Aesthetics and mysticism of table tennis

Because table tennis is a mystery sport.

Five days after Adolf Hitler sent 20,000 soldiers to the Rhineland (March 7, 1936), when world history was about to be turned upside down, the World Table Tennis Championships began in Prague. Back then the rules were different than today, there were no time limits and a game could therefore become a grueling exchange of attacks, defenses and counter-attacks. But what happened in the game between Poland’s Alex Ehrlich and Romania’s Paneth Farcas borders on the unbelievable: the opening point of their game, the only opening point, lasted 2 hours and 12 minutes.

Crazy? Crazy, but all true.

Although the story, which is obviously on the verge of the improbable, was subsequently enriched with less believable but equally surprising details, including Ehrlich starting to play with his weak hand (the left hand), the referee asking for a replacement due to a neck injury, Ehrlich again, who (to annoy his opponent? Out of boredom?) begins to dictate to a fellow player the moves he should make on the chessboard set up next to the playing field for the occasion. In any case, after about 12,000 shared shots, the point is finally awarded. To which of the two? That doesn’t matter. At least in our case, the point is to show how table tennis can evolve from the extreme simplicity of its basics to one very broad, holistic, creative dimension capable of absorbing geopolitics and mysticism, philosophy and religionleave the game room and […]

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