Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2009 Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player

As usual each of these awards includes a $100 bonus to the winner.


Rookie of the Year:

SM Yaacov Norowitz (NY)

Although Norowitz was tightly edged out for top Board Four Honors, there was no rookie who could match him, and he easily took down this award. As mentioned there, his eleven game undefeated season with so many important wins for the team was obviously very crux to New York's Championship run and made him very deserving of this award. Just as for his predecessors for this award (SM Sammour-Hasbun and GM Lenderman), it should be very interesting to see if Norowitz can continue on this ridiculous pace next season, especially since, with his current rating, he's unlikely to be able to play Board Four in 2010.

Although no rookie could really match Norowitz's great season, there were nevertheless several other rookies who did have great performances which might, under other circumstances, have been worthy for this award. The most notable was
NM Yian Liou (SF) who scored plus three despite having one of the lowest league ratings, but just as for Board Four All Star Honors, Norowitz's resume was simply a bit better. As also noted in the Board Four article, NM David Adelberg (ARZ) was another very impressive rookie who scored plus two despite also having one of the lowest league ratings, but as noted there, his stats were not quite as good as Norowitz or Liou.


Most Improved Player: Note that for this season and future seasons, unlike earlier years, this award will take into account all of a player's previous USCL results when determining the winner, though the main emphasis will be on the player's previous season.

IM Bryan Smith (PHI)

Although Smith wound up missing out on All Star honors by the narrowest of margins, there was no one who could match him for this award, and he easily was the winner. Coming into the season with a 32% score and a 2338 Performance Rating in previous years, he really completely turned things around in 2009, scoring 64% percent with a 2616 Performance Rating. This powerful season included two very strong wins with Black against
IM Eli Vovsha and near All Star GM Giorgi Kacheishvili, both of which finished highly in the Game of the Week voting. While Philadelphia as a team had a disappointing year, if Smith can perform like this again next year, with him and Lenderman leading the Inventors, 2010 might be an entirely different season for them.

As mentioned, no player really was especially close to overtaking Smith for this award though there were some players who had notable improvements. For one,
IM Alejandro Moreno Roman (MIA) who came into the season with a 29% score and a 2206 Performance Rating which he drastically improved to a 50% score with a 2337 Performance Rating, winning two very important playoff games for the Sharks along with three tiebreaker games in the Championship. Statistically, his improvement was not nearly as high as Smith's though which was why Smith was the clear choice for the award, even though Moreno Roman's wins were generally more important. However, with a victory in the Championship, he might have still managed to overtake him for the prize. A few other players who did much better than previous years were IM Blas Lugo (MIA), FM John Bick (TEN), and NM Joshua Sinanan (SEA), all of whom had plus scores while being below 50% in their previous USCL play, in particular doing much better than their most recent season. However, despite their good seasons, none of them really improved nearly as drastically as Smith, making the choice for this award quite easy.


So with that, the individual player awards are complete! Congrats to everyone, and once again be sure to key an eye on the USCL site to keep tabs on the Game of the Year Contest which will be starting soon!

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