Monday, August 30, 2010


 Nobody remembers who finished second but the guy who finished second - Bobby Unser.

CAMERON HIGHLANDS, 14 Aug 2010: Some people consider Second to be just another fancy name for a failure and to a certain extent I can understand why. It's the worst possible finishing position in any sporting event. It feels horrible to come so close yet finish second best. It sucks even more when during the post-mortem you realise that with a little more effort or a little bit more luck, the results could have been reversed.

Clearly no one remembers the silver medallists. Nope, I don't remember who did Vince & Sam pip to the finish line in the Amazing Race Asia Season 3. Neither do I recall who finished runnersup to Italy in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Similarly, ask me who was vice-president to George W Bush, and you'll find me shaking my head. Hence, I don't expect anyone (but us) to remember who finished second in the Atmah Charity Hunt last year or the year before that, or the year before that!

I dare wager that we probably hold the unenviable record for the most number of consecutive second place finishes in the same treasure hunt event. Our streak started in 2007 in our very first Atmah Charity Hunt to Port Dickson where we finished second. The following year in the same hunt to Penang, we were again pipped to the finish line, losing out on a tie-break. Last year in the hunt to Pulai Springs, a self-inflicted infringement likely caused us top spot. And this year in the hunt to Cameron Highlands, you guessed it, deja vu all over again!

It won't surprise me any if told that we also hold the curse for the most number of second place finishes in a single year, with 7 in 2010 (and still counting). It makes me wonder what we have to do differently in 2011, short of visiting the bomoh. Neither do I believe in pledges too - clearly it didn't quite work for this fellow (Perhaps certain "things" are meant to be kept out of sight)!

The turn out for this year's Atmah Charity hunt was rather impressive, with more than 100 cars turning up at the Monash University carpark in the morning. All teams were given 8 hours to complete 35 route questions in the hunt which included a compulsory stop at the Tanjung Malim rest area to hand in Leg 1 of the hunt.

The kids had to tag along with us because their mom was out of the country.

Like in previous editions of this hunt, the treasure riddles were distributed 36 hours earlier. The COC accorded heavyweight status to the treasures (each treasure was equivalent in points to 3 route questions), which made it imperative to have them all deciphered. Missing out on one treasure in this hunt is like starting a marathon half an hour behind the leading pack - it was almost mission impossible to catch up.

And of the 5 riddles, I dare say that T2 likely provided the most resistance to the hunters. In fact only 5 teams broke it in the end.

T2: A refined header must be given some thought,
It's also said to have the effect of a drought,
Any size of the lot is to be sought,
Exposed cronies is the one to be bought
Ans: A can of Enrico's Ghee

At a glance, T2 appears to be one of those treasures that can only be solved with prior knowledge of the item. There appears to be no mention of the category of product (ie. drinks, snack food, biscuits, stationery etc) in the riddle to help hunters narrow down the search. The clues appeared to only provide a general description of the product - that it is dry and comes in several sizes, which offered no real help. The only real lead for most (which most teams attempted to attack) was the brand of the mysterious treasure, which clearly was the result of an anagram of 'cronies'. Yet, my guess is that most teams did not progress far because the letters did not form a familiar household name.

But in reality, this riddle is very much solvable. In fact I felt that it was rather clever of the COC to do a cryptic play on the definition of the product rather than the product itself. One word in the entire paragraph of the riddle holds the key to unlocking the mystery product. Once you discover that butter is an acceptable synonym for header, just as quickly it will become clear (from the rest of the clues) that the mysterious product is clarified butter or more commonly known as ghee. Full credit to the COC!

The COC will lose some brownie points for this particular attempt though, one which I am not particularly fond of, because it leaves him very vulnerable. It is not an entirely radical style (there is one other active COC who has used it in the past) but one which I hope doesn't catch on with the rest.

Q29: You could get a bad stroke in here.
Ans: Klinik Bandar Baru

In this question, the COC used "in here" to indicate that the answer is found as a container within the signage, which can be interpreted as within a word or adjacent words in the signage. This to me, is still acceptable. But the COC decided to go one step further, and required an anagram of that word, with "bad" as the key (an action which not only made this riddle more challenging, it probably also increased his vulnerability ten fold).

stroke = raba (in BM)
arba = anagram of raba
arba is contained in Bandar Baru

Following in the same argument as the COC, we found 2 other equally fitting signages which was not even considered by the COC. See if you can explain it the way we did! I'm sure if we stared at the 2 rows of signages long enough we will be able to pick out at least a dozen more fitting answers!

Alternative Ans #1: Pejabat Pengurusan XXXX
Alternative Ans #2: Yinsh

Atmah Charity Treasure Hunt
Maximum Score: 100

1st: Lim Soo Khian, Claire Chin, Julie Tan, Goh Teck Koon (90)
2nd: Chai Koh Khai, Chong Voon Kiat, Margaret Sha (88)
3rd: Lee Ling Fei, Ruben Enbasegaram, Lenny Wan, Yeong Kig Siew (86)
4th: Alexander Hoh, Andre Teh, Razif Ahmad, Darmataksiah Abai (86)
5th: Sim Yoong Leong, Teng Wei Chiat, Yeoh Ban Lye, Sin Yoong Cheong (84)
6th: Liew Kok Seng, Chong Foo Seong, Lim Kong Yew, Sam Rahman (82)
7th: Rajj Melambaran, Yeap Heng Boon, Shirley Hoe, Lim Chuan Leng (74)
8th: Mohd Asri, Ahmad Zahrol, Mazri Muda, Mohd Izhar (74)
9th: Peh Kok Hun, Loh Chee Kwan, Lim Say Chye, Tommy Ng (72)


Cornelius said...

Regarding T2, I can accept the "clarified butter" part of the solution, but I don't really like the second line. I think that line doesn't give anything meaningful to the solver. Firstly, "dry" is an adjective that can describe a million other items. Secondly, I'm not too sure if ghee is "said to be dry".

Cornelius said...

Q29 is a bad idea. It reflects the same attitude with the chess player who plays his pieces based on considerations from his side of the board only. Any good chess player will tell you that if you failed to consider possible replies from the other player, you will quite often be caught by surprises. Brilliancy in chess positions can come from both sides!


bad = anagram key

bad STROKE IN => bad SHY IN => YINSH

Looks sound to me.

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

One of the things I like about Treasure hunts is that not only do they entertain, they are also a source of General Knowledge and vocabulary. This hunt, I learnt that water is actually removed during the process of manufacturing ghee.

Regarding Q29, you just developed another alternative angle (LOL). Rather, I was thinking of (which follows the same argument as the COC):

stroke = anagram indicator
bad = sin
ins = found in Yinsh

Anonymous said...

Alternative Ans #2 signboard is actually YINSOH

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

Not sure how we missed reading the extra "O" (LOL) in the signage, but it won't affect its status as a alternative solution. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

After so many 2nds, don't you think you should try a new team? If you hunt too long in a same team, you tend to think alike and may not see the obvious.

Or maybe some of your existing members are not pulling their weight anymore.

No use crying over spilled milk, go out and find new team mates and build a stronger team.

Good luck.

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

Thank you for your advice Mr John Doe. But no. Like all good teams we will bounce back!

We have not lost the flame, neither have we wilted, though admittedly we did lose our competitive edge after we lost our dear friend.

If only we can reinstitute some of the past principles we used to methodically apply, I'm sure in no time, we'll be the ones buying the next round of beer!