Monday, 27 September 2010

Touché, unfortunately

How was your weekend, anyway? What exciting things did you get up to?

I went fencing, at the Shropshire Open. It was, to say the least, embarrassing. In the first round of fights, I beat two people who should have beaten me, and lost to three whom I should have beaten. Not good because it put me lower in the seeding, but not disastrous. In the second poule, I lost 3 of my 5 fights by one point, including against some of the eventual finalists, so that was frustrating but unsurprising. Unfortunately, I also lost the other 2 fights, which makes a grand total of 0 victories in the poule, and a desperately low ranking.

So on we went to the direct elimination - 3 periods of fencing, 15 points, and because I'd arsed up the poules so badly, I get a very high seed to fence. At which point, damn it all, I finally start fencing properly - but not quite enough. I lost 15-14, which is awful. Losing 15-0 is preferable because it suggests that your opponent really is out of your league. Losing 15-14 means that you lost it mentally - you're as good as your opponent in every other way, and could/should have won.

I'm quite good at losing - through years of practice - but losing so narrowly really hurts because it's so clearly my failure. There are two types of fencer - those who shout at every hit, and those who suck it up in silence. I'm one of the latter - even if the referee gets it completely wrong (and it happened a few times yesterday), I accept it. Perhaps if I was one of dominant people on the circuit I'd become a shouter, but it's so embarrassingly alpha male (and the female equivalent). On the other hand, perhaps it works, psyching yourself up, intimidating your opponent, pressuring the referee - it may be part of the winning mentality. To me, it just feels arrogant.

Anyway, I refereed for the rest of the day, caught up with friends from the circuit, generally helped out. Next day I looked (and still look) like I've fallen down several flights of stairs - bruises everywhere. Being on my feet all day refereeing the epée competition didn't help either - I ache everywhere, but the refereeing went fine - no complaints from fencers about my decisions, though apparently my hand signals (used to cut through the noise of a busy hall) in the final looked like I was directing traffic.

Cheeringly, my contribution excepted, the standard of fencing was really high for a middle-ranking event - I refereed some really brilliant fights, especially from the teenagers, and also from a couple of OAPs who've re-emerged on the circuit. The organisation was excellent and the food (particularly the basil and hummous sandwiches) really tasty. These things matter!

I came away from the weekend with a new foil (stupidly expensive), a bottle of wine and a crystal glass for my refereeing efforts, and two jars of homemade jam, which I think makes up for the pain and exhaustion.

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