[CQ-Contest] Leveling the playing field

Patrick Barkey n9rvee at gmail.com
Thu Jun 23 09:12:17 PDT 2011

This is an interesting discussion.  Even if it does come up all the
time -- it is very central to what motivates many of us as contesters.

I used to be a lot more rabid about this in my youth.  In the 1987 NCJ
I wrote an article that analyzed the US top ten for the CW/SSB WW
contests.  Even back then, with more JA activity, there was a huge
preponderance of east coast (my definition -- CQ zone 5) stations in
the top ten, especially in the top three spots.  If I were to look at
this topic again, I am sure that I would find this to be the case.
More so, in fact.

My point at that time was that you can't change the situation -- but
contest writeups and score reporting should stop talking just about
the numerical winners.  I am happy to observe that most now do this.

But Kevin (N5DX)'s observations on "living the dream" of breaking
through the curtain and claiming the top spot from inland struck a
strong chord with me.  When I lived in the midwest, that was my dream
too. (And I think it was a lot more possible from W8/W9 than it would
be for Kevin and Stan in W5).   It was a bit like all the fist fights
I had with my older brother as a kid growing up.  He won every one of
them, but I cherished the few good punches I got in.  The problem with
this dream is that it is less and less likely that it will happen --
with the huge increase in EU multipliers in recent years, the booming
W1 economy, and the number of people who are setting up shop in W1 or
in points northeast of there to get an edge.

So we lose all the time, so what?  The winners are top notch
contesters, and with only a few exceptions, have learned to appreciate
that operating ability is spread around the country a lot more evenly
than DX contest scores.  And its a really nice dream -- go for it!
Thinking how sweet it will be to finally vanquish the herd one day is
great motivation for piling up the aluminum.

One other note.  Life is different competitively for the "advantaged"
stations in ways that are not so good.  The pressure to win when you
are a W9 or a W5?  Forget about it.  It doesn't exist.  No one expects
you to win.  But if you have a good station in Maine or on Cape Cod,
you're supposed to win.  Not finish in second place.  It comes down to
you as an operator -- the decisions you make and the energy you put
into it.  Not propagation.  That's the kind of pressure you rarely
have outside zone 5, unless you're lucky enough to have a similarly
equipped/motivated station in your backyard to horse race with.  I say
"lucky" because these local competitions have always been the high (or
low, when I lost) point of competitive contesting in my career.

  - Pat

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list