I have said before, that whenever I set treasure hunt questions, I'd like to allow a fair chance for the hunters to solve them. In the recent Kiwanis Hunt that I joined, I stumbled upon some interesting questions which I found unfair—or at least "unfair" based on my principle. I am not saying that it's impossible to solve them, but merely unfair in the sense that it's just too remote to arrive at the answer.
One example of the Kiwanis Hunt question which I've discussed in this blog was like this:
Q) A business where terrifying beings are found with heartless spirits getting disturbed with the answer?
The main reason I view the above question as unfair is because we have too many variables. In mathematical sense, we need to have a specific value in order to solve an equation. Let me illustrate my point; consider this equation:
x + y = z
It is impossible to solve the above equation, because we don't know the value of any of the variables, x, y and z. It would have been different if the equation is like this:
x + 5 = 8
In this second equation, it is possible to find x, because we have a known value on the other side of the equation.
The "equation" that we can construct from the Kiwanis question above is something like this:
[Answer] + [heartless spirits] = [Terrifying beings]
We are essentially looking for the answer (which we don't know for the moment), which is to be combined with heartless spirits (which is also something we don't know); and the combination of those two is supposed to give us terrifying beings (which is again something that we don't know). Therefore, in order to solve the question, one would have to guess what's heartless spirits and terrifying beings.
In the just-concluded KK Challenge 4, I gave this question:
Q8) He's not required here to produce the coins.
The solver has several possible avenues he can try. One is to attempt to be "complicated". He starts thinking who "he" might be? Is that referring to a proper noun? And then he starts to guess what "the coins" might be referring to; could it be, say dimes? That would lead the solution into the direction of the "heartless spirit" above. In such a case, we don't know "he", which is not required "here" (also something we don't know), in order to produce "the coins" (also something we don't know).
Yes, that is possible, but I don't consider that a very fair question. I'd like my questions to be simpler, although not necessarily easy to solve!
The first possibility is to treat the words "not required" as a deletion indicator. It means that we need to remove the letters H,E,S from the signboard (the answer), and then that can produce THE COINS. The equation is like this:
[?] - [H,E,S] = THE COINS
Unfortunately, within that sector, there is no signboard which can yield THE COINS after the removal of H,E,S.
Instead, I want the letters: H, E, S, N, O, T to be combined (required) here, meaning on the signboard, to produce THE COINS. The equation would therefore become like this:
[H,E,S,N,O,T] + [?] = THECOINS
Now by cancelling out the corresponding letters on the left side of the equation against their respective twins on the other side of the equation, we are left with:
[?] = CI
In other words, we are supposed to look for a signboard containing CI. And here I've added an additional twist. Both the letters C and I are roman numerals for 100 and 1 respectively. The combination of both these numbers will give 101. The answer I am looking for is:
A8) 101 SUPERSTORE
Little did I know, actually on the opposite side of this signboard there're several signboards in the parking lots with C1 on them. This was pointed out by the team members of Hunters "R" Us after the hunt. They saw this possibility, but chose 101 SUPERSTORE in the end. Hence they were the only team which solved this question.
I think I was just lucky that no teams actually offered the C1 answer. I don't know if any of them actually worked their way to CI, but failed to spot the C1. I don't know how I could have been so careless. Like I said before, I readily admit that I am not perfect. All I can do is to try my best to be as accurate as possible.