Monday, December 3, 2007

2007 Board Three All Stars

If you are wondering what criteria was used to determine these All Stars, please refer to the first post on the subject.

1st Team: IM Jacek Stopa (DAL). This was the most competitive board from top to bottom as there were three very reasonable choices to take the top spot. In the end, due in large part to his USCL Final heroics, the nod was given to Jacek. Jacek scored 4.5 / 6 without a single loss during the season and finished with a 2555 performance rating, by far the highest of any active third board. While he didn’t play as many games as his All Star competitors, his performance in the blitz tiebreaker of the Finals carried him over the edge. In the tiebreak match, Stopa knocked out three of Boston’s four players (albeit with the first two of those knockouts occurring in fairly ridiculous fashion), leaving a much easier task for Dallas’s top two boards, which was undoubtedly huge in giving them the title. Due to Jacek’s high performance rating and tiebreak performance, it seemed that he was the most deserving of the top spot despite the relatively low number of games he played. In the end it must be admitted that this decision was extremely close though as if he had lost the third tiebreak game or failed to win either of the first two, this spot would have perhaps gone to someone else.

Record: 4.5 / 6 (75%)

Performance Rating: 2555

2nd Team: NM Denys Shmelov (BOS). Denys had an incredible season for the Boston Blitz, scoring 7 / 11 with a performance rating of 2471. Some would probably even say that he deserved to be on the first team due to the fact that he played 11 of 12 matches and was really the rock of the Boston team. It was close enough that if Shmelov had even drawn his tiebreak game against Stopa, he probably would have been on the first team. However, it was hard to put him ahead of a player who was really the main instrument at the end in winning his team the USCL title. Denys lost only one game the entire season, and that was in the Semifinal after Boston had already clinched the match (a game which he almost certainly would not have lost had he needed to draw for his team). While the value of this loss wasn’t as important as it normally was due to this factor, it should also be noted that Shmelov was the recipient of a win due to a mouseslip in Week 2. While he very well may have drawn that game, there was little chance that he would have won had the game progressed normally and due to the close nature of the decision, this also factored against him.

In all, Denys had a truly fantastic season for the Blitz. Denys’s low incoming rating was a huge boost to Boston as they would have been unable to stack the top two boards without having him to hold down Board 3, and there is almost no chance that the Blitz would have had the success that they did without him. He definitely goes down as one of the most valuable Board 3’s in the first three seasons of the league, but now that he sports a rating of around 2400, the Blitz will likely have to find a slightly different use for him in 2008.

Record: 7 / 11 (64%)

Performance Rating: 2471

3rd Team: IM Jay Bonin (NY). As time goes by, Jay only seems to get stronger. After a subpar 2006 campaign, Jay came storming back in 2007 with a +3 record and some crucial wins for the Knights. Jay defeated NM Mackenzie Molner in the final week of the regular season, a win which was instrumental in giving the Knights a playoff berth, and he followed that up with a big win in the Wildcard Round over 2006 All Star, IM Richard Costigan. His game against Molner was so impressive that it won Game of the Week Honors.

In case you are wondering why Jay finished in third place (and not higher), let’s quickly examine the reasons. Jay had an advantage over Shmelov in that he won his final three games, two of which were in the playoffs, while Shmelov sputtered a bit during the postseason (one loss, one draw). Jay also had a higher performance rating than Shmelov as well as a higher win percentage. Despite all of this, Shmelov made the 2nd team ahead of Jay for one because of his consistency level during the season and because Jay’s Semifinal win against Shmelov was a bit tainted (as mentioned above). So while Jay won the game on paper, in reality the result had no effect on the match, and Shmelov held a 1.5 / 2 advantage in their other head to head games. Shmelov's league rating was also close to 100 points lower than Jay's, and he was really invaluable to his team in terms of the lineup flexibility that he allowed them while Jay didn't seem to hold quite that same importance as New York definitely had some very strong lineups using IM Robert Hess or FM Marc Arnold on Board 3 also. Those factors along with the fact that Shmelov played eleven games compared to Bonin's eight compelled us to give Shmelov the second spot. In any case though, just as between the 1st and 2nd Team, this was a very close decision where a half point difference anywhere likely would have switched the decision.

Record: 5.5 / 8 (69%)

Performance Rating: 2506

Other Candidates: IM John Donaldson (SF) (3.5 / 5) was the closest to making the team, however there was little debate about who should comprise the top three, the only real question to the judges seemed to be what the order should be. John had a very fine record including a game that he almost surely could have won in Week 9, but he instead took a draw for the team. One of the main problems was that he didn't seem to play in the most important matches of the season for his team, and when a player doesn't play in the most high pressure matches, it’s hard to truly classify them as an All Star. The fact that he played only five games counted against him as well.

FM Oleg Zaikov (CAR) (5.5 / 9) also had a very good season, but his resume just wasn't quite as impressive as the three All Stars. A lot of credit should also go out to NM Parker Zhao (QNS) (3 / 5), who played quite well on Board 3 despite being severely outrated in nearly all of his games.

Stay tuned as we will be announcing the All Stars for Board 4 in the next day or two!

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