Conduct of Bouts


How are the bouts done at Swordplay?

  • Each bout will be to a total of 5 (Round Robin) or 7 (Finals) passes (or 3 minutes)
  • Fencers should be prepared for at least 5-6 bouts in Round 1 of each weapon event (depending upon entry numbers)
  • Round 2 Finals double elimination
  • All scoring is 'points against'; a fencer receives points when struck.
  • Fencer at end of bout with lowest points, wins.
  • Referees will be allocated for each bout

  • Fencers within each pool will be refs and flags for their pool

How is refereeing done at Swordplay?

  • Every fencer is expected to act as a Referee and Flag judge during the event
  • Each bout will have a minimum of 1 Referee and 2 Flag judges (preference of 4)
  • The Referee controls the start and finish of each bout, calling 'Hold' for points allocation, and giving safety warnings / penalties
  • Flag judges will call 'Point' when a strike landed, then the Referee will call Hold' - the time between will be sufficient for afterblows to be landed.
  • Referees will check with the Flag judges for scores, collate and announce to the Scoring Table - who will repeat
  • Unlike the Nordic system, Referees also act as another set of eyes and have input to the allocation of scores.
  • Referees have the capacity to call a 'Point' and 'Hold' where it may be missed by Flag judges.

Flags Semaphore

  • Still thinking: Flags down by side
  • Did not see anything: Flags crossed low (at knees)
  • No scoring strike landed: Flags crossed high (at chest)
  • Deep target: Flag vertical high
  • Shallow target: Flag horizontal

flag semaphore


  • For Rapier, Sword and Buckler, and Longsword:
  • Deep targets: 4 points
  • Shallow targets: 2 points
  • Doubles will score points as appropriate per hit (hits both happen before the call of Point)
  • After-blow: 1 point (After-blows happen between the call of Hit and Hold)
  • Pommel / buckler: Head only 4 points
  • Disarms: 2 points
  • Grapples and throws: 0 points
  • Note: Rapier is thrust only (excepting tip cuts and slicing cuts to the face and neck)
  • Sabre scoring -1 point per touch - all targets
  • Arena outs - Any stepping out of arena boundary - First time in bout: warning - Further: 1 point penalty


Score keepers


  • Score sheets will be pre-populated with fencer names and colours and referee name
  • Score sheets are formatted as tables with hit types
  • Scorers will repeat score called by Referee
  • Scorers will put a mark in relevant box, then at end of bout will add up the scores 
  • Score keepers will also track number of passes

Correction call

  • When a ref all scorer accidentally makes a mistake i.e. saying read instead of blue, or fails to recognise flags, then anybody can call correction to make sure it is done correctly. This is different to the protest rule.

 Protest rule

  • Each fighter has right of protest.
  • This can be used when a fighter or coach disagrees with the score / action called.
  • If the protest is upheld, the fighter keeps this protest right.
  • If the protest is overruled, the fighter losers right of protest.
  • Each fighter has 1 right of protest per weapon event.