I am training for Sectionals/Nationals right now, and I am trying to correct some of the crazy stuff going on in my game. I don't think I am alone. In no particular order, here are what I see to be the worst almost touches in Epee. Feel free to disagree in the comments.
1. You reach and give your all, but your all is half an inch short. This one sucks. Most likely because the back shoulder is too far forward.
2. You reach and give your all, and your all equals 749 gram-force. Maybe you are looking back at the light, maybe you missed your opponents half-step back, maybe your barrel needs cleaning, maybe you are a pathetic weakling.
3. You go straight for the arm, he dips his hand and extends. Both points land over/under, but only his light is on. It's a gamble, and you lost.
4. He's an ass anyway, flèche to the face! Only fencing masks are molded with a vertical edge with sloping sides - and your point rides one of the sides without catching. Too bad your butt doesn't have sloping sides for his risposte behind his back. The oohs, ahhs, and golf claps don't help either.
5. He attacks just inside distance. You parry in four in opposition, finishing to the neck. But wait, your barrel gets caught in a channel created by his bending bib not allowing a touch. It's unclear whether the curse word you dropped was for the "no touch" or his remise to the nuts.
6. You see it, it's not going anywhere, so you lunge for the foot. Only you should have aimed for the toe and you glance along the shockingly smooth side of that nice unscratched shoe. It's amazing what clarity your eyes can perceive as you are about to be hit in the face.
7. What a fast hand he has. But some of his glove is always open. You go for it with a lunge, and as you land you can feel him smile when you point lands harmlessly on the edge of the bell guard. You've been discovered, and the man is coming...
8. You see his footwork pattern, and you are timing a lunge just below the shoulder just as he steps forward in the middle of a double advance. Your only worry is making sure he doesn't break your blade. You shoot, you miss, you hit solid in the chest. Who knew he would raise his arm?
9. He's short, and/or he ducks. You don't like it. Fie on him. You step forward, he drops, and you extend and advance with a thrust to the face. Only you land on the top of his mask. A little more pressure and you could catch the back rubber edge of the mask. A little less and you could turn it into a sure flick. But here you are in the muddy middle, your point uselessly on his head, and his point in your neck. Fie on you.
10. And he messed up. He got a hair too close and you have a hair trigger. You fire with a straight lunge to the chest. You feel the tip touch him and begin to retreat into the barrel when... No f'ing way. He takes your blade near the barrel in a high parry, off his chest, and ripostes back to yours. His single light, his touch. You check you weapon in disbelief, it works just fine.
Bonus for foilists. You are rated high in Epee, but learned to fence in foil. You're up against a pure foilist who has no intention of losing in front of his girlifriend. It's 14-14, and you've kept it close by being careful and simple. And then he steps in, chest exposed, as naked as Chrissy Teigen is in your dreams. The fact that his weapon arm is creeping forward at half a snails pace is immaterial, he will never get there in time. Let's end this. Two colored lights fire on the scoreboard. Your planned attack in preparation turned out to be a counterattack. You lose.