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Mercy point in table tennis, Yes or No?

Mercy point in table tennis, Yes or No?
Why should you avoid winning 11-0?

In your opinion, what will you do? When you are winning 10-0. Do you give up a point? If yes, this point is called mercy point.

You can win 11-0

Yes, you can win 11-0 in table tennis. It’s a new trend now.

hugo mercy point 2
hugo mercy point 2


Hugo shows the respect by winning 11-0.

no mercy point
no mercy point

What is mercy point in table tennis

This is not the official rules. This rule is for respect and Fair play.

Mercy point is when you are up 10-0, and give a mercy point 10-1. You should purposely give away a point when it’s 10-0.

It is a sign of good sportsmanship and respect. Ma long did this against Ovtcharov in Olympics London 2012 (at the minute of 9:38 in the video).

MA Long - OVTCHAROV Dimitrij [Full Match-Short Form]

Watch this video.

In table tennis, winning against someone with the score of 11-0 is bad for the opponent.

The mercy point rule is just one of those unwritten good sportsmanship rules in table tennis. You should hold your finger up, and say sorry for edge balls.

Unwritten rules in table tennis

In table tennis, there are some unwritten rules (or called “etiquette”) that you should know. Such as, winning someone 11-0 is considered bad, low esteem. Why? Many professional players avoid winning the set 11-0. You should do the same! Here are the reasons.

Winning someone 11-0 is good or bad for your feeling? Maybe it’s good for you! But think for your opponent!

The feeling of winning 11-0? Is it like this?
The feeling of winning 11-0? Is it like this?

Insult or not?

But some players would feel “insulting” with the mercy point. Here are some of the opinion:

Watch this video:



If you “give” someone a point in a competitive match you’re as much saying “you’re not good enough to win a point any other way I’m that much better than you – or you’re that much worse than me. I see it as more of an insult.”

And, they prefer losing 0-11 than getting the mercy point:

I’d rather lose 11:0 against someone who played to win every point than lose 11:1 and my only point coming from a shot they threw away. Maybe not so bad if the other person doesn’t play to win the point, only not to lose.

But losing 11-0 is embarrassing to see on anyone’s playing record. Instead of thinking of it as the winning player as being cocky, thinking of it as letting the loser look a little better. The mercy point is to prevent the audience from talking about an 11-0 and laughing. So for me, mercy points are not insulting.

Avoid winning 11-0

At the amateur and club level, it’s OK to win 11-0. Because we are mostly amateur and friendly. Winning 11-0, or 11-1 is the same. It’s OK to win 11-0 at the low level.

But at the high level, and professional level, winning someone 11-0 is “mal vu”, poorly perceived by the player and the public. In the Asian culture, to show respect to the opponent, you should avoid winning 11-0. You should give them the mercy point.

The mercy point is not the “basement rules” in table tennis. This is the unofficial rules at the professional scene. At the amateur level, there are also some “Skunk Rules”: like if you win the set at 7-0, or if you lose 11-0 or 10-0, you must perform push-ups or drink two beers.

What to do when you get the mercy point?

The best solution here is to say “thanks” and return the mercy.

In Asian culture (or anywhere else), when you get a “gift” from someone, and if you should return it to the sender as soon as possible. So for example, when you are down 0-10. The opponent gave you the mercy point to get 1-10. The next point, you should return the mercy, and no need to play the point. Accept it, and give them free points to finish the set 1-11.


Here is the final of the Youth Olympics Games 2018. Wang Chuqin has given the “mercy point” to Harimoto Tomokazu. As losing a game 0-11 is bad in Asian culture, especially at the professional level.

Wang Chuqin simply unstoppable at the Youth Olympics Final, taking a 10-0 lead in the 3rd game before giving a mercy point to Tomokazu Harimoto ! Harimoto Tomokazu also did a very nice action. He returned the mercy to Wang Chuqin. This is the Fairplay action of both players. And you notice Harimato did not like to be shown mercy and simply gave away the next point.

How about the come-back?

But there are some exceptions, it’s called “the great comeback” in table tennis. There is some rare situation, that a player made a huge come-back after down 0-10, or 1-10. Watch the video here to understand. (Search “Everything is possible EmRatThich to watch full series).

Ma Long vs Xu Xin - Everything Possible Part 1

Watch this video.

Give mercy point is great. But making the great comeback is even better!

But in general, making a huge come-back at (0-10) is nearly impossible. So mercy point and “mercy return” is the best Fairplay rule and “etiquette” to follow. Give them respect and get the respect!

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Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

9 thoughts on “Mercy point in table tennis, Yes or No?”

  1. Interesting subject – thank you for the article.
    I actually expected the content to be completely different – about self-development.
    At the amateur level if the possibility of an 11 – 0 score arises then it is most likely that one player has some skills that the other cannot deal with, such as a serve or another special shot that they cannot return. In this case the more advanced player is not going to learn anything or improve their match skills by the repetitive deployment of the tactics that in this case guarantee victory. These situations are an opportunity to compete in areas of the game that you are less comfortable in, and see can you expand your competition game and become a more complete player.
    Doing so is more likely to lead to dropping a few points, and so in this way you are less likely to win 11 – 0

  2. I feel like the opposite applies for mercy points. At the lower levels it’s true that 11-0 and 11-1 don’t really have that much of a difference, but at the high level players are skilled enough to pull a 10-0 comeback since they’re especially trained in having a strong mentality, like Timo Boll winning from being behind 10-4. LSW won those times 11-0 because it’s simply too risky continuing the match against world class level players. I think the best example and case of a mercy point is when the person who’s behind initiates the point, such as when Ma Long did an exhibition point when he was down 10-3 against Xu Xin. It’s better etiquette to wait and see if the opponent wants to give up or continue.

  3. I disagree, I think you show more respect to your opponent if you’re taking every point seriously in a competition.
    If you give her/him a mercy and expect to get it back, you take away the chance of s/he coming back from 0-10.

    I’m happy LSW gave no mercy at the 2019 WTTC SF and Final, and now that seems to set a precedent.

  4. thank you I have won with a player 11-0 .but after watching this video I said him sorry and I didn’t lose anyone 11-0


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