[CQ-Contest] Level Playing Field - my 2 cents

kr2q at optimum.net kr2q at optimum.net
Sat Jun 25 08:14:29 PDT 2011

There will never be a level playing field in the real world of ham radio 
contesting.  If you want a level playing field, we need some sort of 
video game/software where nothing is random.  

While I agree that “distance” for points does seem to make sense (look at one of
160 contests [cq?] where a VE3 and work a hundred W2's in NY, just a couple miles
away and get bazillions of point while I [NJ] can work W6's and get a fraction
of the points for doing "a lot more"), that does not really make a level playing

What about antennas?  What about physical location (valley, flat, or mountain top)
or the ground conductivity (mtn tops are high but usually of poor conductivity, 
such as GRANITE)?  What about Team Vertical on the SALT WATER?

Way too many variables.

Not too many years ago (well, maybe more than I think), I recall going 15m High
Power (yes, really...I did HP).  I got beat (barely) by some famous contesting 
judge.  Of course, the station where he was guest-oping was several orders of
magnitude bigger than mine....but was located in the SE USA.

So who really won?  Was the giant station "making up" for the distance?  
Did that giant station actually over-compensate for distance?

Who cares?  I had a LOT of fun and never expected to do that well.  I felt honored
to come in a close 2nd to the judge, no matter what station he was operating at.

What I'd like to see is the ability to "play with" the variables on line so any
entrant can wiggle the scores any way they like.  More points for distance, some
type of penalty for soil conductivity, maybe even hours of operations and operator
age adjustments.  How about number of towers, elements?  And for real fun, how
about a POWER adjustment: 100w, 200w, 1000, 1500w, 3kw, 5kw, 20kw.  
Maybe even something for "Multiple op masquerading as single op."  Why not?

If all logs would be public, then some of the programmer types among us could set
up the variables for us to play with and maybe we could find some combination
that would "tell us something" or make us feel better (if score is your motivation).

But sometimes, you end up with, "Well, I just can't tell."  For example....

Maybe it was a year or two ago where some contest committee was having a closed
discussion about Uniques.  Should uniques be given credit if they cannot be shown
to be Busted or Bad...or should we simply deduct ALL uniques w/o penalty.  That
sounds fair too.

Well, this was really easy for one guy I know REALLY REALLY well to analyze.  In the
end, the order of finish for ALL LOGS in SOAB did not change (except for two logs)
whether uniques were left in or taken out.  The two logs were way, way down in the 
noise, so "who cares."

So now that the analysis was done, what did that tell us?  Well, if we wanted to
say that "Our contest has the cleanest log checking there is," we could simply
change the rules and NOT COUNT any uniques.  Worked for WRTC, right?

Of course, we all know that such action would be BOUND to result in some
guy proving that "his" unique was actually a real QSO.  I can just see the 
headlines line.  OK...you get your points back and, by the way, you still finish
in the same sequence of rank.

OTOH, if it "doesn't matter" (except for two "in the noise" logs out of 1000's),
then what is the motivation to remove the uniques?  No harm, no foul?

The point is, you can play with the results any way you like...all you need is
access to the logs and details about the logs and have the right tools, and time.

In conclusion, IMHO there can never be a level playing field except as cited in the
first paragraph.

It's nice to be back after 6 months of being QRT (or QRX).

de Doug KR2Q

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