[CQ-Contest] Contests, rules, championship

K3BU@aol.com K3BU at aol.com
Thu Oct 20 23:18:20 EDT 2005

W4PA: "There's a reason this contest has become so popular - it's REALLY HARD

K8MR: "It is hard to win because it is very popular."
"...60 or so years ago the folks at CQ had the foresight  to 
secure the franchise for a contest ..."

Let's back off a bit here. 
Every sport has some kind of championship, Olympics, World Championship where 
the serious competitors are trying to compete for the title of the best of 
the best. There are rules and efforts trying to make the rules fair to all 
competitors so the comparison can be meaningful and the best selected by beating 
others fair and square without handicaps or unfair rules favoring one or 
    There was a cry for that type of event in ham radio and through the 
foresight bunch of guys and Freedom games example, WRTC was born. This is the 
closest thing to equal footing we have so far. Still not ideal. 
    What is ham radio contesting? It is competition, technical sport, where 
hams and their stations compete for the top spots. Those real hams, build their 
stations (technical expertise required and reflected) and operate them 
(operating skill, propagation knowledge, tactics). We have also drifted into 
situation of drive-in ops and "hired guns" which really involves at least two hams - 
station builder and station operator. Some are working hard at both aspects, 
some enjoy just one aspect and take free ride (or rentastation) to compete. I 
personally take pride in building my own station and trying to take maximum 
advantage (esp. antenna design) to cream the competitors. I have done some 
drive-in too, when situation left me without station and I badly wanted to contest.
    I hope we agree that contesting is the engine that pushes innovation in 
antenna and equipment design, control and ease of operating, as well as 
improvement in operating skills. Contests and categories structured to do that 
benefit all of us. Just like Jim, W2PV showed how important is the antenna design, 
or Dan, K1TO how to operate. Latest example is Al, D4B who went out to rare 
spot, build the station and produced remarkable results. This is what contests, 
competition and rules allowing fairest possible playing field will promote and 
bring more people in and push them to new heights.
    Closest thing to world championship is the CQ WW. Does it offer fair 
playing field? Hardly. When was the last time you have seen W making into top ten? 
Are US hams that far behind? US and JA participation is slacking. No wonder, 
populous countries can't work their own compadres and are severely penalized. 
    CQ WW is the most popular international contest mainly because has 
tradition of 60 years, is the closest thing to world wide competition, supported and 
promoted by magazine with large circulation and dedicated people who run it. 
I am not dumping on CQ WW, I love it as #1 contest, had some 20 world records 
from VE. Can it be made better without affecting records and scores in a 
negative way? I think so. 
    We have "bitched" about CQ WPX contest for not allowing domestic QSOs to 
be counted, finally we got one "lousy" point for it, and the contest 
participation from US and other countries with heavier population soared and contest is 
gaining participation and popularity. The point is that times change. What 60 
years ago was big deal to get African station in the contest and "forbid" 
domestic QSOs, rules made sense for it to be DX Contest. Today that is obsolete, 
makes no sense and hampers it. Can anyone say that allowing say 3 points for 
every QSO would harm the CQ WW? It will only lower the gap between those in 
Af/SA and rest of us. So the argument that it is a BIG contest, hard to win, 
therefore most popular, so leave it alone and that it can't or shouldn't be 
improved seems a bit weird. But that is the choice of the sponsors.
    I am a sucker for "if you don't like it, make your own" and it got me 
thinking what would be the rules that as fair as possible, have operating times 
that would equalize location/propagation advantages and promote more operating 
skills and station design. The result was the Tesla Cup, with rules rehashed 
with those who cared to comment and provide suggestions. I realized that for 
successful and faster acceptance it would be necessary to have backing of major 
organization or magazine. I approached ARRL, then CQ, then major clubs. Here 
was the chance to have something different, more fair, possibly attracting 
large following and be more fair in judging contester's performance. I offered it 
to ham community, but seems that either some felt threatened, or NIH syndrome. 
Unfortunately I went through another period of family and business tough 
times and could not pursue it alone, so it sat dormant. Instead of offers of help 
and support, we see more of dumping as displayed in the past and now on the 
    Those who know me and our situation, know that I love ham radio and 
contesting and I am trying to do things that would make it better. But life 
sometimes throws ugly curves in our plans, and besides some financial setbacks, heart 
problem that almost SKed me, our son's cancer, I had to sort out priorities 
and preserve family first. So unless you know the situation, please hold your 
arrows. We are supposed to be fraternity that pulls together and works for 
betterment. Only then we can attract more new blood and make it more fun for all 
of us. Otherwise there will be just old bitchie fogies left, with not much to 
    Looks like I will have more time to devote to some of the projects I have 
been dreaming about, I hope I can excite few more like-minded aficionados and 
that we can make things better, more fun and leave something behind. So I 
think we can do more with constructive comments or criticism, rather than 
negativism. Let's don't kill the possible foresight and better thing. We have enough 
obstacles in BPL, antenna restrictions, crapy appliances, cheaters, etc.
    So there it is, we can join forces, improve the rules, have fun contest 
and properly celebrate Nikola Tesla's 150 birthday in 2006. I will do all I 
can, to make it happen, will you join me? 

73 Yuri, K3BU.us
www.TeslaRadio.org  (coming soon)

Better date for "Tesla Radio Contest" is the most pressing item. Any 

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list