This weekend was the Shropshire Open in Telford. A competition far easier than Bristol I had high hopes to score some points and try and make it as far as possible. I was feeling pretty fresh having not have fencing since training on Monday, and Rob and I have a new thing of supporting one another through the tournaments.
On Saturday Rob and I developed a fencing mantra to recite before each bout. Fence your best. Do not get distracted by winning the competition, getting through to X stage, or even winning the current bout. Focus on fencing your best and results will follow.
The format is two rounds of poules, first seeded from national rankings, the second from the first, and then without a cut.
The first round of poules went better than Bristol. I found I had time, was calm and fenced well. I am finding myself turning to be a more aggressive fencing, and found myself 3-0 up in the first poule fight. Much to my own disgust I somehow lost this 4-5 after not reacting to change of tempo. In the end of the first round of poules I had won two, lost two, with one of the wins coming from a 2-2, and winning in extra time without holding priority. This was a little nerve-racking.
I found myself 40/75 after first poules, only to find both my weapons fail travel at the start of the first bout of the second poule. This is a red card, and I found myself a point down and having to borrow Rob’s very small gripped Pistol grip. Psychologically I threw it away, I found myself shaken with the double weapon failure, and I think I used the excuse of not having my weapon to justify having to lose this bout. I lost this 3-5, although I couldn’t help but notice insane increase in power with the pistol grip allowing me to send direct attacks right through without too much worry of parrying.
I managed to get one of the weapons sorted for the next poule fight, but I wasn’t settled and rushed it. Third, I won, and then then lost the final two, first of which I’m not sure what happened and the last one I was satisfied I fenced well.
With the poor poules I found myself in 54th going into the DE’s. I hadn’t realised the consequences of this being a incomplete 128, and assumed I would be fencing someone in the twenties less any byes. I began the first DE cautious of my opponent who seemed quite static. When I found myself 13-3 up after first period I was pleased. Achieved without having to move at all, catching them on the outside of the wrist or a beat attack every time. I swiftly delivered the final two at the start of second interval to win 15-3, only to then find out that I was fencing last position and it wasn’t until in the car home did I realise what exactly happened and that I was in fact the first seed in the incomplete 128 as the 53 places above me all held byes.
Despite the quality of the fencer I did feel far more comfortable fencing to 15, and poules is a major area I need to sort out as I’ve don’t fence anywhere near as comfortably.
In the last 64, I had John Chalmers, ex-Scottish international, ranked 31st nationally, 3rd highest ranked fencer at the competition and defending champion. I had heard from speaking to others that he is both aggressive and a tactician so I decided that my best hope was to take the fight to him, keep him on the back foot and control the pace of the bout.
I was very satisfied with my performance in the first period, finding myself mostly two points ahead and never behind, with the first interval ended 9-9. During the interval my mind raced with the thoughts that I should not be level with a fencer of this quality and experience and in the second period I again failed to adapt to a change of tempo and lost the remaining six points in the row. John started fencing tighter and seemed to catch me on counter attacks and did take control of the pace.
With my competition over (and I believe I finished just in the points) I continued to support Rob, who impressively vanquished opponents quite decisively to add Shopshire to Nottingham as his current titles. Well done.
I have a lot of work to do to sort out my fencing and I am taking away with me the following:
- Find confidence in poules and get more fencing in during warm up with competition mentality during warm up.
- Test weapons at the end of each fight so there is time to correct anything and avoid cards.
- Focus on changes of tempo and strategy during a bout, especially between periods.