Fencing Tournament FAQ

Fencing Tournament FAQ


{YEL!} Fencing Tournaments feature:

  • Six rounds of tournament fencing.
    • Grades 2-5 is non elimination.
    • Grades 6-12 includes six rounds of non elimination, then promotion of a few athletes to the elimination rounds.
  • All equipment is provided.
  • Fast pace.
  • Nurturing referees and coaches.
  • Great for first time or experienced fencers.
  • Medals or trophies for each participant based on their performance.

CLICK HERE to view all events


Fencing Tournament FAQ

    A description of Youth Enrichment League (YEL) fencing tournaments as well as other MN tournaments.
  • How do we check in?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    1) Go to the check in table and make sure your name, school, grade and emergency number are all correct.
    2) Go to the gym area.
    3) Find the equipment tables.
    4) Get the equipment you need to compete that day. NOTE: We have enough equipment for 150 competitors of varying size, however, we cannot guarantee that all fencers will have the exact size they need. You'll need:
    • Mask
    • Jacket
    • Glove
    • Chest Plate (grades 2-7 only)
    • Plastron (grades 8-12 and 6-7 at coach's discretion)
    • Foils and epees are provided by staff and are kept at each strip.
    5) Find your seating area.
    • Grades 2-5 are split by section
    • Grades 2-3 are on the right side of the gym as you sit in the audience.
    • Grades 4-5 are on the left side of the gym as you sit in the audience.
    • Grades 6-12 are split by section
    • Grades 6-7 are on the right side of the gym as you sit in the audience.
    • Grades 8-12 are on the left side of the gym as you sit in the audience.
    *NOTE: If one section has significantly more fencers, then we may move a group of kids to a different side of the gym in order to stay within our time constraints.

    6) Parents can sit in the bleachers. Follow the guidelines above so you are seated near your fencer.
    7) Fencers should then warm up.
    • Go through your footwork drills.
    • Find a partner, share a strip and do some blade work.
    • Safety is of the utmost importance. Make sure there aren't other fencers walking around you. If there are, call a "HALT" to the action.
    • Fence a match with a friend.
    • If an electric strip is available, we suggest you practice on one of those strips as well as on a non-electric strip.
    8) Wait for announcements.
    9) See "What is the schedule?" for an itinerary.

  • What is the schedule?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    Grades 2-5 (Grades 6-12 scroll down a bit):
    • 8-8:30am: Check in and set up. Get your gear after checking in.
    • 8:30-8:35am: Announcements.
    • *8:40-9:20: Round 1
    • *9:20-10:00: Round 2
    • *10:00-10:40: Round 3
    • *10:40-11:20: Round 4
    • *11:20-12:00: Round 5
    • *12:00-12:40: Round 6
    • *12:40-1:00: Gap time. Make-up time.
    • *1:00-1:15: Trophy Presentations
    * All times are approximations and may change with no notice.

    Grades 6-12:
    • 1:00-1:30: Check in and set up. Get your gear after checking in.
    • 1:30-1:35: Announcements.
    • *1:35-2:05: Round 1
    • *2:05-2:35: Round 2
    • *2:35-3:05: Round 3
    • *3:05-3:35: Round 4
    • *3:35-4:05: Round 5
    • *4:05-4:35: Round 6
    • *4:35-5:00: Gap time. Make-up time.
    • *1:00-1:15: Trophy Presentations
    * All times are approximations and may change with no notice.

  • How long is the tournament?
    Chet Gunhus23-11-2016

    Our fencing tournaments are non-elimination.  Each fencer will compete in six rounds of fencing (a few students may receive a bye if there are an odd number of participants).

  • What do I need to wear?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    All fencing equipment is provided: Masks, jackets, chest plates or plastrons, glove and foils or epees.

    We suggest students wear:
    • Court shoes.
    • Knee high socks
    • Knickers, baseball pants or sweat pants. NOTE: The entire leg must be covered.
    • A light t-shirt.
    • A water bottle, if wanted. We do have bottled water at concessions.
    • Snacks. We do have snacks at concessions.
    • A small towel. High school fencers tend to sweat more. They may want to have their own towel on hand.

  • What do we need to bring?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    See "What do we need to wear?"

  • Do you provide equipment?
    Chet Gunhus23-11-2016

    Yes.  We provide: masks, jackets, gloves, foils, chest plates (for grades 2-7) and plastrons (for grades 8-12).

    Fencers should also wear:

    • Knickers or sweat pants.  Baseball/softball pants works really well if knickers aren't available.

    • Court or sport shoes.

    • Long socks to the knee if wearing knickers or baseball/softball pants.

    • We recommend a light t-shirt.  The chest plate or plastron and the fencing jacket keep fencers quite warm.

  • Does my fencer stay all day?
    Chet Gunhus23-11-2016

    Our fencing tournaments are non-elimination chess tournaments.  Meaning that all students participate all day.  Parents should count on their child staying until after the prizes are awarded.

    Timing is typically (but not always):

    Grades 2-5 = 8:30am-1:00pm (Check-in begins at 8am)

    Grades 6-12 = 1:30pm-5:00pm (Check-in begins at 1pm)

  • Do you provide electric equipment?
    Chet Gunhus23-11-2016

    We want to give many fencers the experience of fencing with electric equipment as they do in the olympics and USFA events.

    To do so, we provide four electric strips out of 10 strips at our fencing tournaments.  We also provide lames (pronounced la-mays), body cords, electric foils and epees, floor cords and reels.

    If your child is scheduled for an electric strip, we encourage you to allow them to fence on it.  Yes, it may be new for some, but it is an opportunity to fence "like the big kids".

  • What is the USFA?
    Chet Gunhus23-11-2016

    The USFA (United States Fencing Association) is the governing body for competitive fencing in the United States.  YEL adheres to most of the same rules and certainly the same spirit as the USFA.  For the sake of ease for the competitors and parents' pocketbooks, here are some differences between YEL and USFA events:

    • USFA requires each competitor to provide three working weapons.  YEL provides all equipment.

    • USFA requires knickers.  YEL requires sweat pants or baseball/softball pants.

    • USFA requires knee length socks.  YEL requires that the legs are covered entirely.

    • USFA uses the bib of the mask as a point area for foil.  YEL does not provide electric bibs.  The referees decide whether the strike was on target.

  • How do you pair the Grade 2-5 students?
    Chet Gunhus23-11-2016

    At all YEL fencing tournaments, we don't know the level of play of all fencing players.  So, the software we use (WinTD) is designed to put all students into one bracket, separated by grade levels.  This is called Swiss Style bracketing or pairing.

    In early rounds, students are paired at random with preference given to pairing the most experienced students against the least experienced.  So, if you have an established LOCAL rating of 800 or more, you will likely play another player with no rating or an assigned rating of 200-400.

    As the rounds progress, the determining factors are:

    • Score - In the fourth round, for instance, a student with 3 points will likely play another player with 3 points.  A player with 0 points will likely play another player with 0 points.  Etc.
    • Team - The software will avoid pairing students from the same school.  Usually only the Grade 6+ division might play players from the same school, but the K-1, 2-3 and 4-5 divisions will not unless an announcement is made to the contrary at the tournament.

    NOTE: When a division has 7 or fewer players, we may decide to use a round robin or double round robin format.  In this format, each player plays every other player in their division once or twice.

  • What is a "bye" or "Please Wait"
    Chet Gunhus23-11-2016

    When there is an odd number of participants in a division, one person each round is assigned a “Bye”.  It is marked as “Please Wait” on the pairing sheet.

    If you receive a bye, you get 1 point and you take a break for that round.  It is very unusual to receive more than one bye in a one day tournament.

    In divisions with 13 or more players, byes are usually assigned to students with lower point totals.  If 9 or fewer players, the computer tries to make sure most participants receive a bye, but this is not always possible.

    It should also be noted that the computer software tries to avoid assigning byes to players from the same school in the same division throughout that tournament.

  • What is a good result?
    Chet Gunhus23-11-2016

    I think the first determining factors are:

    • Did your child have fun?
    • Are they interested in future fencing classes and fencing tournaments?

    As far as the score goes, Swiss Style tournaments are designed to have a few people at the top, a few people at the bottom and a bunch of people in the middle.  Most players leave with a score of 2.0 to 3.5.

    In chess jargon:

    • A plus player is a player with a final score greater than the number of rounds divided by 2.
      • 3.5 or more at a YEL six round tournament.
    • A minus player is a player with a final score less than the number of rounds divided by 2.
      • 2.5 or less at a YEL six round tournament.
    • An even player is a player with a final score equal to the number of rounds divided by 2.
      • 3.0 score at a YEL six round tournament.
  • Is there food?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    We do have a concession stand with snack and beverage items. We have pop, peanuts, cookies, crackers, gatorade and water.

    We ask that your child take good care of the fencing gear they are wearing and avoid spilling on it.

  • Why do we have to wear chest plates?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    Chest plates are used for all students in grades 2-7.  Chest plates help to minimize the impact of a touch on the chest and ribs area.  We have found that students who wear chest plates focus less on getting hit and more on technique.

  • Why do we have to wear a plastron?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    A plastron is vital for safety when fencers are strong enough to break a blade.  The plastron is double seamed so that if a blade breaks during a bout, the broken blade will glance off of the plastron and will not cause injury.

    We require plastrons for students in grades 8-12 and grades 6-7 at the coach's discretion.  Essentially, if you are strong enough to break a blade, you and your opponent must wear a plastron.

  • Why do we use electric equipment?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    We want to introduce our students to the atmosphere they would find if they competed at USFA events or in a Minnesota State High School Fencing League event (the State Tournament, for instance). We would like many fencers to get used the the electric equipment because as they get older, they will be on electric strips more and more.

    Electric strips also provide more accurate scoring and the referee can focus on other aspects of the rules (right of way in foil, for instance).

    Usually, the students with higher scores are on the electric strips. We do this to give every opportunity for those students to get the right result for their bout.

  • Why don't you have all electric strips?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    Honestly, it's just due to time. As you observe a YEL Fencing tournament, you'll note that the setup for each bout on an electric strip takes considerably longer. At USFA tournaments, all competitors must provide their own equipment and are quite familiar with that equipment.

    Our students are provided with all the electric equipment and so many of them have to get in and out of it after each bout. This adds a lot of time onto the transition.

    The non-electric (dry) strips have referees who are very comfortable refereeing on dry strips.

  • What weapons do you use?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    We have Foil and Epee. We do not offer Sabre at this time.

    FOIL because it is the most common entry level weapon. Most epee-sits and sabre-ists start in foil.

    EPEE because it is the next logical step for middle school and high school fencers.

    SABRE is a challenge. The technique is quite different from foil and epee. As we continue to develop the YEL fencing program, we may add sabre in the future.

  • What are the tiebreakers?
    Chet Gunhus28-11-2016

    We use tiebreakers when the score is tied.  The tournament software (WinTD) is designed to determine a true champion.  The final results may contain a number of students with the same score.  For instance, 12 students may end up with 3.0 points.  To rank these students, a tiebreak method is used.

    • Tbrk1 (or Solkoff) - This tiebreaker is a direct measure of the strength of your opponents throughout the tournament.  This tiebreaker adds up the scores of the listed players OPPONENTS.  The higher the score, the stronger competition you have played.
      • For instance, #4 Ryker Huseby competed against numbers 14 (2.0), 13 (2.0), 8(3.0), 2 (5.0), 3 (5.0), 1 (5.0).  Add up the opponents points (in parentheses above) and you get the TBrk1 Score of 22.
    • Tbrk2 (or Cumulative) - This tiebreaker indirectly measures the strength of your opponents.  The calculation is based on the logic that if you win in early rounds, you face stronger competition in those rounds and so it gives more weight to having points in the earlier rounds.  It adds up your cumulative scores for each round.  So if you have 1 point (a win) after round one, 2 points after round 2 (a second win) and still have 2 points after round 3 (2 wins and a loss), your cumulative score would be 1 + 2 + 2 or 5 points.
      • Using Tommy Clobes and Bennett Kerfeld as examples from the chart, their Tbrk2 scores would be:
        • Round 1: Tommy = 1; Bennett = 1
        • Round 2: Tommy = 3 (1+2); Bennett = 3 (same)
        • Round 3: Tommy = 5 (1+2+2)- Tommy lost in round 3 to Bennett; Bennett = 6 (1+2+3)
        • Round 4: Tommy = 8  (1+2+2+3); Bennett = 9 (1+2+3+3)- Bennett lost to Ryker Huseby in Round 4
        • Round 5: Tommy =  12 (1+2+2+3+4); Bennett = 13 (1+2+3+3+4)
        • Round 6: Tommy = 17 (1+2+2+3+4+5); Bennett = 18 (1+2+3+3+4+5)
        • So by winning in an earlier round and losing in a later round, Bennett’s Tbrk2 is a bit higher.
      • There are two other tiebreakers we use, but since 2009 we have never had to go to them, so we leave them off of the chart.
  • How are the 6-12 Events structured?
    Chet Gunhus05-12-2017

    In 2017, {YEL!} reformatted tournaments that grades 6-12 participate in.  The structure is:

    • Pools - The fencers are put in pools of 5-7 fencers.  It is a round robin pool (each fencer fences each other once).
      • Pools are first fencer to five points or whoever leads after 3 minutes of fencing time.
    • Seeding - After the pools, fencers are seeded based on their score after the pools.  Essentially, the more wins you have the higher you are seeded.
    • Double Elimination or Repechage - After being seeded, the fencers participate in a double elimination (repechage) event.  The structure will become evident at the tournament.  Essentially you have to lose twice to be eliminated.
      • Double Elimination is first fencer to 10 points or whoever is ahead after two 3 minute time periods with a one minute break between.
  • How is team score calculated for Grades 6-12?
    Chet Gunhus05-12-2017


    • Team points are awarded for the top four fencers from each fencing program.

    • Team points are as follows:

    ° 1st place = 10pt; 2nd = 8; 3rd = 7; 4th = 6; 5th = 5; Top 10 = 3; Top quartile = 2; Top half = 1.

    • Team points are coordinated from both Epee and Foil.

  • Grades 6-12 how long does each bout last?
    Chet Gunhus05-12-2017

    In the pools round, each bout is first fencer to five points or whoever is in the lead after 3 minutes of fencing time.

    In the double elimination rounds, each bout is first fencer to ten points or whoever is in the lead after two three minute periods with a one minute break in between.

  • What's up with the electrical equipment?
    Chet Gunhus05-12-2017

    One or our goals for the {YEL!} fencing program is to get the students as close to an Olympic or NCAA experience as we can.  All major fencing events require fencers to have their own, working electrical gear.  As an introductory fencing program, {YEL!} doesn't require fencers to have their own gear.  We encourage it, but we provide every thing a fencer needs to participate at a {YEL!} fencing tournament.

    If your student is on an electric strip, they will be wearing a lame (electric vest), use an electric foil and be plugged into electric scoring equipment.

  • Does my child have to fence on an electric strip?
    Chet Gunhus05-12-2017

    In the grades 2-5 tournament, students may request to be place on a different strip.  NOTE: We really prefer that students participate on the strip they are assigned.  We do so because:

    • Electric scoring is more accurate.
    • Having the student on that strip makes the event go faster.  We don't have to move them to an alternate strip at the last second.
    • It gives them the experience they'll need if they take fencing to a higher level (many {YEL!} students have gone on to fence at the national and state levels).
    • Keep in mind that the other fencer may want to try out the electric strip and if your child decides to fence on non-electric, it may take that opportunity away from the other child.

    In the grades 6-12 tournament.

    • Yes, we really need students to fence on the strip they are assigned to, whether it is electric or non-electric.  Any switching at the 6-12 level impacts multiple fencers and requires a lot of leg work to compensate for.

    [caption id="attachment_7906" align="alignleft" width="1280"]Fencing Dual Fencing Dual[/caption]

  • How is the team score calculated for Grades 2-5?
    Chet Gunhus05-12-2017

    We merge the Grades 2-3 division and the Grades 4-5 division and take the top four scores from each team/club and add them together.  Whether a team has one fencer or 21 fencers, we still take the top four scores for that team and add them together.  Tie breaks do apply.

  • What is a team/club?
    Chet Gunhus05-12-2017

    For {YEL!} fencing tournaments, a team or club is made up of fencing students from the location they fence.  For instance, if your child takes classes at McGuire Middle School, they would fence for the McGuire/Lakeville team.  Even if they go to school at Cherry View, they would still fence for the school they take fencing classes (McGuire, in this case).

  • How do trophies and medals work in the Grades 6-12 division?
    Chet Gunhus05-12-2017

    Trophies are given out to the top five finishers.  First and second will meet in the finals and the champion will be determined from that pairing.  Third through fifth are determined by their results from throughout the day.

    • Medals to all participants based on quartile finish:
      • Top quartile without a trophy = Gold medal
      • Top half = Silver medal
      • Lower half = Bronze medal

    • Tie breakers are based on the differential between touches scored and touches received.