Most fencing tournaments start with a round of pools, which uses a special score sheet. It can be tricky to learn how to read a pool sheet, but we’ll help you understand it.

Let’s start with a look at the basic USA Fencing pool sheet.

How to Read a Pool Sheet — by the numbers

We’ll tackle each of these seven sections in turn. You can download a blank pool sheet here.

1: Administrative Information

This section houses administrative information used by referees and event organizers. It will rarely have any impact on the fencers in the pool.

2: Barrage

This section is used only in specific events. It might be the least important thing to learn about how to read a pool sheet. It houses scores for a separate mini-pool used when several fencers finish the pool with the same number of wins. Most events solve ties through other methods. (See section 5.5 for more).

3: Names and Numbers

This section shows each fencer’s name. On the right side of the line, it also shows the number assigned to each fencer’s number within the pool.

Each fencer’s number is important for two reasons:

  1. It determines the fencer’s bout order (see section 7).
  2. It determines where the fencer can find the touches scored on him or her. (See section 4).

Before any pool starts, you should memorize your fencer number. Some referees announce bouts using only fencer numbers.

4: Score section

This is the most important place to focus on when learning how to read a pool sheet.

The table shows results for each pool bout by splitting the results across two squares — one above the diagonal black line, and one below it.

Here’s an example.

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In this pool, each fencer had three bouts. The referee recorded Morehouse’s scores horizontally from his name.

The referee also recorded Morehouse’s opponent’s scores vertically according to Morehouse’s fencer number, which is one.

So, Morehouse is ultimately interested in two lines, like so:

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 10.42.56 AM


By reading across the diagonal, you can see that Morehouse defeated Rodgers 5-4, and lost to Homer and Smart 3-5 and 4-5.

4.5: How victories are recorded

The example above shows a saber pool. In saber pools, the winning fencer always scores five touches. So, the referee writes a “V” on the winning fencer’s row.

Pool bouts in foil and epee, though, don’t always reach five points. So, the referee will write a small number next to the “V” to indicate the winner’s score. This is usually a five, but a bout that ends due to time running out could have any other score next to the V — even a zero.

saber pool vs foil epee pool

5: Results

The section next to the score box shows each fencer’s results: victories, touches scored, touches received, indicator and place.

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Let’s define each one individually:

  • Victories (V): The number of pool bouts the fencer won.
  • Touches Scored (TS): The total number of touches that the fencer scored in all of his or her bouts — including bouts he or she lost.
  • Touches Received (TR): The total number of touches scored on the fencer by his or her opponents.
  • Indicator (Ind): The difference between the number of points a fencer scored minus the total of the touches scored on them.
  • Place (Pl): This is the fencer’s place within the pool.

5.5: Determining Place

A fencer’s place — whether inside or outside of the pool — is determined by three things:

  • Your win percentage: This is your wins divided by your total number of bouts. In the example above, Morehouse won one of his four bouts, or 25 percent. If a fencer in another pool won one out of five bouts, they would place behind Morehouse because they only won 20 percent of their bouts.
  • Your indicator: When fencers tie on their win percentage, tournament officials break the tie according to indicator.
  • Touches scored: When fencers tie on their win percentage and indicator, tournament officials use touches scored as the next tie breaker. If fencers are tied on percentage, indicator and touches scored, tournament organizers will leave fencers tied or sometimes have them fence each other to break the tie.

6: Warnings

Referees use this area to record penalties awarded to fencers during pool bouts. Fencers will usually have no reason to pay attention to this area.

7: Bout Order

This section shows the order of bouts for each pool based on its size. The pre-assigned bout orders are optimized to give each fencer a reasonable amount of rest between bouts.

While this section is meant for referees, fencers can use it to their advantage. Knowing when you fence next and being ready to hook up on the strip goes a long way to make referees happy.

Do you have any other questions about how to read a pool sheet? Ask us in the comments!

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