Here is a brief summary of what is involved at a fencing tournament:
You should plan to arrive at the tournament at least a half-hour before the close of the registration period. This will give you a chance to set down gear, get loose, and check out your equipment. In addition, if you do not arrive in time, you will not be allowed to fence. No exceptions. They are very strict with this rule.
For a tournament, you are advised to bring two weapons, two body cords, and a blade test kit. However, Mr. Williams is usually at the Northview tournaments and can help out with any repairs.
At registration you will have your mask checked. This is done with a small hand held device that ensures the proper amount of resistance to penetration. Masks are usually “stamped” with some indicator, showing they have been checked and passed. (You can always tell fencers who fence a lot of tournaments, by the number of stamps on their masks.) With the mask stamped, you are ready to suit up.
Boys pool is first, then as strips open up, girls start.
Each bout in the pool is a 5-touch bout, with a fencer awarded a V (victory) if they win the bout or a D (defeat) if they do not. There is also a numeric score attached, indicating the number of touches the fencer scored. So a V5 would indicate that the fencer scored 5 touches and won, while a D3 indicates a loss but 3 touches awarded.
The bout is also timed (3 minutes), so a fencer may not reach 5 touches before time expires. If the bout “times out” and the score is not tied, the fencer with the most touches is awarded the victory and the number of touches (for example V3) and the loser of the bout will receive the defeat and number of touches, for example, D2. If a bout is tied at the time limit, a coin toss will determine the fencer who has “priority.”
When a fencer has priority, he/she will win the bout unless their opponent scores an additional touch in the next minute. That is, the fencer who loses the coin toss will have one additional minute to score a touch. If the fencer fails to score a touch, or if the fencer who has priority scores a touch first, the fencer with priority is declared the winner and is awarded a V and the number of touches scored.
In the pools, fencers typically do not sign the score sheet until all pool bouts are completed. Before signing, make sure the fencer double-checks the form. Sometimes referees make mistakes and record the points to the wrong fencer. Make sure you agree with the form before signing. Once signed, the score will stand, even if it is wrong.
After all fencers in all the pools have fenced each other, the fencers are ranked against all other fencers to determine a “seeding” to the next phase, the Direct Elimination (DE) matches. Seeding is determined by looking at several indices: victory percentage (number of victories divided by total number of bouts), the indicator - touches scored minus touches received, and total touches scored. The indices for all the fencers are calculated, and the fencers are arranged into a bracket, by this determined seeding. There may be a number of “byes” awarded if there are not enough fencers in the pool to create a “power of 2” bracket (e.g. 8, 16, 32, 64, etc.). For example, if there are 7 fencers in the pool, there will be a single bye awarded to the top seed – to make 8 “fencers”. If there are 13 fencers in the pool, 3 byes will be awarded the top three seeds – making 16 fencers. Number of fencers plus number of “byes” equals the number of bracket slots.
A DE (Direct Elimination) match is slightly different. The DE match is a “first to 15” match, where the first fencer to record 15 touches is determined to be the winner. This is done in 3 three minute rounds with 1-minute rest periods between each round. If a fencer has not reached 15 touches by the end of the third round, the fencer with the most touches is awarded the match. If the fencers are tied at the end of the three rounds, they will use the “priority” system described above. The DE matches continue until the bracket is filled and the winner of the tournament is declared.