This blog post is not exactly what I set out to write about, but it is at least about fencing, even if it is not about epee nor tactics.

In the recent World Championships, a DE system with a repechage of sorts was used for the team events. From the Men´s Sabre team event, I note the following three match results in the first round:

  1. Vietnam (ranked 24th before the start) – France (ranked 9th), 38-45
  2. Singapore (23rd) – Georgia (10th), 18-45
  3. Chile (20th) – Belarus (13th), 13-45

For the losers, these were the only team matches in the whole competition. With those results Vietnam ended up placed 24th, Singapore 23rd, and Chile 20th.

So, Vietnam put in a valiant effort against a team with a stellar pedigree, while the other two losers got crushed against weaker opposition – yet Vietnam ended up placed last of those three.

Let that one sink in.

I will post some more detailed notes on the team events later on. In further posts, I will outline how one can construct competition systems that do not give that sort of strange results.

Some notes from one of the matches in the second round: Hungary – Belarus: Kirill Kirpichou of Belarus, ranked 96th in the world went up against, and clobbered the double olympic Champion Aron Szilagi 9-3 in the 2nd leg of the match. In the 4th leg, he followed that up with a win over Andras Szatmari, who had won the individual World Championship just 5 days earlier. He lost his last bout, but it was tight (4-5) and his opponent Csanad Gemesi is ranked 14th in the world so that was something that could have been expected. In short: Kirill put in two absolutely fantastic wins and one loss – and his last bout in that match was the 7th leg! Belarus fielded Siarhei Kisel in the 8th leg, and Siarhei Shachanin in the anchor bout. Considering that Kirill had placed 29th in the individual event five days earlier, and the other two had posted considerably weaker results – 65th and 55th, respectively – the decision to not let Kirill anchor is difficult to understand. Hungary won – but it was a squeaker, 45-43. Well, Kirill is born 1998 and his teammates are born 1992 and 1995, so he will have more chances to anchor his team.

Later on in the competition, Aron redeemed himself by scoring 11-4 in the anchor bout of the semifinal, and turning a precarious 34-40 score into a win 45-44. In the final, Hungary was fencing reasonably well in the first 3 legs, trailing 12-15 against South Korea. However, the Koreans really pulled out all stops in the last 6 legs, scoring 30-10 in them. I cannot remember such a lopsided bout in a team World Championship final for quite some time. It should prove instructive to look at. Aron was the only Hungarian fencer who did not completely underperform, at a composite score in the finals of 13-13. For comparison, Andras Szatmari scored 5-15 and Csanad Gemesi 2-12. The latter was exchanged for the reserve, but he did not fare much better in his only bout – 2-5. The Hungarian coaches have got themselves something to think about.

Kirill was the only Belarusian fencer to post a positive overall team match score, 17-11, in their last team match, a 43-45 loss against China. He did not get the anchor bout there either.