Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Melbourne Chess Club Open Round 3

Round 3 saw the top seeds start to meet, with a number of dramatic games & a few unexpected results. The big surprise of the night was Ari Dale beating IM Guy West on board 1. Guy played the Barry Attack, but managed to get no advantage out of the opening, with a series of exchanges leading to a queen & rook ending, which at first sight appeared reasonably level. Ari however managed to gain an edge by threatening to take control of the c-file with his rooks, which forced one pair of rooks off & allowed Ari to take control of the d-file with his remaining rook & queen. Ari then managed to further improve his position, threatening to exchange queens & enter an advantageous rook ending. Rather than allow this bad rook ending, Guy tried a pawn break on the kingside, but this turned out to put his position in further jeopardy, with a 'hail Mary' rook sacrifice attempted in an effort to achieve a perpetual check. Ari defended accurately, ultimately finding a safe haven for his king, before Guy blundered his queen in a lost position. The other leaders had very different paths to victory, with Dusan Stojic having a surprisingly easy win over Carl Gorka, while Mirko Rujevic had to work much harder to defeat Malcolm Pyke.
Other boards also saw a few upset results, with Richard McCart beating Thai Ly & Jason Chew beating Richard Voon, while Abraham Widjaja managed to hold Jim Papadinis to a draw.
As usual, results are on ChessChat.
Also if you're looking for another view on the event, you can try the blogs by competitors Carl Gorka & Paul Cavezza - both are entertaining & well worth a look!

This week's game is the top board upset by Ari Dale over IM Guy West. Ari is most definitely becoming a force to be reckoned with at the club & it will be interesting to see how he will fare in the coming rounds against the other top seeds.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Noble Park Classic Day 2

The second day of the Noble Park Classic was full of exciting chess, with a number of games going right down to the wire! Ultimately it was local favourite, Domagoj Dragicevic, who is the club treasurer, who was triumphant, scoring an undefeated 6.5/7 to win the tournament!
As had become usual in this event, round 5 saw a number of upsets, with Svetosar Stojic beating John Nemeth, John Ni beating Kyle Gibson, Carl Loucas beating Tanya Kolak, Rebecca Strickland beating Jamie Yung, as well as a large number of draws. At the top of the tournament, Justin Tan took the outright lead after beating Mirko Rujevic, while both James Morris & Domagoj Dragicevic were half a point behind after wins over Christopher Wallis & Dusan Stojic respectively. Round 6 also saw some upsets, with Marko Grabovac beating Ethan Lim, Vishal Bhat beating Jason Chew, Milan Stojic beating Tanya Krstevska, Rebecca Strickland beating Carl Dingfelder, as well as another quota of draws. The top of the tournament saw another change, with Domagoj Dragicevic assuming the lead after beating Justin Tan. The chasing pack grew larger after Mirko Rujevic beat James Morris and Miodrag Milojevic beat John Ni to join Justin on 5/6.
The final round saw Domgoj Dragicevic playing Mirko Rujevic for first place, while Justin Tan & Miodrag Milojevic fought it out for second (and a possible share of first). The top board clash went the distance, with Mirko seeming to have the better of a double rook endgame, until Domagoj managed to turn the tables in mutual time trouble. Mirko's once-active king went passive, while Domagoj's king came to life & within an instant Mirko found himself faced with the prospect of losing a rook, or seeing Domagoj have an extra queen, and resigned shortly afterwards, to make Domagoj Dragicevic the winner of the inaugural Noble Park Classic. Justin Tan won his game to take second place, while Carl Gorka beat Jack Puccini to secure third place. On the other boards there were the usual share of upsets, with Tom Lea beating John Nemeth, Kris Chan beating Joseph Wong, Regan Crowley beating Gary Lin, Ryan Kam beating Milic Sucevic, Alanna Chew Lee beating Tanya Kolak, Haran Salasan beating Tristan Krstevski, as well as a few draws.

I've also included a few photos from the final day:

Top board action in round 5, with spectators gathering towards the end of the round

The intra-club battle, with the club President playing the Treasurer ... with the club Tournament director & equipment officer interested onlookers in the post-mortem

Domagoj receiving his first prize cheque from Noble Park Chess Club President Dusan Stojic

Final results are available on ChessChat.

Prizewinners were as follows:

1st Domagoj Dragicevic
2nd Justin Tan
3rd Carl Gorka

Rating group under 1800
1st Tom Lea
=2nd Kyle Gibson, Shane Lawson

Rating group under 1300
=1st Vishal Bhat, Alana Chew Lee, Ryan Kam, Denise Lim, Regan Crowley

Best junior under 1000
=1st Rebecca Strickland, Lachlan Martin, Haran Salasan

Although I was able to put a number of games into the computer over the weekend, Phillip Drew also helped input games & his collection of games will be available as a PGN at some stage in the future, most likely on the Noble Park Website.

To finish off my coverage of the tournament, I'll show two very different games from round 5.

The first game is an example of what can go wrong in the Sicilian Defense, with Svetosar Stojic producing a miniature against John Nemeth.

The second is James Morris' grinding win over Christopher Wallis where the momentum swung a number of times before Morris brought home the point in a tricky queen ending, most of which was played with less than a minute on the clock each!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

FIDE Arbiter!

My application for the title of FIDE Arbiter was approved at the recent FIDE Congress in Instanbul (held alongside the Olympiad).
This means I am now officially a FIDE Arbiter!

The next step as far as arbiting titles are concerned, is the International Arbiter title.
The requirements for the title are as follows (from the FIDE Handbook):

4. Requirements for the title of International Arbiter (IA).
All of the following:
4.1 Thorough knowledge of the Laws of Chess, the FIDE Regulations for chess competitions, the Swiss Pairing Systems, the FIDE Regulations regarding achievement of title norms and the FIDE Rating System.
4.2 Absolute objectivity, demonstrated at all times during his activity as an arbiter.
4.3 Obligatory knowledge of English language, minimum at conversation level; and of chess terms in other official FIDE languages.
4.4 Minimum skills at user level to work on a personal computer. Knowledge of pairing programs endorsed by the FIDE, Word, Excel and E-mail.
4.5 Skills to operate electronic chess clocks of different types and for different systems.
4.6 Experience as chief or deputy arbiter in at least four FIDE rated events such as the following:
a. The final of the National Individual (adult) Championship (maximum two norms). 
b. All official FIDE tournaments and matches. 
c. International tournaments where FIDE title norms for players are possible. 
d. International FIDE rated chess events with at least 100 players, at least 30% FIDE rated players, and at least 7 rounds (maximum one norm) . 
e. All official World and Continental Rapid and Blitz Championships for Adult and juniors (maximum one (1) norm).
4.7 The title of the International Arbiter for each of the IBCA, ICSC, IPCA shall each be equivalent to one IA norm.
4.8 Being a match arbiter in an Olympiad is equivalent to one IA norm. No more than one such norm will be considered 
for the title.
4.9 The title of International Arbiter can be awarded only to applicants who have already been awarded the title of FIDE Arbiter.
4.10 All the norms for the IA title must be different from the norms already used for the FA title and must have been achieved after the FA title have been awarded.
4.11 At least two (2) of the submitted norms shall be signed by different Chief Arbiters.

Hopefully I have 4.1-4.5 under control already! The main qualification is 4.6, which outlines the type of events that are required for IA norms. The difficulty of this is that there are only a small number of such tournaments in Australia (the ones I can think of off the top of my head are the Australian Championships/Open, the Doeberl Cup, the Begonia Open, the Australasian Masters, the Sydney International & Oceania Zonal events). In addition, there are limits on the number of norms possible from some of these type of events. 
Having said that, I would like to be in a position to apply for such a title within the next few years, but I'll see how things progress. 

Noble Park Classic Day 1

59 players made the trek to Noble Park for the inaugural Noble Park Classic.
Noble Park Chess Club has only started in the last few years & in this time its gone a long way to establishing itself as one of the top chess clubs in Melbourne (and arguably in the top 3 in Melbourne!), and a weekender seemed like the next logical step for the club.
The tournament itself is very strong, with 2 IMs, 3 FMs & 11 players rated above 2000ACF! The early rounds also saw a few upsets, with Vishal Bhat beating Marcus Raine in round 1, while Carl Dingfelder held Sylvester Urban to a draw. Round 2 saw more upsets, with Jason Chew beating Miodrag Milosevic,  Khadem Jahid beating Thai Ly, Haran Salasan beating Jaime Yung & Lachlan Martin beating Denise Lim. Round 3 saw some normality return, with the only upset being a draw between Rad Chmiel & Milic Sucevic.
Round 4 saw two leaders emerge from the pack, with Mirko Rujevic beating Dusan Stojic, while Justin Tan beat Chris Wallis. The upsets returned though, with Anurag Sannidhanam beating Marcus Raine, John Ni beating Rad Chmiel, Cameron Yung beating Bosko Mijatovic, Vishal Bhat beating Jamie Yung & Ryan Kam beating Jamie Kenmure.
Tomorrow's first round sees Justin Tan & Mirko Rujevic battle it out for the lead, with plenty of chasers hot on their heels!
There is DGT coverage of the top board (thanks to Phillip Drew), which can be seen on the Noble Park website.
Results & pairings can be found on ChessChat.

Below are a few photos of the tournament hall with the round underway.

I also noticed an interesting piece of public art not too far from the tournament hall ...

To wrap up day 1, here is the round 3 clash between Ari Dale & Domagoj Dragicevic, which saw the momentum change a number of times, before Domagoj finally managed to find a way to break through Ari's defenses!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Melbourne Chess Club Open Round 2

Round 2 of the Melbourne Chess Club Open again showed the dominance of the top seeds in the 'back room', but the main tournament room once again provided a few upsets. Garry Lycett seems to have saved his best for the recently finished Malitis Memorial (where he finished in =2nd) & has now started with two losses against lower rated opponents, with Alex Kaplan being the one to finish him off this week. Roger McCart also managed a draw against Thai Ly, kindly offering a draw when he reached a rook & bishop v rook endgame (with no pawns left) just after 11pm, rather than making Thai suffer for another 50 moves while trying to show his defensive technique.
Once again the game of the round from the top boards is Malcolm Pyke's game, this time against Abraham Widjaja, who is playing much better than his 1128 rating would have the chess world believe! Malcolm appears to have everything under control early, with a slight edge as white. This becomes a serious edge around move 20, when he picks up the a-pawn & again appears to have everything under control in terms of stopping the kingside attack launched by Abraham. 30.f3 was the first sign that things may not have been going as smoothly as Malcolm may have hoped, but Abraham's 33...Rf8 being an inaccurate continuation (the silicon beasts preferring 33...bxc5, with various tactical defenses for black involving Nxg5 & e4). Just when it appeared as though Malcolm had weathered the storm, he played 36.Ra4, which allows the neat 36...Rh3+ (with the silicon beasts immediately jumping to a 0.00 conclusion), but unfortunately in playing the poor 36...Qh5, Abraham ran out of time!
As usual, results are on ChessChat.
It also looks as though the DGT board is up & running, so you can follow the board 1 games live on the MCC website.
Entries are also still being accepted, so if you wish to join in the tournament, enter ASAP!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Fantasy Chess Olympiad - Final summary

As now seems customary with many of my ventures into the realm of fantasy sports, the Fantasy Chess Olympiad, which had started so well for me, finished with a whimper rather than a bang.
Although the final results have yet to be published, I finished with 249 points, which should put me around 50th place, which is disappointing after starting in the top 10 in the early rounds.
My team's individual scores were as follows:

Nakamura, Hikaru 21
Bruzon Batista, Lazaro 29
Grischuk, Alexander 27
Volokytin, Andriy 22
Stellwagen, Daniel 15
Muzychuk, Anna 21
Zhao, Xue 30
Dembo, Yelena 28
Kosteniuk, Alexandra 26
Batsiashvili, Nino 22
Obviously there were some good selections (Bruzon, Grischuk, Zhao, Dembo & Kosteniuk), combined with some poor selections (Nakamura, Volokytin, Stellwagen, Muzychuk & Batsiashvili), which made for an overall reasonable team, but one that could have been much better. In particular, my board 5s were poor selections - although Stellwagen has lot of potential, he started slowly & with Giri missing the first few rounds  he was bound to sit out a number of games in the later part of the Olympiad (and in fact didn't play the last 4 rounds!). I think the key to selecting a good board 5 (essentially 'the reserve'), is to find a team that has a decent squad, but with someone who is out-of-form in the team above them. In hindsight, Aussies Max Illingworth & Biljana Dekic would have been excellent board 5 selections, although it may have been difficult to know this at the start of the tournament.
I also came up short in the best name competition, with the winner being Isolated Puns, which I thought was a bit too cheesy to be the best ... but my name also suffered from a similar cheesiness factor.
Oh well ... maybe next time!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Melbourne Chess Club Open Round 1

Round 1 of the Melbourne Chess Club Open got underway with 30 players in a very tough field, headed by IM West, FM Stojic & IM Rujevic. Ordinarily in these events the first few rounds are the 'warm up' for the higher rated players as the 'top half vs bottom half' of the Swiss draw leaves many games with rating differences of over 300 points, where the higher rated opponent is theoretically supposed to score over 85% in their games (meaning that the higher seed is supposed to score 1/1 a vast majority of the time, with each game allowing for results of 0%, 50% or 100%). Although the very top seeds were able to hold their own & keep this theoretical winning percentage in tact, there were a number of upset results in the main tournament room, with Finley Dale, Tanya Kolak & Abraham Widjaja all recording wins against higher rated opponents (rated 291, 466 & 657 points higher in each case!), while Alex Kaplan managed a draw against an opponent 329 points higher rated!
Entry is still open for the tournament, but those wishing to join the tournament for the next round need to contact me by Wednesday to be included in the round 2 pairings.
With MCC webmaster Paul Cavezza playing in the tournament, results are available on both the MCC website & ChessChat.
This week's game is Paul Cavezza's effort against Malcolm Pyke. Perhaps inspired by the recent club championship playoff match, Paul played the Barry Attack & launched a quick attack on Malcolm's king. This initially left Paul with the unusual material imbalance of a queen & pawn for a rook & two knights. Paul appeared to have Malcolm on the ropes (and various chess engines also liked Paul's position once Malcolm moved his knight back to g8) until Malcolm checked Paul's king & it went to the wrong square, winding up in a mating net, where a better king move would have left Paul with a safe king & a strong attack!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

AFL DreamTeam & SuperCoach - 2012 in Review

So DreamTeam & SuperCoach have finished for another year. This post is going to be rather long & detail what I did during the competition, as well as where I went wrong & ways to improve in 2013.

Let's start with the overall summaries:
Total Score: 46,786
Average: 2034
Overall placing: 14,116 of 290,517
Final Team Value: $11,574,000 (peak $11,702,600 after round 20)
Highest Weekly Score: 2336 (round 17)
Highest Weekly Ranking: 758 (round 17)
Lowest Weekly Score: 1509 (round 11)
Lowest Weekly Ranking: 116,458 (round 10)


Total Score: 47,393
Average: 2061
Overall placing: 58,961 of 374,120
Final Team Value: $13,153,200 (peak $13,210,900 after round 22)
Highest Weekly Score: 2393 (round 8)
Highest Weekly Ranking: 281 (round 5)
Lowest Weekly Score: 1085 (round 11)
Lowest Weekly Ranking: 240,282 (round 10)

As you can see, there were some very good weeks, but also some rather poor ones. The three biggest issues I struggled with this year were the bye rounds (as I think most people did), dealing with injuries & trading.

Bye Rounds 
I did not find a suitable solution to the bye round dilemma this year, and effectively 'threw' round 11, when a large number of my players had the bye. Although it meant that I lost most of my league games for the round, the main impact was in relation to my overall position. Although I was not particularly highly ranked prior to the bye rounds, I was improving, but the bye rounds meant I took a huge dive down the standings once again (I was around the 56,000 mark in SuperCoach prior to the byes & dropped 30,000 places during those rounds; I dealt with them better in DreamTeam, but still slipped around 11,000 places from 26,000 before the byes, although with the later bye rounds I recovered to be in the 13,000s by the end of the bye period). There was much talk pre-season about dealing with the bye rounds, but much of this was thrown out the window by the time they appeared due to a variety of factors (largely injury-related). The bye rounds made it much easier to deal with donuts (scores of 0) throughout the year, however with the byes returning in the same format next year, I need to figure out a better solution than just 'do the usual' & accept a horrible score in one round.

More players seemed to be injured this year than in seasons past ... just ask Essendon or Carlton about how it changed their seasons! The other thing that seemed to create havoc was that in many cases the diagnosed absence was often greatly over or under exaggerated! This was further compounded by a huge number of late withdrawals from teams, so that many players named in teams did not end up playing (often they were named & had no intention of playing!), which further stretched benches & emergency cover. I traded Ablett out & back into my DreamTeam side around his mid-season injury & managed on multiple occasions to trade out an injured player, only to see their replacement also get injured! In future I think I need at least a week of a player on the bench, as well as future weeks out before deciding to trade them out, unless there are other factors involved. Also players like Ablett, although somewhat 'wasted' on the bench, are valuable team members & should be kept in the team as a general rule.

This is where I think I really made some big mistakes & is something that I need to improve for 2013. I'll outline my starting teams for each competition and the trades I made during the year, along with a comment about whether I thought a trade was good or bad, and why that was the case.
Starting side:
DEF: G Birchall, B Goddard, B Deledio, M Clarke, H Shaw, B Ellis, B Lake, T Bugg, B Smedts
MID: G Ablett, S Pendlebury, J Bartel, J Magner, S Coniglio, D Shiel, J McDonald, C Smith
RUCK: D Cox, S Jacobs, J Giles, J Redden
FWD: L Franklin, N Fyfe, P Dangerfield, D Martin, D Smith, D Hale, R Nahas, A Hall, J Paine
Trades (reverse chronological order):
OUT Simpson ($371,200) IN Swan ($594,700) - Good trade - Swan is a gun & in hindsight I should have had him in the team much earlier!
OUT McDonald ($295,600) IN Clifton ($121,800) - Reasonable trade - McDonald had peaked & served his purpose from the start of the year, however Clifton may not have been the best rookie to replace him with, although he did a reasonable job as bench coverage.
OUT Shiel ($351,000) IN Hurley ($317,000) - Bad trade - Shiel had peaked, but I managed to trade in Hurley after some excellent performances,  and of course he was injured shortly after being brought into my team & did not reach the previous mid-season heights when he returned from injury.
OUT Goddard ($390,900) IN Hanley ($377,900) - Reasonable trade - with Goddard getting suspended, particularly during some ordinary performances, it was a good time to trade him out. Hanley was a good unique selection & was in the top defenders for the year, although he did have a few poor performances as soon as I brought him into my team. Having said that, the sideways trade is never a good thing if you can avoid it, and I would have preferred to have BOTH Hanley & Goddard in my team!
OUT Clarke ($287,400) IN Carrazzo ($384,400) - Good trade - Clarke had peaked & was no longer a sure started for Collingwood, while Carrazzo had returned from injury & seemed to pick up where he left off with some very good scores.
OUT Pendlebury ($502,500) IN Rockliff ($447,700) - Bad trade - Another injured premium & I traded them out. Rockliff turned out to be a horrible trade, as he was moved forward & his scoring dropped horribly. From memory Redden was a similar price & he would have been a much superior swap for Pendles (although Pendles would have also been good to keep).
OUT Smith ($282,800) IN Cloke ($333,700) - Bad trade - Although Smith had done his job & gained a decent amount from his starting price, Cloke turned out to be a horrible replacement & there were plenty of others who would have scored many more points than Travis ...
OUT Coniglio ($339,000) IN Priddis ($411,600) - Reasonable trade - Coniglio was another rookie who had more than lived up to expectations before getting injured. I planned at the start of the season for him to be one of my rookie keepers, but his injury forced the trade (although he did play well when he returned from injury late in the season). Priddis was a good replacement & put in some good scores for the team!
OUT Magner ($285,900) IN Sloane ($442,500) - Reasonable trade - Magner was another rookie who had done his thing & Sloane turned out to be a decent upgrade. The issue with Sloane was his lack of consistency - he could put up some good scores, but could also throw in the occasional 60-70ish score, which hurt.
OUT Hall ($243,200) IN Zorko ($236,300) - Reasonable trade - Hall was another who was a bit of a disappointment, as he did not hold a regular place in the Gold Coast team for much of the year. Zorko turned out to be a great replacement, but I got him too late & cost myself an extra $100k unnecessarily.
OUT Houli ($325,300) IN Shaw ($104,200) - Reasonable trade - Shaw was a serviceable rookie & although Houli was fairly consistent throughout the year, he never really had any big scores, so was not someone who I needed to keep in my team.
OUT Horsley ($308,700) IN Ablett ($556,400) - Good trade - Any time you can trade someone like ablett into your team is a good trade, although with hindsight I should have left him in my team during his injury layoff. Horsley was a good (albeit brief) addition to my team & made money quickly, which is what you want a rookie to do.
OUT Paine ($116,300) IN Darley ($104,200) - Good trade - Paine was another rookie disappointment (after looking promising in the NAB Cup) & Darley was a solid replacement.
OUT Cox ($442,800) IN Maric ($400,600) - Reasonable trade - Maric was the breakout player of the year & it would have been good to keep Cox, although he was losing some value at this time of the season. Ideally I would have started with Maric (who I had in 2010), but it was a case of better to have him in late than not at all. Of course Cox returned to his scoring of 2011 after I traded him out, something that was typical of my season!
OUT Ellis ($211,900) IN Heppell ($444,900) - Good trade - Ellis had just about peaked in price & Heppell was a good upgrade.
OUT Kennedy ($201,800) IN Adams ($125,700) - Good trade - Kennedy had peaked (perhaps meaning he wasn't the best rookie selection), but Adams turned into a good scorer & solid cover for players who were out.
OUT Bartel ($447,200) IN Horsley ($119,800) - Good trade, although perhaps it could have been done sooner. Horsley started with a bang, scoring 100+ each game with Ablett out of the side, but when Gaz returned, his scoring slowed & he became yet another rookie to gain some coin & be traded. Bartel seems to be past his best, although can make an excellent team player at times, its not so good for DT.
OUT Ablett ($592,900) IN Simpson ($489,500) - Bad trade - Ablett's injury should have meant that I just benched him for a few weeks, but Simpson had started well, but as with others throughout the season, he came into my team & his form dropped off, before finally getting his jaw broken (meaning he needed to be traded out later in the year after losing value)
OUT Smedts ($113,300) IN Beams ($469,500) - Good trade - Smedts was not living up to the pre-season hype & Beams had a breakout season & would have been great to have in the team from day 1!
OUT Hale ($338,200) IN Treloar ($104,200) - Reasonable trade - Treloar turned out to be an excellent rookie selection, however perhaps it was wrong to trade out Hale, who went on to have a good season (more so once Bailey was injured & he took on the main ruck role)
OUT Fyfe ($450,000) IN Sidebottom ($429,300) - Good trade - Brought about by injury, but happy with Sidebottom's performances throughout the year & in hindsight, probably should have started with him in the first place!
OUT Smith ($149,100) IN Ebert ($360,500) - Good trade - Ebert was in great form at Port Adelaide & Clay Smith had shown promise, but could not finish out a game consistently & struggled to remain in the Bulldogs team throughout the year.
OUT Shaw ($454,000) IN Houli ($415,300) - Reasonable trade - Heath Shaw is too inconsistent with this scoring. Houli brings consistency, although he is not going to get the 80+ scores that you would like very often, so that somewhat negates the trade.
OUT Nahas ($415,700) IN Kennedy ($104,200) - Bad trade - although Nahas was a poor initial choice, Kennedy was not the best replacement, as he seemed to have only short-term value & 'hit the wall' fairly early in the season.
Final side:
DEF: B Deledio, P Hanley, G Birchall, D Heppell, B Lake, A Carrazzo, S Shaw, T Bugg, S Darley
MID: G Ablett, D Swan, B Ebert, R Sloane, M Priddis, T Adams, T Rockliff, S Clifton
RUCK: I Maric, S Jacobs, J Giles, J Redden
FWD: D Beams, P Dangerfield, S Sidebottom, D Martin, L Franklin, D Zorko, A Treloar, T Cloke, M Hurley
Keepers from Round 1: B Delidio, G Birchall, B Lake, T Bugg, J Giles, S Jacobs, J Redden, P Dangerfield, D Martin, L Franklin, (G Ablett)
Of these, Delidio & Dangerfield were the standouts, making big improvements on their 2011 scoring.
Jacobs & Birchall were solid, although more could have been expected of them.
Giles had a great year, although frustratingly he spent much of the year on my bench (and most of the time when I started him on the field, he was outscored by the player I benched, and of course then had a huge game when he returned to the bench himself).
Bugg proved to be a handy rookie & useful bench cover or 7th defender late in the season.
Lake was a good 'bargain' pickup, although his inconsistent scoring was at times frustrating.
Redden was a handy 4th ruck, although he spent most of the season on the pine.
Martin did not live up to the preseason expectations, although his season was reasonable without being outstanding.
Franklin was frustrating, with record-breaking scores mixed with poor scores, injuries & suspensions. He was the kind of player you wanted to have in your team, but were never sure what you were going to get with him.
Ablett was his usual excellent self, although I of course traded him out & back into my team during the season. He's one of the best in the competition for a reason & almost a must-pick from the start of the season.
SuperCoach was my 'experimental' team, following on from some ideas from Impromptu, 2011 SuperCoach winner Jay To.
This experimental team was supposed to have a midfield of rookies, with a fairly stable line in the forwards & backs. Unfortunately, a variety of incidents (mostly injuries) transpired to change this!
The idea was that the higher scoring rookies tend to be midfielders (and there was a huge crop of GWS rookie midfielders to choose from) & they would go up in price quicker, meaning that I could trade them out for premiums fairly early in the year. The 'stable' forward & backlines would go along churning out decent scores from a mostly-premium line & after a slowish start, I would finish strong & have a settled team fairly early in the season ... but rarely do such plans play out exactly as planned ... and this was the story of my SuperCoach season!
Starting side:
DEF: Goddard, Houli, Delidio, H Shaw, Duffield, Heppell, Lake, Bugg, Ellis
MID: Thompson, Coniglio, McDonald, Caddy, D Smith, Shiel, Magner, Cunningham
RUCK: Cox, Mumford, Giles, Redden
FWD: Franklin, Fyfe, Dangerfield, Martin, Hale, Hall, Nahas, Smedts, Paine
Trades (Reverse chronological order):
OUT Martin ($453,000) IN O'Keefe ($565,200) - Poor trade - I decided to use my last trade late in the season & it turned out that Martin finished strongly in his final two games, while O'Keefe had a fantastic round 22, but when I decided to gamble & put the C on him in round 23 for the Grand Final, he had a shocker!
OUT Milera ($266,500) IN Gumbleton ($172,700) - Reasonable trade - Milera was a reasonable rookie selection & Gumbleton had shown some potential, although the trade could have been better as Gumbleton was not a big scorer & did not hold his place in the Essendon team late in the season.
OUT McDonald ($290,500) IN Yarran ($293,300) - Good trade - McDonald had peaked & Yarran was around his lowest price for the year & went on to score a number of 90+ scores, which is great for a player under $300k.
OUT Houli ($341,500) IN Hanley ($448,200) - Reasonable trade - As with my DreamTeam, Houli had been consistent, but was not delivering as big a scores as I had hoped. Hanley proved to be a decent option, although ultimately only slightly better than Houli over the later part of the season.
OUT Shiel ($387,600) IN Watson ($638,000) - Good trade, but done too late in the season. Watson had a fantastic year, but slowed down over the final few rounds. Would have been great to have him earlier in the season.
OUT Hartlett ($461,700) IN Gibson ($94,700) - Good trade - Gobson proved to be a great rookie choice, pulling out a number of 100+ scores!
OUT Duffield ($449,700) IN Carrazzo ($465,300) - Reasonable trade - Duffield had a mid season form slump & Carazzo was a quality replacement, although Duffield returned to the Fremantle side later in the year & played well, while the idea of the premium/sideways trade is again an issue ...
OUT Coniglio ($352,200) IN Barlow ($452,200) - Good trade - Coniglio's injury brought this on (though he was planned to be a keeper at the start of the year) & Barlow turned out to be a good option for the price.
OUT Smith ($292,500) IN Patton ($196,600) - Poor trade - Although Smith was around his peak price, Patton was overpriced & did not score anywhere like what I was hoping he would score.
OUT Zaharakis ($516,300) IN Sidebottom ($587,900) - Good trade - Sidebottom had a great season & Zaharakis' injury forced the trade. A good player choice, but once again, trading a premium for a premium is something to be avoided.
OUT Horsley ($324,600) IN Hartlett ($442,500) - Poor trade - Alhough Horsley had peaked, Hartlett turned out to be a poor replacement, going down with a serious injury after a few weeks.
OUT Paine ($127,100) IN Darley ($113,200) - Good trade - Paine had been a disappointment & Darley turned out to be good bench cover for later rounds.
OUT Redden ($171,300) IN Jenkins ($113,200) - Reasonable trade - Although Jenkins was a good pickup, the trade was somewhat wasted as he rarely saw anything other than the bench & Redden had now really gained enough to be considered a good rookie trade.
OUT Ellis ($234,200) IN Hurn ($438,800) - Good trade - Ellis was around his peak & Hurn turned out to be a good choice for the remainder of the year.
OUT Hall ($177,500) IN Adams ($136,600) - Good trade - Although Hall himself was a poor selection, Adams was a good replacement, providing good bench cover throughout the year.
OUT Magner ($280,600) IN Horsley ($128,700) - Good trade - The Magner star burned brightly, if only briefly & Horsley proved to be a useful midfielder, at least while Ablett was out injured.
OUT Cox ($548,200) IN Maric ($414,100) - Reasonable trade - Its always risky trading out someone like Dean Cox, as he has shown that he can score consistently. Maric was a more than adequate substitute & the $100k gained in the trade was useful elsewhere, although it would have been nice to have Maric from the start of the season.
OUT Smedts ($123,500) IN Zaharakis ($432,100) - Poor trade - Although Smedts turned out to be something of a disappointment, Zaharakis was a good short-term replacement, but as with many others in my side, injured himself shortly after being welcomed into my side, so with the value of hindsight, this was one trade that could have been much better.
OUT Caddy ($235,300) IN Rockliff ($577,400) - Poor trade - Caddy was underwhelming & Rockliff was turned into a key forward by Michael Voss & his fantasy scores plummeted as a result.
OUT Mumford ($610,300) IN Treloar ($113,200) - Good trade - Mumford's early season injury forced this trade & Treloar went on to have an excellent rookie season. The only drawback of this trade was that it meant that Hale had to move to the rucks permanently, which took away some of the flexibility of my team.
OUT Shaw ($516,300) IN Harvey ($547,700) - Good trade - Shaw proved to be an inconsistent scorer, while Harvey was fairly consistent & found some excellent form late in the season.
OUT Fyfe ($528,600) IN Hawkins ($414,100) - Reasonable trade - Another trade forced because of injury. Hawkins was a reasonable replacement, but his scoring was very inconsistent & not ideal in terms of what I would like from my players.
OUT Cunningham ($94,700) IN Ebert ($344,400) - Good trade - Cunningham was a poor rookie selection, who ended up playing very few games during the year for the Swans, but Ebert was a good replacement, having a great year at his new club!
OUT Nahas ($467,900) IN Milera ($124,700) - Reasonable trade - Nahas was another poor initial selection & Milera turned out to be a reasonable rookie replacement, although there were others who in hindsight could have been better selections.
Final side:
DEF: Delidio, Goddard, Hurn, Hanley, Heppell, Lake, Yarran, Bugg, Darley
MID: Watson, Thompson, Ebert, Barlow, Treloar, Carrazzo, Rockliff, Gibson
RUCK: Maric, Hale, Giles, Jenkins
FWD: Dangerfield, Sidebottom, O'Keefe, Harvey, Hawkins, Franklin, Adams, Gumbleton, Patton
Keepers from round 1: Delidio, Goddard, Heppell, Lake, Bugg, Thompson, Giles, Hale, Franklin, Dangerfield
Of those who traveled the season in my side, Dangerfield & Delidio were the clear standouts, having excellent seasons.
Thompson was reasonably consistent, without being outstanding.
Goddard & Franklin were good most of the time when they played, however injuries & suspensions made their seasons shorter than they should have been.
Lake turned out to be a decent, although inconsistent, 'bargain' pickup at the start of the season.
Giles was outstanding, but frustrating, as he was my third ruck for most of the year, so many of his big scores were lost on my bench.
Heppell was consistent without being a star.
Bugg proved to be a solid rookie selection, starting the year well & providing good coverage for injuries in the later part of the year.
Hale had an interesting year, starting slowly before breaking out when Bailey was injured. His big issue was that his scoring remained inconsistent, with the potential to score 150+ balanced by his occasional under 70 scores.

The big challenge for 2013 will be rookie selection, with no ready-made list of rookies in the form of Gold Coast & GWS to choose from. I also need to come up with a better starting side ... and hopefully end up on the right side of injuries. The experiment with the rookie midfield brought home the importance of making good trades, as I felt a number of my trades were done for the wrong reasons, and were often wasted. This was particularly an issue later in the season when I was running low on trades (as were many others in the competition). I also realised the importance of saving some trades for the final rounds, as I felt that in both competitions my team 'peaked' a few rounds before the finals & I was often stuck with injured or out-of-form players in my team during finals, meaning I often had a less-than-ideal side of the ground, or no emergency cover.

In short, it was a good season where I learnt some things, which will hopefully translate into an improved performance during 2013!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Fantasy Olympiad Update

It looks like my Fantasy Olympiad team has hit the proverbial wall, and after a strong start, where I was in the top 10 after round 5, I have now slipped to =51st place and am now 21 points behind the leader. Since round 6, my highest score has been 20 (in last night's round 9) & this has seen the slide down the table occur. My main issues seem to be with my lower Open boards, with Grischuk, Volokytin & Stellwagen losing or sitting out a number of games in recent rounds. Batsiashvili's drawing or non-playing on my Women's board 5 also has not helped. There are a few other entries from Australia & it looks like I'm leading that group, but slipping from the top 10 overall is not exactly coming home with a wet sail! 
As something of a consolation, I'm in the Best Team Name competition, with my entry FA Chance of Winning (yes, perhaps a poor chess pun, but I'm hoping to have my FA title approved during the Congress, so there is SOME logic - if you can call it that - to the name). The winner of the Best Name poll wins a fancy chess set, so feel free to go & vote & get my off the bottom end of the standings. My personal favourite out of the ten names, is e2, Brute ... but they don't get my vote on principle! 

So what are you waiting for?? Go & VOTE!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Olympiad Update ... Reality & Fantasy ...

So the chess Olympiad has finally started in Turkey.
Australia have had a reasonable start to the event, with the Open team performing slightly above their seeding, while the Women's team are slightly below their seeding.
The brief summary of their results so far is as follows:

Round 1: 3-1 win against Namibia
Round 2: 2-2 draw with Norway
Round 3: 1.5-2.5 loss against Mongolia
Round 4: 2.5-1.5 win against Pakistan
Round 5: 2.5-1.5 win against Zambia
Although the matches have been close, the main score is the match score (ie: overall win or loss), with the game points only being used for countback purposes, so Australia are well positioned with a 3-1-1 record.
Individually, results are as follows:
David Smerdon 2.5/4
Moulthun Ly 2.5/4
Aleks Wohl 0.5/3
Stephen Solomon 2.5/4
Max Illingworth  3.5/5

Round 1: 4-0 win against Malta
Round 2: 0.5-3.5 loss against India
Round 3: 1.5-2.5 loss against Macedonia (AKA: FYROM)
Round 4: 3.5-0.5 win against Nicaragua
Round 5: 0-4 loss against Romania
The matches have for the most part been far more one-sided, as Australia seems to be doing the Swiss yo-yo, although the loss to Macedonia would be a little disappointing.
Individually, results are as follows:
Arianne Caoili 2/4
Emma Guo 1.5/4
Sally Yu 1/4
Giang Nguyen 2/4
Biljana Dekic 3/4

After today's round there is a rest day, so hopefully the team can recuperate from the illnesses they are suffering, at least according to David Smerdon's blog, and finish off strongly!

The Fantasy Chess Olympiad, on the other hand, has started off fantastically for me! After round 4, I am sitting in =10th place (out of 235 entries) with 106 points (see my previous post for the explanation of the scoring).
Some things have turned out (somewhat fortuitously in a way) in my favour so far:
Alexander Grischuk is not only scoring well, but he's actually playing on board 2 of the Russian team (so I actually have two board 2 players, rather than a board 2 & 3);
Andrei Volokitin is also crushing his opponents (starting with 4/4) and is in fact playing board 3 for the Ukraine team, not the board 4 that I have him selected as;
Anish Giri (not in my team) has had some passport/visa related issues, so has only just arrived in Turkey for the Olympiad, playing his first game in round 5, which has meant that Daniel Stellwagen has played all four rounds (and even played round 5), in spite of some early poor form;
Yelena Dembo is another in my team who is not playing on the initially allocated board, playing board 1 for Greece, rather than the board 3 as selected;
Overall (up to the end of round 4), there have only been 3 DNPs in my team, as well as only 2 individual losses, which is fantastic for accumulating points (which is what the competition is about).

The competition organisers have also started a 'Week 2' competition, where you can select another fantasy team in the same way as the main competition, but you can select the team with some form on the board, and hopefully come up with a better team overall.