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Some History of Contesting

Tom (SP5UAF) on March 13, 2003
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Contesting has its own, long history. Nowadays we often participate in the contests, we know what to do to have a better score, we know how to improve our antennas, we have contesting software, we build Beverages, we do SO2R operating, we are better and better.... What was a problem yesterday, becomes easy today...

Well... have a look back into the history of contesting, part of this history. This year in Poland we have 70th anniversary of the SP DX Contest. The contest was first organized in 1933 as International Contest of PZK (Polish Amateur Radio Union). The name was changed in 1963 into SP DX Contest – the name we know today.

I have in my hand o copy of a bulletin “Krotkofalowiec Polski” (Polish HAM biulletin) from 1934 with the results of the 1993 contest. But before presenting the results..... do you know how the claimed scores were checked?

Of course there were no computer logs but there were no paper logs also... Each participant had to send QSL cards. Contest numbers (contest exchange) were placed on QSL cards. And then HAMS from the Polish bureau were collecting the information from QSL cards.

The International Contest of PZK in 1993 was organized by the HAM Club of Lvov, you must know that Lvov was a Polish city in that times (now it is a part of Ukraine today). HAMs from Lvov area were very active and well organized. Do you know that they sent 6000 personal messages about the contest? Can you imagine this number of letters in 1933 – no Internet, no e-mail, no satellite communication....

After all about 1000 HAMs decided to participate in 1933 contest: 6 continents, 45 countries. 344 participants (from 36 countries) were classified in the final results. The top ten list from outside Poland was as follows:

 1. SU1EC  – 45 points
 2. EI5F   - 28 points
 3. SU1CH  – 27 points
 4. CT1CQ  – 26 points
 5. UO3WB  – 22 points
 6. OZ4H   – 20 points
 7. YL2BB  – 17 points
 8. G6HC   – 16 points
 9. F8GQ   – 16 points
10. F8TQ   – 16 points

After the II World War there were many changes (on the political map and also in prefixes). But in 1933 UO3WB was a station from Austria. Other prefixes from the top-ten list are the same as today. But in the results from 1933 we can also see some call-signs from countries which do not exist any more: YM4ZO – The independent City of Gdansk, YI7RK – Mezopotamia, TS4SAX – Saara. Also D4 prefix was used by Germany, VP3 was Malta, XU1A was a station from China, Japanese stations had prefixes J1, J2, J3 etc.

Well – this year we have 70 Anniversary of SP DX Contest. We would like to invite all HAM friends to participate in our 70th Anniversary SP DX Contest. Today we have special awards (desks) in all categories. Each participant will receive a small copy of the original 1933 award (regardless of the place or score). Please visit for details: contest rules in many language versions, complete results from 1933, list of donors, information about contest software etc.

We do hope to meet you in SP DX Contest 2003.

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