Friday, November 30, 2007

2007 Board One All Stars

Greg Shahade and myself were the two judges who determined the players on the All Star Teams, with this season there being three All Star team members for each board rather than two like last year. Note that this process didn't work in exactly the same type of voting style as the Game of the Week selections, with both of us merely making our teams independently and then comparing our selections along with the reasons for them, and we then conferred to determine the final choices.

There is also a small bonus awarded to each All Star team member with those on the 1st team receiving $200, those on the 2nd team receiving $100, and those on the 3rd team getting $50. These are the criteria we used to determine the selections, in no particular order (also keep in mind that unlike the League MVP Award, the All Star Team considerations do include a player's playoff performance):

1. Win Percentage
2. Total Number of Games (with a five game minimum to be eligible)
3. Performance Rating
4. Rating; if a player is lower rated and does well, this leaves extra rating points for the team to use on the other boards and could be very important to a team's success.
5. Clutch Factor: Did this player come through in crucial situations?
6. Replacability Factor; do we think that the player's team would have greatly suffered if that player wasn't on the team?
7. Did the candidate take a draw for the team when they were likely to win? Did they lose a game they could have easily drawn because the team situation dictated it?
8. Head to Head results versus other candidates
9. Total Number of Blacks
10. Luck factor; did you win because you generally played well or because your opponent made some colossal blunders/oversights?


1st Team: GM Julio Becerra (MIA). This spot had to go to the 2006 and 2007 League MVP, Julio Becerra. Julio single handedly kept Miami in the running, and his fine play gave them a very improbable playoff berth. Julio was in some danger of losing this top spot after a lackluster postseason performance (one draw and one loss), however his competition didn’t perform quite well enough to strip him of this honor. He also played some very impressive games, with two definite Game of the Week caliber games against GM Alex Stripunsky and against IM Ron Burnett.

Record: 7 / 10 (70%)

Performance Rating: 2738

2nd Team: GM Joel Benjamin (NJ). It was a tight decision between the 2nd and 3rd All Star spots, but in the end it went to Joel, due to his impressive +3 performance and his penchant for winning when his team needed him most. Joel played a very tough schedule of opponents and maintained a performance rating above 2700. One of the main reasons he received this award was due to his clutch victories in Weeks 9 + 10 against GM Pawel Blehm and versus GM Pascal Charbonneau. While New Jersey just barely missed out on the playoffs, Joel surely did all that he could to make it happen and without his fine play it seemed very unlikely that New Jersey would have even been a factor.

Record: 6 / 9 (67%)

Performance Rating: 2734

3rd Team: GM Larry Christiansen (BOS). With a few playoff heroics, Larry had the chance to jump up to the 1st or 2nd team. However, he was only able to draw both his Semifinal and Final games and then came up short in the final tiebreak game against IM Boskovic (A win there, and he would have probably been on the 2nd Team while a win in the regulation match may well have been enough to propel him to the 1st Team). Larry faced a staggeringly tough field in 2007 with his opponents being: GM Hikaru Nakamura (twice), GM Joel Benjamin,
GM Pawel Blehm, GM Ildar Ibragimov, GM Sergey Kudrin, GM Gregory Serper, GM Alex Stripunsky, GM Patrick Wolff, and finally his first IM in the final match, IM Drasko Boskovic. This is the type of field that one would have expected to face in the US Championship back when it was closed to twelve players. Larry has to be given a ton of credit for going through the entire field without losing a single game and winning against two of them (Ibragimov and Wolff). His Game of the Week performance against GM Wolff was especially impressive.

Record: 6 / 10 (60%)

Performance Rating: 2719

Other Candidates: The two most notable omissions from the Board 1 All Star Team were
GM Sergey Kudrin (PHI) (6 / 10) and GM Gregory Serper (SEA) (5.5 / 9) . Both of these players had performance ratings of around 2675 along with similar records to Christiansen. While they obviously played well in 2007, the judges felt that the resume of the three above players was simply a bit better. Kudrin was hurt by only drawing his first round game to the much lower rated Marc Esserman, who was a late replacement for IM Blas Lugo, while Serper played in the West, where the competition on the top board was not quite as stiff. The simple fact was that Christiansen played a much tougher schedule overall than either of them (as evidenced by his much higher performance rating despite a nearly identical record). If either of these players had scored a half point more though, they likely would have made at least the 3rd team.

Stay tuned as in the next few days we will be announcing the All Stars for the other three boards!

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