Wednesday, 29 February 2012

AFL Dream Team & Supercoach

Something a bit different this time ... time to talk Fantasy AFL! That means Dream Team & Supercoach! This was something that I first tried last year & found it added something to just watching AFL games when they were on TV. I made a few basic mistakes last year (yes, I had Karmichael Hunt in my team until midway through the season!), but hopefully with the experience of last year I can put in a competitive performance, both in the overall competition (which has a car as first prize), as well as various 'leagues' I have joined, many of which are related to various chess and other forums I post on.
Some of the things I picked up from last year ...
1. Have some really good players, 'premiums', who will be the backbone of your side, scoring a large percentage of your points & staying in your team for the entire season.
2. Be very selective about new or cheap players, 'rookies', who will be in the side for part of the season. These players not only need to be able to score points, but they must be playing on a reasonably regular basis in their respective teams (this was something I didn't check well enough at the start of last season). Their main purpose is to gain value, so that you can trade them for better players later in the season, thereby improving your overall team.
3. Don't waste trades! There is a limited number that you can use throughout the year (24 in fact) & there will always be injuries & suspensions to players that you have selected (Selwood, Shaw and others caught me out in this regard last season) ... so only make trades when you need to, and make sure they serve a purpose (eg: replacing injured player, upgrading to better player, downgrading to make money, etc). My big trading mistake was getting rid of Robin Nahas after 6 or 7 rounds, after an inconsistent start to the year (scoring anywhere from 20 to 80 in alternate weeks), only to see him consistently score 100+ for much of the remainder of the season!
4. Have a mix of players from a range of AFL teams. This is so that you can maximise your points score, as well as not having the various players taking points off one another - after all there is only one ball on the ground in a match! This need for a variety of players is somewhat reduced this year, as there are only three bye rounds this year (although this year there are 6 teams having the bye at once), whereas last year there was a need to find a balance between getting the best players and byes (when there was at least one team not playing every week due to the odd number of teams last year).

As a result, I've been selecting & modifying my team accordingly. So far I'm up to my second effort for Dream Team (I haven't looked at SuperCoach too much yet), but I'm sure there will be a few changes between now & round 1 for the latest version of my side.

Some other things to bear in mind about the competition (at least for Dream Team) is that you have to select 30 players in your squad & have a 'salary cap' of $8,780,000.

I will post both v1 & v2 of my sides ... feel free to comment on one, both or either of them.
v1 (My initial side, which I have since changed):

Brendan Goddard $474,200 STK
Jed Adcock $417,700 BRL
Dyson Heppell $415,900 ESS
Matthew Buntine $161,700 GWS
Marty Clarke $141,500 COL
Bradley Harvey $104,200 BRL
Tomas Bugg $104,200 GWS 

Warrick Andreoli $104,200 STK
Alex Brown $98,700 SYD
Dane Swan $598,300 COL 
Scott Pendlebury $576,900 COL
Gary Ablett $554,700 GCS
Jack Redden $540,100 BRL
Patrick Dangerfield $349,800 ADE
Stephen Coniglio $175,200 GWS
Dom Tyson $170,700 GWS
Anthony Morabito $168,000 FRE
Nic Naitanui $371,500 WCE
Hamish McIntosh $273,500 NTH
Jonathan Giles $117,800 GWS
Orren Stephensen $98,700 GEE
Lance Franklin $503,000 HAW
Nathan Fyfe $486,600 FRE
Dustin Martin $442,500 RIC
Robin Nahas $415,700 RIC
Setanta O'hAilpin, S $327,200 GWS
Israel Folau $115,800 GWS
Ahmed Saad $115,800 STK
Billy Smedts $104,200 GEE
Aaron Treloar $104,200 GWS
This team was revised to create v2, which I am happier with overall, but still not completely happy with ... and I'm still not sure I have the 'right' rookies in my team at the moment:

Backs: Brendan Goddard (Def) $474,200 StK
Heath Shaw (Def) $454,000 Col
Matt Suckling $448,900 Haw
Sam Gilbert $345,600 StK
Jack Grimes $329,400 Mel
Ryan Hargrave $232,700 WBD
Marty Clarke $141,500 Col
Tomas Bugg $104,200 GWS
Peter Yagmoor $98,700 Col
Scott Pendlebury $576,900 Col
Gary Abblett $554,700 GCS
Sam Mitchell $554,000 Haw
Luke Shuey $413,000 WCE
Stephen Coniglio $175,200 GWS
Chad Wingard $157,200 PtA
James McDonald $98,700 GWS
Dylan Shiel $104,200 GWS
Matthew Leuenberger $459,100 Bri
Zac Smith $355,400 GCS
Jonathan Giles $117,800 GWS
Orren Stephensen $98,700 Gee
Lance Franklin $503,000 Haw
Adam Goodes $491,000 Syd
Dustin Martin $442,500 Ric
Robin Nahas $415,700 Ric
Terry Milera $115,800 StK
Ahmed Saad $115,800 StK
Billie Smedts $104,200 Gee
Tommy Walsh $104,200 Syd
Sam Kerridge $98,700 Ade
I'm sure you'll notice some similarities between the two sides, but there are also a decent number of changes ... some of which I'm happy with, some I'm not so happy with.
I'd love to have Nathan Fyfe in the team & I'm not completely sure about the Leuenberger/Smith ruck combination. I'd also like to find a way to fit more rookie midfielders into the team, as midfield seems to be the most consistent scoring position (especially for rookies), but without sacrificing the premiums who will strengthen the midfield, in particular Pendlebury & Abblet.
Of course things like Jack Grimes' recent shoulder scare add to the potential need to change the side, and since selecting this latest version, I think that Grimes just has to go, as he just seems too injury prone (even though as a club captain at Melbourne he is now almost guarenteed of playing whenever he is fit). At the moment I'm looking for other options around the same price mark, but nothing stands out. Another option would be to go for Heath Scotland and a rookie in exchange for Grimes & probably Gilbert ... but again I'm undecided.
Let me know your thoughts ... and if you're looking for more info on the various AFL fantasy leagues, check out Fan Footy, Footy Utopia or Dream Team Talk, which all seem to be pretty decent sites, often with weekly podcasts too!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Melbourne Chess Club Championship Round 4

This round saw the start of the 'real' tournament, with competitive games across the entire field, with the first games not finishing until just before 9pm, over an hour and a half after the start of play! In spite of this added competitiveness, there were still a few upsets this round, with wins by Ari Dale, Garry Lycett, Brad Ashlock, John Beckman & Oscar Oearce over their higher rated opponents.
On the top boards Wallis went astray in time trouble against Stojic, while Rujevic ground out a win against Beaumont. The fantastic start by Anthony Harris slowed by Carl Gorka, while Guy West played a miniature upon his return to the back room & the top 6 boards. There are now three players leading the tournament on 4/4 - FM Dusan Stojic, IM Mirko Rujevic & Carl Gorka. They are a full point clear of the chasing pack on 3/4, which includes IM Guy West & FM Chris Wallis amongst others.
Results are on chesschat as usual, although there are two games to be played on Wednesday.
The game this week is the top board clash between FMs Chris Wallis & Dusan Stojic. Chris seemed to get a slight edge out of the opening, but found himself in time trouble & his edge slowly disappeared until Dusan won a pawn on move 29 & his d-pawn decided the game shortly afterwards.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Melbourne Chess Club Championships Round 3

This week I'm going to try something a little different with the blog & borrow an idea from Carl Gorka & do a 'semi-live' blog. This will hopefully provide something of a change from the usual blogging contents, as well as making me focus (at least to some extent) on the chess as it is being played.
After the initial post, I'll edit the post at roughly hourly intervals, with a focus on the progress of the games on the top 6 boards, as well as any other interesting games underway in the tournament.

8pm update:
All games have gotten underway, after a few latecomers had their opponents asking me about forfeit times, however thankfully there have been no forfeits (apart from one I was advised of before the round started) tonight.
An early look at the top boards has Stojic-Pyke playing an English, with a somewhat unusual setup by Pyke, with his queenside pawns all on white squares. Gorka-Dragicevic is a Grunfeld without the usual exchange of knights & this seems to have left white in a slightly better position. Rujevic-Urban is a Sicilian that threatens to become particularly sharp at any moment. In the main tournament hall, John Dowling has left his g7 pawn on its initial square (he often, like myself, plays the Modern defense with 1...g6), while Dale-Hain looks like the sharpest of the games going, with a thematic (if not theoretical - I'm not so up-to-date to know if what has been played is theory or not) King's Indian position.

9pm update:
Stojic-Pyke is still in the opening stages, with both sides continuing to develop & formulate a middlegame plan. Gorka-Dragicevic has Gorka pressing Dragicevic's position, with a dangerous bishop on h6 & central pawns on d5 & e4, however it also looks like one of those positions where white's position could collapse if he tries for too much. Rujevic-Urban has turned into a queenless middlegame, with 5 pawns, 2 rooks, 1 bishop & 1 knight each, and looks (for the moment at least) to be fairly level. In the main hall Dowling's g7 pawn still has yet to move, as he finds himself in a double rook ending. West appears to be slightly better on the black side of a Benoni against Wyss, while Dale won tactically in the King's Indian that looked like it might provide some fireworks.
Other early results have wins for Chew, Kovacevic & Anton, with Lovegrove & Martin splitting the point in their encounter.

10pm update:
Stojic-Pyke is a queenless middlegame, where Pyke is ahead a pawn, but Stojic has his pieces working fantastically & is threatening to win two minor pieces for a rook, if not more. Gorka continues to pile the pressure on Dragicevic's position & looks to have the better game, but time will tell if its good enough to get the full point. Rujevic-Urban is now a knight v bishop ending, which at first glance appears to be better for Rujevic & his knight. In the main hall a small crowd has gathered around West's board to look at his attack, which looks to be winning. Michaille-Voon sees the Frenchman with mate threats that appear unstoppable, however Voon queen is harassing the white king & it looks good enough for a repetition.
Since last update, Dowling, Zelesco, Mijatovic, Lycett & Ogden have recorded wins, with around 10 games still playing.

11pm update:
Just two games still going. Gorka is a pawn up in a rook ending against Dragicevic, although it is still tricky, but Gorka definitely has winning chances. In the main hall Saint is a piece ahead against McCart in a rook ending, however each side has only two pawns left & there is potential for a rook & Bishop v rook ending to eventuate.
Other results have mostly gone according to rating, with wins to Stojic, Rujevic, Wallis, Beaumont & Harris on the top boards. In the main hall West's attack was enough to win, while Brown also won his game. Draws were the result in the games Papadinis-Penrose, Michaille-Voon & Reid-Beattie.
I'll post a game or two from the top boards when the last few games are done.

Midnight update:
All games have now finished. Gorka managed to win the rook ending & Saint's extra piece proved decisive. I'm still trying to input the Gorka-Dragicevic game, so you'll have to be satisfied with the top board game Stojic-Pyke, which begins quietly, but erupts around move 16 with a number of exchanges, which sees black snatch a pawn, but white gets a huge amount of activity in return.

As usual, results are available on Chesschat.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Melbourne Chess Club Championships

The annual club championships have begun at Melbourne Chess Club, and this year I am the arbiter for the event. Although players are still able to enter, the final numbers will most likely be around the 47 mark that the tournament is currently at. Most of the top seeds have started well & are on the expected 2/2, however top seed Guy West has started with two draws & is now stuck playing in the main tournament hall, rather than the smaller room used for the top boards, at least for the next few rounds!
As you would expect with a club as diverse as MCC, the players cover a wide range of both ages & ratings, which makes for an interesting competition on a number of levels.
As with other events, results are being posted on Chesschat.
As for the games themselves, they have also been quite varied, from wild attacking games, to slow positional grinds, with everything in between. So far I have seen everything from 1.f3 & 2.Kf2 through to highly theoretical lines of the Ruy Lopez & Sicilian Defencse!
Below are the two most interesting games (in one way or another) of the first two rounds. The first is the top board draw in round 1, where Guy West goes astray with his attack against David Lacey & is ultimately lucky to escape with a draw in a worse ending, while the second is Malcolm Pyke's round 2 game, where a few misteps by Jim Papadinis, combined with Pyke's relentless attack, make for a quick finish.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Australian Open ideas

You may have noticed a new tab at the top of the page on this blog ... if not look just above what you are reading now & you should see a tab marked 'Australian Open ideas'. This is my latest vent/rant about the Australian Open & how it has been underutilised in recent years, as well as a number of ideas to improve the event in the future. Yes, its been something of an issue for me for a while, but the internet is the perfect place to put these ideas 'out there' for people to see. I've also added an Australian Open images page, to put some visuals to the ideas suggested in the main article.
Before you go looking elsewhere on the web, thinking 'oh, another person who wants to change things, but doesn't want to do anything to make it happen', I'm more than happy to put my hand up to help organise such an event in a city like Melbourne or Sydney, but I'd want at least 12 months to organise the venue, find players & properly advertise the event, both to players here & overseas, as well as to potential sponsors. In short, this means that the earliest such an event could happen is 2015 ... but it CAN HAPPEN!
You only need to look at the websites for the various tournaments to see that the recent Geelong Australian Championship, or Sydney Australian Open to see that it has nothing on a world class event like the Gibraltar Chess Festival. My dream is to one day make an event of the quality & stature of Gibraltar a possibility in Australia ... one day!