WBC 2004 Sportsmanship Award [Updated 010905]

The third leg in the BPA Triple Crown is its Sportsmanship Award. Coupled with the Caesar Award for prowess on the gameboard and our GM of the Year Award which honors those who sacrifice their time to make WBC the memorable event that it is, the Sportsmanship winner completes our virtual Hall of Fame by reminding us that there is no fun to be had with these games without an affable and enjoyable opponent with which to cross vicarious swords.

The 2004 winner is deserving on many levels. Sure, he is a good sport as those who frequent our railroad tournaments will attest, but his contributions to WBC extend far beyond his Empire Builder exploits ilisted below which generated his nomination. Steve Okonski is also BPA's volunteer webmaster whose tireless efforts keep this site up and running. He also works behind the scenes to assist with organization of the convention by adding his technology skills to generate the WBC Personal Schedule, signs and forms. Between tournaments he roams the hotel providing hundreds of candid WBC photos. Most of the candid pictures that grace this site are Steve's handiwork. And all of this without a cent in recompense.

Finishing in a fitting tie for runner-up were a pair of gaming buddies and perennial good sports nominees, Jeff Paull and Andy Maly, who are frequently seen sporting moose antlers on Tuesday night and honchoing 100+ Settlers on Saturday morning. Rounding out the top six were Jamie Tang, Ron Wuerth and Mark Yoshikawa.

Doubtless there are many more good sports at WBC than those we can acknowledge here. But since we do not want to duplicate the cavalry charge of a California Gubernatorial recall election with a thousand candidates, we limit the nominees to those endorsed by WBC GMs for outstanding sportsmanship and further reduce their number by selecting only the most fervent endorsements. These are supplemented occasionally by the Board of Directors and/or Convention Director for meritorious service.

Note: In the past, nominations have been accepted for individuals who conceded a victory to allow a beaten opponent to continue in an event in their place. This practice will no longer be accepted for a sportsmanship nomination. Furthermore, BPA highly discourages such sacrifices as being counter to the spirit of the competitions. While a player who allows another to play on in "his" place may well have good intentions, doing so is contrary to the purpose of a tournament. A player who concedes a won game is circumventing the rules of the event by dispensing byes in a non-random, unearned manner and is actually committing an unsportsmanlike act in the eyes of many. Such a kindness bestowed upon one player is actually grossly unfair to all the other participants of the event who had to win their right to advance and tarnishes the event as a true test of skill.

While lots of people get caught up in the quest for "wood," the folks listed below subscribe to a higher standard. These are the sportsmen and women of the WBC ... the shining example of sportsmanship that we should all aspire to. These folks are the ones that make it all bearable for our GMs and contribute most to the "club" atmosphere of the convention. Their shining example contributes to the remarkable esprit de corps and camaraderie for which the WBC has always been noted.

So without any further ado, let's present the class of 2004 - and a classy group it is too. The following individuals were just some of the many nominated for the reasons indicated below and owe their appearance here to both their own demeanor and the fervancy of their sponsors in relating it to BPA. As is our practice, all 2005 BPA members are urged to vote for one of the following when submitting their 2005 membership form and voting for new Century games before January 1, 2005. Reward a good sport with our biggest prize ... free lodging at the next WBC.

2004 Nominees:

Anzio: Mark Bayliss has been out of the hobby for a decade waging a successful battle against cancer. His first visit to WBC left a lasting impression on his opponents who couldn't help but notice his good cheer, outstanding sportsmanship, and high level of play. He took on anyone when opponents were needed (seven in all) and displayed a keen enthusiasm for the game, both learning from experienced players as well as giving less experienced players the benefit of his advice.

ASL Starter Kit: Andrew Maly - simply for being Andrew. Those who have gamed with Andy need no more explanation. The embodiment of good sportsmanship.

Auction: Jeff Mullet had to toss a great opening hand when another player made a mistake requiring a re-deal. Jeff took it with a smile and did not even mention it in the designated Whining Phase.

B-17: Mark Yoshikawa was very gracious in accepting an early fate that sent his entire crew to the POW camps. That didn't dampen his enthusiasm for the game. He stuck around and aided several players in his squadron complete their mision. He also donated several nice books to the B-17 consolation prize table.

Down In Flames: Ron Wuerth remained upbeat despite being randomly paired with three slower players in the preliminary rounds. He allowed each opponent extra time without complaint to finish their turns. A lesser player might have withdrawn after one such experience, but Ron persevered in good spirits and made his GM's job far less stressful than it might have been.

Elchfest: Jeff Paull provided additional prizes for the event and showed many new players the fine points of moose flickin'

Empire Builder: Steve Okonski had enough cash for the win at his table but pointed out to his opponents that he had not won because the lack of a flooded bridge meant that he was not connected to all his cities. Steve, of course, also contributes mightily every year with much volunteer time with photos and webmaster duties on the BPA website.

Europe Engulfed: Eventual champion Barry Eynon was ever cheerful and helpful to less experienced players, helping them to the point where it endangered his own chances. Opponent's mistakes were readily retracted rather than pounced on ... the virtual opposite of the "win at all costs" stereotype we hear all too much about.

Gangsters: Tim Evinger has been a nominee for the Gangsters "Cement Overshoes" sportsmanship award four years running. He helps new players learn the game and his opponents invariably come back to play again.

Kremlin: Charles Davis briefed a fellow finalist who had made it to the final on some advanced tactics to watch out for.

Liberty: John Teixera dropped out to keep the brackets even and prevent a bye when the number of players advancing became odd.

Lost Cities: Kevin Broh-Kahn, at the ripe old age of 12, showed his elders what chivalry is all about. Dealt an almost perfect hand, he refused to play the hand and called for a redeal. Good karma was on his side as he still crushed his opponent on the redeal.

March Madness: Bruno Passacantando's team was upset by a lower seed. Only after the next round was underway, was it discovered that the game had been scored incorrectly - using the wrong defensive chart. Bruno took the loss in stride rather than contesting the result and hindering the progress of the event.

Medieval: John Coussis displayed WBC's patented friendliness throughout and often taught less experienced players, foregoing advantageous positions to teach the game.

Mexica: Lee Presser coached a new player to victory - leading to his own defeat.

Monsters Ravage America: Jeff Paull gave up his seat in the last heat and with it his last chance to play his team game to allow a late arrival a chance to play.

Panzerblitz: Matt Spitznagel coached a new player into a draw by allowing him to retake a bad move, thus costing him a chance to advance. A teenager, Matt shows maturity far beyond his tender years.

Puerto Rico: Phil Rennert was one of only two players who had qualified for a bye through the Quarter-Finals to the Semis with three Preliminary wins. The bye would have earned him choice-of-seat advantage in the Semis. He declined the bye and subsequently lost his choice of seat advantage in the next round.

Queen's Gambit: Lee Fitzjerrels wanted to start the final early so he could make another semi-final, but patiently waited 75 minutes for the scheduled start when his opponent declined the early match.

Royal Turf: Rhonda Reiff, although intimidated by entering the WBC shark tank as so much chum with the burden of her worse half's surname, took her first foray into the gaming world in a manner worthy of a possessor of 27 plaques. She took her heart-breaking second-place, wood-deprived finish in the final in stride and with considerably less sweat than you-know-who.

San Juan: Winton Lemoine volunteered to act as Assistant GM when the event spilled over into a second room and gave up his place in the second heat to another player, risking his chance to advance.

Settlers of Catan: Jamie Tang, the Betty Crocker of WBC, baked and distributed brownies for 110 people - despite having - in her words - the absolute worst tournament score ever.

Squad Leader: Chuck Leonard's enthusiasm and good nature are infectious, helping newcomers learn the fine points of the game.

Ticket to Ride: Donna Balkan gave up her semi-final seat, won as an alternate, when a legitimate semi-finalist arrived, ten minutes late.

Tyranno EX: Peter Staab made the mistake of amassing too large a lead and then explained how dangerous that was if all the other players were to combine to bring him down ... which they did.

Wizard's Quest: Cliff Ackman remained in good cheer and dropped his threat of a sexual discrimination suit when the four ladies in the final colluded to ensure a 1-2-3 female finish. Such gender wars are usually relegated to the Junior's tournaments but obviously have come full circle.

Past Sportsmanship Winners

Chuck Stapp
1992 - NJ

Tiger Von Pagel
1993 - FL

Rob Kilroy
1994 - PA

Ian Lange
1995 - AE

Jim Matt
1996 - MI

Ed Connery
1997 - NJ

Frank Sinigaglio
1999- NJ

Robert Sacks
2000- NY

Bret Hildebran
2001 - OH

Kaarin Engelmann
2002 - VA


James Jordan
2003 - MD

Steve Okonski
2004 - MD

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