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Last weekend - the Scottish Open - He's just this guy, you know.

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January 13th, 2005

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09:46 pm - Last weekend - the Scottish Open
Ok, about time I wrote up the Scottish Open, which took place last Saturday.

The brief version: 70 or so entries, I came somewhere around 14-16th.

Equipment : 9/10. One body-wire mysteriously decided to stop working, after I briefly unplugged to move my water bottle and towel and spare bits to the other end of the piste. When I connected up again, it wasn't working ... Otherwise, everything was ok.
Fitness : 5/10. Three weeks away from the gym and fencing training, and I had just got over a cold.
Hydration : 9/10. Not a problem.
Food : 8/10. I seemed to have enough energy.
Mental state : 7/10. Generally better than the Miller-Hallet. Final bout was a bit wierd. I needed to be a bit more aggressive, I think.
Sleep : 7/10. I was closer to enough than at the last couple of comps, at least ...

So, 70 fencers (well, 70 had signed in at the start of the day; somehow two of them went missing by the time the first round of pools started). The format seemed normal (two rounds of pools, then the DE), but there was a twist. Normally, if there are two rounds of pools, then the results from the first round are used to derive rankings to seed the second round. The results from the second round (only) then give rankings which seed the DE.
Also, after the first round the bottom-ranked fencers are eliminated, to leave the number of remaining fencers divisible by 7. All pools in the second round can then be the same size, which makes the ranking process a) easier, and b) slightly more likely to be fair and accurate.

Instead, on Saturday, the results from the two rounds were combined to give the rankings for the DE. Given that the pools in both rounds were not all the same size (mostly 6, some had 5 - e.g. mine, after one person failed to appear), I'm not entirely convinced that the method is sound.
For example, in both rounds, I was in a pool of 5. I only lost one bout in each round, so my final victory ratio was 0.75. However, if I'd been in pools of 6 and only lost one bout each round, it would have been 0.8, and I would have been about 8 places higher going in to the DE.

Anyway, I was fencing ok in the first round of pools. We had a long wait before the second round started, as we had to wait for the women's epee pools to finish, then the first round of men's and women's sabre pools to finish. I was standing around watching rwrylsin fence in her pool, when someone called me from across the room - apparently my second round pool had found a piste and I was supposed to be on the piste for a bout !
I ran to my fencing bag, quickly removed my tracksuit, grabbed my equipment and got on the piste - naturally, full of adrenalin. Fortunately, that helped in this bout - I was against someone who seemed the sort of person who had quite a bit of fencing ability, but possibly not the discipline required to go places with it. Being able to land flick hits (with an epee) in the middle of someone's back or at someone's back leg is impressive, but ... well, Seamus does it much better, and on a good day I used to usually stop him hitting me with those hits (he just goes on and hits me with something else from his bag of tricks of course, but that's Seamus). This fencer was good, but he was no Seamus, so I managed to beat him 5-4.
The adrenalin level stayed high for the rest of the pool, and I think it helped - I was fencing pretty well, and only lost one bout - 4-5 to the person who'd come through ranked first after the first round.

So, I was ranked 20th going in to the DE. The first bout went well for me - my opponent was mostly a foilist, and liked charging at me a lot (often with his point aimed somewhere other than at me). The second one was slightly odd - I think my opponent was either nervous, or very defensive - I can't recall him making many attacking moves, or doing ... much of anything, except parrying. Fortunately, I made more successful attacks than mistakes, and won that one too.
Finally, in the round of 16, I lost 13-15, in a slightly strange bout. The way the DE is run, groups of 8 fencers run through three rounds of elimination. One of the other fencers in the group recognized me from an earlier comp. (probably the Welsh Open), and while we were chatting, just before his second round bout, said that he'd like to fence me, but he'd have to beat his next opponent (who was 4th-ranked going in to the DE) first ... and he did. I decided that that opponent of his had underestimated him, so I wouldn't. As a result, I fenced the bout cautiously - but possibly too much so. While I got ahead 3-2 early, he caught up again, and then got ahead by a couple of hits. Once he did that, all he had to do was engineer as many double hits as possible, and leave me little time to work him out - and he did that quite well. I never got fully on top of the situation - and somehow it felt inevitable, at 12-13 down, when I thought I had made a hit (blade bent slightly and all), but the box failed to go off and he hit me. My epee was working fine (got the president to test it), but the hit must have been flat. One more double, and he had won.

And that was the end of my day. Overall, not a bad day, although I was hoping to get through a couple more rounds of the DE and at least equal my 3rd from the Highland Open, but it was not to be. Next year for sure, I guess. (Without the cold next time !)

Current Mood: accomplishedMostly happy.

(2 touches | En garde !)


[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2005 11:32 pm (UTC)
Brief remarks: I would score a failing bodywire as 8/10, especially for epee. Unless it dies mid-bout. You should back off and re-tighten the interior screws before each comp; resistance should be less than an ohm. (Read this as "in the best of all possible worlds, one ought"... I think this sort of assessment should be pretty brutal, but only if that's helpful. This is "what can we improve", not "why I should kill myself".

I think I agree with you about the pools thing. Is there a posted set of guidelines for British competitions/DT?

In principle one can work out whether a big or a small pool is better (depends on whether you are going to win more than you lose...). I can look forward to being in the bottom half of national DEs for a long time, I think :-(

Finally: three weeks off shouldn't trash your general fitness too much, but your bout-specific fitness may well drop; I'm sure you know how you react best, though. Probably the cold did quite a bit of damage, but I would emphasise the interaction between physical condition and mental preparation, and it sounds like it was a mental thing in the end, an "oh well" response at 12-13, rather than an "ok, this is my touch. move neatly, *pow*" response. Again of course YMMV.

Let me know as bluntly as possible whether you want this kind of distant analysis-of-your-analysis in future.

Are you working with a coach?
[User Picture]
Date:January 14th, 2005 02:15 pm (UTC)
Actually, I did check my bodywires and weapons the night before (even though no-one around here seems to do weight or gauge tests), and they were fine (don't know about 1 ohm, but certainly under 5). Also, the failed bodywire had been fine in the two rounds of pools previously, and had worked when I first hooked up on the strip for the DE bout. I had to unplug because my water and towel and stuff were at the other end of the piste, and by the time I hooked up again, it had stopped working. Mysterious, like I said :-)

Yup, the fitness shouldn't be down too much (although I've apparently gained 1 - 1.5 kg since just before Christmas), but in the end, it was a mental thing. A different mental thing to last time, at least ...

Yup, analysis good !

Coaching - I'm getting a 10(ish) minute lesson every 1-4 weeks at the club. The club only trains once a week at the moment. This isn't really enough coaching or fencing, really. In the lead-up to a comp., we usually try to get across to Edinburgh Fencing Club - but between petrol and club costs, it's about £18 per trip. There don't seem to be any other local clubs with a suitable bunch of epeeists around, unfortunately ...
Once I get a job, we could conceivably afford 10-15 (or more) competitions each season. Not a substitute for training, but more experience is always good.

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