Beginning in 2013, the FIE moved to change the wording of rule t.21.3, which stipulates when the referee should call “halt!” when the fencers have passed one another. Specifically, they inserted the phrase “goes completely past” the opponent:
“When a fencer goes completely past his opponent during a bout, the Referee must immediately call ‘Halt!’ and replace the competitors in the positions which they occupied before the passing took place.”
So what do we mean by “completely past”?
We’ve now had a full quadrennial of fencing to gain consensus on what “completely past” means, and based on the experience of our colleagues working abroad, it is this:
Fencers are “completely past” one another if their entire torsos (shoulder to shoulder) no longer overlap.
Basically, if you can see daylight between the fencers’ torsos, they’ve passed.
Intent of the Rule:
The FIE adopted this rule to cut down on a high number of early halts called for passing at close quarters when any part of the fencers’ torsos overlapped. Admittedly, the updated wording has its own ambiguity, but we as a group have had a few years to get used to the change, and the interpretation has coalesced somewhat.
Things to keep in mind:
– Occasionally, you’ll find your own viewpoint offset from the relative center of the fencers as you position yourself to keep the scoring apparatus in your field of view; be aware of this when judging when the fencers have passed.
– You don’t need to factor in the fencers trailing extremities when judging whether or not the fencers have passed one another. This holds true regardless of the situation–either live or on video replay.
– If a fencer being passed makes an immediate riposte started before the opposing fencer is completely past, that riposte is still valid if it lands after the pass has concluded (as stated in t.21.4).
Good luck out there!
On behalf of the Rules Committee and the Referees’ Commission