Imagine with me, if you will, a hot gym filled with fencers, family, and friends. Three events are taking place - the Y10 and Y14 kids have started their pools, and the Div 3 event is in the round of 32 of direct elimination. Let's focus on Div3.
1. Round of 32. The boy I am fencing is about 6'1" and around 240lbs, but he doesn't wear it well. He doesn't move very quickly, or gracefully - so for better or worse he stands still. Nevertheless his reaction time is very fast, even if his reactions are not skillful. At 9-0, he loses confidence, and I become very interested in ending this bout as quicky as possible. Then I begin to attack without fully extending my arm - and a perfect bout is out of reach at 10-1. He manages to score a couple singles when my point glides around his belly instead of sticking it. During the first minute break I regain my composure, relax, and just take my time - anyone can beat me if I start rushing and not taking him seriously. Mind put to rest I end the bout 15-6.
2. Round of 16. The man I am facing is about 6'3 and around 220lbs or so. He has much more skill than the last opponent, but did not move much at all except to fleche or lunge. I have a lot of confidence in my fleche defense against right-handers (my defence against a lefty's fleche needs work), so the score ran in my favor easily.
3. Round of 8. Here I face the #1 seed after pools, standing at 5'9" and around 180lbs. He moves around a lot more than the others, and his fleche is more successful. I open up the distance to give my defense a chance to work - and try to force his fleche by driving him to his own endline. I threw in a few fleches of my own; just over half were successful. Of course, that's enough to win.
4. Round of 4. This girl, standing at a proud 5'10" and weighing around 130lbs, I have fenced twice previously - first at AFC in the final where she earned her D, the second in pools at Vandy where I evened the score. Back then I remembered that she was not confident in her attack, but her counterattack was deadly. I managed to stay ahead, although the close score through each period gave her confidence in her attack. At 14-14, I saw AFC flash before my eyes. We were fencing on a far strip next to a wall and a bleacher - and I didn't even hear the loud clang when my epee struck the bleacher in its wild path to this girl's midsection. I fought the call without success. Again, at 14-14 I knew that an attack was coming, and I couldn't afford to get countered on an advance-lunge. I extended my arm towards her sixte to pull a parry, beat the blade in counter sixte and launched myself at her. I don't know whether it was the initial hit to the upper chest or the safety touch to her flank that won the bout... all I know was this time the light came on with no question.
5. Round of 2, Final. This guy is strong... and unrated. He was the sleeper in this event. Standing at 5'11" and 160lbs, he was lean and mean. He scored first with a fleche. I scored back with a fleche. Then followed up with a fleche so slow, he couldn't believe I got enough pressure on my tip as he backpedaled to get the touche. Through out the bout I managed to stay at least two touches ahead, but every time I got an advance too close, he would fleche successfully or pick my hand. The best I could do was stay ahead in the score, let him chase me down the strip, and through him lunges out of distance to keep it interesting. When ever he backed up, he ate up clock. When he stood his ground, I hit him with a fleche. At 12-10 my arm was too tired to keep extended, and I only pushed him back to make him jump and keep the wide divide between us. Just as he was about to push me off the strip - the director called time. I won.