Saturday, July 15, 2006

The introspective epeeist

I fought the first bout of the match and closed it out 5-1. Unfortunately, our lead was whittled down when I came up again, but I was able to retain it by finishing my second bout 6-4. My final bout (second to last of the match) was against who I suspect was their strongest fencer. She had beaten both of my teammates and against them had fleched successfully. I knew she was going to fleche if she had a chance to move forward, so I pressed her as much as I could, keeping her on the back third of the strip. There were several double touches because she was aggressive. I, in keeping with my strategy of the day, simply waited for the openings and hit them rather faithfully. But this is not what I should have done. I had seen the girl fence twice before already and I knew she scored points from being aggressive. But I am both stubborn and naive and did not see fit to change what seemed like a winning strategy to me. What I should have done was take over the aggression and initiated more attacks. I can't recall how much my teammates tried this tactic against this opponent, but - knowing my teammates -I would guess not much. Perhaps she had horrible defense; perhaps she cracks when pressured. I guess I'll never know unless we should fight again. But I wasn't all the way in the game. There were acres of strip behind me and I was wearing a rather muted confidence, so I slipped and took a few steps back. That's all it took - it was a great fleche, fast and surprising. I didn't stop it; I can't even recall whether I had time to react at all. It ended the bout and put them ahead by one point. Unfortunately my teammate could not overcome the deficit in the final bout and the day was over for us after that.

So now I keep seeing the scene over and over: my steps back, her fleche. I study it from many angles to see if I could have stopped the fleche. I wonder if I had been the aggressor from the very beginning whether we could have avoided such a narrow loss. And now I'm wondering if all this not-so-instant replay is doing anyone any good. I'm not brooding mind you, I'm just wondering.

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