Monday, October 5, 2009


KUALA LUMPUR 3 Oct 2009: It was one tough day outside of the office for hunters who participated in the Walk Kuala Lumpur Treasure Hunt organised by The Podium @ Menara Hap Seng. While the exact number of casualties is not available at press time, the number of victims is estimated to be no less than a hundred. Most hunters including ourselves, succumbed to the brilliance of the cryptic questions, while there were a number who buckled under the hot sun from exhaustion during the 4km walk around the Golden Triangle of Kuala Lumpur I was told.

I must say that most of the questions were very well done - extremely challenging even to those who have been in the sport for decades and decades. From the level of difficulty, it is clear that the setter had put in a lot of effort and time. While I applaud the hard work and enjoyed the challenge, I have a niggling feeling that not many in the fray today would agree with my comment, especially family teams who had children in-tow. Since this sport was never intended to be exclusive only to the members of the Alpha-Omega* fraternity (*not intended to be a pun on the real Alpha-Omega society should it exist), it would work more in the setter's favour to include more earth-level questions. After all like they all say, too much of a good thing all at once can't be good for you!

But if you are indeed a member of the Alpha-Omega fraternity, you will enjoy this one. This is one cryptic question that Jay himself would have been proud of setting. I could tell from Jay's expression that he (who coincidentally had joined us today) had enjoyed this one the second he solved it while strolling along the Bukit Bintang stretch.

Q12: In front of crowd, I stutter nervously.
Ans: IICI.

The setter wittily used stutter in the literal sense ie. an involuntary repetition of the word "I", combined with the acrostic of crowd (with in front of being the acrostic key) and organized the result with nervously being used as the anagram key.

And on the subject of the setter's signature One-Line treasure riddles, I can sense that ..........

... not only do they continue to petrify the hunters as the results will show,
(as there are not a whole lot of clues given)

Statistics from

... they will continue to be a nightmare for the setter himself.

Treasure 1: Go. Hand in one of this.
Ans: Glove (one side).

The intended solution requires a charade of G and Love (with love replacing O).

But with not a whole lot of clues thrown-in to narrow down the mountain of possibilities, it is not surprising therefore that during the hunt, there were a number of regular teams that brought this in.

A can of Green Spot

This submission by another regular team cracked me up. How ingenious? But I am not so sure if they were really expecting to be given the points, or had merely wanted to tickle the setter into submission ;)

A hand-drawn Green Spot (not the original drawing)

3 Oct - Walk Kuala Lumpur Treasure Hunt
(Maximum possible score: 100 pts)

1st: Claire Chin, Goh Teck Koon, Lily Loh, Teoh Cheow Teong (85)
2nd: Alexander Hoh, Andre Teh, Rosemawarni Abd Rahman, Mohd Shahrin (80)
3rd: Chong Voon Kiat, Margaret Sha, Chai Koh Khai, Jayaram Menon (77)
4th: Ong Kheng Heng, Tan Eng Siang, Lam Ken Yi, Yoon Sze Mae (68)
5th: Loh Chee Kwan, Peh Kok Hun, William Yong, Joshua Chong (66)
6th: Ramesh Rajaratnam, Liew Kok Seng, Lim Kong Yew, Chong Foo Seong (65)
7th: Vincent Tan, Lee Kong Hor, Wong Pek Chen, Kevin Lee (60)
8th: Khong Sook Ling, Adeline Lee, Lim Tek Yeong, Lim Say Chye (55)
9th: Liew Kok Weng, Chang Sze Ye, Chang Sze Kim, Yeap Gim Sai (53)
10th: Soo Ua Chun, Loo Wern Ching, Tan Aik Chun, Lim Ming Yang (51)


Cornelius said...


Regarding T2 of this hunt:

T2) Encountered and returned with this specific kind of brew.

This clue when analysed correctly can be simplified to this:

FACED and [return (reversal indicator)] with COFFEE.

Now to deal with each of the words found in the simplified version of the clue, we can explain like this:

(i) FACED: the fodder of the riddle (synonym of ENCOUNTERED).

(ii) return: reversal indicator (telling the solver to reverse FACED).

(iii) with: meaning we're dealing with a solution which comprise 2 words - the first word together with the second word.

My questions to you, 2R11I:

1) Apart from its role for the sake of the "surface reading" of the clue, do you think that the word "and" in the clue has any impact on the solution (in the cryptic sense)?

2) The ideal cryptic clue should be accurate in its cryptic solution and also has a smooth surface reading. But sometimes it's difficult to have both. In your opinion, in the event that we can't have both together, which of the two should prevail against the other?

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

HRU was rather fortunate to have Jay in our team this week. And coincidentally, we did have a short discussion on a related subject to what you have raised.

I must say that I agree with him that it is obligatory to have the fodder adjacent to the keyword. There are exceptions of course, in the case of homonym or sounds like clues.

In the case of T2, the "and" here appears to be ill-chosen, wrongly misleading hunters into looking for a solution having a charade of two words (A AND B), possibly synonyms of A and B.

Anonymous said...

And why the need for "specific kind of"?

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

It is the setter's way of saying he wanted a specific type and not just any coffee off-the-shelf.

But if I read him accurately enough, his real intention is to "tell" us that he has in fact disseminated clues in the sentence concerning this specific type he wanted.

I like this style actually.

Cornelius said...

There are times when the fodder is separated from the indicator by a word or even words, and the clue is still sound.

To take an example from a previous hunt here in KK, though the surface reading isn't very impressive on grammatical grounds:

Q) Came and get entangled.


In this example, notice that GET is located adjacent to ENTANGLED (anagram indicator). But CAME is cut off by the word "and". Yet I can accept this particular configuration of the words as correct, because for the simple reason in the mind of the solver, it is like saying:

[the word] CAME and [the word] GET [to rearrange the letters therein] => MEGATEC.

The letters found in the word "and" are not involved in the anagramming process.

However, in the case of T2, "and" should not be there. In fact, I dare say it is wrong to be there. It is still wrong even if we changed the order of the words to become like this:

Returned and faced...

But, if instead of "and", we use the word "the", then I think it can be acceptable:

Returned the faced...

because the solver then sees the sentence as:

Returned the [word] FACED...

Now, I think it is safe to say that when the intended answer is missing (perhaps signboard has been removed), most, if not all, CoCs would either cancel the question, or give "free" points to every team. It doesn't really matter if it's a tough question or not. In all likelihood, if that answer was still there, some new teams mightn't have solved the question. But because the riddle is "defective" in the sense that there is no longer an available answer, the CoC gives the benefit of the doubt to the solver, and thus gives him the "free" points intended for that question.

In a similar way, there have been times when the question itself is "defective" due to some inaccuracy or for whatever reason; but the intended answer is still found within the sector. In such a case, two things can happen. (1) Some regular hunters, having experienced this particular CoC's style before, is aware of the inaccuracy, but gets the idea anyway, solves the riddle and finds the intended answer. (2) Some hunters, not knowing the (wrong) style of this CoC, fails to see through the riddle, fails to solve it, and ends up with nothing to show.

And now the important questions:

1) Should the hunters be punished for failing to answer a "defective" question?

2) Can a defective question be deemed as a "dropped" signboard?

I ask the 2nd question above because I can still remember in the SunHunt (or was it another hunt?), there was a "dropped" sign, but because some hunters who're familiar with the sector knew that there was a signboard (which was already missing at the time of the hunt) gave that as the answer. However, when the answer was revealed, and when the other teams objected because the sign wasn't there, all the teams were given the "free" points in the end.

So I ask again; when the question is "defective", but some teams can still find the answer (because they're very good guessers?), should that question be cancelled all the same?

Mike said...

my generic responds (not specifically regrading T2)


there are many different kind of defectives.

1. board drop. BOTH the CoC and hunters agree it is defective.

2. if the CoC realise he makes a mistake, say missing one letter for anagram or asking for bottle drink when it is not in the market. yes he should cancel the question.

the above are obvious defectives. agreed by both CoC and hunters.

in the case of very technical cryptic defective. it's often YOUR OPINION is it faulty, the COC may or may not agree that it's defective.

lain padang, lain belalang bro

Cornelius said...

Ah! you beat me to it, Mike!

Yes, that's what I was getting at. When we have a defect which both parties - CoC and hunters - see as a defect, then rightfully that question should be cancelled. But when not all of us can agree that the question is defective, then the CoC has the last say. Of course in whatever case, the CoC's decision is still final, whether he's right or wrong. But when he's wrong, not so nice lah.

I raised this question because there was once when I had a question in my KK Challenge 1 some years ago. I can't really remember the exact sentence, but if I'm not wrong, it was something like this:

Q) Losing concentration?

And the answer was a signboard containing the word "FOCUS", of which the last 2 letters were very faded, but still readable. It's a very weird kind of question, but I didn't think it was very difficult to figure out.

Unfortunately, I did not realise that there was another signboard at the shop with a clear "FOCUS" on it.

A strong regular team saw the faded FOCUS and thought that could fit. But then they also saw the clear FOCUS. They discussed the solution among themselves and decided that because there was a clear FOCUS at the same shop, then the faded FOCUS can't qualify as the answer. They therefore rejected both these signboards.

And of course later on they disputed my faded FOCUS. In the end, I decided for my intended answer anyway. But upon further thinking, I thought there must be many more cases where "defects" in questions might arise. And my thinking is that only in cases where both parties can agree that there're obvious defects, will the questions be cancelled. Otherwise, the CoC's decision should be final.

Having said that, however, we have also seen in the past where everyone saw the question as defective except for the CoC. Other CoCs who hunted also saw the question as defective. For example the use of the word "brief" as the initial indicator. The CoC had intended that word as the initial indicator, and that was significant in arriving at the solution.

In such a case, do we still say "lain padang lain belalang?" If we can say that, then one of these days, we will find a CoC using, say, "hospital worker" as an anagram indicator. Treasure hunts will then become more about mastering the CoC, and hardly anything to do with cryptic skill.

Cornelius said...

Ummm... just for the record, I don't think that word "and" in T2 is accurate. But yes, that is MY OWN OPINION. I would not set my question for this intended answer this way. Maybe it's because padang di timur rumputnya lain jenis?... HAHAHA!

Mike said...

mmm...and for the record, i appreciate yr feedback on the "and" in T2.

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

ehmmmm I dunno Cornelius .... What you are dreaming about is too disruptive akin to a 4th official reviewing video evidence of every single protest during a football match.

Not in favour, sorry.

Cornelius said...

No, 2R1I, I'm not dreaming of endless debates during the answer presentation. I agree with Mike that only when we have obvious defects such as dropped signs, or missing letters in anagram solutions can we quickly settle the issues by cancelling the questions.

When it's a 50-50 situation, the CoC will always have the final say. That is the only practical solution.

However, when all the hunters see the question as defective, and only the CoC sees it as perfect, that is slightly different. That's why I quoted the "brief" as an example, where we all know it's wrongly used in the questions. Yet, it's still the CoC's decision all the same. The only thing the hunters can do is perhaps to stay away from a hunt that is uniquely different from the rules that we know of. I myself would certainly stay away from such hunts, that's for sure.

However, 2R1I, in an average hunt, we don't normally get objections for all the 40 questions. At least not in the hunts I have participated in before. At most, maybe 2 or 3; and if more than that, it won't be very many more. It won't take forever for the presentation to conclude. I think it is OK to have the hunters to raise a question or two, or even objections during the presentation, even if the CoC decides to ignore those objections in the end.

Then again, if the hunters object to all (or most) of the questions, well, obviously that reflects badly on the CoC, doesn't it? Have you experienced that situation in any of the hunts over the many years of hunting? I doubt it.

Whenever I hunt, and if I see mistakes in the solutions, I don't normally object during the presentation. I am a perfectionist by nature, but I am not a perfect man. I try my best to do everything perfectly, but I can't guarantee that my riddles are perfect. When in due course I take up the role of a CoC, I am bound to commit some mistakes too every now and then. I just hope that I make as few as possible. Therefore I can understand the nature of being a CoC.

This particular hunt, I have glanced through the Q&A, and I am impressed with them when viewed as a whole. Just because I'm disagreeing with one or two doesn't mean that I'm down-grading the quality of the hunt.

What I'm hoping for, however, is perhaps from post-hunt discussions in my blog or here, if indeed we can find inaccuracies in some of the questions, we can all agree to have some sort of standard - what is right and what is wrong; what we can accept, and what we can't. Hopefully, that can help to set some sort of consistency in treasure hunt questions and quality. Whether or not we're ever gonna achieve such consistency, that is a different matter all together.

kkchai said...

What should the COC do when one of his questions is factually wrong ?
In this case, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Austria and not Germany.

Cornelius said...

Ah! KK, that's the other question I thought of discussing here, but decided against it.

I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to names like AMADEUS. The first thing I did when I saw the answer was to google up the information. And of course I noticed that inaccuracy in "Born in Germany..."

However, I wasn't there during the presentation, and I wasn't sure if the CoC was indeed referring the Wolfgang fellow. I thought it's quite strange that the CoC could make such a mistake. So maybe he was referring to another person named AMADEUS who's also well known and really was born in Germany.

That is the trouble with names, especially when the solution comprises only one word - in this case, AMADEUS. If on the other hand, the solution is together with another word or syllable, then we can be surer of the answer. For example:

Q) Verbal instruction to assassinate Rogers?


There must be many, many people named ROGERS in this world. But in this case, only KENNY can fit, because the KIL is confirmed by "Verbal instruction to assassinate..."

But not in the case of AMADEUS where there is nothing to comfirm which Amadeus we're talking about. Therefore that "Born in Germany" portion of the question, far from being an asset to help the solver, is a liability instead. In fact, the clue can stand on its own without "Born in Germany". A simple "Made in USA perhaps" is quite sufficient to do the trick, but maybe the CoC wanted the surface reading to be more "entertaining", I don't know.

Now, the CoC could still escape if he had realised his mistake in time. All he needed to do was to search high and low from the internet, anyone fairly known named AMADEUS and born in Germany. That is good enough, because that portion of the question was just there as an "accessory" anyway for "window dressing". Any AMADEUS would do!

However, if the CoC did not realise his mistake, and actually announced during the presentation that he was referring to the AMADEUS as in the Wolfgang fellow, then obviously that is a factual mistake, and hunters can then challenge that solution as technically wrong.

Nevertheless, in the end, if he can show that there is a different AMADEUS who's born in Germany (and I'm inclined to think that there must be one), the CoC can still save his neck. But in such a case, it's not so nice lah. When a solution has to go through a damage control maneuver like that, it reflects badly on the CoC.

Cornelius said...

Holy cow! Why on earth can't I keep my comments short?... HAHAHA!!

Cornelius said...

Oh! on second thought "Made in USA perhaps" isn't safe either. That "Born in Germany" is still required, but it has to be changed to "Born in Austria".

Mike said...

I deserved a real hard kick for that "Born in Germany" very very careless mistake.

If someone had highlighted this fact to me on hunt day, I would have canceled it immediately.

Thanks KK for bringing it up.

kkchai said...

In spite of that little glitch, I actually liked this question because this American made 1984 movie "Amadeus" is one of my all time favourites. For those who have not seen it, I strongly recommend that you go get a dvd copy and watch it. Enjoy.