Tuesday, August 4, 2009


SUBANG JAYA, 4 Jul 09: Love it or hate it, Double Duty clues are slowly making its appearance in the local treasure hunting scene. In cryptic clueing literature, a clue is denoted as double duty when a part or the whole of the clue has two functions and so has to be read and interpreted twice.

Today, we received from the clerk of course, not one but two doses of the double duty clue.

Q19: Talk about the headmaster?
Ans: Emorat

The setter intended for about to play two roles in the clue, first as an anagram key and next as a nesting key. In the solution, M (the head of Master) is nested within the anagram of orate (a synonym of talk).

Q7: The leading media enterprise looking into zany authors
Ans: Meliza Media

In Q7, the setter intended for leading to be both an acrostic key yielding M-E-L-I-Z-A from the fodder, and in a literal sense (&lit), a 'leading media enterprise'.

While I can appreciate the setter's line of thought here, I felt that there is no basis to reject and use as red-herring the alternative answer in the sector, Meliza Books. Firstly, Meliza on its own fitted the clue to the T. And secondly, Meliza Media is hardly a well known media company, let alone a leading one.

The Winners (from L-to-R): Ramesh, Kong Yew, Foo Seong and Kok Seng with a representative from SMK Subang Utama

SMK Subang Utama Treasure Hunt
(Maximum possible score: 115 pts)

1st: Ramesh Rajaratnam, Liew Kok Seng, Chong Foo Seong, Lim Kong Yew (109)
2nd: Alexander Hoh, Andre Teh, Rosemawarni Abd Rahman, Mohd Shahrin (106)
3rd: Chong Voon Kiat, Margaret Sha, Lily Loh (106)
4th: Christopher Foo, Claire Chin, Julie Tan, Goh Teck Koon (101)
5th: Mohan Campos, Rueben Chelliah, Angela Chelliah (93)
6th: Loh Chee Kwan, Yeong Kig Siew, Tommy Ng, Lee Ling Fei (90)
7th: Muhammad Razif Ahmad, Darmataksiah Abai (87)
8th: Haji Suhaimi, Shandra Dass, Pasupathy, Kumar (81)
9th: Mohd Asri, Sallehudin, Mazri Muda, Kheirul Nazib (73)

10th: Venkateswaran Nagappan & team (70)


Mike said...

don't like it if both the duties are clue indicators. (Q19)

but if one is indicator and the other is a definition or &lit, it's kind of elegant. like Q7 (if it fits unlike this e.g)

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

I have the same line of thought!

Anonymous said...

In both questions, usage of double duty is just plain wrong.
"about" can be used only once in 1st case.

in 2nd case . its not &lit since the whole sentence is needed for that. so both answers having meliza in them are ok.


Cornelius said...

I'm inclined to agree with Master Jayaram. Double duty is wrong and shouldn't be allowed. This is not a question of "style". We can have "style", but whatever "style" we want to use, it must be correct to start with. Again we come back to the issue of consistency.

What if I want to use the word "tail" as referring to the first letter of a word, and then claim that as my "style"?

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

I think you have misunderstood. We're all not saying that Double Duty is wrong, just that it was wrongly used in the context of these two questions.

peter said...

Referring Corny's last para:

Can we use 'Endless' to chop off both ends - front and back. Or 'endless' just literally means the 'end'.

Cornelius said...

Oh! Sorry about that, 2R1I. I had the impression that Master Jayaram was saying that double duty is wrong.

Well, all the same, I think double duty is wrong!

But just to be sure that I understand your position, are you saying that if "about" is used once as the indicator, and another time as the fodder, it is right?

But when used twice, both as indicators, then it's wrong?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Cornelius, I do think double duty usage is wrong - not only for these 2 cases - but in all general purpose cryptic questions.
I remember Mr. Fields explaining very well WHY it is wrong in your blog some time back.
He asked for a valid example which did not violate grammatical rules. No example was put forth.


2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

Ha ha, sorry Cornelius. Seems like I am the one who have misunderstood Jay's comments :)

Well, speaking for myself, I am still very much pro-Double Duty clueing as long as the end result has enough information included that renders it solvable.

for example:
Q) Cabaret astonishes who?
A) Floor Show

I rather enjoy fresh ideas that may not necessarily comply to the Ximenean standard, but are not far-fetchingly impossible.

After all, treasure hunts and
cryptic crosswords are not truly identical - as opposed to the latter, we do have the "answers" displayed in full view!

Cornelius said...

Ah! So I understood your correctly after all, Jay.

Yes, in my opinion double duty is wrong in all general purpose cryptic questions.

Apparently, some CoCs would like to claim the "double duty" as their styles, but I don't buy that kind of explanation. When something is wrong, how can that be a "style"? In one past hunt, the word "BRIEF" was used as initial indicator. I said when something is wrong, it is wrong. Just that!

In a recent hunt in KK, Alvin Wong set a format where no tulips were provided. That is his style. Although I prefer the use of tulips in hunts, I can accept his "style". "No tulips" is a variation in hunts which does not violate cryptic rules. In fact in one of his past hunts, at the height of his "cruelty", Alvin did not even provide maps and names of the sector. He merely gave hints of the sectors, e.g. "a place where bulls and bears run up and down", thus referring to a place where people go to trade the stock market. But he did not break the cryptic rules in his questions. Therefore I must admit that I was defeated by his "style"!

I think CoCs should remain true to cryptic rules. "Styles" can come in other aspects of the hunt, but don't compromise on the cryptic rules. Because if we can simply change the cryptic rules, then treasure hunts will soon become strictly about knowing the wrong rules of the many CoCs. The result is that there will no longer be uniformity in hunt rules. When hunting in KL, "BRIEF" is initial indicator; when hunting in Sabah, "BRIEF" is abbreviation of a word; when hunting elsewhere, it means something else.

Cornelius said...

Oops! peter, sorry about that, I forgot all about your question!

Usually, the word "end" refers to the last letter of the fodder. This is in accordance to the way we write. And so, because we write from left to right, it means that the extreme left is where we start, and extreme right is where we end the word. In that sense, "end" usually is the last letter.

However, there is another angle to see the matter. It is possible to see a word as an object, much the same way we see a stick or a piece of rope. In such a case, the stick has two ends. And it is in this sense that we've seen how the outer-most letters in a word are referred to as the "ends" of that word.

From what I've seen, there is no need to add "front" and "rear", e.g. "front end" or "rear end".

However, when "end" is used in its singular form, it usually refers to the "rear end". I'm not familiar with "end" used for referring to the first letter.

Therefore, in my opinion, "endless" should logically refer to the deletion of the last letter (rear end) of the fodder.

It is also possible that "endless" may refer to other meanings, but I will discuss that next time, perhaps after one of my hunts!

Cornelius said...


I think when something is wrong, it is just plain wrong, and the mere fact that one is able to find the answer on the signboard does not make it right.

To quote again that past hunt I mentioned of earlier, the hunters saw the word "BRIEF" to have a specific meaning in the cryptic sense. The solutions, if any, they arrived at were nowhere to be found in the sectors. They then put two and two together and found the intended answers on the signboards. They had a good laugh about the wrong solutions, but were relieved that the got the intended answers anyway.

BUT! that still did not make the solutions right! The wrongly-used "BRIEF" should still be rejected anyway!

mike said...


99=ic and charge=ion are few wrongs that are now standards.

Cornelius said...

Exactly my point, Mike.

I'm sure that the next time the same CoC uses "BRIEF", there will be another possible angle how the hunters would see the clue. That, too, can become a standard. But it is still wrong!


IC = 99 can be standard;

CHARGE (instead of charged atom/particle) = ION can be standard;

COUGHEE = COFFEE can be standard;

And I bet that hunters will remember these equations and link to the respective CoCs who have used them, but not so much because they thought these are correct equations!

IC is still not 99; CHARGE is still not ION; and COUGHEE is still not COFFEE, even if they are used as "standards". Hunters may know them as "standards", but not necessarily accept them as correct. It's just that for the sake of survival in the competition, they are forced to remember all these wrong "standards". That's why I said eventually "BRIEF" refers to something specific in KL, but means something else in KK, and yet something else elsewhere.

We want, as much as possible, to maintain the cryptic clueing rules, because the questions are the meat of the hunt. We must have uniformity.