Table Tennis 1st played
The 18th of November 1889 AD
The origins of many sports go deep into history, not allowing for a single date to be given for their commencement. Table tennis or ping pong is more recent, apparently developed in the last quarter of the 19th century, but still its creation is much disputed.
A crude version of the game may have been played in officers’ messes in India and England by bored soldiers, the ball a champagne cork suitably rounded off – it is this version that Boris Johnson referred to in his ‘whiff whaff’ moment in Beijing. Some confusion arises because there were other games called table tennis played with mini-mallets; and some using racquets where the idea was to hit balls into holes rather than over a net.
But there is one moment suggested as the birth of the game, when on November 18 1889 long distance runner and engineering entrepreneur James Gibb supposedly thought it up as a diversion for his family, played on their dining table with cigar lid paddles. It was Gibb who more than any other pioneer pushed the game on, as in 1900 on a visit to the USA he spotted the potential for celluloid balls he encountered there to speed the game and render it more precise. Gibb seemingly sold the idea to J. Jacques and Son, and soon a version was available in Hamley’s .
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