Sunday, November 30, 2008

1st Anniversary Virtual Hunt—Search For Half Of Cryptic Clue

In Q6 we have seen the idea of a Double Jeopardy (DJ). To repeat, the DJ is where the solver is given the answer, and he is then required to spot the question on the signboard.

However, Q6 is a bit extraordinary because in a typical DJ, the question to be spotted on the signboard is usually a cryptic clue. For example, the solver is given, say, “REMAINS”, and then he is required to find “CONSTRUCTION SEMINAR” on the signboard. You can see that “CONSTRUCTION SEMINAR” is a cryptic clue in that it has an anagram indicator, i.e. “CONSTRUCTION”; and then the fodder is “SEMINAR”, the letters of which are to be reconfigured to form “REMAINS”. In the case of Q6, the question to be spotted on the signboard is not cryptic in nature. It is just a good old-fashioned mathematical question.

Contrary to what 2 masters said about Q7, it is not a DJ. I’m still trying to make up my mind on what to call it, but I’d say it is a novelty in hunt question. To understand what we’re dealing with here, let’s look at the various structures of a hunt question.



The solver is given the question. He is then required to figure out the riddle to derive the answer. He then tries to find that answer on one of the many signboards within that sector.



The solver is given the answer. He is then required to figure out what is the question to that answer. He then tries to find that question—which is usually cryptic in nature, though not necessarily so—on one of the many signboards within that sector.


The solver is given a question in the form of lacking a piece—just like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle. To take Q3 as an example, the solver is given:

_____ + USHER = MAKE-UP

And he is required to figure out what can fit into that blank so that he can solve the “equation”. In this case, we are looking for something to complete a word which would then agree with MAKE-UP.

In Q7, I have done something of a cross-breed between (B) and (C) above. It is not exactly a DJ, because we are not exactly looking for the question on the signboard. And it is also not exactly the usual kind of jigsaw puzzle type either where we complete a word to agree with a definition.

What I have done in Q7 is quite different. I have broken up a cryptic clue into 2 portions. Half of the cryptic riddle is given in the question itself. And the other half is hidden on one of the signboards within the sector. In order to “solve” the equation, the solver must find the other half of the cryptic riddle on the signboard, and then combine it with the half that is already given to the solver!

I suppose you can treat this riddle like a treasure map that has been torn into 2, and both pieces are hidden in different places. But only half of that map has been given to you. The task is therefore to search for the other half so that you can have a complete map to find the treasure.

Q7) _______nut = worm

Of course a “nut” is not a “worm”. And unless if I am mistaken, there is no other word (s)—at least none that can be found within the sector—which can fit in with “nut” to give the meaning of “worm” directly. It is logical, therefore, to assume that whatever we’re looking for to fit into that blank will complement “nut” to become a cryptic riddle; and that that cryptic riddle can eventually give the meaning of “worm”.

The next logical thing to do is to find the synonyms of “worm”, and this is where some of you might have to spend a bit of time, because you might have to fit in one word at a time on a trial-and-error approach. But then again, I’m convinced that with methodical approach, one wouldn’t take very long anyway.

Well, to cut the long story short, from the several possible synonyms of “worm”, and if you can remember Malay synonyms too, you will come to either “cacing” or “ulat”. I suppose there are other possible words too, but “ulat” should immediately attract the attention of the solver. The reason is quite simple—both the words “nut” and “ulat” have U and T in them.

If one were to concentrate on the U and T only, “ulat” has the “LA” in it. Wouldn’t it be nice if we’re able to insert “LA” into the “UT” of “nut”? But what about that “N”? How do we deal with that? Well, because we need to insert something into something else, it means that we need to employ the service of a container indicator. And so the word we are looking for must be LAI, because if we put LAI ahead of NUT, we will get:


But the solver sees it cryptically like this:

LA in UT

Which will give ULAT (because the LA is inserted into UT) which in turn agrees with WORM.


Q7 is not intended to be an easy question. It is considered tough because it is something new for the treasure hunting fraternity. But actually it is based on the same basic cryptic clueing principles. If one were to work on it hard enough, and coupled with some logical deductions, this question is solvable. In fact it was solved. Unfortunately, only 3 participants solved it. However, I’d like to think that many more people who were watching from the sidelines solved Q7 too.

Well, there you have it—7 questions for a total of 8 days of mental torture! To the new hunters, I hope this has been an exciting learning experience. To the masters, I hope at least some of these questions have been a challenge. Thank you all for participating in my First Anniversary Virtual Hunt!

1 comment:

Cornelius said...

A master hunter called me up shortly before lunch break to say that I did a good job for this virtual hunt. But he said there is an alternative answer for Q7.

Q7) _______ nut = worm


His approach is also very simple. He inserted TOTO into that blank and then used that "nut" as an anagram indicator. Thus by rearranging the letters in TOTO to arrive at OTTO, which is apparently the name of a computer virus! Brilliant, isn't it?

But I am unhappy with "nut" used as an anagram indicator. And I was told that it has been used for that purpose in past hunts before too.

Earlier on, I was discussing Q1 with another master hunter through email, and a similar issue arose.

As a result of those 2 discussions, I propose to discuss it here.

NUT is basically a fruit consisting of a hard shell around an edible kernel. In that sense, it is not qualified as an anagram indicator. Anagram indicators usually comprise words that signals:

(i) Some sort of disturbance, e.g. shaken, stirred, disturb etc;

(ii)Something modified or subject to modifications, e.g. adjusted, changed, altered, become, form, make, create etc;

(iii) Adjectives implying something is not quite right or suspicious, e.g. strange, maybe, perhaps etc.

It can be seen therefore, that NUT can't qualify as an anagram indicator. However, NUT has several synonyms, one of which is the word CRAZY.

CRAZY is a word that hints some sort of unstable (mentally) or disturbance, and therefore qualifies as an anagram indicator.

So if we look at NUT => CRAZY, can we accept NUT as an anagram indicator? Obviously those CoCs who've adopt NUT as an anagram indicator before must have said "yes" to this question.

But I beg to differ. When we use a word in the cryptic clue meant as a cryptic indicator, I don't think it is fair to expect the solver to find the synonym (s) of that word first so that it can then be used as the intended indicator.

Imagine if I were to construct a clue containing the word PHYSICIAN in it. PHYSICIAN in itself is a noun which does not qualify as an anagram indicator. But imagine that the solver converts that to its synonym, DOCTOR, which is an acceptable anagram indicator and then uses that to rearrange letters of an adjacent word to derive a new word. Does it look correct to you?

To the CoCs who've used NUT as an anagram indicator before, perhaps he'd be kind enough to justify himself please?