Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 Board Four 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:
NM Eric Rodriguez (MIA)

Unlike for the other three boards, the choice for the top All Star on this board was essentially as close as it could be rather than extremely clear as Rodriguez and Norowitz ran neck to neck for this award for much of the season. Having virtually the same record, virtually the same league rating, and both having won several very critical games for their team, it obviously was a very close decision. Statistically this seemed to favor Rodriguez, his performance rating being almost fifty points higher along with having drawn in their head to head game with Black in the Championship. However, the fact that Norowitz defeated him in the Blitz Tiebreaker was a tough thing to properly weigh against the previous fact. In the end, we just did not feel a single blitz game should outweigh the much higher performance rating, and Rodriguez took the top spot. Naturally though it was extremely close and would have gone the other way with a half point difference anywhere.

In all, it was another great season for Rodriguez, definitely being amongst the best performers in the League in his three seasons. While most tend to attribute Miami's success to their five time All Star, GM Becerra, if any factor could be pointed to in explaining Miami's recent success, having made it to the Semifinals in 2007 and 2008 and the Championship in 2009, Rodriguez would definitely have to be considered a foremost reason as to why. His strong 2009 season included a big win on Board Three against
FM Keaton Kiewra and a very important win over fellow All Star NM Yian Liou in the Semifinals, with his only loss in twelve games coming at the hands of the formidable top Board Three All Star, IM Angelo Young.

While he, like All Star teammate GM Becerra, has to be disappointed that his team fell short of the ultimate goal by the smallest of margins, having him and Becerra on the team has unequivocally made the Sharks one of the most successful teams in the League in the past few years, and it seems to just be a matter of time until that success brings about a League Championship for Miami.

Record: 8.5 / 12 (71%)

Performance Rating: 2406


2nd Team:
SM Yaacov Norowitz (NY)

As mentioned, it was a very close decision as to whether Rodriguez or Norowitz should receive the top spot on this board, and unfortunately for Norowitz this tough choice wound up going against him.

Despite that decision going against him, no one can dispute how important Norowitz was towards New York becoming League Champions, going undefeated in eleven games while having some very important results, managing to hold off the dangerous 2008 All Star,
NM Ilya Krasik, with Black in the Quarterfinals while being the only member of his team to win, against Sean Finn, in a very tough Semifinals match. New York, while always being a strong team which has made the Playoffs every year, had not managed to make it over the final hurdles to win the Championship, and if one was to ask who helped bring them over those obstacles this year, it would be tough to not claim that Norowitz was the main key.

Having been supremely helpful to New York's first Championship, it's probable that Norowitz will be back to help them try to pull off a repeat in 2010. But now that he sports a much higher rating than this season, the Knights will likely have to find a somewhat different use for him then.

Record: 8.0 / 11 (73%)

Performance Rating: 2358


3rd Team:
NM Yian Liou (SF)

Liou was another player who ran neck to neck with Rodriguez and Norowitz for much of the season to try to achieve top All Star Honors on Board Four. Though the other two ended up pulling away from him in the latest part of the season, he still easily managed to make onto the third team. Having the lowest league rating amongst the Board Four regulars yet still scoring plus three in a large number of games is an obvious indication of how vital he was to his team's success. His great season included wins over
IM Mehmed Pasalic and against 2008 top All Star, WFM Bayaraa Zorigt.

While the last match of the season ended in a disappointing result for himself and his team, being in the position of essentially being the Mechanics' only possible Board Four, a very heavy burden, yet performing so strongly despite this incredible pressure is a clear indication as to why he is such a worthy All Star. Like his fellow Board Four All Stars, it seems very likely his team will definitely want him back for the 2010 season, but just as for the others, now having a much higher rating, he will likely have to play a slightly different role in the Mechanics' next season.

Record: 6.5 / 10 (65%)

Performance Rating: 2360


Other Candidates: Board Four had several other very solid candidates who had good seasons but did not quite make it. Both
NM Ilya Krasik (BOS) (4.0 / 6, 2409 Performance) and NM Joshua Sinanan (5.0 / 8, 2249 Performance) were potential choices who both scored plus two, Krasik having a terrific performance rating, and Sinanan having lost a game that he likely would have drawn if not for the team situation. Both would have made fine choices for the third team, but Liou simply seemed to be a better candidate, having played more games and having a much lower league rating than both. Another solid plus two performance was turned in by another player who also had a very low league rating, NM David Adelberg (ARZ) (4.0 / 6, 2303 Performance), but just like the others, his resume wasn't quite as good as Liou's.


And so those are the All Star Teams! To recap, they are (using August 2009 USCF Ratings):

First Team:

1. GM Hikaru Nakamura (SEA) (2759)
2. GM Boris Gulko (NJ) (2609)
3. IM Angelo Young (CHC) (2325)
4. NM Eric Rodriguez (MIA) (2290)

Average Rating: 2496

Second Team:

1. GM Julio Becerra (MIA) (2615)
2. IM Dean Ippolito (NJ) (2535)
3. FM Andrei Zaremba (QNS) (2398)
4. SM Yaacov Norowitz (NY) (2354)

Average Rating: 2476

Third Team:

1. GM Alex Stripunsky (QNS) (2628)
2. GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) (2565)
3. IM Marc Esserman (BOS) (2461)
4. NM Yian Liou (SF) (2149)

Average Rating: 2451

Thanks and congratulations as always to everyone who made the All Star Team, as their great games and performances were really key to making the 2009 USCL Season so exciting for everyone involved. We will also be announcing the Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player Awards shortly.

The main other attraction left is the Game of the Year Contest which will work in very similar fashion to last season. Again the contest will have twenty games: the thirteen Games of the Week along with seven Wildcards (which the GOTW Judges have already picked) and will begin in early January. The seven "Wildcard Games" which will also be a part of the contest will start to be announced within the next few days so be sure to key tabs on the USCL site so you know which other games have a chance at being the 2009 USCL Game of the Year and taking the $500 prize that goes with it. The judging panel for this year will also be quite different than last year so keep an eye out for that as well!

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