US 3477717 A
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T. V. CLARK Nov.'1l, 1969 MINIATURIZED TABLE TENNIS GAME WITH CAPTIVE BALL Filed April 5. 1967 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR. THEODORE V. CLARK ATTORNEYS Nov. 11, 1969 T. v. CLARK MINIATURIZED TABLE TENNIS GAME WITH CAPTIVE BALL 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed April 3. 1967 /Z INVENTOR.
THEODORE V. CLARK ATTORNEYS United States Patent US. Cl. 273--30 11 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A table tennis game wherein the rectangular playing field is substantially smaller than. a regulation playing field, for example, in the order of 24 x 32 inches, the net being reduced in like proportions. The game has a regulation table tennis ball which is connected by atether to an elevated point high above the center of the playing field so as to permit the ballto be stroked back and forth across the net without the danger of losing control of the ball, thus enabling the game to be played by adults, invalids and children. The tether is elastic and is long enough, when unstretched, to allow the ball to reach 7 any one of the four corners of the playing field so that the tether does not hamper free play, the play resembling play with an untethered ball while, at the same time, the ball is never permitted to escape from the immediate vicinity of the playing field.
7 BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Field of the invention- A table tennis game consisting of a rectangular miniaturized playing field with a miniaturized net and a regulation ball which is tethered by an elastic limp string to a point high above the center of the playing field so that the ball can be stroked freely back and forth across the net without ever. leaving the immediate vicinity of the playing field.
Description of the prior art SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of my present invention to provide a miniature table tennis game which avoids the foregoing drawbacks.
More specifically, it is an object of my invention to provide a table tennis game of the character described in which the ball is tethered in such a fashion that neither the anchor point nor the tether interferes with'free stroking of the ball'back and forth across the net.
Another object of my invention is to provide a table tennis game of the character described which, although miniaturized, will give a player the satisfaction that a regular size game would to physically fit adults.
Another object of my invention is to provide a table tennis game of the character described in which the anchor point of the tether and the reach of the tether are such that the tether lends itself to an otherwise normal play of the game, the tether being anchored high above the center of the table and long enough to permit the ball to reach any of the four corners of the rectangular playing field without stretching the tether.
Other objects of my invention in part will be obvious and in part will be pointed out hereinafter.
My invention accordingly consists in the features of construction, combinations of elements and arrangements of parts which will be exemplified in the game hereinafter described and of which the scope of application will be indicated in the appended claims.
In general, the objects of my invention are achieved by providing a game board of the type which constitutes a miniaturize rectangular playing field with about the same proportions (relative dimensions) as a regulation table tennis playing field of larger dimensions, the board consisting, for example, of an oblong table top which is 24- x 32 inches in plan. Preferably, although not necessarily, the board does not have legs so that the game can be played on a bed or placed on an ordinary card table, the size of the board being smallenough to accommodate itself to such confined quarters. The board is lined to define playing areas which are the same as those of a regulation table tennis playing field. A net is supported by brackets in a position stretched across the transverse center line of the board. The height of the net is miniaturized in proportion to the miniaturized playing field so that a typical net is 3 and inches high. One of the net holding brackets is employed to support a wire bow to the free end of which an elastic string is attached, said free end constituting the anchor point for the string. Said anchor point is located directly above the center of the playing field and hence above the center of the net. The distance from the top edge of the center of the net to the anchor point for the tether is sufficiently great to permit the ball, which is secured to the opposite end of the string, to be stroked back and forth across the net without interference from the anchor point or the tether. To carry out this function, I have found that the anchor point, which is at the free end of the bow, preferably is located above the center of the upper edge of the net by a distance in the order of about one half the longitudinal dimension of the playing field to about one half the diagonal dimension of the playing field. In the preferred form of the invention, this distance is approximately fifteen to twenty-two inches. The ball is a regulation table tennis ball having a tiny hole formed therein in which the free end of the elastic tether is captive. The game, of course, also includes a pair of miniaturized paddles, one for each player. The game can be played as a singles game or as a doubles game.
It will be apparent that, due to the length of the tether, as aforementioned, there is no interference with free volleying of the ball; but the tether does restrain extreme excursion of the ball so that the ball always is retained in the vicinity of the playing field where it can be easily grasped by a player even though that player be confined to his bed.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the accompanying drawings in which are shown various possible embodiments of my invention:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the assembled components of the miniaturized table tennis game of my present invention.
FIG. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken substantially along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken substantially along the line 3--3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken substantially along the 4-4 line of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view through a hollow table tennis ball showing the attachment of the free end of the elastic tether thereto; and
Q FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. of a table tennis ball with a'modified mode of attachment of the free end of the elastic tether thereto.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now in detail to the drawings, and more particularly to FIGS. 1 through 5, the reference numeral 10 denotes a table tennis game constructed in accordance with and embodying my instant invention.
A primary component of the game is a board 12 of self-form-maintaining flat material presenting a large surface area which constitutes an oblong playing field 14. A self-sustaining" sheet material can be employed for this purpose. Mentioned by way of example are wooden plywood,'and preferably not too thick a plywood such, for instance, as inchplywood or, more desirably, a tempered wood composition board or paper composition board, a typical board being one sold under the trademark Masonite.
The board has approximately the same relative proportions, i.e., length to width, as a regulation table tennis board, although this is not critical. The board is of miniature size, however, so that it will be small enough to place on an incapacitated persons or invalids bed or on the top of a card table. Of course, the foregoing is not meant to exclude other uses of the board, for example, the same can be placed on the floor where it can be readily utilized by young children. Typical dimensions for the board 12 are 24 inches in width and 32 inches in length. This means that a half diagonal, or a full diagonal from the center of the board to any corner, is inches.
To make the board 12 resemble the board of a regulation table tennis game the playing field 14 is painted green but is provided with a white striped border 16, a White stripe transverse center line 18 and a white stripe longitudinal center line 20. The intersection between the transverse and longitudinal center lines 18, 20 is the center 22 of the board and the playing field.
The game further is provided with a net 24 which is of conventional appearance. To this end, the net constitutes a broad green open weave (net) band 26 constituting a criss-cross series of widely spaced horizontal and vertical threads which are held in place at their longitudinal edges by white binding 28. The ends of the longitudinal binding extend beyond the edge binding to form tie strings 30. The net is held in its conventional position, outstretched across the transverse center line and vertically on edge above said line, as by brackets 32. The height of the net is such that the top longitudinal edge thereof is located above the playing field a distance about the same proportion with respect to the playing field as the top edge of a regulation full sized table tennis game. For this purpose the top edge of the net is about three and one quarter inches above the playing field 14.
The two brackets 32 may be of any suitable configuration which is adapted to hold the net in a taut fashion. As shown, each bracket is made of a sheet metal strip shaped to include a short inwardly extending foot 34, an erect standard 36 and a tip 38. The standard is provided with upper and lower apertures 40 at the desired levels for the upper and lower longitudinal edges of the net. The tie strings 30 are threaded through the apertures in the opposite standards, pulled taut and then tied in knots as best shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3.
The feet 34 are provided with apertures through which the threaded shanks of bolts 42 are inserted, the heads of the bolts being seated flatly on the under surfaces of the board 12 and the shanks of the bolts extending through registered apertures in said board. Wing nuts 44 threaded on the shanks of the bolts are tightened against the upper surfaces of the feet to hold the standards 36 rigidly in position.
The tips 38 of the brackets are inturned at an angle as best seen in FIG. 3 so that they extend back partially over the feet 34. Each tip is formed with an aperture 46. As thus far described, the game 10 is essentially similar to a regulation table tennis game except for the reduced size of the playing field, net and brackets, which have been reduced to the dimensions noted above in order to encourage play of the game by ill or disabled persons or children. However, the present invention is considerably more sophisticated than a mere reduction in size. According to the present invention, the ball is tethered to the game by an elongated elastic member such as a string of live rubber so that the ball cannot escape the immediate vicinity of the playing field and either be lost or carried so far from the players that they cannot recapture the same without assistance. Nevertheless, merely tethering the ball is still not suflicient because the anchor point of the tether might be so located that either the anchor point or the length of the tether itself can interfere with free volleying of the' ball back and forth across the net. For example, if the tether were located at the top edge of the net, the'ball as it flew back and forth across the net could easily strike the tether and be deflected from the lines of flight to which it was propelled by stroking motion of paddles. The same is true of an anchor point situated anywhere along the'edge of the board. But, in accordance with my present invention, a novel orientation of a tether anchor point has been proposed where neither the anchor point nor the tether will hinder or deflect the flight of the ball; moreover, the length of the tether is such, as soon will be described, that although the ball is constrained to the vicinity of the playing field, such length likewise will not materially influence play of the game.
More specifically, a length 48 of an elongated springy material, such for instance as wire, e.g. cold drawn medium carbon steel wire, is provided. The Wire can be deformed by manual pressure to vary its lengthwise configuration and will retain such altered configuration and still be springy. One end of the wire is formed into a short foot 50 which is bent to form a loop that encircles the shank of a bolt 42 that is coupled to either bracket 32. The loop is sandwiched between the foot and the wing nut. The wire above the foot 50 is turned at a right angle to form an erect reach 52 which runs upwardly parallel to the afliliated standard 36 and extends through the aperture 46. Above the aperture 46 the wire 48 is formed into an outwardly arched bow 54 of large radius that runs from the steadying aperture 46 first upwardly and outwardly 'away from the board and then, after attaining a substantial height, turning back to extend inwardly across the transverse center line 18 to form a large clear area above the board through which the ball may freely travel. The bow 54 terminates at a free end 56 which may assume the form of a shallow dip 56. This dip is located directly above the center 22 of the board 12. It will be observed that the portion of the bow 54 extending away from the free end 56 and across the board 12 is largely horizontal thereby maintaining the portion of the bow over the playing field 14 at a high level where it is out of the range of a normally played table tennis ball.
As has been pointed out above, it is important to the proper operation of a game embodying my present invention that the free end 56 of the member 48 which constitutes the anchor point of the tether, soon to be described in detail, be located at a substantial height, e.g. eighteen to twenty-five inches, above the board and, more specifically, above the center 22 of the board 12. A suitable height from said free end to the center of the upper longitudinal edge of the net is equal to a somewhat more than a half length of the board, i.e. sixteen inches. Preferably, the aforesaid length is a few inches in excess of said half length and even slightly in excess of a half diagonal of the playing field. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, said free end 56 is about nineteen inches above said center of the top edge of the net which places it a little more than twenty-two inches, e.g. about twenty-two and one quarter inches, above the center 22 of the board 12. Greater heights of said free end 56 are within the scope of my invention, for example, the invention will work satisfactorily where the distance from thefree end 56 to the center 22 of the board 12 is twenty-five inches. This distance can be varied by deforming the bowed section 54 of the wire 48.
The free end 56 has attached to it the anchor end of an elongated elastomeric slender member 58, such, for instance, as an elastic string of live rubber. The opposite, i.e. free end of the elastic string, is captively attached to a table tennis ball 60 of conventional construction, to wit, a hollow spherical light weight ball of thinsheet material which is characterized by its resiliency and high bounce. Since these balls are generally available only in a regulation size, such a regulation size is used in the practice of my invention rather than a miniature size. Accordingly, the ball is about one and one-half inches in diameter, although a proportionately reduced size ball can be employed.
As is usual, the ball has an equator (not shown) where the two halves of the ball are joined during manufacture. In accordance with the present invention, the ball has a through opening 62 formed therein by punching or drilling. The opening is quite tiny, being of a lesser areal cross-section than the areal cross-section of the elastic string 58. The opening is located at a polar region which is 90 away from the equatorial junction zone aforementioned.
The free end of the tether can be captively secured to the ball in any suitable fashion. FIG. 5 shows one such fashion. It constitutes forming a simple knot 64 at said free end and pushing the knot through the opening 62 with a narrow ended instrument, such as a blunt needle, until the knot is entirely within the hall where it will captively retain the ball on the ether. It will be observed that because the opening 62 is smaller than the crosssectional dimensions of the tether, the tether is constricted where it passes through said opening so that the tether is bulged to both sides of the opening thereby tending to secure the string more firmly on the ball. To aid in fastening the ball, a drop of plastic cement 66 may be applied to the tether immediately adjacent the exterior end of the opening 62. A suitable cement is collodion or white casein glue.
In FIG. 6, an alternate method of attachment of the tether 58 to the ball 60 is shown, the same constituting an integral knob 68 at the free end of the tether. The knob 68, like the knot 64, is pushed through the opening 62 to force it to the inside of the hall where it, thereafter, will remain in place.
The length of the tether 58 is such that the ball 60 can be touched to any one of the four corners of the board 12 without stretching .said tether. Preferably, the length of the tether is such that any appreciable further movement of the ball, e.g. two to four inches, outwardly will stretch the tether. This, desirably, is the minimum length of the tether and, as just indicated, preferably the maximum length. However, the maximum length may be a few inches longer.
In the described form of the invention, wherein the board is 24 x 32 inches and the anchor point 56 of the tether is about twenty-two inches above the center 22 of the playing field, a suitable tether length is thirty inches.
Finally, the game includes paddles 70 which are of standard construction consisting of handles and paddle surfaces which have a high coefficient of friction, sandpaper, emerycloth or rubber sheeting being suitable for this purpose. Desirably, the paddles are miniaturized, the broad flat paddle surface exemplificatively being five inches in width and six inches in length.
The play of the game is much like that of regulation table tennis: however a game consists of twenty-six points, rather than twenty-one, and the serve is made directly from the paddle across the net so that the ball touches the opposing players field first, rather than first touching the serving players field. However, it will be appreciated that because of the small size and the absence of legs, the board 12 can be placed, and the game played, on the bed of a disabled person or invalid who is bedridden. It also can be played on a card table where it can be used by children or it can be placed on the floor to be likewise played by young children. Because of its small size, it is easily carried about from spot to spot and can be taken to places of leisure such as beaches, picnic and vacation areas where it can be set down on any flat horizontal support either at ground level or elevated.
The height of the free end 56 of the anchor end of the tether places this end out of the path of the moving tether,
I and out of the path of travel of flights of the ball so that the game can be played essentially unimpeded by the tether. Additionally, because the tether is largely vertical and not horizontal as it would be if supported at a low level, the idle part of the length of the tether will not ordinarily be in the way of the travel of the ball as it is volleyed across the net.
Still further, because of the length of the tether, the usual short volleys of the ball, that is to say short in length of travel, are not noticeably influenced by the tether but, because the tether is not unduly long, the ball is constrained to remain in the general vicinity of the board 12 where at the end of a volley it can be easily recaptured by a player who is confined to bed. Further yet, the ball will not, if wildly hit, fly a substantial distance from the board so that a player, particularly a child, will be reluctant to travel to it to obtain possession thereof or so far that the ball will be lost.
It thus will be seen that I have provided a miniaturized table tennis game which accomplishes various objects of my invention and which is well adapted to meet the conditions of practical use.
As various possible embodiments might be made of my above invention, and as various changes might be made in the embodiment above set forth, it is to be understood that all matter herein described or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
Having thus described my invention, I claim as new and useful and desire to secure by Letters Patent:
1. A miniature table tennis game comprising a miniature rectangular board having a table tennis playing field on its upper surface, a miniature net, means secured to the opposite longitudinal edges of the board and supporting the net stretched out across the transverse center of the board, a table tennis ball, an elongated elastic tether, means securing one end of the tether to the ball and springy means securing the other end of the tether to an anchor point high above the center of the board where the diagonals of the board cross.
2. A game as set forth in claim 1 wherein means supports the anchor point from the board.
3. A game as set forth in claim 2 wherein the means supporting the anchor point includes a portion extending transversely across the board and wherein said portion is likewise located high above the board.
4. A game as set forth in claim 1 wherein the anchor point is about as high above the upper edge of the net as a half length to a half diagonal of the board.
5. A game as set forth in claim 1 wherein the length of the tether is such that the ball can be touched to any corner of the board without stretching the tether.
6. A game as set forth in claim 1 wherein the length of the tether is such as to just about enable the ball to be touched to any corner of the board without stretching the tether.
7. A game as set forth in claim 1 wherein the ball has an opening therein, wherein the tether extends through the opening and wherein the portion of the tether located inside the ball is enlarged to captively retain the ball on the tether.
8. A game as set forth in claim 1 wherein the means securing the other end of the tether to an anchor point high above the center of the board is an elongated outwardly arched springy bow having one end supported at the center of a side of the board and having its other end above the center of the board.
9. A game as set forth in claim 8 wherein the center portion of the bow protrudes outwardly beyond the affiliated side edge of the board so as to be out of the line of flight of the volley paths of the ball back and forth across the net.
10. A game as set forth in claim 8 wherein the bow is deformable.
11. A game as set forth in claim 1 wherein the board is about 24 x 32 inches, wherein the height of the anchor point above the center of the board is about 18 to 25 inches above the center of the board and wherein the length of the tether is just about sufiicient to allow the ball to be touched to any corner of the board without stretching the tether.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 5 RICHARD C. PINKHAM, Primary Examiner T. BROWN, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 27358