GHSFL Competition Format

April 2023


This document describes how the GHSFL season works and how rankings are determined. If you have questions, please contact:

These related documents can also be found on this site:

  • Policies and Procedures of the Georgia High School Fencing League
  • GHSFL Tournament Hosting Guide
  • GHSFL FencingTime Instructions

Tournament Season

According to the League’s bylaws, the tournament season begins no later than 31 October and ends no later than 31 March. The Board sets the schedule for each tournament season. Tournament dates are selected to minimize conflicts with other important dates. Note that it is impossible to avoid all important dates.

Regular Season

The regular season consists of several rounds of individual tournaments.


After the regular season, there are two championships; the Individual Championship and the Team Championship.

Sample Start Times

Below is a sample start time for a GHSFL tournament:

  • 8:15 - referee meeting
  • 8:30 - men’s check in closes
  • 10:00 - women’s check in close

Tournament Hosts

Once the tournament dates are announced, schools are invited to bid on hosting on the date(s) of their choice. Bids are accepted in the order they are received. All schools are expected to host at least one regular season tournament, except schools that are new to the league, who are exempt from hosting for the first two seasons they participate in.

If a school does not send any bid for hosting, hosting dates will be assigned by the Tournament Coordinator.

The schools that won the previous season’s Team Championship are given the opportunity to host the next season’s Championships.

For regular season tournaments, the host must have space for at least 8 strips. However, every effort should be made to have more strips, still considering safety.

If here are no bids to host a particular tournament, the Board will assign a school to host that tournament. If a school finds that it is no longer able to host a tournament it has been assigned, it is that school’s responsibility to resolve the situation by hosting at an alternative location, finding another school to host the tournament, or, with the board’s approval, moving the tournament to a different date.


The league will sanction scrimmages, which are tournaments that do not award points or affect standings. The school wanting to host a scrimmage must give the Board one week’s notice, the tournament must be held at a GHSFL school, and all the participants must be GHSFL schools.

Scrimmages may include individual or team events in any format, they may be open to all GHSFL schools or only some of them, and they may to open to all fencers, or only certain classes of fencers (novice, freshman, senior, etc). The host school is responsible for providing any medals or prizes that are awarded.

Points and Standings


All individual tournaments, except scrimmages and championships, award points. Points are awarded to the top 16 fencers at each event. Points are awarded in the following scale:

Place Points
1 64
2 52
3 40
4 n/a
5 32
6 30
7 28
8 26
9 18
10 17
11 16
12 15
13 14
14 13
15 12
16 11


Individual Rankings

Men’s and Women’s individual points earned will be distributed after each tournament. These are not current standings, but just the points they have earned at the last round. Points standings for schools and individuals will be sent out after round 3, round 6, and the Individual Championships.

Team Rankings

Men’s and women’s team rankings are also published after round 3, 6 and the Individual championships. The school’s place on the points list decides the seeding in the Team Championship.

Qualifying for the Championships

Individual Championships

Fencers are eligible to compete in the Championships if they have competed in at least half of the regular season tournaments (rounded up) as well as placing in the top 16 at least once. The Individual Championships is limited to 84 men and 84 women.

Team Championships

To be eligible to fence in the Team Championships, fencers must have fenced in at least one GHSFL tournament in the current season. The Team Championship is limited to the top 24 men’s teams and 24 women’s teams.

Tournament Format

Regular Season

Regular season tournaments consist of only individual events. Each tournament must include events for men’s epee and women’s epee. Medals are awarded to the top four fencers in each event.

Individual Championships

The format for the Individual Championships is the same for the regular season. Medals are awarded to the top 8 fencers for each event. The winner receives a trophy and can also keep the traveling trophy until the next Individual Championship.

Team Championship

Matches in the Team Championship are standard team matches between two teams of three fencers (with an optional alternate) using the 45-touche relay format. Seeding is based on the school’s place in the team points list following the Individual Championships. Ties in seeding are broken based on points earned by the school’s top ranked fencer of that gender.


The host can alter the tournament format for scrimmages. All safety rules must be enforced.

Medals and Trophies

GHSFL provides the medals and trophies described above for regular season and championship tournaments. The host school is responsible for providing any medals or other prizes for scrimmages.

Running the Tournament

In individual tournaments, each event consists of two rounds

Round 1: Pools

Initial seeding is based on the fencer’s place in the current season’s point list. In case of the first tournament of the season, initial seeding is based on the fencer’s place in the points list at the end of hte previous season.

Pools must be of six and seven fencers with a few rare exceptions listed below:

  • If the event has between 10 and 29 fencers and there is no combination of pools of six and seven that includes all fencers, pools of five and six may be used.
  • If the event has less than 10 fencers, all fencers should be in a single pool

Round 2: Direct Elimination

The top 80% of the fencers are promoted to the Direction Elimination round.
A gold medal is awarded to the winner of the final and a silver medal to the loser. The losing semi-finalists are each awarded a bronze medal. There is no fence off for third.

Withdrawals and Exclusions

There are only two ways that a fencer can be removed from the event other than being eliminated from the competition.

  1. The fencer is unable to continue fencing because of a valid medical reason or family emergency. The term for this is “Withdrawal”. In this case, a GHSFL Medical Withdrawal Form must be completed.
  2. The fencer received a black card. The term for this is “Exclusion”.

Having to leave because of a prior commitment is not an emergency, and such a fencer should receive a black card for failing to appear on the strip when called.

If an error on the scoresheet results in the wrong fencer being recorded as the winner of a DE bout, and the fencer who was incorrectly recorded as the winner leaves the venue believing that he or she has been eliminated, that fencer will be considered to have withdrawn and will not receive a black card.

If a fencer withdraws or is excluded before completing all pool bouts, the rules say that the fencer should be removed from the pool. The results of any pool bouts completed will be ignored.

If a fencer withdraws or is excluded during a DE bout, the fencer loses that bout.

Fencers who complete all their pool bouts and qualify for the DE round, but leave the venue and do not appear for the DE round should be withdrawn (if they left for a valid reason) or excluded (if they left for any other reason) from their first DE bout, the results of the fencers’ pools are not affected.

Bout Committee

The purpose of the Bout Committee is to settle any questions that may arise about the application of the rules. The composition of hte Bout committee will be decided by the Board prior to the tournament. Bout Committee members must stay until all events are finished.

Referees and Floor Judges

Referees who are former high school fencers must not referee DE bouts involving their former school for three seasons after leaving the school. The tournament organizer may not know which school referees used to fence for. Referees who are assigned a bout involving their former school should ask for the bout to be reassigned. Referees are required to stay until the final event of the tournament is ended or until excused by the tournament organizer.

If a referee feels uncomfortable refereeing a bout because of any association may ask for the bout to be reassigned, and the organizer will honor that request if possible.

If qualified floor judges are available, they should be assigned for all semi-final and final bouts of the Individual Championship and the final and third place match of the Team Championship. Fencers can request floor judges in any bout of a tournament.

Responsibilities of Participating Schools

Responsible Adult

Schools must name an adult, 21 years or older, who will be responsible for the fencers at the tournament. The responsible adult must be present for as long as any of the school’s fencers are at the tournament. More details are outlined in the GHSFL Policies and Procedure.

Coaches and Referees

Except at scrimmages, referees must be certified by GHSFL or USA Fencing, or must be candidates for GHSFL certification who are being observed by their instructor.

Schools are responsible for the conduct of their coaches and referees. No one will coach and referee at the same tournament. Coaches must wear the school’s colors, GHSFL or neutral attire. They must not wear private club attire.


Black Cards

If a fencer receives a black card for any reason, the following penalties apply:

  • The fencer receives no points for this tournament
  • When deciding Championship eligibility, the fencer is not considered to have competed in this tournament
  • The fencer is not allowed to fence in the next tournament
    • this includes Championships

Medal Ceremonies

Medal winner must appear at the medal ceremony in fencing uniform. Fencer who do not appear or are improperly dressed will not be awarded a medal or receive any points for that tournament.

Tournament Fees

At regular season and championship tournaments, the host school will collect from all participating schools a fee of $10 for the greater of (a) the estimated number of fencers they provided in advance or (b) the number of fencers who sign in. Participating schools should be prepared to pay the combined fees for all their fencers with a single check, payable to the host school, on the day of the tournament. The host will provide a receipt on request.

Fees for scrimmages are set by the host school.

Strips at Tournaments

New schools are excused from being responsible for a strip for the the first season in which they compete, provided they have less than 20 fencers at the tournament. More details can be found in the GHSFL Policies and Procedures. All other schools will be assigned strips. Being responsible for a strip means providing:

  • Scoring equipment
    • 2 reels
    • 2 floor cords
    • 1 scoring box
  • Extension cord
    • 50ft is the usual
  • Referees’ equipment
    • test weight
    • test shim
    • timing device (cell phone)
    • clipboard
    • pencil
  • A referee

Strip Assignments

Strip assignments are based on the number of fencers each school brings. If a school brings more than 19 fencers, they are required to bring 2 strips and 2 referees, unless told otherwise by the Tournament Coordinator. If a school bring more than 40, the school may be required to bring 3 or 4 refs. This can always change from tournament to tournament. The GHSFL Tournament Coordinator will send out strip assignments the week before the tournament. If you know your school consistently brings more than 19 fencers, be prepared to hire 2 referees for most tournaments.

Submitting Rosters

Only listed team parents or faculty sponsors should be submitting rosters.

Schools will have until 5pm Friday before the tournament (8 days before, not 1 day before; see below) to submit their rosters. Until that deadline, any number of resubmissions can be made.

Deadline Example

After this deadline, no new fencers can be added to your school’s rosters for this tournament.

Up until 5pm the Wednesday before the tournament, removals from your school’s rosters can be made for any reason. After this deadline the only removals can be due to medical reasons and must be emailed to the Tournament Coordinator.

Host Information

Two weeks before the tournament, the GHSFL Tournament Coordinator will reach out to your school asking you to provide the following information:

  • Address of your venue
  • Maximum number of strips for your venue
  • Parking and entrance information
  • Whether or not you will have concessions
  • Contact info (phone number) for someone at your tournament who can help with parking, finding entrances, etc
  • Start times for men’s and women’s events
  • Referee meeting time
  • Any additional information you wish the attending schools to know

This information is due by 5pm the Sunday before the tournament.

Created 2022 by James Wallace