Friday, November 28, 2008

1st Anniversary Virtual Hunt—Review

The First Anniversary Virtual Hunt 2008 is now officially closed. It’s time to give my comments on the hunt.

First, I’m going to give a general overview of the hunt and then share some of my thoughts while conjuring up the clues. Later, I will be going into specific discussions of each question together with their respective solutions. But I will do that in separate threads so that I can give proper treatment to each one of them.


When I made up my mind to organize a virtual hunt, the first thing I set out to do was to attract as many participants as possible. This would include new hunters too. But to do that, I had to set some questions which are not impossibly tough. Essentially, they should be solvable by the average hunters, but yet tricky enough to pose a challenge to the master hunters. That way, the hunt would be attractive enough for all levels of hunting or cryptic skills. There’re 7 questions, of which about half of them were easier ones. The rest were what I would consider tougher questions, but only on grounds of trickiness, rather than mere cryptic impossibility.

The hunt eventually attracted a total of 32 participants. However, I also noticed that there’re many more observers eagerly following the progress of this hunt. I wonder how many questions they managed to solve in the end.


I decided to adopt a similar format with that of the Volvo Online Hunt in 2007. The only difference is that in the case of the Volvo hunt, the race for the submission of the correct answer was only for the final question, whereas in my virtual hunt, the race was from the beginning to the end. The reason I did this was because a number of the questions were very solvable by the new hunters. And indeed some of them were able to steal some points from the master hunters. I thought it would keep the masters on their toes, and of course it did.


The toughest part of this virtual hunt was on setting the questions. I don’t mean in terms of having no ideas of how to set cryptic clues. No—I have reached a point where setting cryptic clues comes almost naturally. I can practically select almost any signboard at will and squeeze a cryptic clue out of it.

In this connection, I’d like to mention here that when I say “tougher questions”, I don’t mean doing anything close to the recent 3K Triple-One Hunt, for example, where layers upon layers of cryptic indicators and synonyms are thrown in, together with absolutely useless words, to confuse the solver. Elsewhere, I have also seen anagrams involving 30 to 40 letters to arrive at the answers. No—I don’t do that kind of questions. I prefer my riddles to be fair and solvable, yet tricky enough to pose a challenge to the master hunters.

My main concern for this hunt was to give a good mix of cryptic themes, and tricks and twists so that the questions can be both entertaining as well as become a source of learning the art of cryptic clueing for the new hunters.

As usual, I also made it a point to include the element of psychology into my questions. And I am happy to say that it has worked wonderfully well. For example, I knew that most hunters, newbies and regulars, have a keen sense of the anagram riddles. They will try to find anagrams in cryptic clues as much as possible. And when it becomes obvious that the questions have nothing to do with anagrams, they will still force anagrams out of those questions. That’s why I have decided to include not even a single anagram riddle in this hunt. But I will elaborate on this in detail later in separate threads.

Apart from the above, I have also injected a few new twists in the style and structure of the questions. Those who have joined my hunts before would know that this is a habit of mine. I have many more strange ideas still waiting to make their debut into hunt questions.

In spite of all those, I was determined to balance the varying strengths of the new hunters against the master hunters, while remaining true to the cryptic clueing rules. Perhaps one significant factor that I have taken into account was that the hunters had much more time to figure out the questions when compared to what they would typical get in an actual hunt. I would probably set slightly easier questions if I were to do an actual motorized hunt.


For some time now, I have realized that the requirement of general knowledge is no longer a dreadful thing in the treasure hunting world like it used to be in the good old days. I have had the honour to ride with some master teams, and I noticed that almost all of them were equipped with all sorts of hi-tech gadgets with internet connectivity that would help them to search for information within minutes, if not seconds. Hunt questions which require general knowledge are generally just a stroll in the park with the help of all these modern gadgets.

In view of the above, I decided to challenge the internet-savvy hunters with the general knowledge questions. But I knew that there’s no way I could beat them if I did it openly. Therefore, while I set questions requiring general knowledge, I concealed that requirement from the hunters so that they’re not even aware that they needed to use their mighty internet resources to look for the information! And even if they did realize it in the end, a lot of time would have been wasted barking up the wrong tree!


I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the participants who have been having sleepless nights the past week trying to crack my questions. It was a great pleasure to organize this hunt. If only I can find the time to do this more frequently!

I hope you have had fun and enjoyed working your way through my cryptic maze.


Anonymous said...

Good job Corn! Now for the real thing.

We westerners are all itching to sample your trickery in a motor hunt.

You will definitely make a good candidate for the annual CNY hunt. Do consider.

Cornelius said...

Hahaha! Thanks for your confidence in me, 2R1I. But I don't know if I have the guts to face all those freak grandmasters of the west (smile). I don't know if I have it in me to go through the stressful process!

Maybe not so soon lah. The huge South China Sea is also not helping, you know.

If I really do a hunt, perhaps I will concentrate on the propose hunt in KK first. But of course I will send out the invitation to the westerners too! Just make sure that you won't forget to bring along some Panadols, OK?

Claire said...

Thanks for all the nightly tortures! Had fun staying up at night... because of this virtual hunt! ;)

Fun is besides the point. The satisfaction level is higher when we crack well-thought of, tricky questions of high quality.