Monday, April 29, 2013

KK City Tourism Hunt 2013—One-Track Thought Process

I have mentioned in the previous post that the treasure clues for the KK City Tourism Hunt 2013 were fairly easy and fast to solve. I'd like to discuss the above clue which I still maintain is an easy clue to solve, not because I'm such a brilliant cryptic solver; rather, because it's basically a Googling exercise! I'm sure that many hunters would agree with me that such questions are no longer tough to solve because these days almost everyone in the street is carrying a phone with internet access! 

Some of you may want to give the clue a shot anyway; in which case, I'd suggest that you stop reading here. Otherwise, let me continue. But rather than giving you the answer one by one, I will simply reveal only the first letters of the respective answers to each of the clues from (a) to (f). Those letters should then be used to form the name of the item which is to be submitted as Treasure 5 (T5). So here goes:

a) E
b) M
c) T
d) S
e) ?
f) N

Notice that I'm giving a "?" for (e). This is because for this particular clue, we spent a moment to decide the available options. There are in fact several types of leaves from palm trees which were once popularly used to wrap food, but knowing that we would need the first letter of that word to combine with the rest of the letters, I told my team members that we're looking for a vowel. The reason is quite simple; we already had 4 consonants and only 1 vowel. So it's very likely that we would need another vowel to form a word.

Well, by Googling up from the net we soon found OPEH which is betel leaf. In fact, OPEH is known to have been used to wrap food in the good old days. The first letter of OPEH is of course O, and it is a vowel; just perfect for our present purpose. 

So now, we have: E-M-T-S-O-N. 

All that remains to be done is to jumble up those letters to form the name of an item. Just get a pack—any pack—of that item and that qualifies as T5. With a bit of practice in anagram, it doesn't take very long to find the word MENTOS, which is a common item in the market. As a Treasure Hunt jargon, we say that is a "perfect fit".

Now to digress from this topic for a bit, there was once when I was playing chess competitively many years ago. I was up against a strong opponent and it turned out that the game, which practically everyone thought was gonna be a stroll in the park for my opponent, became a long-drawn struggle. Most of the other players had already finished and people crowded around to see us play. In the crowd was a strong teenaged chess prodigy watching intently as I pondered my next move. I must have taken perhaps almost 15 minutes for that single move, but I finally found a forced mate in 5. It was quite an achievement for me against such a strong opponent, especially since I had only a little less than 3 minutes left on my clock, whereas he had more than half an hour! But then later on that chess prodigy came up to me, saying that I could have mated my opponent one move faster. He showed me the combination; it involved a dramatic queen sacrifice. He said it would have been a more elegant finish!

You may wonder what has this got anything to do with T5? Well, I find it interesting that people like to see action, something dramatic and all happening in a blaze of excitement. In fact, it would have been prettier to see a fantastic queen sacrifice followed by a checkmate. But having found a forced mate in 5, although not as "elegant" as the one in lesser moves and involving a queen sacrifice, there is to me no necessity to invest in further efforts to find a prettier finish. The object of the game is to mate the opponent. Once a means to achieve that is found, that's where it ends for me. I would not waste my time to try to find a prettier finish!

In arriving at the solution for T5, I would work meticulously step by step to tie all lose ends. But once I find all the jigsaw pieces and fit them into their respective places perfectly, that's where I would stop. There is really no meaning to explore further once the solution in hand fits perfectly as in this case.

Little did I know, when the CoC conjured up this question, he saw the puzzle from a different angle. And the tragedy was that far from keeping an open mind, he approached that puzzle rigidly on a one-track thought process, thus resulting in total ignorance of an alternative but perfectly fitting solution!

What he did was to decide on the item first, which was NESTUM. So he started looking for all those words of which the acronyms would give those letters found in NESTUM. When he came to that letter U, he decided to use the word UPIH which is also an accepted spelling of OPEH. So we come to the same item, but with different (accepted) spellings. I'm not sure if he knew of the alternative OPEH; or even if he did, he probably did not expect that that could then give rise to MENTOS. Such is the danger of one-track thought process when conjuring up these kind of riddles.

But MENTOS, as I have said, fits the clue perfectly. There is absolutely nothing in the clue that would exclude the possibility of MENTOS. You will therefore not be surprised that many teams, including strong master hunter teams, submitted this correct item, but rejected by the CoC. 

It is a good reminder to me why I'm sometimes tired of analysing hunt questions. They keep repeating themselves over and over again.


kkchai said...

We also brought in Mentos, but come to think of it the clue did mention leaf of a palm tree and betel (opeh) don't really qualify. Besides, Mentos don't really makes a good treasure for charity for kids especially.

Cornelius said...

Thank you, kkchai, for your comment. That is an interesting argument there. Let me respond to both points separately.

1) Based on the CoC's explanation during the answer presentation, the source of his letter U was from UPIH which refers to upih pinang (which has an alternative spelling, OPEH). My point is that if he accepts UPIH, then he should accept OPEH too. Besides, if you search online, upih pinang has been referred to as betel palm leaf in English.

2)The point about what is a "good" charity item and what's "not good" has been raised by another team in support of the CoC's choice. My contention is that we can all argue about this point till the cow comes home, and in the end it's still a debatable issue! Kids love candies, don't they? So why are candies not a "good" charity item for kids? Even a simple thin exercise book, or a pencil or balloon or Winnie The Pooh's stickers can be deemed as good charity items for kids. I mean, why not? We are only supposed to crack the clue as it is presented and once all the letters have been identified correctly and the name of the item found therefrom, we should not then be required to read the CoC's mind on whether that item is a "good" charity item or not.

Cornelius said...

I can see the sudden increase in traffic to this blog. Apparently my loyal treasure hunter readers have recently realised that there are some new postings on treasure hunt in this blog; hence the sudden surge of visitors.

To those of you who've been asking me through text messages, please be patient, I will post another discussion on an interesting flowery question by the CoC, hopefully tonight. A sneaky little idea by the CoC which could be a masterpiece from the psychological point of view, in my opinion, which I would have been proud to have set myself. Except, alas, the anti-climax was that the solution, based on the clue, was wrong. I still liked the idea behind it; though not so much the horrible blunder.