I thought about folding this little Friday routine but I realised I really have nothing else to do outside work other than to feed and wash myself; no social or familial obligations, responsibilities or duties whatsoever that I needed some sense of continuity and rhythm for the sake of sanity and temporality, which I knew would inevitably lead to needless introspection, pointless questioning of existence, meanings, narratives, and the ensuing fall down the rabbit-hole etc. So here they are, a tad hackneyed, but nonetheless worth 5 minutes of your time the (possible) origins of ‘love’, 15, 30, and 40; the bizarre scoring system of modern tennis.
The common rubbish (albeit neat) we’re led to believe is that in medieval France clocks were used to keep scores with each point being indicated by moving the minute hand by increment of 15 minutes; 15, 30, 45, and game (or 60/0), and when later deuce was introduced, the 3rd point or 45 was changed to 40, so that 50 could be used to indicate ‘advantage’ in a deuce situation.
One of the reasons why this is rubbish is that clocks were a pretty precious commodity such that it would have been very unusual to find these things in sports courts; I mean I don’t really play tennis but have you noticed how fast these balls fly at Wimbledon? Another reason is that minute hands weren’t really a thing until quite late in the development of clocks.
A little less inspiring but a more convincing theory is that ‘jeu de paume’, a precursor to tennis (‘jeu de paume’ is to tennis as ‘fives’ is to squash) used to be played on a 90 ft long court, divided into 45 ft on each side. For the first two points, the player would move forward toward the net by 15 ft per point, but for the third point they would move only 10 ft to avoid being too close to the net.
Have a lovely Friday