5 - 4
It shouldn't have been a successful week. My resolutions to exercise and practise came to nothing - as usual, I couldn't find the time. Well, I might have exercised during insomniac episodes but to read or make herbal tea. So I arrived, tired and unfit.
We shared our flood stories. There are floods nearby. Although they didn't threaten fencing, some fencers have faced tricky journeys as roads were closed and some railway tracks submerged. I found it hard to focus in the warm-up and dreaded my first encounter.
My opponent was a third my age: taller, stronger and a more experienced fencer. I didn't expect to take any points off him, although he said he'd been up half the night. We began by free fencing before a bout. I was encouraged to see that we began with two doubles.
It wasn't brilliant fencing - but it was very good for me. I was thinking strategically - suddenly the advice I received a few weeks ago began to make sense - and was varying my attacks. I knew what I wanted to do and sometimes it worked. And sometimes the point of my blade seemed to have its own ideas. I carried through a few attacks without hesitation. My opponent hit my arm a few times - harder than usual, which suggested he was not on good form.
We moved to a bout - just to 5 as the hall was hot. I took the first two points, one with a hit to the forearm. "Angulate," a voice said in my brain, echoing my coach.
After two points, I thought that was it. He would improve and concentrate and take five points in a row, Losing 5-2 has happened before and it felt OK. I expected to lose and he took the next two points - but I could see that they were easy ones I should have defended. I had to get the next point. I concentrated and took it. I can't remember but that may have been my wrist hit. Then he came back and took the next two points. 4-3. It was more than respectable but I wasn't letting go. I should remember which point was which but I don't. I recall a hit to the knee and a hit where I took his blade on the guard and kept going as he felt the impact jar.
I'd pulled up to 4-4. That was it, I thought, pleased with my performance. But as he attacked, I saw and opening. My blade took control and landed just as it should. 5-4 to me. I had won a bout.
It doesn't happen often. It hardly ever happens.
Suppose I were d'Artagnan. Perhaps I could defeat one of the Cardinal's men - so long as I was well-rested and he'd partied hard before a long ride through the night. It could happen - in my dreams.