Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lexis Nexis Hunt 2008—Elusive Iraqi

All of us—master hunters and newbie hunters alike—have experienced moments when we become blind to the most obvious solutions. All those years of hunting experience seem to abandon us somehow. And then we end up kicking ourselves for weeks after the hunt!

Q16) They have Saddam's title.

Generally speaking, many hunters are afraid of very short clues. The shorter the clue, the lesser information is available to help the solver to get the answer. Such was the case in the above clue; it contains only four words.

Now when you are faced with such a short clue, always remember to account for ALL the words in the clue. But first, let's consider the literal meaning of the clue. Literally speaking, we need to know the man, Saddam; and then we must know his title. So we might come up with, say, (former) President. Other titles such as "dictator" or simply "Iraqi" might also deserve some considerations, although perhaps very unlikely here. The word "dictator" might be deemed as somewhat politically sensitive for a treasure hunt question; "Iraqi" is somewhat too wide and renders that specific name, Saddam, superfluous.

Such was the line of thought my team members were thinking along. And I have to reluctantly admit that I was fooled for a little while too. We therefore failed to figure out the answer and left the sector to attempt the nearby questions first. Then later on, we came back again to this sector and I was able to see the clue from a different angle—the cryptic angle.

The idea is quite simple, really. The word "They" at the beginning of the sentence must be referring to the required answer which is found on the signboard. Then the word "have" is a hidden word indicator. It means that we need to find a word (s) found within "Saddam's title". I alerted my team members on this possibility. Claire quickly agreed with this alternative idea, and then we spotted the answer soon after.

A16) Pejabat Urusan MSTI Corporation Sdn Bhd

Notice that the required answer, MSTI, is found within "SaddaM'S TItle". Very nice, if you can figure it out. And you must admit that it's not so difficult too. However, during the hunt, it wasn't very easy for me to find this solution at first. This was because the question was wrongly set to start with.

Later on, a master, whose team did not solve this clue, explained why they have failed. And I fully agree with him. In fact, that was the same reason why I, too, failed in the beginning. I was just lucky to have been able to shake myself out of a wrong thought process and seen through the wrongly set question.

Let's have a look why this question was wrong.

"They" means the "answer" (which is found on the signboard).

"have" means a hidden word indicator.

"Saddam's title" means (on account of the above indicator) the answer is hidden therein.

Therefore, if

X have Y

it means that Y is hidden somewhere in X, and not the other way round.

For example,

ABCSadd amstitleRST have Saddam's title

would have been the correct way to set the question, assuming of course that there is a signboard containing "ABCSadd amstitleRST".

But in our present case, the intended answer is MSTI. And MSTI does not "have" the SADDAM'S TITLE. Instead, it's the SADDAM'S TITLE that "have" the MSTI. In other words, the question was wrongly set. The correct way to set the question would be something like this:

Q) Saddam's title have them.

Where the "them" refers to MSTI, i.e. the required answer.

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