Archive for January, 2009

2008 Slough Open Report

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

For those of you who may be interested in fencing the Slough open this year, here is last year’s report, from February 2008.

Men’s Foil

Saxon had an excellent turn out in the Men’s foil, but some of the fencers found the step up from club fencing a large one. The field of 129 was cut to 104 after the pools.

Grant Smith, Wyle Eisa, Tom Girn and Andrew Ashmore all failed to secure any wins in their pools, all missing the cut, although Wyle earned praise from other fencers in his pools for his aggression and attitude and Andrew, with Burnley optimism was smug that his 120th was ahead of three Saxon fencers who shared 127th.

With one win (against Tom) , Vangarian Mark Dearing missed the cut by the skin of his teeth to take 115th. Edz Maldoom perhaps due to thicker dental skin, just made the cut, but hisprecarious qualification pitted him against the current world veterans silver medalist in the incomplete 128. His day ended there, but his opponent spoke well of his potential.

David Standen fought well in his pool, taking 3 wins from 6 and earning him a mid-table ranking. His first DE however was disrupted by both fencers receiving yellow cards for kit violations, then David earning a red card (i.e. a penalty hit) for a corps-a-corps. This disturbed David’s rhythm and although he fought hard, he was eliminated.

Paul Lowen had a good pool, winning all but one of his bouts, just missing out on a bye through to the last 64. His last 128 bout, against a young fencer, was maybe closer than expected, but in the end he pulled away to earn his place in the ranking points. His opponent in the L64 was a tall,
slim fencer from Northern Ireland who fenced very well, mixing up his tactics and changing lines frequently. Paul fought with his customary tenacity, but in the end was comfortably defeated. None the less his good morning results gave him 38th place.

Fred Thomas had the best pool of any of the Saxon fencers, winning all his bouts and earning himself a bye through to the L64 by dint of his top 20 ranking. The bye, however turned out to be somewhat of a poisoned chalice, as he had a gap of nearly 3 hours between the end of his poules and his first DE. His opponent, was sharp after having fought a tough DE whilst Fred was cold and took a while to get into his stride, at one point finding himself 9-1 down. He recovered well to give the score respectability, but the gap was always going to be too big. His 34th was the best of the tournament by a Saxon man, but he will be disappointed not to have made the last 32.

Men’s Epee.

With four Saxons in the Epee, we were able to put pay to a calumny propagated by some of the Northampton fencers that Saxon Fencing was a figment of Grant’s imagination

Lewis Bassett-Butt, visibly nervous in his first competition, none the less put in a good showing in his pool. Although he didn’t record any wins and missed the cut, he made several hits and benefitted tremendously from the day.

Walid Haddad recorded two wins in the pool, securing him a place in the DE but ensuring he had a tough opponent. He gave good account of himself, but went out in 90th place.

Similarly Kin-Ming Looi’s two wins gave him a difficult L128, against Wing Commander George Liston, one of the top epeeists in the country. Ming stayed in touch early in the bout, being only 5-4 down at the end of the first period, until Liston’s class showed through and he pulled away to a 15-6 win, giving Ming 83rd.

Grant Smith fenced very well in his pool, beating some good fencers to record 4 wins, 2 losses and just missing out on a bye in 41st place, giving him what should have been a comfortable L128 DE. Then he lost 15-12 to a small boy. A VERY small boy. He left deeply disappointed as his hard work that morning had set him up for a good result, only to be thrown away in careless fencing in a match he should have won. His 65th evidenced he was the highest ranked fencer to go out at that stage, rubbing salt in the wounds.

Men’s Sabre

With a field of 61 there was no cut in the Men’s Sabre so Adrian Medhurst with his one win and Simon Whitaker with two were both guaranteed a DE match.

Adrian’s match was a see-saw affair. It was neck and neck up to about to 6-6, then he found himself 13-7 down. Unfortunately his (self-styled) “Gallant comeback” was too late and he went down 15-11

Simon lost out 15-5 to an allegedly excellent parry-reposter (parry-reposte? in Sabre?). According to an anonymous expert eyewitness (as well as armourer and amateur model) he also “didn’t have the decency to hang his hand out for Simon to stop cut him – the rotter!”. By my
calculation his 46th put him tantalisingly 1 place short of national ranking points.

Women’s Foil

Dawn Townsend was the only female Saxon in the competition and showed the men the way, being to only Saxon to make the last 32. Unfortunately as your correspondent had gone home in a sulk by this stage, details are sketchy, but the results page records a very creditable 26th.


The turnout by Saxon fencers was fantastic and although the results were mixed it was worthwhile for all. Those in their first tournament should not be dispirited with their results and will have learned a huge amount. Grant showed his great team spirit by contriving to come absolutely last in the foil to make his team members feel better.

Fred and Paul in the Foil, Grant in the Epee and Adrian in the Sabre will maybe be a little disappointed not to have gone a round further than they did but all the Saxons went out showing great fight. Dawn’s result, in a competition of this class, was excellent.

As a club we perhaps learned some lessons as well. although we have no intention of moving from our avowed purpose of being a “participation” club, we have been discussing a few measures to better prepare our fencers for competition, such as instigating some instruction on rules, encouraging fencers to referee bouts on club nights (especially at foil) and playing
more 5 point bouts as fought in competitive pools.

Well done to all who participated and I hope this will be the first of many in which we put in a large contingent, and the start of a successful competitive career for the debutantes.

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South East Regional Epee and Sabre

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Skipper Paul Lowen took second place in the South East Regional Epee Championships in Canterbury and Adrian Medhurst took third in the Sabre. It was a fine return for the club and an excellent turn out, Saxon putting out seven fencers in total.

In the Men’s epee, Saxon fielded three fencers. Lewis Bassett-Butt, after a frenzied search for someone to lend him some fencing sock to allow him compete, won two of his six pool matches to earn himself a place in the first elimination round – and once there, he used his full reach against a smaller opponent to comfortably take his first ever elimination win in competition. Lewis, a decent chap, expressed some remorse at having bullied the smaller, younger fencer, but Grant who as meany of you remember has bitter experiences of battling diminutive youths, reassured him that it was far better than the alternative. Lewis went out honourably in the last 16, losing 15-10 to a strong opponent, and coincidentally the lender of his socks.

More experienced fencers, Paul Lowen and Grant Smith both had strong pools, winning six and four of their bouts respectively. Both earned byes to the last 16 and both won their bouts easily, but found themselves drawn against each other in the quarter final finals.

With a semi-final place guaranteed for one Saxon fencer, the two fencers fought their first to 15 bout. Paul, showing his habitual “south-paw” awkwardness took a large early lead and it looked like it would be a humiliating stuffing for the younger epeeist. Grant then started mixing up his tactics, fleching, fienting and putting in one lovely foot hit and pulled back to 13-13, before Lowen kept his head to take the final two points.

Lowen is a specialist with the foil, the lighter thrusting weapon with a limited target area and subtly different tactics. He is a British veteran champion and member of the Great Britain Veteran team in the discipline.

Although less practiced with an epee, he still won a semi final which the Ealing Gazette described as “tenaciously fought”, but “torturous” may have been more apt against another fencer of similar vintage. He ground out the win however to earn his final place against reigning World Veteran Epee Champion, Ralph Johnson.

Paul fought with his usual grit and skill, but he lacked Johnson’s technique and tactical acumen at epee, and the Ealing man went down 15-5 to take the runner-up slot.

In the women’s epee, in a field of 12, Catherine De Graca had a strong pool, winning three from five, but then had a disappointing bout in the first elimination round, going down to a heavy defeat.

In the men’s sabre, the elegant young Simon Whitaker and the less elegant, less young Adrian Medhurst, were amongst the 21 fencers.Both had strong pools and after byes through the first round, won their next bouts with panache.

Once again this meant that two Saxons faced each other in a quarter-final. After close early exchanges, Simon pulled away with his trademark cuts to the wrist, but Adrian dug deep and with a late surge, passed Simon to earn his semi-final place with a series of fast attacks.

Adrian was outclassed in his semi-final, going out to a superior fencer, but can be delighted with his shared third place.

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Chris Excels in Saxon Victory over Wellesbourne

Friday, January 9th, 2009

On Thursday 13th November Saxon, temporarily exiled from their Twyford home, sent two Epee teams to the Wellesbourne club in High Wycombe. 299 hits later, Saxon emerged victorious. This is how it happened…. The Huscsarles consisted of Captain Fred Thomas, Grant Smith and Gordon Collett. The Fyrd were lead by Kin-Ming Looi with Catherine De Graca and Chris Thackery as his loyal acolytes. Wellesbourne, weakened by the absence of of a couple of their stalwarts, fielded slightly below strength teams. Wellesbourne A was made up of Malcolm a tall bearded fencer who fences at the top level of British veterans, Nigel another veteren and a compact pricise fencer and Ian a foilist drafted in for the night. Wellesbourne B was a far more youthful team, made up of three young tyros gaining competition experience; Chase,Matt and Kaylee.

Fred kicked of the Huscarles match with Wellesbourne A off with a comfortable 5-2 win over Nigel. Gordon then came up against Malcolm who turned out to be the bedrock of the Wellesbourne team. Although not the most mobile epeeist, he is a superb swordsman with some immaculate bladework. Gordon charged in repeatedly but his point never seemed to find its target and the three point lead became a three point deficit as he handed over to Grant 10-7 down. Grant girded his loins and with a determined set to his jaw, set about Wellesbournes 3rd fencer Ian. Keeping his oponent at a distance and attacking his vulnerable foilists’s arm Grant scored 8 points without reply to put Saxon back in the lead. Cap’n Fred was confident that if the Huscarles could contain Malcolm, they could outscore the other fencers sufficiently to take the match. Godon then exchanged hits with Nigel, surrendering just one point of Saxon’s lead. Fred reopened the gap with a clinical 5-0 disection of Ian. Grant then faced Malcolm and following Fred’s advice he took doubles where they were offered, yielded 4 points of Saxon’s lead, but they still had plenty to spare. Wellesbourne’s Ian was substituted for another, far taller Ian who looked for more comfortable with an epee in his hand. Gordon’s radar started to recalibrate and he beat him 5-4, followed by a precise, patient, 5-1 victory by Grant over Nigel. This set up the climax to the match between the two Captains. Fred, however, was carrying a 10 point lead into the final leg and well though Malcolm fenced he was never going to make this up against the beau of Saxon Fencing. He pulled back a couple of points but the Huscarles came through 45-38 winners.

Across the hall, the Fyrd were taking on Wellesbourne B in a rollercoaster match. Skipper Ming started well with a 5-1 win over Kaylee. The tall, slim enthusiastic Chase then made his first appearance against Catherine, turning over the Fyrd’s early lead to go 10-8 ahead. Chris then showed the the fine form he was in that night by once again reversing the scoreline, beating Matt 7-1 to give saxon a 4 point lead. From then on Saxon ploughed on inexorably. They only conceeded 3 more hits in the next 5 bouts, with Catherine whitewashing her next two oponents, Ming dispatching Matt 5-2 and Chris having none of the problems his team mates had with Chase, beating him 5-1. The match still had one last twist however. Going into the final leg, between Ming and Chase, the Saxons had a 26 point advantage. This started vanishing rapidly as Chase hit Ming again and again. By the time Ming, to his relief, had secured the 5 points needed for victory, Chase had scored 13 points agaist him, giving the Wellesbourne scoreline some respectibility. It was still thumping Saxon win, however, 45-27. The Wellesbourne B vs. Saxon Huscarles bout was somewhat of a mismatch, the technique and experience of the Saxons being too much for the young Wellesbourne fencers. Chase was the pick of the Wellesbourne team, being tall, athletic and fast. He managed to best Gordon 7-5 in their leg, Gordons tip control still being slightly wayward, but was easily picked off by the more patient Grant and Fred. When his temprement and technique catch up with his vigour, he may well be an excellent fencer in the future. Kaylee moved very well on the piste with great balance and poise, but struggled to make touches count and Matt fenced with great spirit, but was exposed by some basic technical flaws and the three Saxons handled them confidently . The Huscarles finished comfortable 45-19 victors.

To square the circle, the Fyrd fenced Wellesbourne A. Chris started the Saxons off well, beating Nigel 5-3. Ming then kept Saxon in touch, yielding only 3 points to the strong Malcolm to take the score to 10-9 to Wellesbourne. Catherine just about held her own, going down 5-3 but keeping Saxon in touch at 15-12 down. Chris in one of his remarkable bouts that night scored 12 to Ian’s 5 and Saxon found themselves with a one point lead at the half way point. Unfortunately this precipitated a middle order collapse which England cricket team would be proud of. Katherine and Ming conceding the next 11 points without reply against Malcolm and Ian. Nigel’s 5-3 victory over Catherine stretched the gap further, handing over to Chris 40-28 down. Again akin to an England cricket team, Chris saved his best for what was basically a dead rubber. He scored repeatedly against the previously undefeated Malcolm, outscoring him 8-5, but deficit was always too big and at the end of a dramatic match, Wellesbourne A came out 45-36 winners.
So how did the Saxons fence? Fred was his normally classy, if left handed, self. Grant had one of his better tournaments, being patient, focused and ruthless were neccessary. Both Gordon and Ming have have had more glorious night in their fencing careers than this one, both not quite being on top form and each having two or three bouts which they will rather forget. Catherine fenced some excellent legs, including her two 5-0s and held her own against some of the stronger fencers. Chris, though, was the Saxon fencer of the night. He was the only fencer on either side to win all six of his legs, the only fencer to beat Malcolm and had the best indicators in the competition by a good margin. Saxon selectors take note!

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