Wednesday, April 27, 2011


PENANG, 3 April 2011: Some of us had been waiting with bated breath for the OFMA Treasure Hunt, the second hunt of a doubleheader weekend. Yeah, it HAS been that long since Chian Min last clerked a public hunt! What I remember though was that I had enjoyed his past hunts, so much so that he has remained in the top two of my all-time favourite COC list.

I'll never forget that soccer-loving boy from the Leader Hunt who gave my team a run-around and deservingly got my stamp of approval. Not to mention that treasure from the same hunt which was POLES more original than anything I had ever encountered during that time. And though his two panadols from the MRCS VAD20 Hunt had given me a migraine, I still enjoyed the torture.

Today's hunt (I suspect) was specially designed with hunt novices in mind, quite expected really, since the bulk of participants consisted of members of OFMA. So barring a handful, I felt that majority of the 30 route questions were quite reachable for most. It has never been Chian Min's style anyway to weave layers upon layers of deception, preferring instead to use conventional trickery and creativity to outwit the seasoned hunters.

Though more relaxing than most hunts by today's standards, nimble treading was still a requisite to avoid the meticulously planned pitfalls. I counted four maybe five red herrings waiting to be reeled-in. And teams that were careful enough to side-step these hazards then had to face a bigger obstacle in the form of a chopstick-ping pong relay challenge.

But the biggest challenge of the day came unexpectedly from the treasures. Lately I have noticed a not-so-appealing trend in Penang hunts where hunters are expected to grope in the dark (perhaps more accurately: while holding a short stump of candle) in search of obscure brands of treasure items that may not be available within the sectors covered by the tulips; and this trend continued through today's hunt albeit atypical of Chian Min. It can be a frustratingly difficult task given the limited time allocated to the hunters, especially when the bulk of the five and a bit hours today was meant for attempting the route questions.

A good analogy would be like asking hunters to search for a specific tiny object (the treasure) buried deep in the sand (the unknown depth representing the unknown shops where the treasures can be found) and buried with other similar tiny objects (the different brands), in an area of the beach cordoned off by markers (sectors within the tulips), using only small shovels (the hunting vehicle). Demanding enough? How about if you were told that you only have 45 minutes to shovel!

45 minutes was exactly how much time we had left at the end of the hunt to look for four of the five treasures. Our team, wisely or unwisely, decided to gamble by deferring the search of the treasures to the end. It is never a good idea to leave the treasures till late. However, we opted to do so because of a more pressing need to make it to the mid-point control within the stipulated time.

Looking at the two treasures below you will soon realize that we weren't exactly in pitch darkness as the COC wasn't exactly heartless. He had casted enough clues to lead the hunters to the two stationery items, staples and paper.

Deliver a treasure maybe handy for PFS students and teachers,
Especially for you to hold together documents and papers,
Likely to be known as bullets, but it won't kill; have no fear,
I want a box, with brand shown by first letter of each line here.
Ans: A box of Deli Staples.

For the support from PFS school, we want to say thank you,
And donate this treasure as part of our worthy tribute,
Get me a ream of papers; for the brand, listen to this one clue,
If you remove the 2nd letter, the remains still sound like one clue.
Ans: A ream of 1K Blue paper.

The challenge was simply to figure out the required brands and find them. However, he was not the least interested in the common brands, no siree! T1's brand was clear eventhough it was obscure. For T5, as deep as you might shovel, still it is unlikely that you will discover the right brand - it is one of those treasures that one needs to have in hand in order to decipher correctly, and the brand being not so common in the market did not help the hunter's cause. So essentially hunters had to to decipher the required brand simply "in the dark".

In the end it did not rattle me to find out that only 4 teams had successfully found T1 in the smaller shops while none of the teams was successful in finding T5.

Of course, my opinion would differ if we were given at least 24 hours in advance to search for the treasures like in this hunt.

Max Score - 100

1st - Chin Kar Peng, Lee Kok Shin, Jayaram Menon, Ho Seng Hooi (84)
2nd - Lee Ling Fei, Chong Voon Kiat, Lim Ming Yang, Loo Wern Ching (82)
3rd - Teng Wei Chiat, Sin Yoong Leong, Yeoh Ban Lye, Cecilia Yew (80)
4th - Edward Yeap, Stephen Chin, Eugene Cheong, Subashini (79)
5th - Cheok Wye Leong, Chin Pin Hong, Elaine Cheong, Emmalyn Tan (78)
6th - Mohd Asri Ali, Kheirul Nazib Mahmud, Haslinda Shamsuddin, Hagi Suhaimi (77)
7th - Alexander Hoh, Claire Chin, Goh Teck Koon, Julie Tan (77)
8th - Peh Kok Hun, Tommy Ng, Loh Chee Kwan, Margaret Sha (74)
9th - Hisham Rusli, Shamsul Johari, Norashikin Ab. Aziz, Rhyrita Sukiman (73)
10th - Aini Fazlin bt Md. Pazil, Azhanawati Abdul Wahab, Wan Kamal Azlan, Mohd Farid Hashim (73)


Chian Min said...

Thanks 2 Romans 1 Impostor for an interesting article on OFMA Hunt.

You’re right that most of the questions were well within the reach of most hunters, and it’s atypical of me to weave layers of deception, when conventional trickery and creativity suffice to outwit seasoned hunters. When overly-cryptic questions are set, the regulars may enjoy them, but the majority (mainly non-regulars and beginners) may be put off.

Since you have been a long-time supporter of my hunt, you would realize that my style has evolved to a certain extent since Leader Hunt; to MRCS VAD20 Hunt and the latest OFMA Hunt.

I would like to take this opportunity to offer my view about the two treasures.

In my opinion, T1 and T5 are not super hard to solve. Both of us can agree that most hunters can easily know that T1 refers to Deli staples and T5 is a ream of paper. And if the hunter worth his salt happens to hold 1K Blue brand in his hands, he could easily figure out that it fits the requirement for T5.

Next comes the search.

I have intentionally classified these 2 treasures under Stationery group; and assuming 1K Blue is not known to the hunters, any smart hunters can kill 2 treasures with 1 stone, by visiting either the stationery section of big supermarkets or major stationery shops.

For T5, it doesn’t have to be frustratingly difficult for your teams or others. It is available in abundance in Tesco outlets, and you passed Tesco Extra Sg Dua; right after you have answered Q3 (which I intentionally landmarked in Tulip No 8). If your team has stopped there, you can secure T5 in less than 10 minutes.

But if your team (and others, I suspect) chose not to stop at the first available big, famous hypermart (within the hunt sectors), just because for strategic purpose, you prefer to search for treasures at the end of the hunt, don’t say lah that the treasure may not be available within the sectors covered by the tulips!

It’s a bit unfair to expect COC to ensure that the treasures are abundantly available in 2nd leg of the hunt, to cater for hunters doing last-minute treasure search.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt here for your team; as well as other OFMA hunters.

- to be continued

Chian Min said...

As to the choice of common name for a treasure, it’s rather subjective!

For discussion sake, how do one define common name? Is it based on popularity (people love it), wide availability (people can see it everywhere), awareness (people heard about it) or other criteria?

How about new brands that have been launched a few months ago?
Those who have seen them, may say that these are common; while others who haven’t may say that these are obscure.

How about brands that are widely available in KL, but not launched in (say) Penang or KK?
KL hunters may call these common, while Pg hunters may not think so.

My point is that what is common differs among the hunters and places. What’s common in KL, may not be common in Penang; and vice versa. What’s common to one hunter, may not be common to another.

I’m aware of the existence of IK Blue and IK Yellow brands for a while. In fact IK Blue has been voted as Malaysia’s Choice Superbrand in 2008, but yet others have not heard about the brand.

Even if the treasure is uncommon by any of this criteria, does that make the treasure any less appealing?

In fact, I have also been to several treasure hunts, where either the treasures are only available at certain specific stores (eg First Choice brand in Giant) or newly-marketed treasures (which are unheard of before the hunt), or sometimes formerly popular brands which are hard to get nowadays. Such treasure trends can be equally seen in hunts at Klang Valley; as well as in Penang.

For me, this is the dynamic aspect of treasure hunts; and therefore great hunters should realize that such uncommon treasure will present an opportunity for them to stretch their resourcefulness and adapt their modus operandi to adapt to the occasion.

As to T1 Deli staples, I agree with you that this brand is not commonly found in 7-Eleven outlets or petrol marts. But as highlighted earlier, since the hunters already know that the required treasure is Deli staples, smart ones who focused their search on major stationery shops (such as Young Ones, which is within the vicinity of the hunt sectors) would found these easily.

For Deli staples, a total of 8 teams got the treasures (4 of them among Top 10), which represent about 20% of the participants. I’m proud that some of them are non-regulars, who never gave up.

With all factors considered, perhaps you don’t have to bring a shovel to my next Penang hunt.
Not yet!

But maybe on second thought, you may want to carry one after all.

Who knows….. my next treasure could be a shovel! :)

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

I had shared my opinion earlier on treasures that are exclusively found in limited shops (YKN Hunt 2010) and it has not wavered.

Time and again the statistics have proven that when the treasures seeked are not common, there is a higher risk of it not being solved and the trend continued during this hunt. "Common" in my opinion need not be common knowledge; it is sufficient that it is readily found on the shelves.

And yes you are right, this "trend" is not limited to Penang hunts alone. In fact one of the Klang Valley COCs might have pioneered this trend. My point is that it surprised me that Penang COCs have decided to join the bandwagon.

Point to keep in mind when crafting treasures is that hunters do not have all day to search for the required item. So if the item is not readily available coupled with the all important clue (Line 4 of T5) being an indirect one, it becomes a bit of a shoveling exercise where luck would have a big say! Pick the right spot to shovel and bingo!

(One way to make similar riddles fairer to hunters would be to clue them to the destination where the item can be found)

Krazee Hunt said...

Hi Guys,
Salute to this blog for being one of the best Hunt blog (to me after comparing all other hunt related blog in Malaysia). Informative, updated, best review n well written. Keep up the good work guys!!!!


2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

Dear Azman, thank you for your kind message. We started this blog as our little contribution to help promote Treasure Hunting.

Hope that our writings had been both educational and inspirational to encourage newbies to hang around. At the same time, hope that our subtle but constructive criticism will continuously challenge the cocs to bring the sport to another level without jeopardizing fair-play.

In our ramblings, if we had stepped on anyone's toes, please accept our sincere apologies.