Monday, September 22, 2008


PENANG 21 SEP 08: Many of us today had a clinical Back to School experience. We literally attended a 6 hour exam in Math, Geography, Computer Science, English and English Lit. Our Master, being the one and only Mr Jayaram Menon, a fine and revered but much feared Teacher from the Pearl of the Orient.

We received the exam syllabus only a couple of days prior. Scanning through the syllabus instantly brought a feeling of anxiety for it contained subjects that we had not studied for or were not quite familiar with. We were told that besides the 30 Questions, the exam would include also tests in the form of a Puzzler, The Maze and I-Spy (which I will hereon refer to as the Three Musketeers for simplicity), all cramped into a 6 hour session.

On the morning of the exam, the anxiety quickly turned into panic. After spending good 40 minutes sitting in a stationary vehicle working on The Maze, we continued to stare at each other in blank amazement. The Maze was an integral part of the exam for it contributed 20 points, and failing to complete The Maze would most certainly put one out of the top 3 positions in the class!

The Maze
The Maze consisted a paragraph of 10 lines, mainly instructions, with only 1 measly line of code to decipher:

Ten in Thousands - but from the back!

We were required to identify a business from this line of code and list down 15 of these that we would be passing through along the way, guided by a conventional (phew!) tulip.

The Puzzler meanwhile consisted of half a page of instructions with 3 questions to answer at the end. The Puzzler read like something taken from a Computer Science text book. We were required to derive an algorithm based on those instructions before we could even attempt those questions. And we could only start working on the algorithm once we arrived at a certain sector marked in the tulip.

I-Spy consisted of a series of clues (Location, Feature and Cryptic clues) to guide us to a visible landmark along the journey, and we were told that IT begins with the letter F.

Location Clue: It's located opposite a field.
Feature Clue: It's made of jars and fishes.
Cryptic Clue: In antiquity, it could function only if there was a natural hydraulic head.

(For the cryptic die-hards, I recommend that you attempt The Maze and I-Spy first before scrolling any further as I will reveal the answers to both shortly afterwards)

Between the Three Musketeers, I-Spy was the only one which we had some inkling on what to look for. We left the flag off point after 40 minutes, after agreeing to discard The Maze for later and park the Puzzler aside until the marked sector. When we reached the 1st Question sector (along Jalan Dato Keramat), we quickly learnt that the questions would be no walk-in-the-park! The 1st Question sector was loaded with 7 questions lined up within a 200m stretch. All questions looked short and uncomplicated, with the meanest one having no more than 10 words. 2 of the 7 thankfully were quite straightforward to help us cut off the sector but the rest packed quite a punch! We were able to reason out the 3rd one only after a good half hour. The first challenging English test was also to be found in this sector.

Another half hour later we left the 1st Question sector with 2 more in the bag, and 2 dropped questions. At this point we feared the worst, with 23 more toughies to come, and still with no clue on how to approach The Maze and what to expect for the Puzzler. And how much time we had left? If you were counting, we only had left a measly 4 hours and 20 minutes. The next 5 questions were spread across various sections of this same, very long road. One of these five was a test in our ability to count (Math test).

Fast forward to the last question sector. And it wasn't pretty for although we had slightly more than an hour left, we had still no inkling on The Maze, yet to find the I-Spy, had all but given up on the Puzzler and dropped 8 questions including 2 from the last question sector. I was about to whistle the tune of Que-Sera-Sera when I received a call from Marsha shrieking away in absolute delight exclaiming that she had finally solved The Maze.

Woo Hoo! Dropping everything else, we ran to our vehicle and zoomed off in search of that 15 related businesses. We had to run through again the entire tulip to achieve this objective. Along the way we found the I-Spy landmark (Ans: Fountain) near the flag off point, bought our treasures and identified the 15 related businesses.

After all that, we still had 20 minutes remaining. And it was crunch time for we have still not solved the Puzzler. I made the decision which proved decisive later, to drop Marsha at the Finish Control to work on the Puzzler (in peace and quiet), while the rest of us would double back to Jalan Dato Keramat to pick up the 3 of 8 questions that we had dropped earlier. Looking into Marsha's eyes, I could sense a twinge of disagreement; I am certain given a choice she would have rather attempted the 3 questions, which was very much her forte. But for the sake of the team (and because she knew that her two other team mates had already thrown-in-the-towel), she reluctantly agreed to be dropped off.

Being the Mensan she is, Marsha was able to easily derive the algorithm and answer most of the questions in the Puzzler. And as a bonus, the rest of us were able to bag another question from the 3 we had set out to conquer.

And the result, another good day in the office. Our hero for this hunt, our dear ol' Marsha!

Out of a possible maximum of 140 points ......

1st: Chai Koh Khai, Margaret Sha, Vincent Woo, Chong Voon Kiat (120pts)
2nd: Lim Soo Khian, Claire Chin, Julie Tan, Toh Weng Ngai (107pts)
3rd: Sin Yoong Leong, Cheok Wye Leong, Yeoh Keat Leong, Chye Jun Lee (101pts)
4th: Yeoh Ban Lye, Cecilia Yew, Teng Wei Chiat, Chan Chung Wei (93pts)
5th: Dr Ho Seng Hooi, Chin Kar Peng, Liong Chian Min, Stephen Chin (93pts)
6th: Tan Kok Cheeng, Chan Kah Sing, Lim Say Chye, Anuar Jeffri (89pts)
7th: Ganeson, Ratna Kumar, Chandra Segar, Teh BoonTeong (77pts)

Stay tuned folks, for a sample of the more interesing lessons we had received today!

Solution for The Maze:

Thousand(s) = K(K)
Ten = 10 = I-NIL
Ten in Thousands = K-I-NIL-K

Hence reading backwards will yield KLINIK.


Cornelius Koh said...


You are truly the right person to write hunt reviews. May I suggest that you do some question analysis too. I bet that will be equally interesting and addictive!

Oh! Are we gonna get a review on the Atmah too?

Cornelius Koh said...

oops!... actually this was posted by 2R1I!!... hahaha!!

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

Glad to oblige with a few of the more unique ones from our Penang Master. I have shared the first one, with more to come over the next few days. Do return and help yourself to our fridge.

And do look out over the next couple of days for a release of the Atmah review by BlogCe5nt.