Based on the pool results, the fencers are re-seeded and the Direct Elimination (DE) tableau is created. In national tournaments for Y12 and above, the bottom 20% of fencers after pools are cut and do not proceed to direct elimination. In most regional tournaments, there is often no cut. It can be good to check beforehand to know. For tournaments with a cut, winning 2 pool bouts or 1 pool bout with strong indicators (the matches were close) will usually result in escaping the cut.
The DE tableau is set up so that the strongest fencer faces the weakest fencer remaining in each round with strength that day reflected by the pool results. In our hypothetical example with 31 fencers and no cut, the tournament would begin with the round (table) of 32. Since there are only 31 fencers, the #1 overall fencer from pools would get a bye to the round of 16, which can be nice to rest and also give the #1 a chance to check out future opponents—always a good idea. The #2 fencer would fence the #31, the #3 would fencer the #30, etc. For any given starting round, the fencers are paired such that the sum of the fencers’ seeding numbers equals the Round+1. In this case, 2+31=33 (round of 32 plus 1). Using this concept, you can often determine your first opponent prior to the posting of the DE’s.
An example of the elimination bracket is shown below:
In the DE Rounds for fencers in Y12 and above, there are 3 periods of 3 minutes with 1 minute rest between. The contest goes to 15 points or until the end of the 3rd period. If it is tied at the end of the 3rd period, there is a one minute overtime. In an overtime, one fencer will be assigned priority randomly. The bout will end at the next touch or when time expires; only single touches count. If time expires with no single touch scored, the fencer with “priority” at the start of OT will win the match. The winning fencer receives a slip to take to the bout committee and advances to the next round. The defeated fencer will generally be done for the day except for the very unusual case when the tournament is fenced with “repechage”, a bracket where the 1 loss fencers continue and face each other until they lose again and are eliminated.
In the Y10 age group, there are only 2 three minute periods. The first period ends after three minutes or if one fencer gets to 5 points. Because the match pauses at 5 points, this can leave a little less time to catch up if you get behind in the first period, but it also provides a chance for the fencer to reset and get advice without their opponent running away with the match. The match is to a total of 10 points or until the end of the second period. There is 1 one minute break between the two periods.
During the rest periods, the fencers can meet with their Coach for advice. If there is no coach that day or time, a parent can go out and meet with them to give encouragement and a drink.
Even if you have been eliminated, it is usually good to stay around and watch the other fencers compete. There is a lot to learn from observing the many styles and strategies.
At the conclusion of each tournament event, there will be an awards ceremony. Fencers are ordered based on the “Table” or “Round” in which they finish. If you are eliminated in the round of 8, then you will be in positions 5 through 8. The order of the final positions is determined by the fencers seeding at the beginning of the elimination bracket. The higher seeded fencer finishes higher. Thus, the pool results strongly influence your final position up through 5th place. Both semifinalists will be ranked in 3rd place; there is generally no fence off for 4th place. Second and first depends on the outcome of the championship match, which is sometimes held on a special “Finals” strip. Medals are given to the Top 8 fencers and fencers can often receive points for regional or national rankings based on how they finish. In national events, awardees can wear either full fencing whites or a team warm up suit with club jacket and long pants for the medal ceremony; this dress code is less strictly enforced regionally but it is a good habit.