[CQ-Contest] 1x1 callsigns, pros, cons & winning

Ve3bmv at aol.com Ve3bmv at aol.com
Sun Nov 16 13:53:24 EST 1997

On 1x1 call signs and winning contests:

1x1 calls are the shortest possible calls, take the least amount of time to
exchange, and therefore very beneficial for contesters.

Another aspect of exchanging the calls is familiarity (includes
"spellability"). We get conditioned to certain patterns, combination of
letters, and we subconciously apply that when working especially in the
contest. Extreme of it is - you hear ON4UN, W3LPL or NP4A, you don't have to
"register" letters, you "see" John, Frank's machine or Pedro. - Easy to
remember and log. You are porcessing something you know.

When you hear for the first time something like HA576HRC/1 (or E5E), first
you don't recognize it, so you have to copy and write down (type) as the
letters are coming through. (Also you get thrown out of the "working routine"
by "what the heck is that?" analysis). Forget remembering it! No question,
you have to spend more time to dig out the call, especially when marginal
signal. Bound to make a mistake too.

So, "disadvantage" of 1x1 calls is only until most peopole will get it, that
this is a valid configuration, and will not ask for "the rest of it". Once
this is known, it is fast sailing. I am sure that M6x's will attest to that,
as time goes on, much fewer requests. Well done by ON4UN for OT7s'.

As to policy of issuing 1x1 calls in US. In my opinion, it is not the best
arrangement. The shortest call is the most beneficial in the contest. Policy
should have been to award 1x1 calls to those who deserve it most - contest
stations with proven winning record first, rest of contesters after (maybe
travelling call). Those calls should then stay with the station,  this would
help with QSLing nightmare (what date was call used by whom?).  
If it is not too late, I would urge ARRL and those who have influence, to
change the policy af assigning the 1x1 calls as outlined above - for the
contesters first and make it at least 5 year "award" to be renewed if station
sustains the performance and activity.  With present arrangement you can bet
that many will try to fit "special events" around contests and then put up
with QSLing mess that this will bring.

Special event stations are in not particular hurry, they actually are better
served by more letter combination spelling the event - W3USS - United States
Senate,  VE0BELL Umptied Birthday of  Bell Telephone, W50VWV 50 years of
Vietnam War Veterans, AN4RD Ford's 4 wheel aniversary, etc. The 1x1 calls are
a waist for special events purpose! 

Short calls make big difference in the contest or operation, where you expect
high QSO numbers. In slow contests like being on 160 in WPX CW, there is
plenty of time to exchange even WX report. Impact is not significant. Look at
world records of IG9/something gang. Even this old fart managed to beat my
last year's 160m score of CG1ZZ with VX3BMV/1 longie this year by about 65%
under the same (terrible), if not worse conditions. It sometimes might be
even "advantage". By the time short calls "expire" in the pile up, Bravo Mike
Victor Portable One is still coming through. Hi  (I say my call only once.)

What wins the contest? Mostly the xtra stations you can work, that
competition can't. Those come from better antennas, you can hear and work
another layer (and there is more there - clouds of little pistols). Or, from
familiarity of your call to those who just "fool around" - if they know you,
or you are good brisk operator (give out your call after each exchange, takes
almost as much to say Pee Farty Eh? as Que Are Zed?), they will "bother" you
with a call and points. If you work pile up with "last two" well, ...

Special, unusual prefixes have the tradeoffs of being unfamiliar (requiring
repeats), but also can attract "bystanders" that either chase prefixes or
don't want the "new one" to slip by. ("Work them first, worry later!")
Operator has to figure out what is more important in particular contest. If
you ended up #10 in the last contest, and this year you have the same setup,
but 1x1 call and expect to be #1, you are dreaming!!

In my particular case, I would not swap my VE3BMV call for new VA3xx, not
enough advantage to overcome familiarity aspect. From Vanity program I got
K3BU, which is part of my old OK3BU call, sentimental reason + bit skewed
initials. As the best contest call available for TESLA RC clubstation I got
N2EE (short, plus familiar "dit dit" on CW, or on phone - Nice 2 Echoes. Hi),
for possible location in New England - NT1E (Nikola Tesla #1 Engineer) - good
for WPX and short. After few years of operating I am sure they will become
familiar and take full advantage of shortness. I doubt that I would go after

What really wins the contest?  It is the operator, stupid! 
Then come the antennas, location, equipment, call, and everything else in
order of importance depending on contest rules. Given exactly the same
operators, other things will come to play. So each smart contest operator
tries to maximize all the factors. "Operator" includes knowledge and skills
acquired in the area of operating proficiency, station design, ergonomics,
propagation, food eaten, etc. Sooo many variables, especially from mother
propagation. The more you can master with time, the better equipped you are
for variations, the higher you will show up in the results. Each contest is a
new game, we are not sure what will happen, this is why we love it. After the
contest, tired and bruised I would sometimes ask myself: "Why am I doing
it?", but when the results come out and the next one is to happen, ... here
we go again. Hard to rationalize - it must be crazy love!
73, GL in getting that 1x1 and make sure you will show it off on 160 to Vee

Blanarovich yUri   K3BU, VE3BMV, P40A (memorize it)

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