At a well-attended, well-rated competition this past weekend, I was watching a bout. The bout went on for what seemed to be an extraordinary length of time, when the fencer who was ahead asked the referee how much time was remaining. The referee responded, "I am not keeping time." What should the fencer do in that circumstance?
I thought that the referee had just forgotten to put a clock on that one bout, but later that day I noticed that he wasn't timing any of the bouts. I mentioned this to the bout committe and one of their members observed him for a few minutes and during a break asked him if he had a stop watch. He said, "Yes." That satisfied the bout committe member who walked away and the referee returned to directing the bouts without timing them. I didn't press it further.
And, yes, the fencer who was in the lead when he asked how much time was remaining did end up losing the bout.