Monday, January 19, 2009

HRU Challenge #2 - Around The World in 18 days (Answers)

Welcome back home, travelers!

We set sail from Malaysia, but took a flight back from the last destination, didn't we? Sorry to have disappointed those who have suspected the journey to start and end in Malaysia… :)

Anyway, did any of you notice that our globe has been spinning the wrong way - east to west instead of west to east - all this while? That's our world alright – The cryptic world! Our world where all countries are jumbled up, twisted, reversed, hidden and all waiting to be discovered.

HRU Challenge #2 – Around the world in 18 days was created and presented to you to feed your passion for cryptic word play. We have tried to involve the whole assortment of cryptic clues including anagrams, reversals, hidden words, acrostics, homophones, containers, deletions/insertions, odd/even bits, pattern recognition and even a double jeopardy. To many it was a "gruelling journey" and to some it was a breeze; whatever the case, we hope you have had fun and will treasure the experience from it all.

The journey to the end for a podium finish was frantic and it was indeed a very close race. We have identified 3 winners who have performed amazingly well and have seemingly breezed though the whole journey! Except for Question 14, all the other questions were answered. Here's the moment that everybody have been waiting for: The answers and explanations!

Answers & Explanations

Q1. Its old name is represented by its present name.

(Its old name) is = (MALAYA) IS
MALAYA IS anagrams to MALAYSIA (its present name)
“represented by” is the anagram indicator.

Q2. Wine and song from the East.

“From the East” is a reversal indicator; SONG = LAGU; reverse LAGU = UGAL
I.e. (Wine) and (Song from the East) = PORT + UGAL

Q3. Half of mountain range spreads across this country.

I.e. (Half of mountain) range = (TAIN) RANGE
“spreads across” is an anagram indicator
ARGENTINA further defines “this country”

Q4. Country has needs declared in another country.

“declared” is a homophone (sounds like) indicator.
“has” is a container indicator where the solution is broken into parts and one part is wholly contained within another part.
In this case, Country = INDONESIA
I.e. IND(ONES)IA has ONES (sounds like WANTS = NEEDS) which is contained in INDIA (another country)

Q5. Future plans include retiring here.

“Include” is a hidden words indicator. Future plans include UREP.
“Retiring” is a reversal indicator.
Retiring (here) = retiring (PERU) = UREP

Q6. First in will start preparations ahead.

First = IST; Will = AKAN; hence First in will = AK (IST) AN
Start preparations = P (start is an acrostic indicator); ahead is to place P ahead => P + AK (IST) AN

Q7. Corrupted reign in Africa’s leading nation?

Corrupted reign = NIGER (using “corrupted” as the anagram indicator)
In Africa’s leading = IA (leading is the acrostic indicator)
Hence, you get NIGER + IA = NIGERIA (which defines “nation”)

Note: NIGER is a red-herring for this question. NIGER answers only the first portion of the question i.e. “corrupted reign” but it does not answer “in Africa’s leading nation”.

Q8. Odd remnants here uncover Taj Mahal's site.

This question gives an example of the odd/even bits indicator which clues us to take the odd or even letters of the word.
Odd remnants refer to the odd parts or letters of HERE (the solution).
Knowing that Taj Mahal’s site = AGRA, just check the list of countries starting with A and having alternate letters of G, R & A, and the solution will be easily uncovered i.e.

Q9. Internal takeover by Royal Dutch Airlines here to restore some order, progressively?

Royal Dutch Airlines is better known as KLM which is the Dutch acronym of the airlines.
“Internal takeover by” requires word substitution of internal letters of JAPAN i.e. “APA” with “KLM”
J APA N => J KLM N which results in some progressive order (in this case, of alphabets).

Q10. Destination? Delivered to this country, perhaps.

= SENT TO (?????)
This is an example which uses deletion to derive the answer; deleting the letters “SENT TO” from “DESTINATION” results in “DINAI” which anagrams to INDIA.
“Perhaps” is the anagram indicator.


Explanation:This clue simply involves pattern recognition and word substitution. The trick here is to recognize the concealed word, find a suitable synonym of it and then fit it back in.
SAMX = reversal of XMAS = reversal of NOEL

Q12. Ambiguous question too confusing?

There are 2 clues here to point you to the answer.
Question = SOAL anagrams to LAOS (ambiguous is anagram indicator);
TOO = ALSO anagrams to LAOS (confusing is the anagram indicator)

Q13. Expedition to discover oil is of primary importance here.

This is a question with a difference because it is a question which evolves itself into another question, hence requiring two levels of deciphering to derive the answer.
(Expedition) to (discover oil) = TRIP + OLI (discover is the anagram indicator);
Of primary importance = CAPITAL (this is the adjective definition of CAPITAL).
Putting the words together: Tripoli is capital here.
This evolved question or statement gives us the answer: LIBYA

(This question was solved by only five participants – Claire Chin, Chin Kar Peng, Goh Teck Koon, Jayaram Menon and Liong Chian Min)

Q14. Trim back a yard within.

This question also involves 2 levels of solving to arrive at the answer.
1st level: Decipher the suitable word i.e.
Trim back = Crop back = PORC; a yard = ELA; within = with IN
Hence giving us: PORC + ELA + IN
2nd level: Find a substitution for the deciphered word i.e. PORCELAIN = CHINA

(This question was unsolved in the competition but was eventually solved belatedly by Claire Chin).

Q15. Located at two borders of our world 270 degrees?

There are two parts to this question.
The first part the sentence “Located at two borders of our world” refers to the physical location of the answer which is at two borders of our world. "Our world" is of course referring to our square list of countries … Notice we started off with “WELCOME TO OUR WORLD”?
The countries which are located at two borders can only be those at the corners i.e. PERU, UGANDA, SURINAME and YEMEN. Now which one?

The other important clue is of course 270 degrees.
270 degrees = West (as in a compass); but none of those countries are located West. They are at NW, NE, SW and SE respectively. This is where the cryptic play comes into the picture!
West = W = double U = UGANDA
Here, I’ve employed the Double Jeopardy to set the question.

(This question was solved only by Jayaram Menon and Liong Chian Min).

As we have witnessed so far, there are many kinds of wordplay used in cryptic clues. Each kind has its own indicators that tip you off to what type is involved. An indicator is normally a whole word on its own which can be detected easily by the solver with a trained eye and cryptically inclined mind. However, an indicator will pose a little more challenging if it is concealed in a part of the word instead. Some examples (The indicators are high-lighted in red):

Endanger = end of anger = R
Startle = start of LE = L
Somersault = some of RSAULT = RSA, SAUL, AULT, ULT, etc
Turnip = PI
Reflection = NOI
Madonna = anagram of ONNA
Eventful = even letters of TFUL = FL

The list goes on and on. I have many more interesting ones, but I shall not reveal them here … need to save some for future hunts-mah … hehehe (hint for the happening on 1st March!).

Now, don’t you find these types of indicators better hidden and deceptive? They are especially so when the words are phrased smoothly into the sentences. These are the indicators which I find fascinatingly deceiving and will certainly level up the difficulty of cryptic questions hence making them even more challenging. Because of their well-camouflaged characteristics, I like to call them the “elusive” indicators.

Although these types of indicators have been employed before, I noticed that they have not been exploited very much in the treasure hunting fraternity. I think they will make a refreshing break from the norms, and therefore I take pleasure in emphasizing them here. It is based on such “elusive” indicators that I have crafted my next three questions.

Q16. Friend took flight in the Middle East.

Friend = FRI end = I
“End” is the acrostics (elusive) indicator
Took flight = RAN
Hence I + RAN = IRAN (which defines "in the Middle East")

Q17. The Spirit come to rest in the evenings?

Spirit = ETHER
Come to rest = LAND
The evenings = the even letters of INGS = NS
“even” is the even/odd bits (elusive) indicator.
Putting them together: THE N(ETHER + LAND)S

Q18. Brief papers bear the official PIN number.

Brief papers = brief document = DOC (note that “papers” in the plural sense is often referred to as “a document”)
“Bear” is a container indicator
Official PIN number = Off (ICIAL PIN NUMBER)
“Off” is the anagram (elusive) indicator.
Putting them together: DO (MINICAN REPUBLI) C

(This question was solved only by Toh Wei Ming and Claire Chin)

The Winners!

And now, with great pleasure, we are pleased to announce the respected top 3 travelers of HRU Challenge #2 – Around the world in 18 days … (drum roll!)

• Champion : Claire Chin (160 points)
• First Runner-up: Jayaram Menon (158 points)
• Second Runner-up: Liong Chian Min (156 points)

Congratulations to the winners. You have all done remarkably well, our hats off to you all!

We’d like to extend a big thank you to all our travelers for hopping on board our HRU ship for this cryptic adventure “Around the World in 18 days”. If you had found the ride to be a little choppy and rough, please do not be discouraged as “salt” and more “salt” will help clear all those head-spinning “sea-sickness” away one day. Much as we’ve enjoyed steering the ship, we also hope that the journey had been an enjoyable and educational one, especially for the non-seasoned travelers.

If you crave for more, do join us for our inaugural hunt on 1st March. There, you will get to flavor the styles of four CoCs for the price of one! Be rest assured that the difficulty of the questions will be catered correspondingly for a 4 - 5 hours hunt and certainly will not be like that of our armchair hunt.

Comparatively, some of the questions in the armchair hunt were intentionally made a few rungs tougher as they were given from 10 to 18 days to solve! Even that did not stop the regular hunters from achieving a near-perfect score! Hmmm … on second thoughts, maybe we do need to consider a few toughies for our motor hunt … hehehe!

Until then, here’s HRU wishing all hunters “Happy Hunting” and to all who celebrate Chinese New Year, "Gong Xi Fa Cai".


Kevin Soon said...

Q4) Wants and Needs are two different things rite? You can Want something that you might not Need.

Kevin Soon said...

Q10) Which is the deletion indicator?

Marsha said...

Hello Kevin,

WANTS and NEEDS - yes, in essence they refer to different things... I studied that in Commerce Studies class too, many years ago.

"Needs" are what we need to live. "Wants" include everything else we might like to have, but we don't need to survive. But that's a terminology in Commerce Studies.

In cryptic wordplay, we do not go about comparing the distinct definition of each word. All you need (or want) to do is just substitute a synonym of the clued word. That's where your Thesaurus comes in very needy here. A check on the synonym of "needs" will give you "wanTs" apart from a host of other words like (nouns) demands, essentials, requirements or (verbs) requires, lacks, calls for, etc. Can you question... are needs the same thing as demands or essentials or requirements?

As for Q10, the sentence forms an equation i.e. DESTINATION = (DELIVERED TO) (THIS COUNTRY).
Although there's no indicator in the sentence to clue to a deletion, it's implied from the equation that you will need to do some deletion to arrive at the answer.

I guess you can say that this is a unique style of setting a question. This is in line with one of HRU's objectives of injecting new styles and ideas into treasure hunt questions and/or treasures. You will see more of them later!

Peter said...

Hi Marsha,

When I saw the Q10 answer's explanation, I had the same query as Kevin. But he beats me into posting the question.

I, too, cant figure the indicator for the question. But I got more confused with your equation explanation:

The question:
Destination? Delivered to this country perhaps.

Note the (?) after Destination.

Perhaps I am really not at that level to figure that (?) is (=).

A novice trying to figure a Master's Mind!!

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

Kevin and Peter,

Just think of it as adding "Sent to" to the signage to form Destination.

= Slasher™ ® = said...

Hi Peter,
Welcome to the hunter's world. I am new myself to this game. But this e-hunting for sure give me alot of new experience and learning. Though I didnt join the game cause most of the question I cant really figure out the answer.

So I just tried which ever I can and I shall learn when the answer and explaination is given. Cheers....

Cornelius Koh said...

Kevin & Peter,

A typical cryptic clue usually has a "definition" part which is usually located either at the beginning or the end of the sentence. The trick is to identify which is the "definition".

For example:

Q) Has to make professions of loyalty


In the above example, "professions of loyalty" is the "definition" part of the clue. The solver will have to deal with the cryptic part, i.e. "Has to make", and then the outcome should be equated to "professions of loyalty". In other words:

Has to make = professions of loyalty.

Once the equation is established, then the solver will have to recognise that "make" is the anagram indicator; "has to" the fodder to be rearranged into OATHS which is "professions of loyalty".

So in Q10) you can treat "Destination?" as the definition part of the clue. Then the solver has to figure out "Delivered to this country, perhaps" to suit that "Destination?", meaning:


Except in this case, the solver has to convert "delivered" to "sent" first, i.e. indirect anagram.

The clue looks sound to me, although I was stupid to have rushed with the answer long before it was necessary for me to do so!

The more interesting questions for this online hunt, so far, should be Q14 & Q15. For example, what exactly is the meaning of the word "ganda". But I'll wait till the end of the presentation to comment further.

Marsha said...

Hi Corn,

Thanks for offering a clear explanation to Q10; I couldn't have done it better!

So, looks like you are all set to kutuk me for Q14 & Q15-huh? Welcome your propa-ganda to uncover the mistakes, but don't be too hard ya... hehehe!

Peter said...


I am actually not very new to treasure hunt, having started since 2005. Then I was quite active, but for a year or so. Then very irregular due to work.

I have never known of: "definition" or "fodder" all this while. Until, of course, when I started to read your blog. Right now, I could at times being able to form a simple equation linking the two big words.

I still remember that when I first started, we will only need to think in English. If there is a Malay word involve, the clue "local" will be there to indicate so. Right now, its 'apa pun boleh'. And from this hunt, I also saw many other 'new' words being used to indicate anagram, ie:represented by, spread across.

Well, the masters have moved on to Lamborghini, and I am still in my Proton Saga 1st edition. (Sigh)

Anonymous said...

I must say you did quite a fine job in setting those questions. Newbies like me had fun with the easier ones and learnt a whole lot from the more challeging ones and for that I thank you.

I only have one point of contention, that is with Q10. I think the having deletion indicator would make the question complete.

Would it make more sense if the question was worded like so:

Destination? Not delivered to this country, perhaps.

Cornelius Koh said...


Don't worrly lah, my comments carry no weight against a grandmaster like you. How to be too hard? You want me to kena boo kah?... hehehe


That makes us more or less same age in treasure hunt. I have accumulated almost 20 hunts by now. So obviously I have so much more to learn. It's just that whenever I study anything at all, I have the obsession to look at every minute detail.

Anynomous friend,

Forget about the deletion. Maybe that is just too confusing to many people. Treat it like an algebraic equation like this:

D,E,S,T,I,N,A,T,I,O,N = S,E,N,T,T,O,?

Now from the equation, how do you solve to find "?". Obviously you cancel off each letter on the left side of the equation with its twin on the right side, right? Then whatever letters remaining on the left side of the equation (that are not cancelled off at the end) must be the letters we're looking for to represent the letters found in "?". Those letters are not in the correct order, but with the help of the anagram indicator, "perhaps", it can be rearranged to get the name of the specific country.

How about that, is that any clearer to you? Or is it even more confusing?... HAHAHA!

Marsha said...


Thanks for your comments.

To me, "NOT" is not a proper deletion indicator mainly because of the fact that it is not a verb. So the action to delete is just not there. Proper deletion indicators are normally verbs like cut, reduce, eliminate, erase, etc.

However, I think "NOT" is more often used as an anagram indicator instead.

What do the other cryptic pros think?

Jason (formerly known as Anonymous) said...

Ah.. I get it now. I think your earlier explanation of
"This is an example which uses deletion to derive the answer"
confused me.

Corn. Thanks for pointing me to the right frame of mind to forget about deletion. Sorry to have confused anyone else.

Simple way of explaining I guess would be DESTINATION = SENT TO INDIA using the anagram indicator PERHAPS

Cornelius Koh said...

Wow! Did I not predict accurately, Marsha? I should've placed a wager!... hehehe.

Congratulations to Claire. So that's twice in a row including my virtual hunt! And if only you were allowed to participate in the first HRU Challenge too, perhaps you would have achieved 3 in a row by now! Awesome!

Congratulations to the Penang geniuses too. Hats off to all of you!

Good job, Marsha. I got stranded out at sea, but enjoyed the hunt very much. Looking forward to more from you.

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

Corny, at least you got to swim with the dolphins, I didn't even get to leave the wharf!

Nevertheless I am satisfied with winning two ice-cream cups from the champ. She is practically unstoppable in on-line hunts.

Congrats to all 3 winners!

kkchai said...

Congratulations to Claire who practically floored everybody in the ship. If memory serves me right, she only started hunting about 2 years ago and won her first public hunt in a Penang mall hunt. Look where she is now, truly a grand master in the making. I would also like to congratulate and thank our Penang Grand Masters, Chian Min and Jayaram for gracincg our little event here. Ditto to our "Sabah King" who did manage to scramble into the top 5 with our "SJ most-eligible"(you know who you are) :)

BlogCe5nT said...

Well done, Marsha and KK! I am sure that this virtual hunt had stirred the curious, fired up the enthusiasts and proficiently challenged the insatiable demands of the "supremos" of treasure hunting.

Congratulations to the TOP SAILORS (Claire, Jayaram, Chian Min) - you guys must be basking in glory!

To the sporting challengers - my sincerest gratitude to you for your unwavering support - do enjoy your own well-earned haulage and catches! Congrats!

And my heartiest welcome to all the "tourists" - we hope you liked what you came to see and got more out of it than expected.

Come join us at the regular road adventures - especially the one that HRU is organising on March 1, 2009.

Please share your happy discoveries from this blog with all your friends!

renroc said...

Congratulations to Claire & the
GMs from the North !

Congratulations to Marsha too for
charting the stormy voyage.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Claire for a superb performance.

Kudos to Margaret Sha for well-crafted questions that were exhaustive in their thematic scope.

It is a top-notch performance from a budding question- setter.

What vindicates this online hunt as a piece of Art is the presence of Q15 - stunning in its encapsulation of intertwined motifs.

Jayaram Menon

Marsha said...

Here, I just wish to express my thanks to all who have extended their kinds words and encouragements through this blog as well as through emails, which have certainly made my efforts worthwhile in setting the cryptic journey.

Thank You!

= Slasher™ ® = said...

Hi Marsha,
It is definately a good learning experience as we can see alot of different way to set a question. It definately helps a lot new hunters like me to learn on how to think more cryptic way.

Alot of it i really cant think of until the explaination of it came out.Now I can see the some word are actually breakable to 2 part to form 2 different thing :)

Cheers to you for setting up this hunt to help hunters to build up their skill and knowledge maybe. And congrats to all winners.

Wish all those who are celebrating coming CNY and very Happy Chinese New Year :)

Claire said...

Thanks to everyone's congratulatory wishes! And CONGRATS to Jayaram & Chian Min too! :D

It was truly a fascinating adventure. I ventured out happily on a motor-powered yacht, then along the way knocked into some rocks as I ventured too close to land, so had to abandon ship into a dinghy. The dinghy didn't survive as it was leaking... so the last lap was done swimming with my rubber duck float.

My sincerest appreciation and admiration to Marsha and KK for the interesting twists to several questions. Suffice to say..... I can't wait for the 1st of March!!!

Kevin Soon said...

Corny, are u going to kutuk the Uganda question?

Cornelius Koh said...


HAHAHA!... For the last time, I don't kutuk! Been occupied discussing Q13 in my blog as well as through emails with some friends. Am surprised that I have some strong supporters after all!

Maybe not so soon to DISCUSS Uganda lah. But am thinking if it's such a good idea to comment further anyway. So perhaps I'll just make an overview here now.

Suffice to say that of all the questions in this hunt, Q15 is probably the most outstanding. In fact, I think it's brilliant. The deception is just amazing, up to the point where DOUBLE-U is equated to UGANDA.

The riddles are suitable for online hunt, having taken into account the available time to work on them. Only that in terms of "style" it's not my cup of tea. But that is my problem. Well, OK, from what I have gathered, maybe some others have that problem too.

I frequently use word substitutions in my questions too, but whenever I do that, I try to limit the scope of search.

Q14) Trim back a yard within.

First, the solver has to find the correct substitution for TRIM. If you care to look that word up in a Thesaurus, you will find many possible synonyms, because we need to take both noun and verb synonyms. Oh! and adjective synonyms too. At a rough count, I'd say not less than 40 possible words.

Then we must think of YARD. Again some possibilities.

Finally, to figure out WITHIN. At the end of it all, you need to combine all 3 elements not to get the answer, but only the synonym of the intended answer. It is the gruesome process of trial-and-error. If you have the patience to do the substitutions, one at a time, until you finally stumble upon PORCELAIN. Then maybe you can see CHINA there. The solution is technically sound, but the level of expectation is unrealistic to me.

This reminds me of a question I set in the RR Blog. It had a similar requirement of word-substitution with practically no limit to the scope of search.

Q) Spearlike weapon connected to a drawing item.





Can you imagine how many things can fit "spearlike weapon"? And how many things can fit "drawing item"? Almost limitless! Yet it was possible to solve this question because in that special case only 20 possible answers. Solvers were therefore able to work their way backwards from the answers. How to work one's way backwards here? You can only go forward, and if you are lucky, you will eventually find PORCELAIN, and then hopefully CHINA from there.

Boils down to "style". I usually prefer to emphasise on the tricks of the puzzles, not requiring the solvers to pore over the thesaurus and try the words one by one on trial and error.

And when I throw in word substituion,

Q) The French goes to a dead end.

(3 possibilities in this case, unless there are many more that I don't know of)

And the rest of the words are merely "last letter", of which an average hunter is fast to find. I don't require the substitutions of, for example, "goes" and "dead" and "end" with some other specific words so that I can then join them all together to form another sentence.

An interesting style nonetheless, but I have a feeling it will take quite a while for the majority of hunters to learn, and to like it.