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Winning 11-0 someone in table tennis bad or good?

Winning 11-0 someone in table tennis bad or good? Some players just say “no mercy”. What should you do?

Is winning 11-0 legal in table tennis?

A player asked, when I am winning 10-0, should I give a point to the opponent? And do pro players do the same?

And I answered, yes, it’s called a mercy point. Read more on PingSunday.com.

Origin of mercy points in table tennis

Originally this custom came from the Chinese and spread to the world, to not lose the opponent’s face and show good manners. However it’s interesting that it is also the Chinese that put an end to it, when Liu Shiwen did two 11-0 in 2019 WTTC, saying that her opponents are very strong and she didn’t allow herself to let her guard down even for a mercy point. In a way this is also a way to show respect to the opponent, and it seems a lot agrees because ever since WTTC 2019 we are seeing a lot more 11-0 in international matches.

Then again. When Table Tennis was a best of 3 game with 21 points and 5 points serve for each side. My mentor told me at a high ranking national tournament in Canada decades ago which he played in. His opponent was ahead in the opening set with the score of “18 to 3” on his OWN serves to finish the set. Somehow he managed to choke that set and lost not even with deuce. Obviously, he lost the match badly after that. Later, he was found pacing away outside with cups of black coffee and cigarettes dangling in his other hand.

Some players like mercy point

Winning someone 11-0 good or bad for your feelings? Maybe, it’s good for you. But think for your opponent.

Winning someone 11-0 is poorly perceived in table tennis
Winning someone 11-0 is poorly perceived in table tennis

Some players said:

I give the mercy point; but more at 9-0 and in a somewhat discrete way.

give the mercy point after a short rally when u already got 9th point.. don’t make its look like u donate the point to the opponent easily.. that looks more respect to me.

Is almost impossible to reach deuce from 10-0 so is better offer courtesy point to opponent 😊

That depends. I always give the mercy points unless if the opponent have poor sportsmanship or attitude. Then I would keep it 11-0. Sometimes I would tell just in case. But 99.999 percent of the time, I will give them. However, some players never wanted that charity though.

should be fine losing 11 – 0, it happens to pro, its more acceptable to the intermediate or to any other level. just a bit annoying though already winning 11 – 0 and still have to Cho or celebrate about it, cant remember if it was Chen Meng vs Liu Shiwen.

That’s either bad sportsmanship or they had previous bad blood with their last matches. You just never know.

I was giving mercy point in past. But for new trend, I put 11-0 because if I can do 10 in a row, so he can do either. So 11-0 is a full effort and respecting opponent’s ability by giving no chance since anything may happen before 11.

  • Yes, imagine being the guy that lost a 10-0 lead!
  • I almost become one who lost lead on 9-0


But some players hate mercy point

Some players don’t like the mercy point. They said:

Merci Points make no sense to me since 11:0 or 11:1 is pretty much the same.

If I’m able to win 11-0 I should win 11-0. I also hate getting points for free from stronger opponent. For Me it’s even worse than loosing 11-0, It’s shameful.

In general I prefer when players are serious against me, even if it means losing badly. As a mid-level player I feel like I’m good enough to understand how the sport works and if I lose 11-0 it is because my opponent outplayed and I should learn from it. Against a beginner I would show 1 or a few mercy points because they only just started playing and smashing the s*** out of them would only make them feel bad and they might quit playing.

If you give a mercy point, you are saying that I can’t comeback. It’s insulting to the receiver, no matter how unlikely. It’s ridiculous. In the example above Wang Chuqin and Harimoto decided table tennis is only up to 10 not 11? I have never heard of it in any other sport. The opposite of sportsmanship in my opinion. I have beaten players 11-0 in a set and lost 0-11 in the same match before! I have seen a junior give a mercy point, their opponent did not reciprocate. The junior ended up losing the set as they got upset the other player was still fighting! There is no problem at all losing 11-0. Nobody cares. It is far more humiliating to receive a mercy point than to lose an 11-0 where both players tried their best. Let’s please end the ridiculous mercy point once and for all.

  • Agreed, it’s not even that unlikely to come back 10 points. In the example, WQC and Harimoto aren’t that far apart in level they are both top young players, if WQC could win 10 in a row then there is always a small chance harimoto can win 10 in a row back if he chooses not to give up the set. If the opponent is insecure about loosing 11-0 that’s there own problem, but any decent player would get over it like any other loss and improve
  • I have beat many 11-0. The way I see it is that you have to earn that point rather than just give it to you. Recently I had 1 player thank me for not giving mercy point because it would motivate him to earn that point.
  • True to that. If I am not sure, that sometimes the opponent would outright said, “No Mercy Points”. So that was spelt clear. I always do that when I played lousy and never wanted the charity point. Even if my opponent did that and I got a charity point. I would give it right back by putting it into the net like Harimoto.
  • I think the way it played out between Wang and harimoto was the best scenario between two equals. If they’re not equals, like a pro playing against an amateur, then the pro should be giving out playful mercy points, as in disguising these points as stupid play along.

Nothing bad losing 0-11, mercy points are bad.

If I lose 11-0, people have the right to laugh. I’d rather not have the mercy point.

I think you show more respect to your opponent.

I feel like the opposite for mercy points.

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 was simply unstoppable at the Youth Olympics Final yesterday, 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.

Mercy points at the amateur level

Actually, the way to play when it is an amateur against a season pro is this. You varied the play to determine the level. The the professional started with a major deficit, such as 6 to 7 points to 0 for the amateur to get a head start. If the Pro managed the wins that set. Then the next set would be 7 to 8 points to 0 at the deficit. This way, even with a straight set win. Then the Professional would start the final fourth set at 9 to 10 points to 0 at the start.

For me, I had managed to beat an amateur with a 0 to 10 deficit at the very start and won 12 – 10. Also I did not attempted any aggressive heavy loop or even smashes to respect his lack of skills as a beginner. So if the amateur wins, then the deficit reduced back down to 6 to 7 points for the opponents.

Fairness counts and head start should always be given to lesser opponents. Period.

Normal not to give. It should be up to the players but it is kind of strange nowadays. When some people are not doing that (I would say like 50%) why should others give then as it is no longer a sign of sportsmanship or something.

Giving 1 mercy point could distract himself/herself… That is how for example Liu Shiwen lost to Ding Ning in 2015 final Worlds.
Liu gave a mercy point to Ding and then found herself distracted and lost next set and the final and the gold medal on the Worlds and after that never ever she gave her points away.


Watch this video:



So what is your opinion?

Please comment below!

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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.

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