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TableTennisDaily
07-15-2016, 05:46 PM
Welcome to episode 12 of the TableTennisDaily podcast, today on the show we are joined alongside the ITTF (http://ittf.com/) President Thomas Weikert.

Thomas became the German National Association President in 2005. And in 2014, he took over the presidency of the ITTF from Adham Sharara.
In this podcast we really explore and question recent rule changes and possible future rule changes for the sport including the net height increase, plastic balls and boosting.

We also speak about the Chinese Dominance, media exposure and current ITTF projects to help the sport grow.

Enjoy!

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Breakdown of the podcast

00:00 Introduction.
00:48 Start.
11.25 Rule changes and who has final say.
13.50 How much will the net height increase?
14.20 Ultimate goal to make table tennis rallies longer?
15.20 Ideas to make further rule changes to the serve, example only to use backhand serve.
16.30 Rubbers and boosting.
18.00 New system to detect boosting in the future.
20.50 Why not legalise boost?
22.43 what systems are in place to detect booster on players bats?
23.10 The plastic ball, what are your overall views? (Price, quality and Quantity)
26.15 The differences between the plastic balls
29.30 Longer rallies with plastic ball versus celluloid?
30.15 Will social media have a big influence of the growth of table tennis?
33.14 What are the new features on the new ITTF Website
34.34 Promoting players in table tennis to make stars like Ronaldo
37.24 New World Ranking Structure
42.47 China dominating tournaments an issue?
45.46 User questions including sponsors and participation numbers.

If you would like to save or listen to the podcast on itunes, search TableTennisDaily in the itunes store. If you are an android user you can download the Stitcher app and search for TableTennisDaily.

What do you think about, ITTF president, Thomas Weikert's opinions and ideas on the world of table tennis?
Thanks for listening!

NextLevel
07-15-2016, 06:05 PM
Yes!!!!

TTHopeful
07-15-2016, 06:39 PM
Yes!!!!

I liked the parts where he laughs... what do you think of the plastic ball Thomas.... laugh from Weikert L0L

NextLevel
07-15-2016, 07:07 PM
First round was disappointing - he sounded just as knowledgeable as I am. I know Dan is trying to be polite, but I never got the impression that Weikert understood how strongly TT players around the world feel about the changes or that Dan conveyed that.

AndySmith
07-15-2016, 07:33 PM
It's a difficult balancing act. He seemed pretty candid and approachable in general, and he seemed to at least acknowledge that there are plenty of issues about the plastic ball to be worked on. I'm sure lots of us would have liked to have heard Dan turning the thumbscrews on him, but being too confrontational might stop future interviews from happening.

He's definitely a big step up from Adham in many ways IMO. Not as epic as President NextLevel would be, but maybe we can get there some day. ;)

ttmonster
07-15-2016, 08:10 PM
POTITTF NextLevel !!!

It's a difficult balancing act. He seemed pretty candid and approachable in general, and he seemed to at least acknowledge that there are plenty of issues about the plastic ball to be worked on. I'm sure lots of us would have liked to have heard Dan turning the thumbscrews on him, but being too confrontational might stop future interviews from happening.

He's definitely a big step up from Adham in many ways IMO. Not as epic as President NextLevel would be, but maybe we can get there some day. ;)

NextLevel
07-15-2016, 08:18 PM
It's a difficult balancing act. He seemed pretty candid and approachable in general, and he seemed to at least acknowledge that there are plenty of issues about the plastic ball to be worked on. I'm sure lots of us would have liked to have heard Dan turning the thumbscrews on him, but being too confrontational might stop future interviews from happening.

He's definitely a big step up from Adham in many ways IMO. Not as epic as President NextLevel would be, but maybe we can get there some day. ;)


Not so much the thumbscrews but getting something that shows that he has his finger on the pulse of what is going on out there. I mean, would anyone seriously propose that we do strictly backhand serves if he has his finger on the pulse of what is out there?

AndySmith
07-15-2016, 08:35 PM
Not so much the thumbscrews but getting something that shows that he has his finger on the pulse of what is going on out there. I mean, would anyone seriously propose that we do strictly backhand serves if he has his finger on the pulse of what is out there?

I really hope that backhand-only service comment was just a flippant, comical remark lost in the German accent. Wishful thinking, eh? Sometimes the brainstorming brings a whirlwind, and sometimes a fart.

ttmonster
07-15-2016, 10:15 PM
Great job Dan and Team !!! I hope this kind of interactions will be a great way to bring ITTF closer to hobby players ... wonderful initiative

Ilia Minkin
07-15-2016, 10:37 PM
Not as epic as President NextLevel would be ;)

kukamonga for the president! Make table tennis great again!

Tornado2016
07-15-2016, 11:32 PM
Thanks a lot for putting so much effort in all these podcasts Dan. In general, I like them a lot.

However, I don't like what Thomas Weikert is saying. He delivers no new information at all. Everything he is telling is old hat. For instance, when he is asked about boosters or plastic balls he just describes which problems exist. Wow, I think almost everyone knows them. But he does not go into detail except for "we are working on that". Furthermore, he has obviously no own opinion or is not willing to share it ("this is not my opinion. It is one idea...") and no overview what is going on. He sometimes used phrases like "as far as I heard / know". But if not him who should know?

If this superficial story is everything he has to answer on these very good questions being ITTF president can't be a very tough job. :confused:
Finally, I did not learn anything by the interview. Too bad!

Thomas Jeffcott
07-15-2016, 11:50 PM
First round was disappointing - he sounded just as knowledgeable as I am. I know Dan is trying to be polite, but I never got the impression that Weikert understood how strongly TT players around the world feel about the changes or that Dan conveyed that.

I thought he understood a lot of the issues and addressed them adequately and said what he wants to do to solve them. With the plastic ball he said that mistakes may have been made bringing it into the game without enough testing and the fact that certain plastic balls are better than others. I think that you'll agree that the quality of plastic balls continue to improve and become more reliable which is a good thing for the sport and looking back and blaming people isn't going to help. He did similar with boost saying that they may legalise it, as the reason speed glue got banned was because of VOC's which boost does not contain. As for the net height increase he said that players of all standards will be involved in the testing and their points of view will be important as to deciding this or, from what it sounded like, any other future rule changes.

Thomas Jeffcott
07-15-2016, 11:53 PM
I really hope that backhand-only service comment was just a flippant, comical remark lost in the German accent. Wishful thinking, eh? Sometimes the brainstorming brings a whirlwind, and sometimes a fart.
I completely agree I think he was just brain storming. This is an informal type of interview which will sometimes result with informal answers as you quite rightly point out.

Tornado2016
07-15-2016, 11:55 PM
I thought he understood a lot of the issues and addressed them adequately and said what he wants to do to solve them. With the plastic ball he said that mistakes may have been made bringing it into the game without enough testing and the fact that certain plastic balls are better than others. I think that you'll agree that the quality of plastic balls continue to improve and become more reliable which is a good thing for the sport and looking back and blaming people isn't going to help. He did similar with boost saying that they may legalise it, as the reason speed glue got banned was because of VOC's which boost does not contain. As for the net height increase he said that players of all standards will be involved in the testing and their points of view will be important as to deciding this or, from what it sounded like, any other future rule changes.
I think he tried to stay unprecise on purpose. Example: he said "it is one possible idea to permit boosting" but he never said that it is an idea the ITTF is discussing. He never said that it is a good or bad idea in his opinion. He never said that they are going to test it. He only said it would be possible. After all, he said nothing. And that's how it worked through the whole podcast.

Thomas Jeffcott
07-16-2016, 12:15 AM
Thanks a lot for putting so much effort in all these podcasts Dan. In general, I like them a lot.

However, I don't like what Thomas Weikert is saying. He delivers no new information at all. Everything he is telling is old hat. For instance, when he is asked about boosters or plastic balls he just describes which problems exist. Wow, I think almost everyone knows them. But he does not go into detail except for "we are working on that". Furthermore, he has obviously no own opinion or is not willing to share it ("this is not my opinion. It is one idea...") and no overview what is going on. He sometimes used phrases like "as far as I heard / know". But if not him who should know?

If this superficial story is everything he has to answer on these very good questions being ITTF president can't be a very tough job. :confused:
Finally, I did not learn anything by the interview. Too bad!

With respect this is a 50 minute podcast we could have talked for 3 hours purely about the plastic ball but there were many topics to discuss. He admits there are problems from an official standpoint which is good to hear in my opinion but as I said he had a limited time to speak and couldn't go into them in fine detail. At least he admits that mistakes have been made and that things need to be and are being improved. This is a lot more than most people in positions of power will do. As he speaks from an official standpoint he is trying to convey the ideas of the ITTF as a whole and so doesn't give too many personal opinions. Finally there is no way that you knew that he played in the German 1st division in 84 surely?! So at least you learnt that eh? ;) At the end of the day he can be judged in a few years time when he has more time to work on improving the sport then we can truly say wether he has been successful or not. Until then,for the good of our sport, we should try and be positive and hope that the changes he and the ITTF put in place work and make table tennis better.

Thomas Jeffcott
07-16-2016, 12:30 AM
I think he tried to stay unprecise on purpose. Example: he said "it is one possible idea to permit boosting" but he never said that it is an idea the ITTF is discussing. He never said that it is a good or bad idea in his opinion. He never said that they are going to test it. He only said it would be possible. After all, he said nothing. And that's how it worked through the whole podcast.Just because he doesn't say the ITTF are discussing certain things doesn't mean that they aren't. It's easy to be negative but I believe that what he was saying, for the most part, was that the ITTF understood the problems facing table tennis and that they were coming up with ideas to solve them again we didn't have a huge amount of time to discuss them in detail. In my opinion he didn't say nothing but I don't mind if you feel that way I just disagree with you.

Tornado2016
07-16-2016, 01:10 AM
I think you got me wrong.

Since I am from Germany I knew that Thomas Weikert played first league. I also know the town where he lives, the club where he is playing and the league he is currently in.

As I said, Dan and you have nothing to worry about. You did a great job. As always, you find a good balance between being polite and curious, formal and informal, and so on. However, since these podcasts are more informal and inofficial I hoped to get a more personal perspective on the ITTF. That was not what I expected but what I was hoping for. For example, it would have been very interesting to hear about Weikerts personal opinion, possible differences between his own thoughts as a table tennis player (now on amateur level) and as an official. Something which gives us a feeling of how hard it might be to do global decisions. However, Weikert did not answered the questions as a person, neither as a man who has some power to change the global development of the sport but as a reprensentative of a federation. In other words as an institution. That and nothing else is my criticism about. I do not like that because as a consequence his answers were repetitions of what I can read in official ITTF interviews and announcements. Maybe, I am the only one with that feeling because I read some German interviews with him during the last years. And I don't think the interview would have been longer if his anwers had been more concrete.

But as nextLevel said: there were some questions I could have answered in the same way without being involved in all that official stuff. For instance, that quantity, quality and price are the things you have to consider introducing new balls.

Of course, this is my personal point of view. Anyone is free to have another opinion and to like his answers. But that will not change my own thoughts about that.

Tornado2016
07-16-2016, 01:17 AM
Just because he doesn't say the ITTF are discussing certain things doesn't mean that they aren't.
Exactly. Thus, after hearing the podcast you still do not know if they are discussing these things or not. Just because he gave no concrete answer but remained vague. You are not better informed than before. That is what I criticized.

But enough for that. I think my point is clear now.

Thomas Jeffcott
07-16-2016, 01:56 AM
I think you got me wrong.

Since I am from Germany I knew that Thomas Weikert played first league. I also know the town where he lives, the club where he is playing and the league he is currently in.

As I said, Dan and you have nothing to worry about. You did a great job. As always, you find a good balance between being polite and curious, formal and informal, and so on. However, since these podcasts are more informal and inofficial I hoped to get a more personal perspective on the ITTF. That was not what I expected but what I was hoping for. For example, it would have been very interesting to hear about Weikerts personal opinion, possible differences between his own thoughts as a table tennis player (now on amateur level) and as an official. Something which gives us a feeling of how hard it might be to do global decisions. However, Weikert did not answered the questions as a person, neither as a man who has some power to change the global development of the sport but as a reprensentative of a federation. In other words as an institution. That and nothing else is my criticism about. I do not like that because as a consequence his answers were repetitions of what I can read in official ITTF interviews and announcements. Maybe, I am the only one with that feeling because I read some German interviews with him during the last years. And I don't think the interview would have been longer if his anwers had been more concrete.

But as nextLevel said: there were some questions I could have answered in the same way without being involved in all that official stuff. For instance, that quantity, quality and price are the things you have to consider introducing new balls.

Of course, this is my personal point of view. Anyone is free to have another opinion and to like his answers. But that will not change my own thoughts about that.

Yeah but I bet you didn't know the excact years :p. I joke of course you do seem to have an encyclopaedic knowledge on the German leagues both past and present! I understand what you're saying, but a lot of feedback we've had from other people so far is that they found what he was saying very informative and learnt things they hadn't known before. So maybe you're just more up to date with the vast majority of people in that case I'm sorry the episode didn't give you any new news or useful information. Maybe in the future we will get other ITTF officials on who will be able to provide some information that you may not have heard before. :)

Tornado2016
07-16-2016, 01:59 AM
Of course go on with these podcasts. I appreciate that. I like the concept very much :p

NextLevel
07-16-2016, 05:19 AM
Of course go on with these podcasts. I appreciate that. I like the concept very much :p

It is good to see that someone listening to the podcast also felt the same way I did. Not saying it is the only appropriate way to feel, but that I learned nothing new. After all, the backhand serve idea is an old one that has been strongly resisted by players in informal discussions. It just felt like Weikert was trying to not say anything we didn't already know. It is a perfect interview for a public official as nothing he say makes news. It is a poor interview for a journalist because everything that is said is already in the public domain. And we still have no clue what kind of game ITTF will release in August prior to the Olympics or why they are doing it without testing the new game with the larger playing base.

fanTT
07-16-2016, 10:13 AM
Much was said here and I agree that many touched topics was already talk out and a bit boring to listen once again. (but maybe these topics were must to ask because he is not a player/coach but a president)

I am actually worried that their main goal in other words are like: "Our goal is to make table tennis more interested to watch than to play"...

I am happy with nowadays ranking system. It makes you responsible to play at your best to not loose the points. Maybe it can have slight changes, but definately NOT to use ATP ranking system. Why not you might ask? Ricardas Berankis is the best example why ATP ranking system is a crap.

Thomas Jeffcott
07-16-2016, 01:15 PM
It is good to see that someone listening to the podcast also felt the same way I did. Not saying it is the only appropriate way to feel, but that I learned nothing new. After all, the backhand serve idea is an old one that has been strongly resisted by players in informal discussions. It just felt like Weikert was trying to not say anything we didn't already know. It is a perfect interview for a public official as nothing he say makes news. It is a poor interview for a journalist because everything that is said is already in the public domain. And we still have no clue what kind of game ITTF will release in August prior to the Olympics or why they are doing it without testing the new game with the larger playing base.

It is easy to criticise the interview as nothing new but you have to remember that he is the ITTF president representing the organisation, so you weren't ever going to get him saying lots of personal opinions or saying much in the way of controversy due to his position. Even if, as you claim, you got absolutely no new information from this interview at least you got to know the man who runs our sport a little bit better as a personality. He came across as a nice guy I think who is passionate in improving the sport and as I've already said the proof will be in the pudding as to what he can achieve whilst president.

kukamonga
07-16-2016, 01:42 PM
independently of what thomas or dan could have done differently, do you think they have the slightest chance of putting pressure on Weikert? make him say something he doesn't wanna say?
he's the president of the ittf!!! he can manipulate dan and thomas any way he wants.

as for dan and thomas, they keep it the safe and predictable way.
they want to keep on doing the forum, doing interviews...
they are not gonna screw it up if they can avoid it.
that's why they all give them interviews.
because they know they are not gonna get uncomfortable situations.
that's the way the world works.

you could only get weikert to say controversial stuff if he was running for president now.
like trump at this moment.
but once they are in?
they are like talking to a wall.

Tom TTD
07-16-2016, 02:04 PM
Nice podcast , interesting to hear about some new changes I didn't know about . Look forward to the future and hope the changes and rules can positively impact global table tennis , the new website sounds good . Keep up the podcasts !

NextLevel
07-16-2016, 02:30 PM
It is easy to criticise the interview as nothing new but you have to remember that he is the ITTF president representing the organisation, so you weren't ever going to get him saying lots of personal opinions or saying much in the way of controversy due to his position. Even if, as you claim, you got absolutely no new information from this interview at least you got to know the man who runs our sport a little bit better as a personality. He came across as a nice guy I think who is passionate in improving the sport and as I've already said the proof will be in the pudding as to what he can achieve whilst president.

I think the criticisms are very important as people may not be aware that all the stuff he is saying is already pretty public or ancient. I don't get the impression listening to or watching Shahara in interviews that he is not a nice guy either. Shahara was also a relatively high level Canadian defender. So the things I am saying are just things that need to be said. It is better to have the podcast than to not have it, but for anyone looking for something other than what one can learn about the ITTF just by reading the bulletins or the summaries of it that come out on other blogs, I guess we found out he is just as nice as Shahara during interviews.

Thomas Jeffcott
07-16-2016, 03:04 PM
I think the criticisms are very important as people may not be aware that all the stuff he is saying is already pretty public or ancient. I don't get the impression listening to or watching Shahara in interviews that he is not a nice guy either. Shahara was also a relatively high level Canadian defender. So the things I am saying are just things that need to be said. It is better to have the podcast than to not have it, but for anyone looking for something other than what one can learn about the ITTF just by reading the bulletins or the summaries of it that come out on other blogs, I guess we found out he is just as nice as Shahara during interviews.

Constructive criticism is of course the way everything improves. I think listening to this podcast is a better way of getting information on the ITTF's ideas if you aren't such a hardcore fan and haven't spent hours researching this stuff on various blogs or articles. Personally I thought he came across well and I enjoyed speaking to him.

NextLevel
07-16-2016, 03:06 PM
Constructive criticism is of course the way everything improves. I think listening to this podcast is a better way of getting information on the ITTF's ideas if you aren't such a hardcore fan and haven't spent hours researching this stuff on various blogs or articles. Personally I thought he came across well and I enjoyed speaking to him.

Agreed.

Thomas Jeffcott
07-16-2016, 03:23 PM
independently of what thomas or dan could have done differently, do you think they have the slightest chance of putting pressure on Weikert? make him say something he doesn't wanna say?
he's the president of the ittf!!! he can manipulate dan and thomas any way he wants.

as for dan and thomas, they keep it the safe and predictable way.
they want to keep on doing the forum, doing interviews...
they are not gonna screw it up if they can avoid it.
that's why they all give them interviews.
because they know they are not gonna get uncomfortable situations.
that's the way the world works.

you could only get weikert to say controversial stuff if he was running for president now.
like trump at this moment.
but once they are in?
they are like talking to a wall.

The purpose of this podcast was so people got to know Thomas better and get the ITTF's standpoint on a vast array of topics and I think we were successful in doing this. Our purpose was not to make him uncomfortable or trick him into saying something controversial that he didn't mean although I'm sure everyone would have enjoyed it if we had tried :)

As you say we are not about to insult him and tell him he's doing a terrible job because neither of us believe he is. I really liked how he seemed to want change and grow the sport and isn't happy with just leaving it as it is.

NextLevel
07-16-2016, 03:54 PM
The purpose of this podcast was so people got to know Thomas better and get the ITTF's standpoint on a vast array of topics and I think we were successful in doing this. Our purpose was not to make him uncomfortable or trick him into saying something controversial that he didn't mean although I'm sure everyone would have enjoyed it if we had tried :)

As you say we are not about to insult him and tell him he's doing a terrible job because neither of us believe he is. I really liked how he seemed to want change and grow the sport and isn't happy with just leaving it as it is.


I don't think anyone thinks he is doing a terrible job. After all, he is part of a committee. Were you and Dan told before the interview that there were topics you could or could not discuss or there were things you could not raise?

UpSideDownCarl
07-16-2016, 04:34 PM
Hey, there are good points on both sides of this discussion. It is good to have Dan and Thomas able to do these podcasts and TT figures willing to these interviews because they KNOW they won't have the thumb screws applied and won't be posed questions that challenge.

At the same time, having some scenario where some pressure can be applied and the hard questions can be asked and a figure like Weikart can be put to task, it would be nice.

I see the same thing with the video product reviews. I don't know that I would change the video product reviews because, I think, the fact that they come across with almost all positives and very few negatives, and almost seem like product advertisements, means that ALL the major TT companies are willing to have you guys review products. I think that is important.

But when Calibra Tour can't spin the ball for shite, having someone out there willing to spell it out is worth it too.


Sent from Deep Space by Abacus

NextLevel
07-16-2016, 04:52 PM
Hey, there are good points on both sides of this discussion. It is good to have Dan and Thomas able to do these podcasts and TT figures willing to these interviews because they KNOW they won't have the thumb screws applied and won't be posed questions that challenge.

At the same time, having some scenario where some pressure can be applied and the hard questions can be asked and a figure like Weikart can be put to task, it would be nice.

I see the same thing with the video product reviews. I don't know that I would change the video product reviews because, I think, the fact that they come across with almost all positives and very few negatives, and almost seem like product advertisements, means that ALL the major TT companies are willing to have you guys review products. I think that is important.

But when Calibra Tour can't spin the ball for shite, having someone out there willing to spell it out is worth it too.


Sent from Deep Space by Abacus

Yes - I wouldn't call it applying pressure - it's more that the issue/question should be framed in a way that speaks to the dissatisfaction it causes. Hidden/illegal serves hurts players who are not willing to hide their serves or serve illegally. Boosting grants an advantage to people who are not willing to break the rules on paper. If we are to take Timo Boll literally, his career has been hurt by his refusal to boost.

The new idea that is supposed to popularize table tennis by having a new form - that there was absolutely no follow-up question in an attempt to get more details on that was puzzling.

The quality of the plastic balls has improved but there has been nothing that says that they are being driven towards playing similarly. And even after listening, I didn't hear any initiative to support that.

I am under no delusions that there are not practical or even fantastic reasons why all of these question could not or should not be asked, time being one of them. But none of these questions are attempts to trick the interviewer but they make sure the question is framed in a context that makes the interview less rote.

To be fair though, I think that the interview gets more interesting towards the end. But in the end, it still would have been nice to see who is being affected by the problems that the ITTF is trying to solve currently and how pressing it finds those issues.

Thomas Jeffcott
07-16-2016, 07:17 PM
I don't think anyone thinks he is doing a terrible job. After all, he is part of a committee. Were you and Dan told before the interview that there were topics you could or could not discuss or there were things you could not raise?

No there was nothing we were told we couldn't discuss or raise.

ttmonster
07-16-2016, 08:40 PM
One thing we can definitely say is that this interview has spawned one of the most interesting threads in Table tennis daily in recent times.

You have to remember that he was a lawyer by profession , so just like a 1400 USATT can never beat a 2700 USATT player unless the guy has been beaten up severly by the goon squad , I don't think any amount of hard or trick questions would have prompted him to say something which he did not plan to say. You could clearly see the reason why he did the interview was because he wants establish a friendly face of the ITTF for the hobby players and their opinions and he himself being a hobby player knows that its not only not fair but also not business savvy of ITTF to neglect such a huge population of players.

I am sure one of many reasons he is the ITTF president is because he is considered trustworthy enough to not be mouthing off stuff that can potentially land ITTF into hot water.

I see two positives, he is willing to accept some of the obvious mistakes and he is trying to connect to the support base.

However, as has been rightly pointed out earlier I don't think he is going to make changes in how the decision making happens in ITTF, he is trying to fix some low hanging issues which even the previous president was not willing to. And when I mean the decision making process, I mean how they end up deciding what is good for the game through internal discussions and then trialing it out in tournament, which may be okay in other sports , where as by the very nature of table tennis the popularity and revenue generation is not from viewership of fans but from actual serious hobby players who have to enjoy the sport to go online or onto to TV to watch it.

chuckjordan2
07-23-2016, 11:27 PM
Dan,
I think you did a great job. First, for securing the interview, second for covering a wide range of questions.

Follow on: Thomas stated Latin America was the fastest growing,. Do you see TTD logins corresponding to that increase? I have read some here and their posts. Wondering how we can support them in their growth (Thomas did say the Chinese were sending coaches to other countries, could Latin America be one?).
Surprised the US wasn't mentioned, possibility that TT faces an uphill battle here.

Thanks and a great podcast.
Chuck