Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So, So & So Much More Better - Triple The Fun From This Xmas Charity Hunt, 2008

Picture courtesy of www.free-to-use.com

29 December, 2008, Petaling Jaya:

Regulars who had the fortune to participate in this hunt must agree with me! This Christmas Charity Hunt deserved to be THE "Dessert" that we all wanted to finish a year's course of Treasure Hunting with.

"Big L" Lawrence worked with two well-respected minds in the COC business - Dominic & Soo Khian - and the trio concocted what could be acclaimed to be, in my opinion, THE most enjoyable hunt we ever had for the year. It had the right blend of tricks and difficulty levels and yet were all solvable by the participants. It would have been "more perfect" if the treasures were tweaked a level up in the style of the questions too!

All Qs & Ts were solvable and yet one could only score near-perfectly - that to me, is one of the hallmarks of a well-balanced hunt. It left even the winner wishing they had got that one or two elusive ones. The rest of the pack felt the same too - frustrated with themselves more than the quality of the hunt - exactly the way a well-crafted hunt should be - taking you to the edge and leaving it to you to shape your own fate! And of course, it left the COCs grinning with glee too!

This was a charity hunt - the prizes were merely hampers for all 32 teams - (another commendable gesture - something familiar here, the Mensa Hunt used to be as generous too) The top 3 won some hotel stays too. The fees were typical of a better local hunt. In those terms, there was nothing to compete for other than for honours. Yet, the competition to take on the challenges the questions posed was just as immense as regular "cash prize" hunts. As a side show, "Bargain Hunter" Venka, went home as the proud owner of a Sharp Aquous 32" LCD TV which he won in an impromptu auction which raised a decent amount towards charity.

We did not win a podium finish (just managed to grab one of the 5 recognised "positions") but we felt we had not wasted our time here - far from it. We had plenty of praises and we were quick to forgive any minor glib! One could walk away from this hunt rubbing the belly like one who had had a satisfying meal and wanting a second serving! Speaking of which, a decent buffet was served for lunch too.

Wouldn't you relish a dish like the following:

Q1. Initially for a start, it's novel, using things and loving people, musn't change.
A. Platinum

There was a GK here (must admit we didn't realise it until Dom shared it with us at the presentation : "Using Things and Loving People" is the title of a song by BJ Thomas - the guy who sang for us "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head") and yet it was used cryptically here.

The "initially for a start", I am sure caught everyone for a while - because we noticed almost all the "big boys" circling the sector a couple of times! All cars had left the starting point at 8:30 a.m but the official flag off time was 9:00 a.m. - yet we have wasted all the bonus time in this sector looking for the answers to the first trio!

This Q was not the "ordinary soup of the day" kind of "initials" - the letters "INUTALPM" had to be anagrammed ("change") also. The word "musn't" was cleverly chosen to "dress up" the pointer. We went on a track of "to change or not to change" for a while!

And then it was followed by another classic trick - the cruel deployment of the "blind spot".

Q2. Fortunate Rebel Team
A. Lucky Tiger Group @ Platinum

Yes, a simple straight forward charade with the answer ON THE SAME sign board. Right below the giant word "PLATINUM". The size of the answer was so small, relative to the "metal", many of us missed it. We were so used to "has to be on some other signs further down the road", we fell for this old and not often used trick - once again. The moon must have been blue too! As in all treasure hunt questions, some how, some where, some why - there will be another answer that appears to fit, to distract you from looking more carefully - like "Fourmate Design".

Q3. At the end of the sea, you will see fish and ship.
A: Horizon Car Park

We were in the mood to begin with cryptic interpretations (having solved "Platinum" first). And there were Horizon Club and Horizon Restaurant to distract us too. The fish and ship were well disguised and in that early stage of the hunt - the "cold minds" could not see them until they were thawed!

Almost 30 minutes just for these 3 and yet we were confident of only 2 of them!

Now look at how ordinary looking words were used in some of the Qs and you see how much they must have scrutinized the questions, over and over again to "tune it up":

Q5. Board member moving back in between.

"In" is usually used as the container or insertion indicator, but this time, it is the "fodder" itself.

Q17. Property with a neat finish.
A: House of Ox-Tail

One usually respond to "finish" as an indicator to take the last letter or letters of word(s) in the sentence, like : YHAT or just "T" from "neat" and try to find an answer to fit that "clue". Here, it turned out to be just a charade. We now know of a new breed of cattle! We blame no one but ourselves for not solving this one - we should have followed our own 2/3 rule i.e. if two out of three clues fit - take it!

Also, we should have been more diligent here. Should have looked up the thesaurus for OX and NEAT! That's what a good hunt does to you - makes you feel so confident of your vocabulary, you think you know every word you see and then wham, bang and slam - you are left "consider yourself educated" again.

This hunt also featured a word with a new twist to it ... a word that was so commonly used as the supporting part of answers, but not often used as the "main actor":

Q18: The first glorious angels croon, will revive run, I tell you.
A: Restoran Gasing.

This baffled us for a while because we were so used to reading "Restoran" in the cryptic way - "rest-to-RAN" to make sure our "scribes" did not spell it wrongly. We have not for a long, long time pronounced it the proper way - "Rest-toh-run" (sounds like "restore run").

[Update: 31.12.08]: Here's another "twister":

Q23. Second grade inside for prestigious award.

The usual approach is to take the second letter of "grade", i.e. "r" and insert that into the sign to get an answer that will also mean a "prestigious award". So off we went looking for "gammy". Fortunately, we discovered that wasn't the right "angle" fairly quickly. Nevertheless, it was a fresh twist to something "usual". Does this one deserve the NoBel prize?

[Update: 31.12.08]:This one also caught us because we did not "think laterally" enough on this occasion:

Q10. 5/3
A: Salun Rambut ... ish

We just forgot to look at it as a date, like, 5th of MarcH. That was all to it! In this case, the COC had taken a calculated risk with an oversimplified style of devising this question. Any other "H" around - e.g. the hospital or hydrant sign "H", The Centre or First Hour - would have fitted the answer.

COC could have protected himself a little bit more but I suppose COC was very, very confident that there would be no other answers. (I was told he had actually rejected "H" for Hospital or Hydrant!). Our KK partner had a lot to say about this one (read his blog). I agree with his arguments, but still - its simplicity deserves recognition - a good trick - perhaps needed a little polISH to its finISH!

[Update: 31.12.08]:
One of our team's favourite (we talked about it for no less than 6 times in and out of the car) was this one:

Q13: Two accountants needed, making it of no practical importance.
A: Medi Klinik

It is of course ACAdemiC now, but this one took the team some 40+ minutes to solve, with at least 5 visits to the very short hunting ground! Fancy (Q14) that!

And what was the glib? Many teams lost 2 points (out of 3) for one very easy question:

Q6. Attire for the hospital?
A: Butik Wardrobe (TM).

The COC decided that if the answer was written as "Wardrobe" you got only 1 point. If you had "Butik" with it - then you got the full points.

Could anyone see why Butik was needed here? No? We couldn't too. But it was required - it seems to show to the COC that we did not guess it! Yet, in other answers, it was acceptable , like "UITM" - an absolutely guessable answer to the following Q:

Q28: University accepts it.

Here, it was not required to "prove to me you saw it" - just plain "UITM" would do. We included "@ Highway Centre" to "prove it". But it did not earn us any bonus points!

Maybe the COC thought "wardrobe"could be easily guessed? His insistence would have been more acceptable if the sign was relatively tiny (like "UITM" was) but this was a HUGE sign - you could see it from a hundred metres out! The inconsistency in details required was just about the only glib and it was forgivable but not forgettable. We hope COCs will show more consistency with how much detail is really needed or not.

Incidentally, the word "Butik" was actually on another wall of the facade of the bungalow-turned-shop in Bangsar (Jalan Maarof). This smaller wall was separated from the wider wall that had "Wardrobe" on it, by a pillar. You would not have seen the word "Butik" when you first saw "Wardrobe" but you would spot it after you have passed the pillar and if you were still looking [update:1.1.2009]through the branches of the tree!

[Update: 1.1.2009]
Study this sequence of photographs and judge for yourself. Click on the images to enlarge it for better clarity. Try to spot "Butik".

[Update: 1.1.2009] BTW, did you notice the standalone "Wardrobe" on the right of the photos in S-1 and S-2?

That actually raises a question - is that considered TWO signs or ONE continuous sign? It's debatable. I could not confirm this for sure, but I heard that amongst the top 5 teams, this question was not consistently marked too - for the same "omission". Some got full points, while others did not. Could it be that different COCs were marking different sets?

Notwithstanding the tiny blip, this's the kind of hunt we always love to get into and we keep yearning for! The team was eagerly proclaiming "This is what the Mensa Hunt should have been! Big L has more than made up for it!" every time we dealt with a "good one".

Of course, we learned later that Big L had great help from Big Dom and Big SK too! We loved how these guys worked together - we only wish that they will do this more often! I also recalled how they were introduced by Sr.P., Daniel Ho, that morning - as the "Dons" of Treasure Hunting! Wow! Grandmasters take note - there are now higher mountains!

2R1I was on vacation with his family. "You missed a really good one this time, mate!" We had the honour of Sabah King "CKoh" join us in this one. He enjoyed it so much, he didn't even feel the slightest pinch on his pocket at all - having to book late, fly in from KK and reaching home way past midnight! Read more about the questions at his blog - he's promised to chat about a few!

BTW, there were two categories in this hunt. Some of the questions shared the same sign-board but were worded differently. The top 5 teams of the "novice" category did very well too - dropping only 2 to 4 questions - and nobody had a perfect score!

A prominent behaviour one should be able to observe in a two-category hunt would be the "oohs and wahs" from the crowd when they were dazzled by the difficulty levels of the "regulars". And you would also hear the occasional, pretentious "oohs and wahs" from some "naughty" regulars when they listened to the "novice" questions and answers. May be, they were thinking of their own novice days!

I enjoyed the "dessert"! Hope all those who could participate, did too! Thanks for a great hunt, Don Trio!

Have a Merry, Joyous & Blessed New 2009, Everyone!

Here are the results:

29th Dec: Christmas Charity Hunt (Full score 120 pts)

1st: Liew Kok Seng, Sam Rahman, Chong Foo Seong, Lim Kong Yew (114 pts)
2nd: Adrian Wong, Toh Weng Ngai, Michael Pang, Florence Teng (111 pts)
3rd: Alexander Hoh, Razif Ahmad, Darmataksiah Abai, Hanna Muhammad (108 pts)
4th: KK Chai, Margaret Sha, Vincent Woo, Cornelius Koh (106 pts)
5th: Toh Wei Ming, Selina Yong, Lily Loh, C.T Teoh (105 pts)

Congrats to the The Jingle Nuts (a.k.a the Nutty Gang)
who were the least hampered by the challenges!
Almost perfect on the road!


2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

How I wish the hunting calendar for a particular year is penned a year or two in advance, just like how they do it for golf, tennis and other sports (to lock-in the sponsors and television rights) !!

Oh well, just have to keep my fingers crossed that this becomes an annual feature.

Peter Tan said...

Dear BlogCe5nT,

This is for learning purpose. Hope you obliged.

Q18: The first glorious angels croon, will revive run, I tell you.

Supposedly, if the question is just : The first glorious angels croon. The answer would still be GASING.

Would you have added 'Restoran' in front for the official answer? I supposed you will.

Would you think that the COC will mark you wrong without 'Restoran'? My guess is that you will be marked wrong.

I think there would have many questions that would just ask for the main NAME in a signboard. Other accompany words like Butik, Restoran, Kedai etc would not have asked in the question. Adding the second part of "will revive run, I tell you" probably makes it 'mandatory' to include 'Restoran' in the answer.

For the same signboard, the question for the novice category is worded as such:
The first glorious angels croon, turning perhaps with fork and spoon. I still can't figure out why - turning and perhaps!!!


BlogCe5nT said...

Hi, Peter, interesting questions you have there. Certainly will qualify for a FAQ in 2R1I's posting.

Let me try to answer your questions (not sure if they were, because you seemed to have answered them yourselves!)

If Q18 was as per your version, the COC had what we term as "failed to protect himself". He would be "exposed" and would be subjected to accept tens of possible answers. Even just "Gasing" alone would answer this version.

Then you would ask, what if there truly was no such standalone "Gasing" sign anywhere in that sector?

My answer would be a question too. How would the COC know for sure? Smells like trouble already for COC, isn't it.

So, clever COCs will cover their behinds well. They will add other "supporting" clues to try to make sure, there can be no ambiguity to his "choice" or "preference".

Let's play along with your hypothesis. Let's say the question stays that way and there are no "single Gasing" around. Then the way to answer the question safely is to say "Gasing @ Jalan Gasing Poskod xxxxxx Petaling Jaya" or "Gasing @ Restoran Gasing".

Some will argue that it is redundant to do that - but like I said, "it is to play safe" because there are COCs out there who prefer it that way. They need the "proof" that you did not "tembak".
(Although in this hypothetical case, the COC is already dead even before he is fired @).

So, in your case - you will have the advantage of winning full points.

Just remember this - the business part of the name and other peripheral words are always needed to prove that you did not tembak. It is to add precision to your answer so there can be no doubt that you spotted it.

The only occasion you can excuse yourself for not adding the peripheral words is when there's nothing to @ at (like what "Wardrobe" was thought to be).

Remember another thing. Treasure hunt is a "battle of wits" - yours against the COC but unfortunately, in the end, it is the one with the stronger ego (not logic)that will prevail. Ego drives logic - it needs a powerful logic to overcome ego - but I have seen "battles" like this lost once too often!

As for the novice version of Q18 I do agree that it could have been worded "more logically" e.g. "The first glorious angels croon where forks and spoons feature a spinner perhaps?

Nevertheless, "Turning" was meant to give a "second hint" by implying that answer was something that turned. The "perhaps fork and spoon" was to imply an eating place, restoran, bistro or cafe. So the COC only wanted Restoran Gasing - not Jalan Gasing,Gasing Membaiki Motor or Klinik Gasing.

Hope that was helpful.

BlogCe5nT said...

It's a bad habit of mine. Always adding "post scripts" into my postings ... but I rather be apologetic about it than not sharing my "freshly recalled" thoughts!

Please look out for [Update: dd.mm.yy] from time to time.

CK Loh said...


No problem, I always come back to check if there is any "post scripts".

I appreciate the effort, sometime we wanted more, especially those interesting hunt that we hunters don't take part, and the "post scripts" is exactly what we readers want.

Cornelius Koh said...

"He enjoyed it so much, he didn't even feel the slightest pinch on his pocket at all - having to book late, fly in from KK and reaching home way past midnight!"

Ummm... I can admit the truth of that part about enjoying it so much. However, at the risk of spoiling the grand acknowledgement of the quality of this hunt, I'm afraid that I did feel the pinch on my pocket!... HAHAHA. What, you think I print money or pluck them from the trees ah?

BlogCe5nT said...

OK, CKOH. I correct my story a little like this:

"He enjoyed it so much, he felt like he was on pain-killers for the rest of the day - he did not even feel the pinch ...."

So, now that the anesthetics have worn out, you may want to switch to eating roti canai and teh tarik for a few months! BTW, prices reduced on these items.


BlogCe5nT said...

Made a photo-sequence on "Butik Wardrobe"! Thought it was something worthwhile enough to go back to the "crime scene" to get the "bukti" for the benefit of the game!

Locate "Update" to read my latest comments.

Do share your views, if any!

Cornelius Koh said...

That's very hardworking of you, BlogCe5nT!

Someone wrote to me, asking me to explain about this particular case. And I was trying to describe how and where exactly those words were found. These photos will surely help!

But on hindsight, perhaps we should've guessed that the CoC wanted that BUTIK. It's a reasonably debatable issue no doubt, but I'm thinking whether including that BUTIK would have harmed us?

IF - I say, IF - the CoC saw those words as separate entities, would he have punished us for including that BUTIK? This is all speculation, but it has been suggested to me that the inclusion of BUTIK wouldn't harmed us one way or another! - that "how can the coc fault you?"

Now if you are the CoC, and you see those words as 2 separate signs, would you punish me if I included BUTIK together with WARDROBE? This is an important question, because if your answer is "NO", then it was folish of us for not including BUTIK!

BlogCe5nT said...

Yes, Cornelius, we should have included "Butik" to have played it safer. I think our problem was we could not convince ourselves if it was "Butik" or some other word (remember, the sign was obscured and only one of us saw the sign and we had left the sector).

And you are right too, there is another larger issue here - is "Butik" part of the sign or not?

That's the most important thing to establish here. This can affect future hunts.

I remember arguments about three words stacked one on top of another on a sign-board e.g.



Are those 3 signs or ONE sign? If the question was "Brilliance?" - how do you answer it? Just "Excellence" or "Excellence @ Premier Excellence Centre"?

What if BUTIK was on the top-left of the wall, and Wardrobe was on the extreme bottom right of the same wall - both big and clearly visible? Two signs or one?

In my opinion, if the question did not require the business word "Butik" (could be FESYEN, CENTRE, TAILOR, etc) to be part of its answer, then you will need other words or descriptions (in your own words) to support the fact that you actually saw the "answer".

So "Butik" would be helpful in this case (if you saw it). If you did not see "Butik", then it would help to describe where you saw it e.g. @ 88, Jalan Maarof. I would also have accepted the "(TM)" as proof of sighting.

If the question was worded "Fashion apparel for hospital?", then "Butik" MUST be included.

But in this case, there was no need for "Butik" because there was another stand-alone "Wardrobe" on the same shop or more technically, in-sequence and within the same sector.

Maybe, the COC could have been right in refusing to accept standalone "Wardrobe" on the ground that we did not describe where we saw it. We should have answered it as "Wardrobe @ 88, Jalan Maarof" instead.

I can accept that. But then the COC should have also insisted that "UITM" and "NOEL" be treated the same way. COC should not accept "UITM" and "NOEL" if these were not accompanied by some "@" descriptions.

What we need from 2009 onwards is greater consistency in how we judge what "a complete answer" is.
And to be made clear about it at all briefings and in the briefing notes. This topic deserves a posting by itself!

Peter said...

Can I sidetrack a little.

On the same hunt for the novice category,

Q13 read:
Answer: BLUE ROSE AROMA (exact words in the signboard)

The way I see this: Elusive shade = Blue, Bloomer = Rose. So where is AROMA referred to in the question.

My question: Can a question asked for only partial words in a sign.

Or probably the more accurate answer would be : BLUE ROSE @ Blue Rose Aroma

P.S: Referring to the "Butik" case. Since I started hunting, I was told that the golden rule is to write down as much as possible. This you will never go wrong. It is an insurance to include 'Butik' in the answer. Let say, even if the COC doesn't want the 'Butik', at least 'Wardrobe' is there. How right am I in this thinking??

BlogCe5nT said...

Hi, Peter,

If you had paid careful attention during the presentation of that answer by Don DOM, you would have noticed the hesitation/pause when he explained the answer for the two words. He also did not know what to say about "Aroma".

Partial use of a sign does not go well with most hunters and COCs. Unfortunately, some COCs continue to set questions like this. We don't like it too.

But yes, the way to deal with it is as exactly like how you did it with the "@" qualifier.

As for the "Butik" matter - you are right about "writing all" and "insurance" but I must also warn you about "over-writing" too - you are subjecting yourself to more opportunities for errors (spelling especially) and ambiguity.

If the COC (depending on his ego) felt that you were just "putting it all out there for him to choose", he would be tempted not give you the points for doing the "hard work" of deciding which was your answer. The good news is, many COCs are still very soft-hearted in this area - they tend to give in! So, why not?

For the more hardy COCs, you must prove to him you really KNOW the precise answer and SAW the precise sign. If he is not convinced - you lose - say what you may.

Having said all that - "insurance" is still generally, a good philosophy. You will learn, hopefully not too painfully, how to write just enough for each COC's hunt.

Peter said...

Hei BlogCe5nT,

So you noticed too the 'ur' and 'um'.

That was exactly my point as I spoke to a team member after the hunt.