This post is a direct continuation of the previous one, me commenting on various decisions made at the most recent FIE meeting in Dubai.

  1. Reworked points system. For competitions that award points to the various FIE rankings, more fencers will get points. Previously, only the top 96 fencers got points, on a scale from 36 points to #1 to i point for those placed #65-96. Now, fencers placed #97-128 get 0.5 points, and those placed #129-256 get 0.25 points. The obvious upside of this is that more fencers will be able to say that they have points in the international ranking system, which will become a selling point for some of them when they try to get personal sponsors. For example: in the men’s individual senior ranking list of 2016/17, there were 357 fencers who had at least one point, and a grand total of 1068 fencers on the ranking list. Of those 1068 fencers, all but a handful had at least one top-256 placement, per my spot check at the bottom of the ranking list. So, this change will make 3 times as many fencers able to say that they are World ranking point holders, per my admittedly cursory check. However, I do not think that this change will accomplish all that much more. It will create more granularity among the fencers ranked below #357, but I doubt that that will lead to a significantly better ranking at a given competition. The fencers who are ranked that low are going to be, in most cases, easily beaten by those ranked #96 and up, so no matter where they are placed in the poules the better fencers will come out on top anyway.
  2. Shoulder position in foil. It is now again legal to have the shoulder of the non-weapon arm in front of the weapon arm shoulder in foil.
  3. Breaks due to medical cases. Now, the time that a fencer has for a medical case is decreased from 10 to It is also made clear that it a doctor can proclaim a fencer to be unfit for further fencing, and thus decide that the fencer retires from the competition.
  4. Tightening of the referee qualifications. For FIE competitions, the referees must be current holders of relevant FIE licences – candidates of FIE refereeing exams are not enough anymore.
  5. Video replay screenings. From now on, the action under video review must be shown on screens visible to spectators at the Olympics and World Championship finals. That has been done at several competitions already, and I consider it a great improvement.
  6. Two security devices on masks. From now on, all masks must have two independent security devices. I am in favor of this. I think that this is a change where safety improvement/cost ratio is especially high, and it is also a change which does not necessitate buying of new masks – old masks can be retrofitted with new extra straps. No excuses left to upgrade your masks!
  7. Black card procedure. From now on, black cards handed out at FIE competitions, or FIE confederation competitions, shall be reported to the president of FIE, in addition to the previous procedures. My conclusion: the FIE wants to come down hard on any further shenanigans at flagship events.
  8. Unjustified appeal. From now on it is specifically stated in the chart of offences that casting doubt on the decision of a referee on a point of fact is a Group I offence. This does not apply to demands for video reviews. Personal thought: it remains to be seen whether all referees will hand out those cards.
  9. Material definitions. In both m.12.2 and m.20.1, it is stated that: ”Normally, only fixing by metal-to-metal is allowed. However, fixing by any material of great mechanical strength may be authorised by the FIE commission of the FIE.” This is an example of where the rules are not exact enough. I would have preferred a wording in which it is stated that a seam must hold X N/m load in a given direction before it deforms enough to give an opening large enough for a tip to enter, or something of that numerical precision. Another thing that I think should be amended is that whenever there is a specific measurement in the rules, it should include a maximum allowed measurement error. This is generally not the case now. For example: The epee blade length is specified to be at most 90 cm. But with what precision must that measurement be made? One millimeter? A tenth of a millimeter? The rules do not specify that.
  10. Source of electrical current. This is now specified to be either 12 V DC from a AC/DC converter, or from a valve-regulated lead-acid battery. Personal thought: I think that it were better to specify the voltage level and maximum deviation from that measured during a set time, than to specify which type of battery that is allowed. That text about the VRLA batteries is found in rule m.44.5. Later on, in rule m.51.7, it is stated that batteries or and UPS unit are needed, but in this case the type of battery is not specified.
  11. Transparent masks. All the rules pertaining to those masks are now discarded, which is reasonable since the masks were made illegal some time ago.
  12. Soft-sided chest protectors. It is now specified that chest protectors must have a soft outer side so that the user of a chest protector cannot misuse the debounce time in the fencing box, thus causing a real hit to not register. So far so good. However, this is done by exemplifying a soft material by EVA with a specified thickness and density. Instead, the FIE should have specified a given softness, given in Shore hardness. That would specify what is actually needed, and not hold back innovation in the future.