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Of all the subjects for a thrilling tale of espionage, war and diplomacy, ping-pong seems an unlikely contender. All the more intriguing then is the story behind a détente between America and China in 1971, which occurred seemingly out of the blue after 22 years of hostility.

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Simon Kelner: A renaissance man and a much-overlooked sport

Not long after Fabio Capello had resigned in the time-honoured fashion of being thrown overboard, we were discussing the big sporting question of the moment: why has table tennis never taken off as a television sport, given that everything from darts and snooker to pro-celebrity golf has had its moment?

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'I was equally good at tennis,' says Baggaley, 'but you need a lot of money to play tennis'

Andrew Baggaley: It's time for Britain to turn the tables

He is Britain's No 1 table tennis player but believes we need another Desmond Douglas

Polar Bear, The Vortex, London

In the six years since their second album, Held On The Tips Of Fingers, was nominated for the Mercury Prize, Polar Bear have become an institution on the UK jazz scene, without sacrificing one shred of the inquisitive spirit that brought them to widespread attention.

Ping Pong: The tables have turned

From Dave'n'Barack to trendy club nights and Boris's wiff waff, we can't get enough of ping pong. Howard Jacobson sings the praises of a great game, while Will Dean looks at the healthy state of table tennis in Britain

Second ticket rush for London 2012

A further 2.3 million tickets for London 2012 are to go on sale next Friday.

Obama: He came, he spoke, he conquered Westminster

The smooth rhetoric of the US President's address to Parliament won him a standing ovation. But the speech also made two important points

The Great Escape, Assorted venues, Brighton

Brighton's answer to the South by South-West festival has, it appears, already outgrown its roots. Five years ago it was about showcasing new bands, though now, in summer festival style, it's wilfully drawing bigger crowds with established names. Hence, punters find themselves in the quandary of whether to follow the A&R trail and take a chance on the untried acts, or face the long and inordinately slow-moving queues in order to see the stars.

Diary: Boris exposed as wiff-waff 'cheat'

Much coverage yesterday of alleged babydaddy Boris Johnson's ping-pong playing at a London school. What the Mayor doesn't publicise, however, is that he prefers to stack the odds in his favour. Johnson revealed to a reporter this week that Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson had challenged him to a swimming race. But, as Stephenson explained to Nick Ferrari on LBC Radio yesterday, that gauntlet was only thrown down after the Mayor thrashed him at table tennis. Johnson has been known to construct an impromptu "wiff-waff" table at City Hall, by pushing desks together and using a pile of books as a net. Stephenson admits to being "palpably hopeless" at the sport.

Business Diary: Sound advice for borrowers

You've seen the movie (played out in real time over the past 12 months), now read the book. Jason Manolopoulos's new tome, Greece's Odious Debt: The Looting of the Hellenic Republic by the Euro, the Political Elite and the Investment Community, is an enjoyable romp through the story of how Greece got caught out in the international economic crisis. It begins with a tip from Aristotle Onassis, which his countrymen appear to have taken just a little too literally: "To be successful, keep looking tanned, live in an elegant building (even if you're in the cellar), be seen in smart restaurants (even if you only nurse one drink) and if you borrow, borrow big".

Market turns on bloated Google

The internet giant's revenues are up, but costs are up even more, and investors are not happy. Nick Clark reports
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