Tip of the Week
Should You Experiment If You Have a Big Lead?
Mercy Points and Comebacks
There was quite a lot of discussion on Facebook from my blog last week about whether to give "mercy points." So let's revisit.
The basic rule is that it's up to you if you want to give a mercy point at 10-0. Both Ma Long and Jan-Ove Waldner, generally considered the two main candidates for Greatest of All Time, have given away mercy points or played exhibition at the end of a lopsided match. Other top players are die-hard try to win every point, even at 10-0 against a beginner. Some players might be insulted if you "give" them a point, so it depends on the player and circumstances. As I said, in a non-competitive match, I prefer to put a ball up and let them "earn" the point.
It also depends on the event. A senior focused on winning Over 50 at the Nationals shouldn't take chances there, but might give a point (or go easy) at 10-0 match point in a rating event against a much weaker player. Some champions are cut-throat at all times; others are only cut-throat when it matters, and can turn it on or off when needed.
Comebacks do happen. Most of my playing career took place when games were to 21. During that time, I came back from 14-20 or 15-20 match point seven times. Nobody has ever done that to me. (The biggest comeback against me was Joe Cummings, when I lost from up 20-16 match point at the Southern Open in Baton Rouge in the late 1980s. Still stings, since the kids at the Resident Training Program at the Olympic Training Center, where I was at various times manager/director/one of the coaches, spent the next year saying, "Cummings back!")