Monday, December 3, 2007

AMC Treasure Hunt—Arachnophobia

Another exciting hunt co-clerked by celebrity masters, Liew Kok Seng and Dato' Ramesh Rajaratnam. I was given to understand that this was their debut as co-CoCs.

Again, I had to start in the ungodly hours in the morning. Took the train from the KL Sentral Station to Taman Bahagia. It was pretty much the same as the previous day. But this time it was a much further drive to the flag-off point in Cyberjaya. We were amongst the first few to arrive. Seeing that there's still time, we went for a quick breakfast. When we got back to the flag-off point after breakfast, most of the teams were already there.

We were all busy chit-chatting with each other about Mike's hunt the previous day when suddenly it felt like everyone stopped talking and watched in amazement the arrival of the two super grandmasters, Chong Foo Seong and Y S Khong. It was a very grand entry and it felt like eternity seeing them approaching from afar.

It was such an experience—mingling with so many grandmasters. But soon, it was time for the final briefing. It was mainly usual stuff, but it was interesting when Kok Seng announced, "... we're giving you all a very generous 5 hours to hunt," apparently addressing the crowd, but looking directly at Michael Pang. Makes you wonder why, huh?

The AMC Hunt was also a pure hunt with no games of chance. There were 40 route questions to solve, and 5 treasures to submit. 5 Road Safety questions to be completed, but did not contribute any points. However, those questions had some role in the tie-breakers.

The theme of this hunt was "Wild on Wheels". The CoCs made a special mention on knowledge of classic cars, but it was too late to do anything about it anyway. The questions were not as tough as Mike's hunt, but some were still tricky. There were "easier" questions in between tough ones. I thought it was a very good effort considering that it was their first attempt as CoCs. But that is not to say that I don't have any comments on their questions! I guess I am just an impossible person to please 100%. I will come to the analysis and comments shortly.

Interestingly, several pictures were included as questions. So it was much harder to simply google up information from the internet. It's in that sense that Y S Khong had a clear advantage over the rest, but of course it's all in the game!

We felt that the 5 hours given for this hunt was just nice. At least I felt that there was enough time to try to work on all the questions. I think the next time I clerk a hunt here in KK, I will adjust to set more or less similar level of difficulty too so that a wider range of hunters can enjoy the hunt.

We made full use of the allocated time, arriving at the finish station with only about a minute or two to spare. If there's anything for us to complain, time's certainly not it. The CoCs marked all the answers there and then— a task which took them about an hour to complete. In the mean time, we had lunch under some tents while watching some people racing go-karts; and perhaps annoyingly loud music in the background.

When the CoCs were done, all of us went to a pavilion on a small hill, overlooking a beautiful lake. I thought it was just too bright for the powerpoint presentation. It was windy, and there was this poor soul who had to stand behind the projection screen to hold on to it so that it wont be blown off. That was where the answers and explanations were given; as well as presentation of prizes to the winners.

And now, I shall proceed with my (trademark) analysis and comments on the questions. Again, I should caution the new hunters not to take my comments as your guide to improve on treasure hunts. Please ask for second and even third opinions from the many grandmasters...

Q4) In short, it was the subject of automobile controversy recently.

A4) AP @ Ambang Perantau

This question was intended to be an easy question. My team member saw the answer fairly quickly, but was not convinced of the answer. It was much later, when we couldn't find anything better that we reluctantly took AP. And the whole trouble was because of the word "recently" in the question. I must agree with my team members that the AP controversy isn't really recent. I know "recent" is a relative word. What is recent to me may not be recent to others. But I would consider an event within the year as recent, not something that had taken place a few years ago.

Q8) OHH?

A8) Water Maker Marketing & Services.

In my opinion, this question/answer/explanation can't pass close scrutiny. Let's investigate the explanation of the CoC and then see if it can hold water!

This question was intended to be a Double Jeopardy (DJ) type. For the benefit of those who're not so familiar with treasure hunt questions, a DJ is when the solver is given the answer, and he is then required to spot the question on the signboard.

According to the CoC, the word "Maker" found on the board was an anagram indicator. Therefore, it follows that 2 hydrogen (H) and 1 oxygen (O) atoms are rearranged to become OHH, instead of the usual H2O.

But I don't agree with "Maker" as an anagram indicator. To me, an anagram indicator should normally be a verb—an action word (in all the tenses), e.g. make or made or making etc. "Maker", in my opinion doesn't qualify as an anagram indicator. Maybe in some isolated cases, it might be possible to use nouns as anagram indicators, but I can't think of them from the top of my head.

There was once, I thought of conjuring up a question involving Tina Turner, where I thought of rearranging the letters in TINA by adopting the TURNER as an anagram indicator. But in the end, I abandoned that idea, because I couldn't convince myself that TURNER could qualify as an anagram indicator.

Anyway, coming back to this question, there is another (possible) way out for the CoC. And that is by looking at those letters—O, H and H—as the required atoms to produce a water molecule (H2O). In that case, we say O, H & H are makers of—the required atoms to produce—a water molecule. Regretfully, however, in such a case, the explanation would fail on grammatical grounds. The board contained "Water Maker", whereas if we are to rely on this explanation, we would have needed a board that contained "Water Makers".

Having said all those, we chose this intended answer anyway because there were just simply no better alternatives!

Q9) Newly crowned Kimi operates a food business here.

A9) Johan Catering

I suppose this question is OK, but one wonders the neccessity of "Kimi". Newly crowned is already good enough to reflect a champion.

Q11) WW.. rings a bell?

A11) Foryou @ Pusat Aksesori JE

For a moment I was at a lost. Then my team member raised an important question. He said, "Why 'ring a bell'; what does that tell you?" And immediately I thought of a "sounds like" indicator. I must admit that "rings a bell" is new to me as a sounds like indicator.

Then the next step was to figure out those WW. Suddenly we saw "Nice 2 U" on a board. 2 U... hmm... that made a "double-u". But we're still lacking another "double-u". And then finally we saw "Foryou". That was nice, because it sounded like FOUR "U", which of course made 2 "double-u".

So that settled it, "Foryou" satisfied the sounds like indicator. And it satisfied 2 "double-u" to make 4 "U". But unfortunately, it didn't satisfy grammatical requirements! If indeed we can all agree on "rings a bell" as a sounds like indicator, then a correct answer would be "ForyouS". To say "four U" is grammatically incorrect. Because it's plural, it must come with the "S"!

Finally, for the life of me, I just fail to see the significance of the two dots after the "WW". Do they mean anything at all? Why two fullstops there? I thought one will do just fine? Or did I get it all wrong with my analysis? Can anyone please explain those fullstops to me?

Q13) (Picture of classic convertible) What and where?

A13) Picture of "Spider" on wall.

And this, folks was the question that totally defeated our team! We were hopeless; none of us knew the name of the car. It's an interesting way to set a question. By seeing the picture, the hunter had to know that the name of the car was an Alfa Romeo Spider. He then had to spot the picture of a spider on the wall. I am not faulting the CoC here. I am merely expressing my admiration on his creativity in using this means to beat the googling addicts!

Q24) Brew espresso gold roast mixed with coffee creamer for a start.

A24) Makeup Accessories.

An amazing question which wasn't meant to be solvable in my opinion. And I thought I've seen it all in Mike's "Roti Canai" the day before! When I saw this question, my only thought was to look for anything on the boards containing 2 "C"s, because of the "... coffee creamer for a start." After that I had hope to figure out the rest. Then working on all the possible branches, including "Au" for "gold"; "brew", "roast" and "mixed" as possible anagram indicators. Still nothing.

It turned out that this question was so confusing that it even confused the CoC himself! He had meant it to be a complicated anagram to arrive at "Makeup Accessories", but not realising that he was short of an "i"! So everyone got free 2 points for this question.

After a punishing day hunting in the sun, the top 4 teams were tied at 92 points. We improved over our previous day's position to second place. The first place was sooooo close... and yet sooooo far! I guess that gives me more reason to return to try to capture the next one!

Well, folks, 2 days' worth of pure hunts. I enjoyed them both. They are not perfect—no—but I've had my share of blunders when clerking hunts! We all try our best. I hope to be able to do Kok Seng/Dato' Ramesh's hunts again in the future.

Oh! I'd like to express my admiration of Dato' Ramesh. He must be one of those very rare Dato's. He is such a humble, friendly and likeable person; although I am not so sure if he's still gonna be very nice when he reads all my comments above!


Cornelius said...

I forgot to mention that we paused for a moment to consider another appealing answer, i.e. RO Water (RO = Reversed Osmosis). But it didn't take us very long to arrive at a consensus to discard this answer. I readily supported my team members to discard it due to 2 main reasons:

Firstly, the usual way of writing the formula of a water molecule is H2O, and not HHO. I know that 2 hydrogen atoms combined with 1 oxygen atom will make a water molecule, but the normal way of writing it is just not HHO. Another variation of writing a water molecule is H-O-H, but this is very rare, unless if it has become fashionable since I left school a hundred years ago!

Secondly, I didn't like the Reversed Osmosis Water answer because even if we can all agree on reversing the HHO to become OHH, I would still have issue on the redundant word: Osmosis. The presence of that word within the answer would have been the subject of challenge by the hunters. At least I know I would challenge it!

Cornelius said...

Oops! The above comment was in connection with Q8:

Q8) OOH?

A8) Water Maker Marketing & Services

Anonymous said...

Cornelius, while some CoCs pay particular attention to nouns, verbs and tenses (I know at least 2 who strictly follow this rule), the majority of others just don't give a hoot!

It takes more effort on the part of the CoC to ensure that question flows in perfect English, and I can understand why most do not follow this rule.

Just remember that there are no fixed rules in this sport. And you just have to adapt.

Cornelius said...

Of course, 2R1I, of course...

I have come to the conclusion that the grammatically-perfect treasure hunt questions in Malaysia are almost impossible to achieve—some, yes, but not all.

I am bringing it up here for the main purpose of discussion on how things could be improved. Whether or not they are improved in future hunts remains to be seen.

When I set questions, these are the small little details I take into account; yet I find that it's not easy to be perfect!

I do come up with tough questions too, but I try very hard to play a fair game to the solvers by making my questions as grammatically perfect as possible. If the solvers dropped an answer because it didn't fit grammatically, I would feel guilty to punish those solvers. The fault is on the question, not on the solvers! That's why I commented in the other thread about T5. If the CoC had intended the lines on the postcard as significant requirement of the item, then he must play fair by reflecting such requirement in the clue!

Similarly, if I had only ask for coca-cola but kept silent on it's size, I can't subsequently punish the hunters when they submit a 1.5l bottle, as opposed to a 300ml can which I had intended as the answer.

In some cases, where it's beyond the CoC's control on a "mistake", I am OK. It has happened to me too as the CoC. For example where a signboard is removed on the day of the hunt.

But attempting a question, thus consuming substantial time, and then only to be told that there is a missing "i" in the question is no good! Giving 2 point for that withdrawn question is no good still. That half an hour spent within that sector on a wild goose chase could have been used to crack, say, COREMED for example.

Of course the CoC can then say why did you waste so much time on that question? But that is besides the point. The responsibility of such question rest on the CoC, and the blame shouln't be pushed to the hunters. However, had the question been impeccable, and the hunters wasted half an hour there, then the CoC has the right to blame the hunters for not managing their time well!

I presume this is not a popular view amongst hunters. My position is always on fairness to the solvers. I try my best to play a fair game. Otherwise, I might as well make my job easy and set a few bogus questions, and then blame the hunters for not managing their time well.

Again, may I repeat, I am sure the CoCs have tried their best. But we being humans are vulnerable to mistakes. As I said, I've had my share of blunders too!

Unknown said...

Firstly, glad to note you've had a good workout session and enjoyed the hunt.

Apologies for the unnecessary mind torture and lost of time on the flawed 'espresso' question. I was surprised when it was pointed out by one of the teams about the missing 'i' as I have made sure of it over and over again. Inadvertently left the word 'an' out from the actual question during the typing process when compared to my rough notes.
The question should have been "Brew an espresso gold roast...." with the 'an' having to be switched to 'i'. Contemplated using 'Brew one espresso..' but decided to up it a little...and it became a fatal omission mistake instead. Sigh!! Even so, two masters team got the answer

Unknown said...

Just a minor correction, this was our maiden COC for an Open Hunt but not the 1st for us. We did the now infamous Grandfather Monkey Hunt for the regulars some CNY ago and I have done some inhouse hunts. Look forward to have future challenges for you guys and gals!

Cheers and have a great weekend!
Kok Seng

Anonymous said...

Kok Seng, Monkey Cup Hunt II coming Feb 2008? Many of us will drool over the opportunity, especially those who recently decided regretfully, to hunt for food instead.

Cornelius said...

Yeah, Kok Seng, I am not surprised that 2 teams managed to crack the "espresso" question. I have learned from the RR Blog that KL has a number of grandmasters who have the enviable skills of answering even wrong questions! 2R1I is one of them! Oh how much more I still need to learn!

My apology for the minor mistake. I must have heard wrongly. I thought you did exceptionally well for a first hunt. And now that you say you've done a few before, that would explain the good job!

Monkey hunt? What's that all about? Sounds interesting. Wonder if an apprentice might be able to get a wildcard entry?

Unknown said...

Monkey Cup Hunt II? No. no...that we will have to wait a 12 years cycle, its the Witty Rat-ty Race err...Hunt, haha!! The hunt is not a race, familiar phrase? Am working out the logistics with Grandmaster Chong and will let everyone know once its all sorted out.

For the benefit of those who are wondering what this is all about, every CNY (Chinese New Year), one/some of us will take turns to set fun or killer-hunts like Mike's Be An Angel Hunt (CNY came early for us last week and it was not even Christmas yet!!). Its an open invitation to all, teams are formed through random draw ie. everyone draws a card to see whose team one will be in, though Chong advised for his killer Piggy-back Hunt this year that we should have stuck to our regular teams. Usually no prizes unless someone digs out all the forgotten hunt bounties stashed away somewhere in the house ;-) Entry fee is equivalent to contribution for the lunch/dinner after the hunt.

Everyone is invited but be warned its meant to be tough and relentless all the way. Will keep all posted once the logistics have been sorted out.

Kok Seng