Saturday morning, 7:30, start packing the car. Laptop, yes, printer with spare printer cables, yes (double check since we won't be able to use wireless connectivity at the venue), printer paper, entry lists, USB stick with registration files, rankings, all there. Put in the boxes borrowed from Manchester Fencing Club, not forgetting the batteries that have been charging for the past couple of days. Take the camera as well, I normally don't get time to take photographs but you never know.
I arrive at the Bury Grammar sports hall at just gone 8:00AM to find a flurry of activity. A refreshments stall is being set up as I walk in and in the main hall Rick Kent is supervising the setting up of pistes helped by parents of fencers from Salle Kiss. I drop my laptop and camera off and bring in the rest of my equipment helped by some of the fencers I coach at Bury.
As I start setting up Linda Kent comes over and asks me what I want her to do. I give her the foil check in sheets and ask her to start checking people in.
By about 8:45 everything seems to be in place and fencers are arriving. We should have 15 under-14 foilists of both sexes, a dozen under-11 boys and 11 under-11 girls. I haven't completely decided the format as yet, but the under-14 looks as though it could be three poules of five with two rounds. Unfortunately one of them doesn't turn up and another has to pull out which leaves 13.
At this point Eleanor Newton-Hughes turns up. She helped with the DT at the Manchester Cadet Tournament and is going to take the lead on running the DT today using Fencing Time rather than the Engarde program she used at Bolton. We discuss what the formats should be and decide that for the under-14 fencers it will have to be a single round of poules. Under-11 is always slightly tricky in that you don't want to exhaust them, but we go for mixing the boys and girls and giving them two rounds.
Referees, referees. Always a problem, I usually have to press gang Keith McCarthy of Liverpool Fencing Club to referee when all he really wants to do is watch is daughter fence. But Robert Kiss has prevailed upon some of his senior fencers to come along and referee in his absence (he is at the Eden Cup with his son Daniel) and with Aimee Cope, Alex and Mark Fitton we have enough to cover all the poules.
Linda Kent gets all the foilists together and tells them what the format will be and we get started. Relax, have a cup of tea and a pastry to up the sugar levels. I take some photographs and then show Eleanor how to set up the competitions for the épée and sabre competitions and we print out the check in sheets. It is then time to have a wander around the hall to see what stage everyone is at in their poules. Apart from one poule which has had equipment problems and several bouts that have run to time nearly everyone has finished.
The poule sheets start coming in and we start entering them. Eleanor is surprised when she gets an error message from the program asking her to say which of two fencers won a particular bout. It turns out that they have both been scored as one hit apiece. We get the referee over who corrects the result and we finish off entering the poules and put the results up on the wall.
Now for the tricky bit. Because we have mixed boys and girls for the under-14's we have to separate them out for the DT. This means creating two new competitions which will be direct elimination only and ranked from the poule round we have just run. We do that and check it and get the direct eliminations going for the under-14 fencers.
The under-11 fencers are having another poule round so we don't need to worry about doing this for them for the moment. As we start their second round all the épéeists have turned up. We are now short of referees and it looks as though I may have to run their poule. At this moment Kian Ryan, now coaching on the other side of the border in Yorkshire turns up and I co-opt him to run the épée poule. This is always the smallest of the tournaments and I am forever glad of the support of the parents who bring their children along.
We now have a full hall but the under-14 foil is running down to finals for both boys and girls and the under-11 competition is ready to score up and move to a the direct elimination phase. I show Eleanor how to amalgamate the rankings from both rounds and we separate boys from girls and produce the two tableaux. We print score sheets and Eleanor gets the referees to start running the DE bouts.
Presentations, the under-14 boys and girls have finished and we print the results out and calculate the series winners. Linda Kent gets everyone together and makes the presentations and the sabreurs start arriving.
We have eight boys in each of the under-11 and under-14 categories with two under-11 girls and one under-14 girl. The latter is unfortunately unable to fence but this makes it possible to run a poule unique for the under-14 boys. We decide to do the same for the under-11 fencers, but split the poule of ten over two pistes with Nick Murphy and Yvonne Walls refereeing. A former pupil, Danny Corcoran just back from China runs the under-14 boys.
The under-11 foil competitions run to a close and we calculate who are the series winners. The girls' is fine but it looks as though there is a tie for the boys trophy. We give them the option of either fighting it off or sharing it, six months each and they take the latter option. I toss a coin at the presentation to see who takes it for the first six months.
The épée poule has finished and we split that out into age groups and genders and run the small number of DE fights for that. All that remains now is the sabre.
While sabre is quick it does take a long time to run a poule of ten, even on two pistes. Time is also limited in that we have to be out of the hall at a particular time. We use as many pistes as possible to run the elimination rounds with the Salle Kiss parents taking up the pistes that are no longer required.
We finish just about on time, start the presentations only to realise that the winner of last year's under-11 trophy has not returned it, Stuart Marshall will contact him and sort it out. We finish clearing up the hall. I take all the paper from the day with me so that I can check back if anyone has any queries. The results need to be on the web site, but this is a job for Sunday.