ARRL has clarified its contest rules to clearly prohibit the practice of interleaved CQs — also known as “dueling CQs” — on two or more frequencies in the same band. The clarification is an extension of existing rules that permit only “one transmitted signal,” and it formalizes what had been a “gentleman’s agreement.”
“ARRL reviewed it, concurred that this is technically occupying two channels, and in consultation with several members of the Board of Directors — who had been contacted by concerned parties — and the Programs and Services Committee, it was concluded we needed to ‘clarify’ our existing rules,” ARRL Contest Branch Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, said.
An explanatory paragraph points out, “The intent of the rules has always been that a participant would use/occupy only a single channel in a given band, changing frequency in band from time to time leaving a CQ frequency to work a multiplier or to change the CQing frequency as band occupancy or changing propagation dictated, and this rules clarification will now give the needed added clarity to that intent.”
The issue arose when a multioperator station successfully employed in-band interleaved CQs in the last ARRL International DX SSB event, substantially boosting their score.
The topic subsequently occupied a lot of bandwidth on the CQ-Contest reflector, where elite contester Frank Donovan, W3LPL, observed, “That doesn’t make it right for [a contest station] to follow this practice that is generally understood to be unacceptable behavior by all of the rest of us.” At the time of the event, however, ARRL rules did not explicitly prohibit the practice, and as another top contester, Steve London, N2IC, asked, “Falls under the ‘what is not specifically prohibited is allowed’ rule?”
Responding to a poster who said dueling CQs on the same band was simply “innovation,” Hans Brakob, K0HB, opined, “By any reasonable measure, running interleaved CQs on two [frequencies] in the same band consumes two operating channels on that band. In the existing period of limited propagation, many would consider such double-occupancy of a finite resource to be selfish, not innovative.”
The update brings ARRL’s contest rules in line with those of CQ-sponsored contests, which already prohibit the practice of in-band, interleaved CQs. The IARU HF Championship Contest bans the practice for multioperator entries.
The ARRL Contest Advisory Committee (CAC) was not directly involved in revising the rule. The rule clarification does not prohibit the practice of alternating CQs on different bands, also called 2BSIQ — two-band synchronized interleaved QSOs.