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Thread: Number of high-rated epeeists vs. other weapons

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    Senior Member Sciurus-Rex's Avatar
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    Number of high-rated epeeists vs. other weapons

    Best guesses or paranoid theories about why there are so many high ratings in epee compared with the other weapons? ... Or, conversely, why there are so few high ratings in other weapons compared with epee?
    "Why do you say this to me, when you know I will kill you for it?" - Zod

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    Senior Member RITFencing's Avatar
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    Now you're just TRYING to piss everyone off.
    "If I were ever to challenge you to a duel, your best bet would be battle axes in a very dark basement." Misquoted from The Prisoner

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    Senior Member FoilyDeath's Avatar
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    to quote Peet from another thread:
    Epee: 408/3751 = 10.9%
    Foil: 196/3730 = 5.2%
    Saber: 87/2066 = 4.2%


    There a a lot more one shot wonders in epee. I can name a few epeeists, even at international level, that just one a massive open, and then were barely ever seen again. This highlights the weakness of the rating system.

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    Senior Member Sciurus-Rex's Avatar
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    To start, here are a few possibilities...

    1. The best epeeists are inconsistent, allowing other fencers to surpass them at tournaments occasionally and also earn high ratings.
    2. There are fewer truly good foilists and sabreurs.
    3. There are many good epeeists.
    4. The foilists and sabreurs who currently hold the top positions at tournaments are very consistent in their results and make it difficult for others to earn high ratings.
    5. Epeeists from different regions are more likely to travel and pick up ratings beyond the usual range of ability in their home areas, thus injecting an element of inflation when they return.
    6. Fewer foilists and sabreurs overall gather at big tournaments to allow high ratings to be earned.
    7. Epeeists as a group are conspiring to do whatever it takes to make Inquartata's head explode.

    Late-edit add: I actually believe that the larger number of top-tier-rated epeeists is merely a distinctive aspect of the weapon, and is neither good nor bad.
    Last edited by Sciurus-Rex; 04-07-2007 at 12:33 AM.
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    Senior Member Sciurus-Rex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RITFencing View Post
    Now you're just TRYING to piss everyone off.
    I never TRY to piss anyone off. It just happens as a side-effect when I respond to blatant stupidity.
    In this case, I'm actually attempting to nip thread drift elsewhere.
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    Senior Member Phrogger's Avatar
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    What about the possibility that epeeists are just more experienced because they've been fencing longer? I'm going out on a limb here, but don't most people start with foil and switch later? That would mean that most "U" epeeists have been fencing longer than most "U" foilists. This is relevant to the ratings discussion because the disparity between the number of A's in epee and the number in other weapons is being used as rationale to introduce a new "less flawed" ratings system.

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    Whatever the initial reason is for more high rated epee fencers, it is a condition that self-perpetuates. A division with a group of A and B fencers who show up for tournaments will be able to perpetuate ratings growth by raising the classification to A1/B1 or better status. Flukes, skill, more randomness, whatever, the opportunity at least exists to earn an A/B rating.

    If there are only a couple A's and B's in your weapon, not all of which show up at tournaments all at the same time, then it'll be impossible for local fencers to attain higher ratings.

    The statistic I'd be interested in seeing is whether the ratings disparity continues to exist when broken down to the divisional level.

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    Epee: 408/3751 = 10.9%
    Foil: 196/3730 = 5.2%
    Saber: 87/2066 = 4.2%
    What are the stats for A07? And for A06+A07?

    That is, I'm trying to remove the As that have not been renewed recently.

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    Senior Member Sciurus-Rex's Avatar
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    Here's another: How about more epeeists remain active through their ages, while foilists and sabreurs disappear for various reasons?

    You know, this question would be a hoot to explore with a full study. Plenty of variables and data to cross-reference. ... Age, income, personality, results consistency, national distribution, coaching preference, travel patterns, alignment of planets on Inquartata's birthday, etc. ...
    "Why do you say this to me, when you know I will kill you for it?" - Zod

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sciurus-Rex View Post
    Here's another: How about more epeeists remain active through their ages, while foilists and sabreurs disappear for various reasons?

    ...
    The fact that epeeist have a fencing life that is considerably longer than sabre fencers is an answer, as is the fact that there are atleast twice as many epeeist and a significantly larger number of events to earn an A. Compared to foil the new timing changes have driven many A fencers into retirement. This lowers the oppertunities for them. Then there is the random element in epee. With the lockout the difference in a touch can be did you catch a fold in his jacket and his slid past. Those touches are random in that your skill didn't get the touch, you didn't plan to get the fold.
    Go to the well until the well is dry. When the well is dry find a new well.

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    Senior Member CvilleFencer's Avatar
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    Fact: Epee is the weapon that has the highest number of highly rated fencers. Now why that is, well that is up for some debate. Some of my thoughts are:

    The Weapon itself:
    Epee is by it's nature the least "stable" of the three. There is no right of way to judge who "should" have the touch, it is simply who hits first, regardless of the correctness of the action used to hit with. This is not true in foil and to a lesser extent saber where the referee determines the correctness of the touch based on a series of rules. In those weapons as long as there are two lights, if you did everything "right" you will get the touch. While I will not denigrate the other weapons by saying that they award "style" points, the concept is still a somewhat valid comparison.

    For example, in foil if I begin coming forward, draw the counter and BEGIN to finish before I am hit, my touch. Similarly, if I do a parry, even if the remise hits me before I finish, as long as it is two lights, my touch. Not so in epee. Epee does not reward correct form done at a slower speed in the same way as the other weapons. There is no ROW safety net to protect fencers who do "correct" actions.

    Additionally given that you have double touches in epee and that it is entirely possible to get lucky and have it be valid, this can keep the scores closer and allow what would be a slam dunk bout if ROW was used to be a "fluke", especially considering that the entire body is valid target.

    The fencers:
    Someone pointed out that a lot of people who come to epee are already experianed in the fencing of other weapons. Both Foil and Saber when fenced with skill utilize concepts and strategies that transfer over to epee rather well. While I know it has become somewhat Gauche to bring up anymore, I do think the USFA was rather on to something back in the day when they would assign a "virtual" rating to fencers two places below their actual rating.

    A strong fencer in one weapon will usually be able to adapt their game and earn about that placing in the others with little practice in those weapons. With the aforementioned lack of a different flavor of ROW to deal with, it only makes sense that they can earn two levels down or higher in epee using the skill set they primarily honed in the other weapons and will only be easily defeated by someone experienced enough to recognize and adapt their epee game to these tactics. The same is of course true in the other weapons, but the referee and ROW play a much higher leveling factor in foil and saber IMHO...

    The Referee:
    I touched on this a bit in the other posts but I think it could be emphasized a bit. In foil and saber one of the jobs of the referee is to judge the correctness of the actions (in addition to other things of course). Was that a beat or a parry? Was that action a feint or was the fencer in preparation? Was that... well, you get the idea. In Epee the referee has a lot to do, but those duties rarely involve judging the correctness of the execution of a touch (assuming grounded strips) that turns on a light.

    In foil, the person who knows ROW and who knows how to show the judge what the action "should" look like will probably win the bout. He may get stabbed 50 times off target or out of tempo, but he will still win. In Saber the fencer who knows how it should look like for the first exchange (how to show a feint and not have it be a search, how to start and finish, where to beat vs. where to parry) will most likely win. They are playing by the rules of the game and using systems honed over many years to play that game. The referee recognizes this and rewards with a touch.

    Closing:
    In epee the only ROW to observe is don't get hit first, which is by its nature harder and much more random. If you are having a somewhat slow day in epee, there is no ROW to save you, that young kid with really fast feet my just push through your parry 5 times even though it was obviously your parry riposte and win the pool bout. That would not happen in Foil or saber. So yes, epee is inherently a more random game and will have more higher rated fencers as long as there is a system that awards based on peak performance. However, don't think for a second it does not happen in other weapons. In my division we have recently (last few years) gotten enough A rated Foil fencers that we are starting to see a lot more C's and B's handed out to people who have fenced about on that level but could not beat one or two people. It is not just an epee phenomenon, it is across all three weapons. It is just more common in epee due to the factors that I mention above among others. At least IMHO...
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    Posting Hound oiuyt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notalent View Post
    Those touches are random in that your skill didn't get the touch, you didn't plan to get the fold.
    Maybe YOU didn't, but that could be why you don't have an A. :)

    -B
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    Regarding refs in foil and sabre:

    There's the Michael Jordan effect: where when there's a close call, the benefit of the doubt sometimes goes to the higher rated fencer. It happens in all sports where the ref has to make a judgement.

    I'm not saying it's conscious, or that it's a large effect, but it gives a slight edge to that A fencer, and slightly reduces chances for an upset in a DE.

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    Senior Member CvilleFencer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oiuyt View Post
    Maybe YOU didn't, but that could be why you don't have an A.

    -B
    Don't be a dick Oiuyt. Last time I checked you didn't have an A in epee either! Course neither do I...
    Just another lost soul saved by the (hit) First Church of EPEE!

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    Senior Member AndrewH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tchwojko View Post
    There's the Michael Jordan effect: where when there's a close call, the benefit of the doubt sometimes goes to the higher rated fencer. It happens in all sports where the ref has to make a judgement.
    amen to that.
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    Senior Member Phrogger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tchwojko View Post
    Regarding refs in foil and sabre:

    There's the Michael Jordan effect: where when there's a close call, the benefit of the doubt sometimes goes to the higher rated fencer. It happens in all sports where the ref has to make a judgement.

    I'm not saying it's conscious, or that it's a large effect, but it gives a slight edge to that A fencer, and slightly reduces chances for an upset in a DE.
    For just this reason, I'd argue that this makes the epee results the "most" legitimate rather than the "least" stable. Results in epee are seldom subjective. It also leaves a more level playing field, IMO. Anybody has a shot at beating anyone on any given day, regardless of ratings or of ref's opinion. This may result in more fluctuation in results but that chaos element is what makes it fun. I'd be unbelievably pissed off if I had to fence a "certain way" in order to get the ref to call my attack. Anyway, back to ratings, I think ref bias is a very good theory as to why fewer people advance in foil and sabre, since this is the common factor.

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    Posting Hound oiuyt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CvilleFencer View Post
    Don't be a dick Oiuyt. Last time I checked you didn't have an A in epee either! :p Course neither do I... :rolleyes: :D
    Somehow I doubt Terry was particularly offended.

    -B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phrogger View Post
    For just this reason, I'd argue that this makes the epee results the "most" legitimate rather than the "least" stable. Results in epee are seldom subjective. It also leaves a more level playing field, IMO. Anybody has a shot at beating anyone on any given day, regardless of ratings or of ref's opinion. This may result in more fluctuation in results but that chaos element is what makes it fun. I'd be unbelievably pissed off if I had to fence a "certain way" in order to get the ref to call my attack. Anyway, back to ratings, I think ref bias is a very good theory as to why fewer people advance in foil and sabre, since this is the common factor.
    I don't agree with that. It's a just a different game. I think right of way and refs vagaries in foil and sabre loom large to epeeists because it has to be thought about at all. It's just one more tactical element to consider.

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    I didn't realize this was a mystery. Epee results are not as "consistent" because of the lack of right of way. A lower rated fencer can have a good day and get a higher rating easier because he only has to overcome his opponent, not the ref too.

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    JEC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sciurus-Rex View Post
    1. The best epeeists are inconsistent, allowing other fencers to surpass them at tournaments occasionally and also earn high ratings.
    2. There are fewer truly good foilists and sabreurs.
    3. There are many good epeeists.
    4. The foilists and sabreurs who currently hold the top positions at tournaments are very consistent in their results and make it difficult for others to earn high ratings.
    5. Epeeists from different regions are more likely to travel and pick up ratings beyond the usual range of ability in their home areas, thus injecting an element of inflation when they return.
    6. Fewer foilists and sabreurs overall gather at big tournaments to allow high ratings to be earned.
    7. Epeeists as a group are conspiring to do whatever it takes to make Inquartata's head explode.
    Another aspect is the number of high-level coaches for each discipline. In the entire SW section, there are few high-level sabre coaches resulting in few high-level sabre fencers. Sometime ago, I had a thread that correlated the presence of high level ratings in the South Texas Division and SW Section (primarily Epee>>Foil>> Saber) with the best and average results at Summer Nationals for a period of 6 yrs. The correlation was pretty strong suggesting that at least in the SW section, there was no real rating inflation in Epee or Foil. I will try looking up the post. It might be over a year or 2 ago.
    Epee is the Sword.

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