Competition Format

Fencing competitions may be either individual or team.

In general, fencing competitions in Australia run in accordance with the Federation Internationale d'Escrime (FIE) Rules for Competitions, although some local rules apply as well.

Individual Competitions

In general, fencing competitions have a format of one round of pools, followed by a Direct Elimination.

However, two variations in place in NSW include "flex format" and "B finals". Another possible variation (not currently used by NSWFA or AFF) is to have two rounds of pools.

Standard format


Pools normally contain between 5 and 7 fencers, and everyone fences every other fencer in their pool. In pools, each bout is to 5 hits, with a maximum time limit of 3 minutes. It should be noted, however, that this time limit relates purely to fencing time. "Non-fencing" time (eg after a hit is landed, when the referee awarding the point) is not included in the time limit. If time expires before either fencer has scored 5 hits, then the fencer with the highest score is the victor.

Direct Elimination

After the first round, fencers are ranked according to their results in the pools. A Direct Elimination (DE) table is drawn up, in which higher ranked fencers compete against those with lower rankings.

Direct Elimination bouts are to 15 hits, or a maximum fencing time of 9 minutes. As soon as a fencer loses a Direct Elimination bout, he/she is eliminated from the competition.

In some events, a number of fencers may be eliminated after the round of pools. However, in NSWFA and AFF competitions, all fencers proceed from the pools to the DE.

Depending on the number of fencers, the first round of the DE may be an "incomplete tableau", in which the higher ranked fencers have byes.


B-Grade Final

If a NSWFA competition has more than 11 competitors, a "B" final is incorporated into the Direct Elimination tableau.

After the DE round of 16, the top 8 fencers proceed to the next round of the standard DE tableau. This is the final of the "A" grade competition.

The remaining 8 fencers (or fewer, if the round of 16 was incomplete) form a new DE tableau as the final of the "B" grade competition.

Two rounds of pools

Competitions may be run with two rounds of pools before the DE. In some cases, a number of competitors may be eliminated at the end of the first round. In other cases, all competitors will fence both rounds, and the DE tableau may be drawn up on the basis of results from both rounds.

Note that this variation of the standard structure is not normally used in NSWFA or AFF competitions.

Team Competitions

Most team events are single weapon and gender. That is, events are for foil, epee or sabre, with teams being male or female, and no mixing of weapons within a team. However, NSWFA also runs one multi-weapon/multi-gender competition each year, and in 2008 has added a single-weapon/multi-gender event.

Single weapon and gender

A fencing team consists of three fencers (with an optional reserve) and bouts are fenced one-on-one. The standard scoring method is relay format, but some of the schools events in NSW use the older style method of best of nine bouts.

Relay to 45 hits

In the Relay format, bout scores are cumulative, to a total of 45 hits. That is, the first two fencers fence until one has scored 5 hits; their places are then taken by the next two fencers, who pick up the score and continue until one team is on 10 hits; and so on, to 45 hits.

The is the method currently in use at all World Cup and Australian National team events. In NSW, it is used for most team events, with the exception of some schools competitions.

The overall structure of the competition depends on the level, and the number of teams entered.

In NSW, if the number of teams is small, each team will fence each other team. If there are too many teams for this to happen within a day, the teams are placed into pools, and each team fences all the other teams in its pool. Based on the pool results, the teams are placed in a Direct Elimination (DE) tableau, with higher ranked teams fencing lower ranked teams. With each match of the DE, the losing team is eliminated from the competition, and the winning team proceeds to the next round of the DE.

At AFF tournaments, and most other high level events, there is no round of pools. The teams are placed in a Direct Elimination (DE) tableau, with ranking based on team members' results from the individual event at the tournament. Generally, the DE follows the standard method of losing teams being eliminated from the competition. However, in some cases (e.g. FIE tournaments) the DE may be fenced "exhaustively" - i.e. winners fence winners, and losers fence losers, to establish a precise ranking at the end of the event.

Best of nine bouts

In the non-relay format, a team match consists of up to 9 individual 5-hit bouts. That is, each member of the team fences one or more member of the opposing team. The winning team is the one that wins the majority of the 9 bouts.

This used to be the standard format for team fencing competitions, but it has been phased out by the FIE and AFF, and for some NSW team events. However, it is still in place for NSW Schools League competitions, and also some rounds of the NSW State Schools Team Championships. The reason is that these are developmental comptitions, aimed at supporting individual fencing in a team environment.

For Schools League events, all nine bouts are fenced in each match, as the results are also used to calculate awards for individual performance, as well as teams. For other School events using the 9-bout method, the match is only fenced as far as a victory - that is, until one team has won five bouts.


NSWFA runs an Italian Relay competition every year. An Italian Relay team consists of six fencers: male and female foilist, epeeist and sabreur. The match is fenced relay style to 30 hits, with each fencer bouting their opposite number in the other team.

The order of bouts is determined by the two team captains at the start of the match. A coin is tossed, and the winning captain states which bout will be fenced first. The other captain then states which bout will be fenced second. The two captains continue to alternate, untill all six bouts have been placed in order. (Note that this method of determining the order may not necessarily apply to Italian Relays fenced outside NSW. As this is a very informal type of event, local rules will apply.)


The Mixed Team Event is a new style of team event being introduced by NSW Fencing in 2008. The format is that which was at one stage being considered for Olympic team events.

A team consists of four people - two men and two women. The men fence the men on the opposing team, and the women fence the women. The match is relay style to 40 hits. The bout order alternates between men's and women's bouts, starting with a women's bout.

For 2008, the only Mixed Team Event being offered is in foil. However, if it proves successful, other events may be added in future years.



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