Sunday, 26 August 2012

Chess Olympiad ... Fantasy team

With the Chess Olympiad about to start in Turkey, I noticed a post from Shaun Press about the Fantasy Chess Olympiad. Of course I felt obligated to create myself a team. The rules are fairly simple - pick two teams of 5 players (one Open team & one Women's team), with the proviso that you can only select one player from each country in each team. This means that you can't simply pick the Russian open team & the Chinese women's team & need to be somewhat selective about who you choose.
The scoring is also a little different to what you might initially expect, with points awarded as follows:

1 point for a losing appearance
2 points for a draw
3 points for a win with the White pieces
4 points for a win with the Black pieces
This places something of a priority on players who tend to win (and play) more games, rather than those that might score better overall or avoid losing (but take many draws). 

There are also 'bonus points' available (5 for 1st; 2 for 2nd or 3rd) for the following overall Olympiad results: 
Winning team in the Open section
Winning team in the Women’s section
Overall individual winner of the Open section (defined as the player with the highest rating performance)
Overall individual winner of the Women’s section

I've gone for a fairly straightforward method with the above in mind - basically looking for players who are among the top rated for their board, but who may not have so many other players from their team so relatively highly rated. The other option is to select one of the top players for their board. Although I could go for something more detailed like trying to find teams that are likely to finish mid-field, but have 'standout' players on some boards, I've gone for the fantasy equivalent of a 'vanilla' team.

My selections are as follows:

Open B1 USA         Nakamura, Hikaru 2778
Open B2 CUB Bruzon Batista, Lazaro 2711
Open B3 RUS         Grischuk, Alexander 2763
Open B4 UKR Volokytin, Andriy 2704
Open B5 NED Stellwagen, Daniel 2630
Women B1 SLO         Muzychuk, Anna 2606
Women B2 CHN Zhao, Xue 2549
Women B3 GRE         Dembo, Yelena 2457
Women B4 RUS         Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2472
Women B5 GEO Batsiashvili, Nino 2436

Winning team: Open Russia
Winning team: Women China
Winning individual: Open Lev Aronian
Winning individual: Women Yifan Hou

I like my selections on boards 1-4 of both teams, but am not sure about my board 5 picks (and think that is the best opportunity for the mid-field team player with a standout player mentioned above). I think Muzychuk & Dembo stand out as players who are highly rated for their board when their team is not so highly ranked (the idea being that they will be playing relatively low rated players because of their team ranking & therefore are more likely to win games), while Zhao & Kosteniuk seem like reasonable selections from the top teams. In the open team, Grischuk & Volokytin fit into the 'top team' selection, while Bruzon seems to be ranked highly for board 2, but the Cuban team overall is not quite as highly ranked. I've gone for Nakamura on board 1 as he seems to be the type of player to play for wins in almost all his games, and particularly with black, which could potentially pay off given the scoring system used. Although I was tempted by a few players from Armenia & China, I just couldn't find a place for them in my team. 

I'll see how 'my team' performs in Turkey ... although I obviously hope that the Aussies do really well too! 

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