Before I go in to detail, I'll note one scoreline from the day : Cook, 15 d. Rota, 14 ? Did I have a spectacularly good day, beating the world no. 2 , Alfredo Rota ? Well, no, it was Carlo Rota, world no. 165. More to the point, it wasn't me, it was Keith (no relation). Neat scoreline, though :-) Fun bout to watch, too - apparently Keith trains as a foilist, and just does epee comps for fun - he does it very well, though, and reminded me a little of Seamus (anyone who can deliver a big bind-flick-to-middle-of-back with an epee will tend to remind me of Seamus, though).
60-odd fencers present, I came somewhere 9th-16th. (Just out of the FIE world ranking points - I'd have had 1 point if I'd made 5th-8th, up to 4 points if I'd won it).
Equipment : 8/10. So, last night I checked my weapons, and carefully checked my bodywires - while checking the resistance of each wire in each bodywire, I wiggled and pulled on the bodywire to make sure there were no almost-broken wires. And yet, I had mysterious problems having the box go off when I was hit on the guard - but only in a couple of bouts. In one of those bouts, I was using the same weapon, bodywire and even piste and spool as in a previous (trouble-free) bout, and yet I had problems. Quite annoying. I'm starting to suspect the sockets on a couple of my weapons need replacing.
Fitness : 7/10. Not bad, considering I've been very patchy in gym attendance with *another* darn cold.
Hydration : 9/10. About right again.
Food : 8/10. Didn't eat much, but I don't think that caused any problems.
Mental state : 8/10. A couple of tiny lapses in concentration
Sleep : 8/10. Caught up on sleep on Saturday, got just under 7 hours last night, but felt well-rested.
60-ish fencers, 9 pools of 6 and 7 in the first round. I was in a pool of 6, with one Danish fencer, and four British. I lost to the Danish fencer (first bout of the day, 4-5), and one of the Brits (also 4-5), but won the other three. I was reasonably happy with the result, especially since the results from the first round were only used to seed the pools for the second round.
The second round was going to be tougher, since around 25% of the fencers would be eliminated based on the results of that round. To add to the toughness, my pool had the two fencers who had beaten me in the first round. I fenced reasonably well, beating the Danish guy this time, but losing again to the other one from my first pool. I won one more, and lost the other two (one 4-5 from a 4-2 lead (d'oh)). Not a great result for seeding into the DE, and I ended up in one of the worst possible places - 32nd. This meant that after fencing the 33rd ranked fencer in the round of 64 (and hopefully winning, although that's not always guaranteed (see my Miller-Hallet performance from last year)), I'd face the 1st ranked in the 32.
Fortunately, two things happened in the DE - I started concentrating and fencing better, and I met a couple of fencers whose styles suited me. The first was a Frenchman wielding a french grip epee (naturally), but he misjudged the distance somewhat, and wasn't particularly good at attacking once he was behind a few hits. I won 15-5, and got some nice counter attacks and wrist/arm hits in. So, that was no. 33 out of the way ...
... and on to no. 1 (another Frenchman). This was possibly the best bout I've fenced in ages - I was concentrating near 100%, I was moving well, and I was getting very good timing of attacks and counter attacks in. I won 15-12, and I'd been ahead most of the bout (after a quick 3-1 lead to me, he equalised to 3-all, then I got the lead again and never let go). If only all bouts went this well ... And again, the fencing style of my opponent suited me - he was very quick and strong with his attacks - and I mostly managed to counter them into double hits or single hits for me.
That put me in the final 16, fencing a British fencer I'd been chatting with after that bout (he'd been watching, and was impressed, apparently). Unfortunately, while he was watching, he was also coming up with a cunning plan, and it worked rather well. He'd worked out that I get quite a few hits from luring my opponent into range and hitting them (leg or arm or body, whichever works at the time :-) ), and from counter-attacking a lot. He got an early lead in the bout, and then spent most of the rest of it moving backwards to try and get me to attack. Unfortunately, I'm not as good an attacking thinker as defensive, and this was the bout where my epees started playing up. It was a fairly even bout, except I had distractions from equipment, a couple of "what was I thinking ?" hits against me, a few near misses on hits against him (he got the distance right) and an opponent who'd thought up a
cunning plan and out-tacticed me. 9-15 in the end.
Overall, I'm not unhappy with the way I fenced, particularly the first two DE bouts. On the other hand, I was lucky - if I'd fenced my final 16 opponent in the 64 instead, or anyone else whose style I couldn't handle as well, it would have been a much shorter day. Once again, I can't fence quite so badly in the DE seeding round of pools, because the whole day is much harder when you have to fight your way up through the DE like that ...
 I was a little distracted this bout, though. You see, before that pool started, I'd been watching rwrylsin fencing her first round, and she slipped and knocked her left knee on the ground (ow). Then, after the first bout of that pool, someone came in to our hall (the sabreurs were in another hall down some twisting and turning corridors) and called out for the doctor to attend the other hall. I was worried that rwrylsin had badly injured herself somehow (e.g. maybe in compensating for the sore knee her footwork was a bit off, then she'd slip again and this time damage muscles or ligaments), and this distracted me in the second bout, enough that my opponent could catch up and then win. After the bout I ran through to the other hall, and found that rwrylsin was ok (not having a great fencing day, but not further injured (at that time; ironically, she did slip over again later on and add another bruise to the same knee - poor thing !)).
And if anyone does actually read this far, do let me know :-)