Compliment Duelling

The Order of the Most Glorious Confederation of Compliment Duellists

The Grand Yorkshire Assembly of 1882*

Photo courtesy of Pete Mecozzi

Notes from the Grand Consonance and Presiding Masters

Inasmuch as The Order of the Most Glorious Confederation of Compliment Duellists (known henceforth as the Order) would ever hazard to impinge upon the honour, eloquence or perspicacity of our most noble members, we set forth these accords for a principled and magnanimous duel as worthy of the chivalrous spirit and sagacity that infuses each of our members. Being personages of the utmost esteem and gentility, members of the Order forever follow first the gentle, earnest direction of their own principles in matters of the duel. No accord or rule is more sacred than that rare distinction of conscience and sensibility that a member of The Order refines through the years of steady application and study of the duelling arts.

  1. At the commencement of the duel, the Compliment Masters will present each duellist with a White Silk. Duellists may prefer to provide their own White Silk which is acceptable provided the White Silk is of a size visible to their opponent and second alike. Duellists may choose the traditional and much respected order of precedence to determine who will proceed first to the balestra: ladies first or age before beauty.
  2. Once duellists have exchanged a bow or curtsy, the Balestra–brief initial exchange of compliments–will initiate the duel. The first duellist will unleash a opening brief salvo to be followed by the spritely rejoinder of the opponent.  The Balestra should be no more than one to two quick compliments exchanged across the field before entering the melée.
  3. At all times during the duel, duplication is to be avoided. A duelist may not use a repetition of the Balestra in the rejoinder nor may duellists use reiteration of  simple adverbs or adjectives in succession. As courtesy must require, the repetition of proper titles is always allowed across volleys but within a single compliment, the title may only be used once per volley. A serious reiteration will be considered a forfeit.
  4. On the matter of seconds, duellists may call upon a boon companion as an escort for the duel. The seconds, having agreed to the high honour done them by the request, shall stand a step behind their duellists and upon a gesture of the White Silk by their companion, they may step in to provide a deflecting compliment so that the duellist may regain composure. The second may only provide such aid upon a single instance.
  5. Duellists are to remember that blue language is beneath the chivalrous spirit of The Order and will count as an instant forfeit unless special concessions are granted by the Compliment Masters at the commencement of the duel.
  6. During the advancement of the duel, each duellist is permitted three foibles before they admit forfeit. The Compliment Masters will determine the foibles and acknowledge each Caution with the unfurling of the Red Silk. Cautions may be issued by the Masters through the flub, flummox, folderol or other dread faux pas as listed in the Appendix of Foibles. During the Balestra at the initiation of the duel, no foibles will be met with a Caution.
  7. Without fear for the noble character of the engagement, duellists may engage in dramatic or florid gesture provided that such articulation never disrupts the expression of the opponent or encroaches upon the sovereign space of the opponent
  8. The natural pause to take a breath or clear the vocal instrument for further speech is, of course, a normal and acceptable consequence of a duel – but lengthy silence, as determined at the discretion of the Compliment Masters, will be met with a Caution and the unfurling of the Red Silk.
  9. When one duellist can proceed no further, the White Silk must be unfurled to admit defeat. The winning opponent must then step forward, and in the spirit of chivalry, execute a gentle coup de grace so as to preserve dignity.
  10. Private duels are considered Matters of Honour and are not sanctioned by the Order.

As with all Duelling and Events of Skill amongst the Temporal Entourage, we remind you, “Do not vex the judges.”

Apendix of Foibles

Falderal–a significant repetition

Farouche–a compliment or rejoinder containing blue language

Flapdoodle–a rejoinder or compliment that loses its meaning 

Flench–a particularly skillful or barbed compliment; performing a Dowager Duchess

Flimflam–nonsense word masquerading as a proper word

Flub–a mispronunciation or misuse of a word

Flummery–a trifling reply too short to be a proper rejoinder 

Fluster–a long pause

Flummox–a lack of rejoinder

Folderol–excessive use of repetitive adverbs in a compliment or rejoinder


*Rules and all other appendices, guidelines, and ephemera created by the Compliment Masters Hal Astell, Katherine Stewart, and Jocelynne Simone, May 2016. Additional edits and development provided with the kind assistance and insight of Glenn R. Shambach.

New Compliment Duellists and Judges: Please reach out to any of the Compliment Masters for clarification or assistance with starting your own duelling league.