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[CQ-Contest] To cut or not to cut?

To: CQ Contest <cq-contest@contesting.com>
Subject: [CQ-Contest] To cut or not to cut?
From: Pete Smith N4ZR <n4zr@contesting.com>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2012 08:23:15 -0400
List-post: <cq-contest@contesting.com">mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
There's nothing like a CW serial number contest to get you re-thinking 
about the use of cut numbers.

For situations where first-time intelligibility is important, I think 
use of cut numbers probably costs more time than it saves.  Here's why:

The basic Morse Code 0-9 character set has two important characteristics 
- each number is five code elements long, and each one gives you two 
chances to copy correctly or confirm that you have done so. If you hear 
the first dit of 1, or the last 4 dahs, then you know what the number 
is.  This is because, with the regularity of computer-sent CW and the 
presence of "5NN" as a signal to expect the number to begin at a certain 
time, you can often infer from the length of the "lost" portion of a 
number what it must have been.  Even if you only get the two dits of 8, 
depending on when you hear them, you can have pretty good confidence 
that it was, in fact, 8, and not seven with one unheard dit.

How much time is saved by sending A instead of 1?  How much time is lost 
by responding to "AGN" or "NR?"

Opinions?  I bet there are a few out there.

73, Pete N4ZR
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