The sport originated in Victorian England, where it was played among the upper-class as an after-dinner parlour game. It has been suggested that makeshift versions of the game were developed by British military officers in India. A row of books stood up along the center of the table as a net, two more books served as rackets and were used to continuously hit a golf-ball.
The next major change was by James W. Gibb, a British enthusiast of table tennis, who discovered the celluloid balls on a trip to the US. This was followed by E.C. Goode who invented the modern version of the racket by fixing a sheet of pimpled, or stippled, rubber to the wooden blade.
After the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the ITTF instituted several rule changes:
1. Changed the size of the ball from 1.50 inches to 1.57 inches in October 2000. The reason for the change was to increased the ball's air resistance and effectively slowed down the game.
2. Changed from a 21-point to an 11-point scoring system (and the serve rotation was reduced from five points to two).
Service and Return
The Serve - the player serving the ball must:
1. Present the ball held on the open palm of the hand not carrying the paddle. 2. Toss the ball directly upward without spin, at least 6 inches high. 3. The server strikes the ball with the paddle as the ball is descending (on the way down). 4. The ball must remain behind the edge, and above the upper surface of the table.
Let is a rally of which the result is not scored, and is called in the following circumstances:
The ball touches the net in service (service), provided the service is otherwise correct or the ball is obstructed by the player on the receiving side.
When the player on the receiving side is not ready and the service is delivered.
A point is scored by the player for any of several results of the rally:
The opponent fails to make a correct service or return
The ball passes over the player's court or beyond his end line without touching his court, after being struck by the opponent.
The opponent strikes the ball twice successively.
The opponent strikes the ball with a side of the racket blade whose surface is not covered with rubber.
The opponent moves the playing surface or touches the net assembly.
The opponent's free hand touches the playing surface.
Winning the Game/Match
A game shall be won by the player first scoring 11 points unless both players score 10 points, when the game shall be won by the first player subsequently gaining a lead of 2 points.
A match shall consist of the best of any odd number of games. In competition play, matches are typically best of five or seven games.
Order of play, serving and receiving
Players on the same team must alternate hits. For example, if A is paired with B, X is paired with Y, A is the server and X is the receiver. The order of play shall be A→X→B→Y. The rally proceeds this way until one side fails to make a legal return and the other side scores.