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View Full Version : Opinions sought on specific foil decision



bydande
-26th October 2003, 10:55
Hi All,
I would be grateful for everyones opinion on the following play that I witnessed at a childrens (U14 girls foil) comp at the weekend. And for the sake of clarification I was neither the ref nor the coach involved - but I am the father of fencer A.

Fencer A is point in line - although her arm was fully extended a purist might have said her hand was bit low. Anyway, Fencer B steps forward attempting a beat attack. Fencer A successfully avoids the beat (there is no clash of blades at all) and both lights come on. Referee gives the hit to fencer A.

Now the coach of Fencer B strongly disagreed with this decision and the differing opinions expressed by the ref and coach can be summarised as follows:
Ref:
Fencer A was as good as point in line and Fencer B failed to correctly execute a beat attack thereby failing to gain right of way - hit to Fencer A.
Coach:
Fencer A was not correctly in point in line so shouldnt get the point. His view was that even though fencer B failed to find the blade, she was attacking and should get the point anyway. The coach didnt help his cause by at one stage saying "I dont care what it says in the rulebook - this is how it should be refereed".

My View:
Although Fencer A may not have had a perfect point in line position, by attempting a beat attack on her blade Fencer B was de facto acknowledging that she had to do something to gain the right of way and by failing to correctly execute a beat attack the hit should go to fencer A. If fencer B had just done a straight attack then you could have argued as to whether the point in line was valid but because Fencer B had attempted a beat attack (uncessfully) she had effectively accepted that Fencer A was point in line.

At the time, I kept out of the arguement but would now be interested to what all you more experienced refs think?

Thanks.

Robert
-26th October 2003, 11:23
Disclaimer: I am not an experienced ref, so wait for one of the more experienced people jumps in (like IHunter).

However, I thought I would chance my opinion and see if I got it broadly right.

Fencer B attempted to find Fencer A's blade. Fencer B fails and Fencer A extends arm for a hit. Therefore Fencer A's position prior to the beat are irrelevant, she scored by derobement.

Having chanced myself on that I have now brought my copy of the rules downstairs and am rather pleased to read

t.56 (para.7) If the attacker, when attempting to deflect the opponent's blade, fails to find it (derobement), the right of attack passes to the opponent.

Robert

reposte
-26th October 2003, 12:31
Fencer B's attempt at the blade is no sure sign, there is such an attack called Prise de Fer which means that although
you may have right of way, of various reasons you may choose to beat on your opponent's blade entering into the attack. This is not derobement in the strictest sence, so it is neither here nor there in respect to what Robert contributed.
In this case however, it is a good indicator that B DID perceive her position as countering a PIL; An indicator and nothing else.
Even though B may not have had a picture perfect PIL, if it was good enough for the ref and for fencer B, it ought to be good enough for the opposing coach.

gladiator
-26th October 2003, 17:00
I am a sabre ref, not foil but will have a go anyway.

To me it sounds like the ref was right. No-one can possibly expect perfection at an u14 girls foil comp. If the hand was high enough for the ref to think that it was PIL then that is that. As long as fencer A did nothing like accidently move the point away from threatening the target whilst avoiding the beat which the coach saw and not the ref.

Part of the problem in foil at the moment from a sabreurs point of view is that everyone thinks it should be refereed differently - as the coaches statement demonstrates!

Pointy stick
-26th October 2003, 22:49
Surely, the president is always right, even if (s)he's mistaken.;)

So, the arm's extended, point in line, or even slightly out of line. That fencer surely has right of way until:
a) the blade is found/taken
b) the arm is retracted - perhaps in a clumsy derobement or disengagement
c) there is suffficient delay that the fencer loses the initiative.

We know the blade wasn't found.

We assume there was no significant delay.

So was the derobement sufficiently clumsy to constitute a withdrawal of the attack? I've made this mistake before.

I'd guess an attempt at a beat (rather than a pris de fer) implies that the 'beater' accepts the need to reclaim right of way. They failed to beat because of a succcessful derobement. They never gained the right of way. Isn't that what foil fencing is all about?

Winwaloe
-29th October 2003, 16:45
There can be no question or point (sorry!) to debate. As first described it can only be "A"'s hit - The issue her is more the coach's remark about the rule book. There is an issue with how rules are applied and the dreaded phrase "it's the convention". This is often used by a coach when he/she disagrees with the refs decision because that is not the way he has been teaching. The "convention" re flicks is particularly fun then add in displacement of target or covering and the can of worms is well and truly open. ROW can also be fun!

bydande
-29th October 2003, 17:06
Thank you to everybody for your replies.

As a newbie ref myself I was pretty sure, like Winwaloe and pretty much everybody else here, that Fencer A (my daughter - hoorah!) should get the point.

I only asked the question on this forum because the coach in question was a pretty senior member of the SF heirachy and I just wanted to check that I wasnt missing something really obvious.

ihunter
-29th October 2003, 19:27
Because of its priority, point in line must be executed correctly in order to attract the affirmation of the referee. The FIE (still) go on and on about the correct hand/arm/blade relationship to validate this action. If in doubt, take advice from one of the qualified referee's to see if your idea of pil conflicts with the convention (at both foil and sabre)

bydande
-29th October 2003, 20:16
To Ihunter, and anybody else who wishes to express an opinion

Putting PIL to one side, can you explain what happens in the following situation - which is basically the original scenario with the Point in Line removed:

Fencer A is static in sixte. Fencer B steps forwards and attempts a beat attack but fails to find the blade. After evading Fencers B's beat attack, Fencer A extends the arm so that both fencers hit at the same time and both coloured lights come on. Who should get the point?

Most people I know would give this point to A because Fencer B has failed to correctly execute a beat attack and therefore failed to gain right of way. Are they right?

reposte
-29th October 2003, 22:26
I don't think so. Finding the blade is not a must in a beat attack when the advancing fencer has row to begin with. Only if he had failed to find a blade stretched
towards him, or some other indicator that he hadn't row would deny him a hit. Attempting to beat or performing
a Pris de Fer and failing to find the blade is not a row removing felony.

Australian
-30th October 2003, 04:20
Originally posted by bydande
To Ihunter, and anybody else who wishes to express an opinion

Putting PIL to one side, can you explain what happens in the following situation - which is basically the original scenario with the Point in Line removed:

Fencer A is static in sixte. Fencer B steps forwards and attempts a beat attack but fails to find the blade. After evading Fencers B's beat attack, Fencer A extends the arm so that both fencers hit at the same time and both coloured lights come on. Who should get the point?

Most people I know would give this point to A because Fencer B has failed to correctly execute a beat attack and therefore failed to gain right of way. Are they right?

assuming Fencer A disengaged which prevented Fencer B finiding the blade....

then in theory it is Attack in Preparation A, Counter B.

but in practice that is not going to get called an awful lot, cos it often looks like a disengage attack by B. Unless there are two clear movements from B, then it'll be called:

Attack B, Counter A

Gav
-30th October 2003, 07:24
I have to disagree with Austrailian. If fencer B extends and attempts a beat, misses the blade then continues through to score on A then this is one complete attack. It all depends on whether there is any cross stepping, arm replacing (retraction and re-extension after A straightens) etc, in between the attempt at a beat and the light coming up.

Basically you would have to see the action.

bydande
-30th October 2003, 08:11
I can see theoretical justificaions for Fencer A or Fencer B getting the hit in the second scenario (no PIL).

Hit for Fencer B,
Fencer B should get the point because even though they failed to find the blade of Fencer A, there was a straightening of their arm in the process of the unsuccessul beat which gives them right of way.

Hit for fencer A,
A hit for fencer A could theoretically be justified in two ways.
either
- during the failed attempt at a beat by fencer B, the point of Fencer B's blade ceases to threaten the target of Fencer A. If you miss a beat your point tends to "wander" away from the target direction before you re-align the point for the final movement.
or
- Fencer B has failed to correctly execute a beat attack and therefore failed to gain right of way.

I ask this question because I see a lot of these type of movements at the competitions I attend with my two daughters and sometimes Fencer A gets the hit and sometimes Fencer B gets the hit. Now some of the differing decisions maybe be due to the ref seeing the moves slightly differently - for example seeing Fencer B's failed beat attack as a disengage attack - but what I am interested in is what decision should be being given when the ref does see it as an incorrectly executed beat attack.

alec frenzy
-30th October 2003, 19:11
My humble opinion is that the hit must go to Fencer A

Fencer B has attempted to find the blade (making a preperation for an attack)

Fencer A has attacked into this, gaining priority. (attack on preperation).



The only complication could be the interpretation of the ref.

The ref COULD interpret fencer B as moving forward and not looking for the blade (ie a direct attack), this could depend on the age and ability of the fencers involved. At U14 level the actions of each fencer may not be clear :grin:

In the origional example if fencer B thinks that fencer A does not have a PIL but is attempting one, then a straight attack would work. This can then lead to a 'heated debate' with the ref as to whether or not the attempted PIL was valid....

3 Card Trick
-30th October 2003, 19:40
The problem with these theoretical debates is not being able to see the extent of the blade movement.

This is particularly a problem when commenting on a phrase involving young and less experienced fencers.

alec frenzy
-30th October 2003, 19:43
Very True

Australian
-31st October 2003, 01:59
Originally posted by Gav
I have to disagree with Austrailian. If fencer B extends and attempts a beat, misses the blade then continues through to score on A then this is one complete attack. It all depends on whether there is any cross stepping, arm replacing (retraction and re-extension after A straightens) etc, in between the attempt at a beat and the light coming up.

Basically you would have to see the action.

exactly... i'm just saying if someone tried to take the blade, and you disengaged lunged... in theory its ur attack, but its never going to be called that way.

a beat is a preparation :)

tigger
-31st October 2003, 09:07
In sabre of you 'look' for the blade and miss then you lose the attack - no argument. It's a much greyer area in foil. I'm really not sure why - to me if you attempt a beat attack and miss then you've lost priority as your attempted attacking action has failed. However I'll leave you pointy folk to keep arguing.:grin:

bydande
-31st October 2003, 09:36
Personally, because I can see a justificaion for both sides of the arguement as to what happens when a beat attack is incorrectly executed, I am not so bothered about which interpretation is correct and which is incorrect (given that there is a grey element involving arm bending, leg crossing etc during the phase by the participants) I am more bothereed by the fact that at evey childrens competition I go to I see different refs viewing the actions in fundamentally different ways.

The result is confusion for the kids. For example in their first poule young Fencer A gets the point and is a happy camper. In their second poule young Fencer A carries out the same action and doesnt get the point. The result is confusion for the young Fencer A and the likelyhood that they give up on fencing and go play Hockey or Rugby instead. At least the rules are clear for these sports - even if the refereeing is not always!

Yeah I know that blaming the refereing is a bit of a cop-out for kids who dont win, but the variation in refereeing interpretations makes it easy for them to do that. And its not only the losers who do the moaning.

Winwaloe
-31st October 2003, 14:48
All is fine if you are the ref. Just say "b***** the rule book I will apply a convention!" Seems to work in rather a lot of cases!!!!!!

Winwaloe
-31st October 2003, 15:00
On amore serious note I can understand Bydande's point. There is a huge variation on refing at junior level fencing. I ref myself when forced to do so and have got into a few "conversations" with parents and coaches and have, on a number of occasions, and at one comp in particualr, come to the conclusion that the ref has probably never read the rule book. It is an issue that we all have to make the best of. There are some exceptional refs out there many of whom I don't know by name but they know what they are about and are consistent in their interpretation of the rules (the classics master from Bristol Grammar, David?, and Jenny from Eaton are two I do l know and have a lot of respect for). If a young fencer queires a decison I make (in an appropriate manner) I will always tell them the basis of that decision and tell tham that I am likely to read a similar action the same way. Most take the hint. A while back I had a lad who only attacked with what he thought was a flick hit. Started and continued with point facing the roof and generally pointing in a direction over his shoulder. He was very upset when I would not allow his attack. There will be forum members who will say i should have done but, it is a debatable point (for some). If i was wrong i was also consistent and I did explain fully after the first failed attack. After he lost the fight his coach did refer to him as an idiot so perhaps I wasn't wrong!!

reposte
-31st October 2003, 16:35
In sabre of you 'look' for the blade and miss then you lose the attack - no argument. It's a much greyer area in foil. I'm really not sure why - to me if you attempt a beat attack and miss then you've lost priority as your attempted attacking action has failed. However I'll leave you pointy folk to keep arguing

This is a Sabre disadvantage, not foil's.
Why wold one wish to make a beat attack? In order to calibrate the tempo of an attack when there is a fear of counter by a "blade
front" opponent.
If you catch the opponents blade, no argument from anyone, you can go on for the kill.
If there is a feint by the retreating fencer and the opponent fencer goes in for the kill, the retreating fencer will touch exactly at the time
or well after the final extension of the arm has began (assuming the beat attack was carried in good technique) - which would mean
that the touch goes to the attacking fencer, having the advantage of an attacker.
The Sabre is a crude and unnecessary simplification that denies fencing its classical tempo considerations in favour of a more
straight forward fencing, mainly because sabre is done in a certain way which is to the dissatisfaction of some,
Not because the Sabre way is more correct fencing wise.

alec frenzy
-31st October 2003, 19:45
This is an advantage and disadvantage in foil AND in sabre.


quote: The Sabre is a crude and unnecessary simplification that denies fencing its classical tempo considerations in favour of a more
straight forward fencing, mainly because sabre is done in a certain way which is to the dissatisfaction of some,
Not because the Sabre way is more correct fencing wise.



Sabre has as many intracies as foil (well each weapons exponents would say that their weapon has more)

randomsabreur
-3rd November 2003, 15:38
If you look for the blade you have attempted and failed to do something. Why should you be allowed to attempt and fail something and retain priority. If you look for the blade and your opponent evades it, and hit you (feint disengage!!!) the hit should quite definitely be for the disengager!!!!!!

Robert
-4th November 2003, 20:12
t.56 para 7

This rule states absolutely clearly if you try to find the blade during an attack and fail, priority passes to the other fencer. This seems one of the least ambiguous rules in the book, and I still think it is the relevant one to the first question.

Presiding the rule is obviously very difficult but the rule itself is clear.

Robert

bydande
-4th November 2003, 21:53
Robert,
Although I philosphically agree that failure to find the blade should be penalised and right of way lost, my concern is that it is possible to interprete t56 para 7 in a different way.

The way that you interprete it, is that para 7 is a standalone paragraph which means that failure to find the blade in any attack results in right of way passing to the opponent. However, it is possible to interprete para 7 as being "linked" to the preceding para 6 in that failure to find the blade only results in the right of attack passing to the opponent if the opponent is point in line when the attempt to find the blade is made.

Now dont get me wrong, I am not disagreeing with you - far from it, I actually think your interpretation is logical and in many ways the best way to view it - I am just saying that I can see why some people might take an alternative view because the relationship between para 6 and para 7 is not clear. Are they connected or are they entirely separate? Maybe I am being overly sensitive to obscure alternative interpretations here but on the evidence of the rulebook alone, its not totally clear to me what the relationship between the two paragraphs is.

Australian
-5th November 2003, 02:46
Originally posted by bydande
Robert,
Although I philosphically agree that failure to find the blade should be penalised and right of way lost, my concern is that it is possible to interprete t56 para 7 in a different way.

The way that you interprete it, is that para 7 is a standalone paragraph which means that failure to find the blade in any attack results in right of way passing to the opponent. However, it is possible to interprete para 7 as being "linked" to the preceding para 6 in that failure to find the blade only results in the right of attack passing to the opponent if the opponent is point in line when the attempt to find the blade is made.

Now dont get me wrong, I am not disagreeing with you - far from it, I actually think your interpretation is logical and in many ways the best way to view it - I am just saying that I can see why some people might take an alternative view because the relationship between para 6 and para 7 is not clear. Are they connected or are they entirely separate? Maybe I am being overly sensitive to obscure alternative interpretations here but on the evidence of the rulebook alone, its not totally clear to me what the relationship between the two paragraphs is.

but para 7 suggests that the attacker has right of way, which wouldn't exist if the opponent had point in line.

IMO the two paragraphs are seperate

bydande
-5th November 2003, 08:05
Australian & Robert,
Firstly I agree with both of you - I am just saying that the rulebook is open to alternative interpretations because it is not written as clearly as it could be.

I have copied the relevant paragraphs and they are shown below. I dont think it is a given that para 7 is a stand alone paragraph because of the relationship that exists between paras 5 & 6. Although they are seperate paragraphs they are clearly linked to the issue of point in line which is why it is also possible to take a view that para 7 also relates to point in line rather than a more general view on attempts to find/attack the blade. i.e. it is possible to reach different conclusions about the meaning of para 7 depending on whether you read it in isolation or in the context of its position and possible relationship with the paragraphs immediately preceding it.

I would like your interpretation to be the correct one but I can see how, in the absence of any other guidance, the rulebook could be interpreted differently.


**** Extract from t56 ****

To judge the priority of an attack when analysing the fencing phrase, it should be noted that:

5. If the attack is initiated when the opponent is not ‘point in line’ (cf. t.10), it may be executed either with a direct thrust, or by a disengage, or by a cutover, or may even be preceded by a beat or successful feints obliging the opponent to parry.

6. If the attack is initiated when the opponent is ‘point in line’ (cf. t.10), the attacker must, first, deflect the opponent’s blade. Referees must ensure that a mere contact of the blades is not considered as sufficient to deflect the opponent’s blade (cf. t.60/2a).

7. If the attacker, when attempting to deflect the opponent’s blade, fails to find it (dérobement), the right of attack passes to the opponent.

**** extract ends ****

randomsabreur
-5th November 2003, 13:31
The big problem we have in this country is that we are discussing how to interpret what is already an interpretation. The FIE rules are in French and the BFA rules are in English ( I know, this is stating the obvious), but if you give the same passage of French to two different people who have equal ability in the language, you will get slightly different interpretations.

Looking at the equivalent paragraph in the FIE rules (yes I do have too much time on my hands) it seems fairly clear to me that the paragraphs are intended to be stand alone sections. I can not see how all are supposed to link. If 7 were supposed to be read merely in relation to 6, then surely it would be a sub paragraph of 6. Therefore if an attacker looks for the opponent's blade to move it aside, and does not find it, the priority passes to the opponent.

bydande
-5th November 2003, 14:52
So there appears to be a majority agreement that t56 para 7 means that any unsuccessful attempt to find the blade - whether the opponent is point in line or not - passes priority to the opponent. What the opponent does with that priority being another matter all together.

I would say that 30% to 50% of the referees that I see at kids competitions do not referee the rule in this way - and I am only counting those that see it as a failed beat attack and not those who "see" the movements in a different way (maybe as a feint-disengage attack).

Winwaloe
-6th November 2003, 08:17
Perhaps the most important phrase for a fencing ref to remember = Rules are made for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools!

(but perhaps not!!)

Australian
-6th November 2003, 08:47
perhaps people need to be re-educated then?

Robert
-6th November 2003, 12:22
Originally posted by bydande
So there appears to be a majority agreement that t56 para 7 means that any unsuccessful attempt to find the blade - whether the opponent is point in line or not - passes priority to the opponent. What the opponent does with that priority being another matter all together.

I would say that 30% to 50% of the referees that I see at kids competitions do not referee the rule in this way - and I am only counting those that see it as a failed beat attack and not those who "see" the movements in a different way (maybe as a feint-disengage attack).

I agree with you Bydande that the rules could be interpreted differently, though I think in this case it would be hard work. However, I don't think that is the problem. The odds are those refs have never read t.56 para.7, it isn't that they are reading it differently. To some degree the rule is quite minor in the grand scheme of rules and if people are taught by word of mouth from other fencers it is likely to be one of the rules that simply isn't passed on.

If you look at this thread, even right back at the start, there are lots of people talking in a way that suggests not that they read the rules differently but that they simply haven't read the rules.

Robert

Robert
-6th November 2003, 12:25
Originally posted by Winwaloe
Perhaps the most important phrase for a fencing ref to remember = Rules are made for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools!

(but perhaps not!!)

In legal matters the distinction is called formalism v positivism.

A formalist interpretation says the rules are what matter, and the law and the rules are the same.
A positivist interpretation says the opinions of those applying the rules is what matters.

I would suggest the rules themselves are formalist, most of us agree they should be applied as written. But phrasing is positivist, and ought to be the point at which the wise man applies his interpretation.

Robert

Robert
-6th November 2003, 12:26
Originally posted by Australian
perhaps people need to be re-educated then?

Yes, ref's committee, we want training courses!

Robert

Winwaloe
-7th November 2003, 11:25
In legal matters the distinction is called formalism v positivism.


There is a delightful little phrase in the foreign exchange trading markets-

"H.A.B" = "How about ********! - - -

Quite!

Saxon
-7th November 2003, 13:35
Originally posted by Robert
Yes, ref's committee, we want training courses!

Robert


Want training courses?

You have but to ask.

The kindly Mr Huggins (and I'm sure various others) will happily turn up and do a seminar for (in our case) about 6-10 people, for a small fee. If you can arrange for a two day thing, he may well examine as well (but you'd have to ask him of course!).

Alternatively, many major opens have refereeing seminars, but these seem to be extremely poorly attended. At the Leciester (on the Saturday at least) poor Pat Casey was sitting upstairs waiting for people to come and ask her things, but no-one did - personally, I'd much rather have done that than spend four hours in England and Regions meetings...

Saxon
-7th November 2003, 13:45
Originally posted by Robert
Yes, ref's committee, we want training courses!

Robert


Want training courses?

You have but to ask.

The kindly Mr Huggins (and I'm sure various others) will happily turn up and do a seminar for (in our case) about 6-10 people, for a small fee. If you can arrange for a two day thing, he may well examine as well (but you'd have to ask him of course!).

Alternatively, many major opens have refereeing seminars, but these seem to be extremely poorly attended. At the Leciester (on the Saturday at least) poor Pat Casey was sitting upstairs waiting for people to come and ask her things, but no-one did - personally, I'd much rather have done that than spend four hours in England and Regions meetings...

Robert
-7th November 2003, 15:49
Originally posted by Saxon
Want training courses?

You have but to ask.

The kindly Mr Huggins (and I'm sure various others) will happily turn up and do a seminar for (in our case) about 6-10 people, for a small fee. If you can arrange for a two day thing, he may well examine as well (but you'd have to ask him of course!).


Any contact details?



Alternatively, many major opens have refereeing seminars, but these seem to be extremely poorly attended. At the Leciester (on the Saturday at least) poor Pat Casey was sitting upstairs waiting for people to come and ask her things, but no-one did - personally, I'd much rather have done that than spend four hours in England and Regions meetings...

This simply isn't true. Most opens do not. And as for Leicester, the item was buried in the small print and even if you found it you couldn't make head nor tail of what it actually was. Even after the event people on this board were still unclear of the purpose of what Leicester had organised. Oh, and I was at Leicester so would have attended a properly organised session, had one been organised.

Robert

Saxon
-10th November 2003, 17:41
Originally posted by Robert
Any contact details?

No email for Peter Huggins (yet)
PM sent with details



Most opens do not. And as for Leicester, the item was buried in the small print and even if you found it you couldn't make head nor tail of what it actually was. Even after the event people on this board were still unclear of the purpose of what Leicester had organised. Oh, and I was at Leicester so would have attended a properly organised session, had one been organised.


Yup you're right - most opens don't, but like I said, many of the major ones do. e.g. Bristol, Leicester, Welsh, Birmingham. Unfortunately, as with many things BFA, if you don't already know, it's difficult to find out.

Perhaps something to be organised a little more visibly in the future once they have the "executive group" in place (whatever that will do)

Unfortunately, the Referee Committee section of the BFA site is STILL broken, so no luck there.

http://www.britishfencing.com/refereeingexams.html talks about exams, and mentions sending to the chair of the referees committee, but with no mention of who that is.

You could try contacting BFA HQ, or Keith - they may at least be able to point in the right direction?