Monday, March 1, 2010

KK City Hunt 2010—Neighbours & First Ladies

According to the CoC, he intended the following clue as the toughest for the KK City Tourism Hunt 2010:

Q10) Neighbours indeed. Just like how some refer to the first lady.

As I have mentioned in the preceding post, only Vivian and I handled the walk-hunt for my team. After we have found the answers for the other questions within this sector, Vivian came up to me to seek my opinion on how to crack this clue.

I explained to her that in the cryptic sense, there is a significance to that word "indeed". Basically, it means that a preceding word will have to be inserted into the word "deed" (in-DEED) or its synonyms. And "neighbours" here might be referring to neighbouring letters of the alphabet, e.g. AB, CD, DE etc.

That then was the angle to be analysed. The task therefore was merely to search for any "neighbours" letters that's contained in other words, of which the latter might fit "DEED". Unfortunately, after walking the short hunt sector for almost half an hour, we failed to spot the intended answer. As any hunter would attest to, when in desperation, one would try to "force-fit" anything in sight.

And that's exactly what I did. I chose CHIVAS REGAL which brought a smile to Vivian's face. The reason I chose this answer was because of the "HI" which satisfied the requirement of "neighbours". But CV did not seem to fit DEED. I could live with "LIKE HOW" equated to "AS". Then again, equating "FIRST LADY" to "REGAL" is a bit far-fetched. So although we wrote down that answer, I knew it was not convincing.

Little did we know, somewhere within that sector, there was a small word found on a signboard which was partially hidden under the roof, i.e. the word STUDENT. Notice that "DE" are the "neighbours" as explained above. And STUNT, in a way, is a DEED. So DE inserted into the STUNT can yield STUDENT.

But now we come to an interesting point. What's the story with the second sentence in the clue, i.e. Just like how some refer to the first lady.

According to the CoC, that word "first" is the initial indicator, and the fodder is the word "lady". So taking only the first letter of "lady", we get the single letter "L". After arriving at "L", one is expected to expand the idea a little further. The letter "L" standing on its own is a common abbreviation for LEARNER. For example we can see the "L" (usually red in colour) on a car when it's driven by a person learning to drive. And here LEARNER is supposed to support STUDENT.

So to recap, "the first LADY" = L; and L = LEARNER. Do you follow so far? Capital! we progress!

Nevertheless, upon closer scrutiny, one will see that the solution can't hold water!

although first LADY = L; and L = LEARNER, first LADY is not LEARNER!

This is an error commonly seen in many hunts in KL where CoCs were practically unchallenged in the past. However, about 2 years ago, in an interesting discussion I had had with the late Master Hunter Vincent Woo in the Riddle Raiders blog, we arrived at the conclusion that the above riddle was inaccurate on technical grounds!

According to (the late) Master Vincent Woo—and I agree with him—sometimes CoCs, when setting questions, are too absorbed in setting multiple levels of word substitutions by adopting several synonyms. However, sometimes they forget that after several substitutions and branches from the original word, the meaning of that original word might have changed!

For example:

first LADY => L => FIFTY (Roman numeral) => LIMA PULUH

But first LADY is not LIMA PULUH

And then later on, another Master Hunter under the nickname "renroc" came up with an interesting example to illustrate the point even clearer. For the benefit of the new hunter-readers of this blog, renroc's example was something like this:


and FLOWER in the cryptic sense, is quite frequently equated to RIVER (one that flows).

However, TULIP is not RIVER!


In my opinion, on technical grounds, the second sentence in this clue spoils the beauty of the riddle.


delurk said...

I agree we must substitute along the same branch. So, tulip=flower=river is not right.

But "first lady=L=learner" is not substitution. It involves a cryptic element. The word "first lady" is never meant to be read as "Eve" or "Michelle" so why should it equate to learner.

Cornelius said...


This is after all a cryptic riddle, so I have no objection to reading the sentence in a cryptic way.

If you say "first lady" is not meant to be read as "Eve" or "Michelle", I can accept that.

So I'm OK with:


But that's not what happens in this riddle. The chain is expanded further to a different meaning.

To illustrate my point, would you accept:



Then, FIRST LADY = L; and L = LEFT

But although both sides of the equations arrive at LEFT, can we really say this clue is sound?

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

When I followed the explanation of the CoC during the Q&A, I made a rash conclusion that it was a brilliant question then (Guess I was misled). But thinking about it on the plane home a little bit more, I came to the same conclusion as you that both Learner and First Lady are different branches of the same word (in this case Letter).

No wonder this question ended up unsolved (I think).

Cornelius said...

Oops! I just noticed a small mistake I made in the above post! Must have been my sleepinees last night!... hehehe.

In that second last paragraph, I meant to say:


I shall make the correction shortly.

Cornelius said...


Haha! We do agree on some things, my friend!

Alex said...

I guess the COC is trying to say:-

I am nobody
Nobody is perfect
Therefore I am perfect!

Cornelius said...

HAHAHA! Alex, that sounds logical enough. I'm sure I could use that one of these days! Thanks!