Tuesday, June 2, 2009

26th Kiwanis Hunt—Dealing With Speed

In the dying minutes of the hunt, we had to deal with some questions which required exceptional observation skill in the last few sectors. Although we failed in 3 questions, I did not find the questions very though.

36) Successful at what they do, Shelly-Ann Fraser and Britta Steffen might be classed as one.

A comparatively long clue by the modern standard of hunt questions. When googling those names found in the clue, one is apt to find that they're female athletes, i.e. a runner and swimmer. Both were successful in the sprint events in their respective sports. Although the information is easily obtained from the internet, it does not follow that it is easy to find the answer, especially when hunting is a sector with so many signboards on both sides.

Because of time pressure, one is blind to some signboards. And there is that tendency to grab whatever we can find to fit to the question, but especially so if that board appears to fit well! Such was the case with a signboard located on the other side, in fact in a different sector, but clearly visible with the word FASTEST on it. There were other smaller words on that signboard of course, but owing to the distance, they were not visible to the naked eye.

Now, knowing that these two athletes were the best in their respective disciplines, the question we must ask is whether that single word, i.e. FASTEST, can fit the clue. Notice that the question is very general—there is nothing specific about the type of sports, for example. So one might argue that FASTEST is at least a promising candidate.

Not known to my team mates, over on this side of the road, and much closer from where they were standing, was a signboard with SPEED QUEEN on it. This answer appeared to be more appealing in the sense that it gave a more "stylish" title to the successful athletes.

But styles aside, can we find anything wrong with FASTEST? One possible argument is that FASTEST does not cover the gender of the athletes, i.e. FASTEST can also refer to male athletes. Nevertheless FASTEST can still fit. Maybe a pain-in-the-neck hunter might want to argue that those ladies are not QUEENS in the ordinary sense of the word, and the debate can become something akin to a soap opera like Dallas or Dynasty.

It's not clear if the CoC was aware of the existence of FASTEST, but in this particular case, he decided to protect himself anyway:

A36) SPEED QUEEN @ Kedai Dobi Maju

And now it becomes clear why the CoC had started his clue with "Successful at what they do," when at first glance these extra words did not seem to add any value to the clue. With these few extra words, the hunters are restricted to Kedai Dobi Maju which, according to the CoC, answers the "Successful" part of the clue.

It's always a good idea, especially when adopting proper nouns in the clue, to add other hints to narrow down the scope of search. Unfortunately, MAJU does not mean SUCCESSFUL. If that word had been BERJAYA or even JAYA, then it would have been ideal. But MAJU means to "move forward", and moving forward does not necessarily mean "successful". I used to tell my nephews when teaching them the game of chess, that moving forward doesn't necessarily mean that you're winning (successful).

I think we would have chosen SPEED QUEEN anyway had we been able to spot that board. But FASTEST is not exactly wrong. However, being an occasional CoC myself, and when thrown into this situation, I would stick to my intended answer, i.e. SPEED QUEEN. So I can easily agree with the decision of the Kiwanis' CoC. The only different thing I'd do is probably to choose an alternative word for SUCCESSFUL which is more accurate for its purpose in the riddle.


peter said...

When would one be considered fastest?

When she wins in the Olympic or the World Champioship, BUT not in WORLD RECORD TIME!!

Or when she recorded a World Record Time!!

Can you tag her FASTEST if she has never recorded a WORLD RECORD timing, despite winning the Olympics or World Championship??

Note that Fraser has yet to break the World Record time, despite winning the Beijing Olympics.

So is she the fastest?? But she is definitely a speed queen by winning the Olympics 100m track and field.

Cornelius said...

Like I said, Peter, this will potentially turn into a soap opera kind of debate with no foreseeable end to it.

I have made it clear that I accept the CoC's decision; in fact, I said I would also stick to my original intended answer if I were in the same situation.

I don't know who you are, Peter, but I can only guess that you're there last Saturday, and that you found Speen Queen, hence your argument for that answer. That is quite natural. Maybe I would do the same thing if I were in your shoes.

FASTEST and SPEED QUEEN are relative words, and there is nothing in the question to restrict the usage of these words. Why should FASTEST only be applicable for world record time? I can be the FASTEST in a local sprinting event for veteran runners where all my opponents are in their fifties.

Why are they "definitely" speed queens by winning the Olympics? We just celebrated our Harvest Festival here in Sabah, and we had a beauty queen too. But I bet our beauty queen is not the prettiest - not even in Malaysia.

The titles are changing all the time. Powell may be the fastest at one time, but Bolt may be the fastest at another time.

So for a particular event at a particular time, these women might have been the fastest in the world, but not breaking the record. After all, the clue says, "...might be classed as one."

These are just possibilities based on the question which is unsound. But again, I am not challenging the decision of the CoC.

Anonymous said...

I think Maju can also mean success. If I say kedai saya sangat maju, it doesn't mean that my shop is moving forward but that its very succesful.

Cornelius said...

Thank you, Anonymous friend, for your comment.

I suppose if you want to look at it that way, yes, it is possible. But MAJU is not as accurate as BERJAYA/JAYA.

A good hunt question should be tight in the sense that it should absolutely block other alternatives; and it should be accurate in grammatical sense too. If you have "looseness" in the clue, then you're allowing alternative answers. There are exceptions to this of course, but I'd rather refrain from giving examples at this time, because if my proposed hunt in KL becomes a reality, that would be a good time for me to unleash a question based on this topic.

Coming back to the present clue, when you look at it from the overall point of view, you will see that it's not tight. It ends with "... might be classed as one." That "might be" is loose, you see. So to firm up the intended answer, the CoC should use something more concrete than MAJU = SUCCESSFUL. For example, the CoC might start the clue with "Moving ahead..." or something like that.

As far as grammar is concerned, the clue is quite dubious and does not seem to be harmonious with the intended answer. Since "and" is used between the names of the 2 athletes, one would expect the last word should be plural, viz:

A and B might be classed as these.

But if the CoC had chosen the word "or" instead, then the sentence would look better:

A or B might be classed as one.

Jack and Jill might be the recipientS of the award.

Jack or Jill might be the recipient of the award.

So since SPEED QUEEN is singular, perhaps it's more accurate to use "or" instead of "and".

Cornelius said...

Another one of my readers wrote to me, insisting that MAJU is SUCCESSFUL, especially when used as in the example quoted by the anonymous friend above.

As I said, if you want MAJU to mean SUCCESSFUL, then what can I say. I'm just saying that it's not accurate.

Last year, in one of the hunts I joined in KL, the CoC equated HATE to DENGKI, a gross error in my opinion. But if the CoC used HATE and meant it as DENGKI, then what can we do? We're all at his mercy. I'm just bringing it up here for the sake of discussion - what it should have been. I don't expect the CoC to change the result of the hunt!

When people say:

"Perniagaan saya sudah maju"

They may mean it as my business is successful. But that is inaccurate. MAJU means progress or improve. So actually when translated, the above sentence means "my business has progressed or improved [from where it was previously]", but not necessarily successful [yet]. But of course it is also possible that the business has progressed to the extent of achieving success. The word BERJAYA is still the best for SUCCESSFUL.

Anonymous said...

Kemajuan = Success.
So Maju is suitable.

Cornelius said...

OK, if you say so, I'll take your word for it, my anonymous friend.

Listen, I've got so many issues about this hunt, but I won't be discussing them all here. But I've been having some interesting discussions with some friends via emails.

Tell me, what do you think about that "Sucessful at what they do..." - should that be a part of the answer or is that just a "pointer" to lead the hunters to the correct signboard?

And then look at this question:

Q17) Value driven for our need to reduce this climate change footprint.

Do you think that "Value driven" should be a part of the answer or just a "pointer" to lead the hunters to the correct signboard?

And this:

Q) Eatery for a golfing ace?

Should that "Eatery" be a part of the answer or just a "pointer" to lead the hunters to the correct signboard?

Should the answer be:

(1) Restoran Tiger


(2) Tiger @ Restoran Tiger