[CQ-Contest] How frequent to ID? Every QSO? No way!

Richard Ferch ve3iay at rac.ca
Tue Jan 18 10:52:10 EST 2005

Hi Jose,

I believe your analysis of the clones is over-simplified and is missing 
some important secondary effects. Clearly the less often one IDs, the more 
important these secondary effects become. This is most obvious in the case 
of clone #8613, who never ever IDs at the end of a QSO, for the highest 
calculated score among all of the clones (8613 QSOs). Can anyone seriously 
suggest that this is the best possible strategy?

One such secondary effect is the time lost every time someone asks for the 
call sign when it isn't sent. The less often you send your call sign, the 
more likely this becomes. It does not need to happen very often to add up 
to a significant time over the course of a contest. For example, if we 
assume arbitrarily that 10 seconds is lost every time this happens, it only 
needs to happen every sixth unsigned QSO to completely wipe out all of the 
time gained. If it takes only 5 seconds and happens only every tenth 
unsigned QSO, it will not wipe out the gain, but it will make it smaller.

A second effect is the number of times there is a station ready to call you 
that would reply if you sent your call sign, but when no call sign is sent 
he waits silently until after you send a CQ. Again, this need only happen a 
small fraction of the time to start to become significant in terms of total 
time lost.

A third effect is due to good will. ZD8Z has adopted a strategy that takes 
into account the needs of the other station, instead of one calculated 
purely out of self-interest. Casual and semi-casual operators who notice or 
remember this may decide to call him to give him a QSO on other bands, 
especially at times when his QSO rate is down and there is no pileup. This 
effect may be intangible, but that does not necessarily mean it is unimportant.

A fourth effect depends on your ability to stay alert and adapt your 
strategy over a 48-hour contest, as follows: If you are in an ideal 
situation where there is a never-ending pileup of stations waiting to work 
you, the best calculated strategy would appear to be one where you ID just 
frequently enough to avoid other negative side-effects (such as someone 
asking for your call sign). This means you should adjust your frequency of 
IDs to match the reactions of other stations (size of the pileup, whether 
anyone is asking for your call sign, and so on). This in turn means having 
to make a decision at the end of every QSO. Towards the end of a 48-hour 
contest, the extra mental effort these decisions require may take their 
toll, and such an adaptive strategy may be hard to maintain without making 
mistakes. Adopting a simpler non-adaptive strategy of IDing every QSO 
requires no thinking at all (it is programmed into your contest macros), 
and by the end of the contest this simplification in the tasks required of 
the operator may be worth quite a few QSO points because of reduced 
frequency of errors.

Taking all of these into account, ZD8Z's original strategy does not look so 
bad. It is both the simplest strategy and the one that is most friendly to 
other stations. The fact that these two advantages are harder to quantify 
than counting the number of milliseconds per call does not make them less real.


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