Table Tennis guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

Your complete guide to table tennis ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Photograph: Table Tennis via Shutterstock

Converted: Whiff-whaff is coming home, hooray!

Confused: This is a fun game... if you’re at a youth club.

RECOMMENDED: See our full list of London 2012 Olympic sport guides

Table Tennis - The essential guide

Street cred: Being good at table tennis is an important life skill – increasingly so for New Yorkers, who risk frequent tabular face-offs while trying to negotiate the sidewalk-cafe tables littering every sidewalk.

Who’s good? Go on, guess... don’t worry, it’s not racist. Correct: China.

The basics: The first to score 11 points (with a two-point lead) wins. It's the best of seven games in singles and the best of five in team events. For further details, ask any 14-year-old. 

Athlete to watch: Take your pick from the Chinese team, which boasts five of the world's top six men's players and four of the women's top six.

Almost useless fact: Ping pong was banned in the Soviet Union between 1930 and 1950 because it was thought to be harmful to the eyes.

As featured in: 'Everything You Know is Pong: How Mighty Table Tennis Shapes Our World', a collection of ping-pong musings with contributions from writers including Nick Hornby and Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson.  Or you could watch 'Forrest Gump'.

Do say: 'World number-one Wang Hao is arguably the finest exponent among the new wave of players favouring the penhold grip.'

Don't say: 'Argh, my eyes, my eyes!'