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Interview with Andrea Zani (ATC 2011)

20 December 2011, 08:48
2 059

Interview on Automated Trading Championship 2011 from 20.12.2011.

On the eleventh week of the Automated Trading Championship, Andrea Zani (sbraer) got featured very close to the top five of the competition. It is on the sixth place with about 47,000 USD now. Andrea's Expert Advisor AZXY has made only one losing deal, which was at the very beginning of the Championship. Since then, its equity curve has been steadily growing.

Please tell us about yourself, your occupation and how you've come to Forex.

I'm from Italy, and I work as a software developer in an international company, which deals with investments of funds into securities and other financial instruments. I've been developing various software since 1996, I usually develop using Microsoft platforms and languages like C# and others. I am also interested in other areas like Linux, opensource, and web application in general.

When did you decide to try Forex trading? Did you start right with MetaTrader 5 or had you used MetaTrader 4 before?

Maybe I am the only participant of this Championship (or one of the few), who began directly with MetaTrader 5 and MQL5. I got interested in the platform only a year ago. A friend of mine, David (brainkiller) introduced the forex world to me some months ago. Since then, I began using MetaTrader 5 and developing my own Expert Advisors. I started with the simplest ones moving on to more complex EA trying to get a profit from the market.

And this is the first year I participate in the Automated Trading Championship.

Andrea Zani (sbraer)

What do you think about MQL5? Is it powerful enough? Does it have all the features you need?

I like MQL5. I have experience with C++ and other object-oriented languages, so didn't have any problem learning MQL5. MQL5 is good enough but I would like to have more advanced tools to debug my EA, more reports about the backtesting and eventually a plugin system that would allow to extend MetaTrader 5 so I could analyze backtest results and group, sort, or chart them the way I want.

And I'm waiting that many forex brokers around the world will adopt MQL5!

Did you succeed developing a profitable Expert Advisor? Was the EA that participates in the Championship made especially for this event or do you use it in real trading?

No I don't use it in real trading, it was written specifically for participating in the ATC 2011.

It's not easy to write a profitable EA. In this case, with a lot of work and a bit of luck, I got, until now, this good ranking result. And I'm very happy about this result. This year I have tested real trading with MetaTrader. I used a program that I wrote myself - it sent messages to my messenger account for selling or buying. And then I performed the appropriate operations manually on my broker account.

Now let's talk a little about your championship EA. Its name is AZXY. What does it mean? It sounds like a coordinate system.

Yes, AZ are initials of my name, and XY are the system of coordinates, because the basic idea for this EA is to decide the order type studying the coordinate for the maximum and minimum prices of the previous days. My EA is very simple: one day, one order.

The last version of the Expert Advisor uses the min/max for the previous day and a special pattern to decide whether to open a buy or a sell order. There is another pattern in its code, which can have more weight in detecting the trend direction for the next day.

Your strategy is close to scalping. Profit is normally $200-500, and positions are usually held no longer than 40 minutes. Is this the reason why you chose EURUSD, which is a highly volatile instrument?

My EA opens a position with the maximum possible lots and locks in profit with little pips' difference (6-10 pips, set as a parameter). It does not use "timeout" to close positions: it waits for a preset profit. It's not a trend follower: when it locks in profit, it closes a position and waits for the next day to place a new order. The EA can wait all the day long for profit; if there is no profit at 10PM, it closes the open position automatically. Also for this reason, there the EA does not use Stop Loss levels.

From the trading history of your EA we can see that it uses unusual ways to enter the market. For example, two orders 2.5 lots each. Why doesn't it place one 5-lot order?

When the period of preliminary testing in the Automated Trading Championship 2011 started, I found out that my Expert Advisor had some problems with big lots (more than three). For this reason I had to change my code to split large orders into smaller ones. However, when my EA closes the position, it sends a larger close order trying to close the entire position.

It's an interesting approach. You've mentioned that you do not use Stop Loss. Do you use any risk protection? With one losing trade at the beginning of the Championship you lost half of your deposit.

Yes, this happened on the third day of the competition. The position exceeded the limit by only 4 pips and it was automatically closed by Stop Out (paragraph IV, 7 of the Rules). After this operation, trend of EURUSD turned the opposite. So if not for this rule, my EA would be closed with a profit.

What do you think about multicurrency trading? Does your Expert Advisor analyze any other symbols?

No, my EA uses only one pair for trading. I think that the multicurrency EAs will have great future but at the moment I see only the multicurrency Expert Advisor by yyy999 which is really profitable. As for me, I have not decided yet whether to try multicurrency trading or not.

Can you tell us more details about the daily cycles, if it's not a secret, of course? How does your Expert Advisor decide whether to enter the market or not?

It's not a secret. As I have already said, my EA uses a pattern to choose whether to enter sell or buy. It compares the past days with the previous year pattern, and then makes its decision. Well, the entire code of the EA is less than 500 lines.

Some Championship visitors write comments in your profile saying they want to buy your EA. Are you going to sell it? Will you use the new Market service at

I'm thinking about the possibility to sell it. If I decide to sell it I think I will use your Market service.

Do you think your Expert Advisor still has a chance to be among the winners of the Automated Trading Championship 2011?

No! The top three positions are unreachable for my EA. I hope at the end of this ATC it stays in the top 10. There are only 5 days left. It would be bad to have another 50% loss now.

Do you have any favorite Expert Advisor in this Championship (in addition to yours, of course)?

I really like the Expert Advisors of Pirat and GradyLee. The latter one hasn't had a single loss trade as of now.

Are you going to participate in the next year ATC?

Yes, and I have some ideas for a new Expert Advisor.

Thank you for the interview. Good luck!

Translated from Russian by MetaQuotes Software Corp.
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