), while the other was repeatedly calling for lets for insignificant interferences - trying to avoid having to play tough returns or trying to get a break when tiring. The disparity was unfair. 
So with the revision of the rules in 2001, a proposal came from Squash Australia introducing the concept of ‘Minimal Interference’ – a criterion that took a different approach to the continuity problem. It stated that the Referee must now also consider the effect that the interference had on the striker’s ability to make the return. This meant that if that return was not significantly compromised, then the let should be denied – just as it was if the effort was inadequate. The result was that Referees now had 2 distinct options to promote continuity of play.
Limited application
In practical terms, the minimal-interference provision is exclusively applied to the ‘view’ and ‘access’ forms of interference, as confirmed in the current rule (8.6.4) which references only “s eeing and getting to the ball … ”. On the flip side, it doesn’t apply to ‘swing’ & ‘ball’ forms of interference.
The 2 areas where minimal interference applies:
  • Interference solely to the view: Most such obstructions generally qualify as minimal because they are typically fleeting by nature, where the striker loses sight of the ball only momentarily and without having any real effect on the ability to continue play. Having said that, a let can occasionally be considered in those rare cases where loss of sight of the ball is prolonged (say a second or more) – typically occurring while the opponent is in a corner up front hitting a boast.
  • Interference to the access: Many of these can properly be labeled as minimal because of their relative insignificance, wherein the striker can continue without compromising the return - even when having to go around a foot or two of obstruction. On the other hand, even a one-inch stubbing of a shoe against the opponent’s foot can be considered significant if causes the striker to stumble or fall. Remember: it’s about the effect - - - not the amount!
The 2 areas where minimal interference doesn’t apply:
  • Interference to the path of the ball (a.k.a., front wall): Any actual interference to its direct travel to the front wall is likely a stroke – so denying a let wouldn’t make sense. Conversely, if the opponent is just outside that ‘danger zone’, then there is no actual interference, and so ‘minimal’ is not even a consideration.
  • Interference to the swing: It’s also unheard of to see ‘minimal’ applied to a case of swing interference because of how sensitive that movement is; we’re all aware that even the slightest contact to the racket can have a disastrous effect on the return. And as far as potential interference with a refrained swing is concerned, a Referee cannot deny a let for that either because of the very uncertainty that exists about the effect that any small amount of interference might have had on the return.

The following video compilation demonstrates typical situations that can reasonably be considered as minimal interference – both to ‘view’ and ‘access’ interferences (often occurring in tandem). You can use them to help set your ‘minimal-interference’ standards. 
And finally, without being too cynical, be alert for a striker who might be exaggerating the effect of an interference in order to get a let. On the flip side, be alert for a non-striker who might be attempting to use the minimal-interference rule to try to get away with making insufficient clearing efforts.
Hey - nobody said this was easy!
Here’s an old maxim that carries a lot of wisdom for Squash Referees: “ Silence can never be misquoted.”

And again we’re reminding you about this treasure trove of stuff for officials. This is the site for Canadian refs to find out pretty much everything about our program – including the records of your assessments. Updates continue so as to smooth thing out in there. Remember also that there’s also a bunch of video modules there, touching on just about all of the troublesome aspects of officiating – including proper explanations, blood and injury situations, and every form of interference. Why don’t you just mosey on over there right now and check out a couple of them? If you haven’t registered there yet – this is the time. 

We have changes to announce to the composition of the SCOC. Our previous chairman, Dave Howard (ON), has taken on a position with the FPS Officiating Committee – but will nonetheless remain with us as the FPS/WSF representative. Of course, he will also be helping our new chair get settled – and that would be none other than Curtis Gillespie from Alberta. His stint in the lion’s den began March 1 st . In addition, the current members, John Roche (BC), Les Homme (ON), Joe Ellis (AB), & Barry Faguy (QC), will be joined by Viano Oghenekevwe (QC) - who seems to be everywhere these days. Of course, Geoff Johnson (Squash Canada Programs Manager) remains on the committee as the hub around which everything turns. And as a final note we need to mention that, in October of 2019, the Board of Directors of Squash Canada took the step of creating a ‘Board Liaison’ role for each of its committees – and we are pleased to welcome Sandra Thompson as the liaison to the SCOC. 
During a match at the Tournament of Champions in NYC, the two players (El Hindi & Ashour) discussed a point at length with the ref – who then exasperated, orders: “ Play on! ” El Hindi acquiesces and moves to the service box, turns and delivers this parting shot: “ We’ll get back to you!
In case you’ve never been there, our Officiating Program has its own YouTube site where video modules (listed in the ‘Resources’ area of our database https://www.squashcanadaofficial.com ) are available for immediate playback – without any time-consuming download time (unless of course, you want the module stored on your own computer). TIP FOR USE: Simply click on the camera icon to the right of the title.  
This is a repeat notice - just to be sure Assessors are aware of modifications to the program’s teaching aids. On the Squash Canada Official database ( https://www.squashcanadaofficial.com ), among the many teaching aids, you’ll find that the Rules Clinic has recently been modified. It’s a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation meant for the typical club player interested in a casual review of the rules. You may present it in its full and current form – but you also have the option of creating a custom version to meet the needs of a given club. To help with that, we’ve created an INDEX which allows you to locate specific slides by topic - which you can then collate to suit the request. You’ll find all that in the database by clicking on ‘Resources’ in the menu bar – then scrolling down to ‘Restricted Training Modules’ and choosing ‘Rules Clinic’. In the ‘Notes’ at the bottom of the title slide, you’ll find a link to the full instructions. 
At the end of a long rally, a frustrated Jonathon Power, realizing that the ref failed to call a Not up on one of his opponent’s pick-ups, says sarcastically: “ In Squash, there’s only one bounce allowed !”
Word got round in late December that Gerry Poulton was hanging up his clipboard – which is bad news for our program. Graham Waters & Dave Howard cooperated to offer this short tribute.

Gerry has been a mainstay of the Squash Canada Refereeing community for over 40 years. Shortly after the program was established for the 1977 World Championships held in Ottawa, Gerry was certified as D4 referee in his adopted home of British Columbia. From then he quickly moved up the ranks eventually becoming an A1 Referee and a National Examiner. He also attracted the attention of the World Squash Federation, for whom he became a WSF International Referee.

There were very few events held in BC, whether they be local tournaments in Victoria, provincial events in Vancouver or professional events in the vicinity, where Gerry wasn't to be seen behind the court with his clipboard. Of course there were also countless National Championships, Canada Games, Pan-American Games, major PSA events and World Championships that were also fortunate to have Gerry as a trusted member of the refereeing team. When not behind the clipboard he could often be found working away on a Sudoku or having a friendly chat with members of the Referee team.

As a National Assessor, Gerry mentored and trained an untold number of Referees including virtually all of our current senior referee group. He was known to be a tough but fair Assessor and most of us treasured a signature from Gerry as it was definitely a hard earned and deserved achievement. Of course, the real reason Gerry is hanging up his clipboard is so that he can concentrate on his playing career that already boasts numerous, provincial, national, and world titles. Thanks for all you contributions to the refereeing world, Gerry.

The World Squash Federation has appointed William Louis-Marie as its new Chief Executive Officer. The 53-year-old will take up his position at the Federation’s HQ in Hastings, England, on 9th December. The WSF has been seeking to fill the post since Andrew Shelley stood down in June after nine years in the role.

William Louis-Marie boasts a successful track record in heading up sports companies: Following his position as Communications Director of the European Games in Baku in 2014 and 2015, he joined the International Boxing Association (AIBA) – firstly as Communications Director before being appointed Executive Director, managing and organising the general administration of the Association and its 202 affiliated National Federations.

WSF President Jacques Fontaine stated: “It has taken us longer than we hoped to fill this important post but we are delighted that we have found William Louis-Marie, and that he has agreed to take up the challenge. He comes to us with a respected pedigree in world sport and will undoubtedly bring a fresh new vision to our Federation and our global game.”
After a trying 2-hour match, one of the players comes up to the ref to apologize for giving him a hard time. The ref, pointing to his ring, says: “ That’s OK - I’m used to it because I’m married. ” The Marker, sitting beside him, chuckles and informs the ref of something he didn’t realize – that his wife was sitting right behind him.
The World Squash Federation held their Annual General Meeting in early November 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The WSF Conference, which preceded the AGM, facilitated informal discussions and featured presentations to update the delegates on key initiatives, including one which we have several times mentioned here – namely World Squash Officiating . The WSO is a joint enterprise between the WSF and Professional Squash Association (PSA) to develop an online platform that will provide National Federations with the tools to develop refereeing in their country. The new initiative was scheduled to go live before the end of the year – but there are apparently some hiccups. Nonetheless, you can find much of the detail we have previous outlined at this link: http://www.worldsquash.org/world-squash-officiating-2/

Squash Canada announced recently new screening and training requirements for key roles such as committees, officials, coaches, and more (in fact, this is part of a wider Safe Sport movement for all National Sport Organizations in Canada). As part of its safe sport commitment, 2020 brings a number of required training components that may include e-learning training on bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination, concussions, police checks and more. 
Somerset Maughan said: “Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it” – but Meherji Madan obviously took advice from no ‘Maughan’.
Maj (or "Majique" as he sometimes liked to be called), recently passed away from cardiac failure at his home in Maryland at the age of 77. Although he was a ref with U.S. Squash, he was well-known to many of us Canadians because of our frequent forays down there to help out with big events. He had a lifelong love of squash, being a long-time US Squash member and friend of squash players around the world. For many years he promoted the sport in the United States and abroad – including Europe, Central and South America, Ghana and Nigeria. He was also the President of National Capital Squash for two years in the early 2000s. 
Maj had an exceptional career as a professional accountant, having graduated from The London School of Economics with qualification as a Chartered Accountant, then working for Price, Waterhouse, Coopers in London. He moved to a Senior Accountant position at the World Bank in Washington, DC and was Director of Internal Audit at the Student Loan Marketing Association. He was an avid collector of classical music recordings, frequently attending concerts, and was himself an excellent pianist.
Reactions to his passing from refs who knew him inevitably included the “Quite a character” reference, a compliment to be sure which reflected his unique & affable nature - and of course, his special way of introducing and managing a match. There are, no doubt, a great many stories out there in officiating-land about him - as he has now moved on to that big show court in the sky.
Andrew Strasfogel wrote: “As one of his closest friends here in Maryland, I spent hours driving with Meherji to squash tournaments, often with Hunt Richardson, in the days when we were the only three US Squash certified refs available. He dubbed us the "Three Musketeers" of squash officialdom. Our discussion topics on these trips were wide ranging, as Maj had an abiding interest in many subjects, coupled with a deep understanding of squash, politics and human nature. We would critique each other's officiating prowess; at times the arguments were fierce, yet any bruised feelings never lasted long. I credit Maj for encouraging me to referee and assessing my performance on numerous occasions - always constructively. He used to kid me about getting "stuck" refereeing the Girls U11 matches at juniors tournaments, yet he himself always took time to mentor the youngest kids on the importance of knowing the rules and how to correctly mark matches they were refereeing. A great storyteller, Maj had their rapt attention even when explaining the difference between "down" and "not up". We also shared a deep love of classical music and went to Kennedy Center concerts and opera performances together. His own musical talents were considerable, as a pianist, composer, and arranger of scores.  He had long-time relationships with many collegiate coaches; when informed of his passing, one of them almost collapsed in grief. He forged many friendships over the years in the squash community - parents, squash kids (whom he mentored), and local pros. He particularly tried to assist those from less advantaged backgrounds and went so far as to take a trip deep into Nigeria to conduct an officiating clinic. A good, decent human being who was keenly interested in others - Maj will be deeply missed.”  

So that’s it for our mid-season edition of the BTG; hope you’ve also enjoyed this new format. The next edition is set for early summer. Meanwhile, if before then you’ve got something to say - email Geoff Johnson (Squash Canada Programs Manager) at: geoff.johnson@squash.ca   

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