Wednesday, December 1, 2010


KUALA LUMPUR, 28 November 2010: One regular hunter made this comment during the AWAM 6th Charity Walk-about Treasure hunt, "We've got to make do with what we've been given. The same rules apply to all teams". After hearing his comments, I paused for a few seconds before nodding my head. How true!

It is not uncommon to find impossible treasure hunts wherein the time given is ridiculously short when weighed against the amount of tasks that need to be completed and the distances that need to be covered. Sometimes this can be due to an estimation error on the CoC's part. Other times this can be due to unforeseen circumstances like in the case of today's hunt. The CoC had to slice off 30 minutes from the regulation hunting time due to a delay in flagging off the hunters and a need to vacate the Chinese Assembly Hall by 2:30 pm. In the end, teams were given only 3 hours to attempt 30 Questions, 2 Treasures and 10 Bonus Questions, which equated to a very challenging 4.5 minutes per Question, not taking into account the time needed to traverse from one sector to the next!

When a situation like this happens, one can choose either to sulk (which will likely affect one's performance) or make the best of the situation. Since everyone is in the same shoes, it definitely wouldn't be easy for others too! Needless to say good time management is imperative. Maybe a lowering of expectation is required. A change of strategy might help too. Perhaps now you may want to hunt in pairs rather than in a foursome. Yes, it may be impossible to obtain a perfect score but hey, you don't need a perfect score to win this hunt, now do you?

Even with ample time, sometimes a perfect score in a hunt may not be achievable! The following was one of the questions from the hunt which in the CoC's own words was, "a very challenging but not unsolvable" question. Nevertheless, I beg to differ. Challenging yes, solvable no! I felt that he included too many variables in the riddle which discourages hunters from solving the riddle. Unsurprisingly, no one solved it in the end.

Q18: A water beginning and you can expect to get wet for sure.
Ans: Bas.

Somehow I am not a fan of a craft which requires hunters to mind-read the required synonym and then take some letters from that synonym in order to piece together the rest of the riddle. Firstly, this type of riddle requires very good guess-work on the part of the hunters. Secondly, there is a high risk of hunters conjuring up other acceptable answers given the many variables, which could embarrass the CoC.

Today, spotted amongst the hunters were many of my Freescale mates, 88 to be exact, who turned up in support of the event. Ning Baizura too sportingly participated in the hunt. Unfortunately I noticed that her team lost their way towards the end of the hunt and might not have escaped disqualification.

Awam Charity Walk-About Treasure Hunt
Maximum Score: 220

1st: Alexander Hoh, Claire Chin, Goh Teck Koon, Julie Tan (200)
2nd: Ong Hoong Chun, Ng Chor Hao, Peh Kok Hun, Chong Voon Kiat (195)
3rd: Lee Ling Fei, Loh Chee Kwan, Lim Say Chye, Tommy Ng (174)
4th: Lily Chong, Loo Ai Choo, Angela Yap, Lee Siew Fang (174)
5th: Lim Soo Khian, Liew Kok Seng, Lim Kong Yew, Chong Foo Seong (170)
6th: Lim Ming Yang, Loo Wern Ching, Chow Xiang Lee (154)
7th: Aminuddin Sazly, Mohd Faiz, Izlan Sulaiman (138)
8th: Rajj Melambaran, Shirley Hoe, Sivakumar, Lim Chuan Leng (138)


CK Loh said...


Referring to this clue

Q18: A water beginning and you can expect to get wet for sure.

I have to agree that indeed there is other possible answer, at least to our team view on the hunt day.

My team have found an interesting sign "SET LUNCH" where the "SET" can look like a standalone. We wrote the answer, underline the "SET" and explain. Somehow, we explain as we think this is not the sign that the COC is looking for.

We saw "BAS" and thought of "BASAH", but saw "A WATER BEGINNING" is "AW" not "AH", thus "BASAH" is not fit.

However, we are looking for "SET" in the sector, as "SET" + "AW" = "SWEAT".

"GET" is anagram indicator.

"SWEAT" -> when you get sweat, you are wet for sure.

I think it is mentioned many time before we can't play "different branch". But last few hunts, COCs, continue asking clues with "different branch", and make it impossible for hunters to solve.

For the sake of newer hunters, "different branch", where

but A is not C.

For example,
Crazy = Nut
Nut = Kacang

But in the hunt, it is not fair, and most probably no hunter can first equate

Crazy = Kacang

In this case,
Water = H20
H20 beginning = H

Same logic apply replace H20 with Water,

Water beginning = H

Is water beginning = H? Is crazy = kacang? Do you think hunter can come to the equation in the 4.5 minutes given to answer the clue?

COCs now are desperate to beat hunters this way, in my opinion.

It opens tones of other possibilities, which I think is not a good idea.

Water beginning = H20 beginning = H

Water beginning = aqua beginning = A
Water beginning = drink beginning = D

Please check your thesaurus, and you will get

water = baptize, irrigate, moisten, sprinkle and etc.

Is water beginning = B, I, M and S as well? If water beginning = H20 beginning = H, why not the rest of the synonym apply the same rule? Also you need to think of BM angle too?

Once, different branch is allowed, it is really almost every answer is possible answer, in my humble opinion.

So, to be safe COC should avoid trying to craft clues this way and it really open up to hunters to come out other signs that are fit or even better fit.

In this case, is BAS a better answer or SET is a better answer, I will reserve the judgement to you hunters.

Cornelius said...

Interesting discussion.

I'm itching to comment, but because I can't control the length of my comments, I think I'll comment later during the lunch break! (smile)

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

A good practice for CoCs is to continuously remind themselves of rudimentary linear algebra when crafting riddles.

The number of variables must not be more than the number of given equations to render it solvable.

If the CoC only provides a single equation, but throws in 3 sets of variables, it is unlikely that the equation will be solved.

A possible method for solving similar problems is through trail and error. However, it does not guarantee that the solution provided by the hunters will match the solution required by the CoC! That is the point I am trying to bring up in this posting.

miss_duhe said...


I was at da hunt n i think it was Ning Baizura (not Ziana Zain) dat joined da hunt. Anyway it was such another great experience to watch da masters at work (given up on eyeing da prize already but more on sharpening our skill).

Truly, it was such a short time given n probably we'll have more time 2 spot on for answers (an excuse 2 just tembak even if cant crack da Q's)

Guess I have 2 pick up more tips on da masters' blog and try 2 make my brain to 'THINK OUT OF THE BOX"

Cornelius said...

Although hunt Qs are generally cryptic in nature, many CoCs, having been beaten by very strong hunters, have attempted to push the boundaries a little further by allowing some exceptions to the rule. They did this in the hope of staying ahead of the strong hunters.

Generally speaking, I’m in favour of new ideas and twists in the riddles. So I would welcome the expansion of the cryptic clues. As a hunter, I’m always looking forward to see new tricks; and as a CoC, I always make it a point to include something new in my Qs.

Having said that, however, I’m always guided by the principle of fairness. And all too often, I find that many CoCs are unfair when setting hunt Qs. They are unfair because while they are free to expand the boundaries of the cryptic rules in their Qs, there will be times when they will reject answers from the hunters which were derived from the very tricks that the CoCs themselves introduced!

Therefore, I am known to speak up against unorthodox cryptic clueing rules, because many CoCs just can’t be consistent in their own rules. For example, I am against the “double duty” in cryptic clues. And because I am against it, the hunters can be assured that I shall not be crafting clues involving the “double duty”. I don’t think it is fair to indulge in the “double duty” when setting my Qs, but suddenly disallow the hunters to adopt that approach to arrive at an answer.

Likewise, I am an advocate of “CoC sets the clue; hunter solves the clue”. I see some CoCs setting cryptic clues wherefrom hunters are supposed to derive another cryptic clue and then solve that clue which they have just constructed!

Check out this example of a treasure clue from an actual hunt:

Stand up, clap and make a toast

In order to “solve” the above clue, the hunter is expected to construct his own cryptic clue first from the words “Stand up”. Which means, instead of just solving the clue, the hunter is given the extra duty to set as well as solve his own cryptic clue.

From the words “Stand up”, the hunter is expected to think of “once you stand up you no longer have a lap”. That is then to be adopted as a cryptic clue for the purpose of removal of “lap” (no lap) from the word “clap”. After removing “lap” from “clap”, the remaining letter is C, which is then converted to 100 (C = 100, as Roman numeral). Then the following word in the clue, i.e. “and” is equated to “plus”, so that the end result is 100PLUS, which is the required item. A classic example of wanting so much to beat the hunters by a jaw-dropping expansion of the boundaries I spoke of above.

I will post this first, and then continue shortly…

Cornelius said...

As outrageous as I think the above treasure clue is, we have to admit that there is no fixed rules in treasure hunt. It means that CoCs have almost unlimited freedom to set the Qs as they please.

I think the real question to ask is whether the CoCs can be consistent with their own rules. And here, the answer based on empirical evidence, is NO, they usually can't be consistent!

But anyway, as I was saying, I am against the idea of setting a cryptic clue from which the solver is expected to set his own cryptic clue first to be followed by solving that clue which the solver had just constructed. If I can allow that, then I must consistently allow that in all of my hunts. And it will come a time when I won't be able to see all the possibilities. I will fail to see a completely valid answer which is different from the intended one. Then what am I supposed to do?

In a virtual hunt I conducted in my blog a while ago, I set this clue:

Q) Defend or toughen yourself first.

And my intended answer, based on the "Double Jeopardy" idea (which is well-established in treasure hunts) was: 41-1.

However, because some of the strong hunters from the west had experienced some of the medicines from CoCs such as those of the 100PLUS above, they came up with the answer: X. The approach was much more complicated than my intended one based on creating their own cryptic clue from mine. I shall refrain from discussing it here. If you are keen to know, check it out in this post. What I want to say, however, is that I had a clear mind when I rejected that answer! I have never accepted that particular approach, and I have never set my Qs like that. So I shall also not accept answers based on that approach!

Will post this, and continue shortly...

Cornelius said...

Recently, I clerked the Novice Hunt 2 here in my hometown, KK. Somewhere in the middle of the hunt, I threw in this route Q:

Q) Lima tahil?

An average level Q, designed to test the pattern-recognition skill of the hunters. Although it involved a "silent cryptic indicator", I felt that I have been fair with this riddle because I have provided a good "short-listing" clue in "Lima" from which hunters were able to very easily narrow down their search.

The intended answer was:


Where V = 5 (Roman numeral); and

KOOL = reversal of LOOK (LIHAT)

However, a very strong hunter who probably suffered a temporary mental block then, offered a different answer. He gave me:

KM @ Klinik Malaysia

His explanation was like this:

From my clue, LIMA TAHIL, he equated that to 250grams. That in turn is equivalent to 1/4 (quarter) KILOGRAM. He then took that 1/4 KILOGRAM as his own cryptic clue, thus taking only a "quarter" of those letters found in "KILOGRAM". From all those possible combinations, he took the first and last letters, hence, KM @ Klinik Malaysia. I rejected that answer without any hesitation.

If this was a hunt by a CoC in KL, then I would imagine that the CoC might have a little difficulty to reject the answer. But, trust me, folks, he will still reject it even if he himself had used that silly trick before!

Oops! lunch breack is over!

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

miss_duhe, thank you for pointing out my error (will get it corrected). Shows how much knowledge I have in the local entertainment scene :(

Cornelius said...

Now where was I? Ah! let me finally get to my point! (Well, I did warn that I can't control the length of my comments, didn't I?).

What I'm trying to say is that if the CoC sets a Q where too many variables are invovled to form the answer (as 2R1I has correctly pointed out), then he must be prepared to accept other fitting variables leading to alternative answers which are not the intended one! After all, the hunters are playing by his rule. So, for example, if CK Loh's version is sound based on the CoC's own rule, then that answer should also be acceptable.

But the reality in KL hunts is that all too often, it's a one way street. CoC sets the Qs and rules, but doesn't follow his own rules.

Anonymous said...

I think one other thing has to be pointed out for "Bas" as an answer. It was an answer painted onto the bus lane on the road, which was naturally of course - most of the time covered by moving or parked buses!