Thursday 10 July 2014

Written by Alisraa Aldin, Class of 2015, Form 4 Science 1

ThinkCON Day 2 introduced two new games to the Cempakan community, namely Qwirkle and the KEVA Challenges. Qwirkle is a colourful game that combines the concepts of classics like Uno and Scrabble. On the other hand, KEVA is inspired by LEGO blocks and are simply 200 precision-cut wooden planks, ready to be shaped by your creativity.

Photo Credit : Chin Wye Mun
To kickstart the event, the Qwirkle representatives from each house were asked to assemble at their respective tables. The area was closed off to all those uninvolved in the competition with the exception of the house captains, much to the dismay of all the house supporters at the sidelines. Five matches would go on simultaneously, with every table playing two games

For many of the participants (and supporters alike), the highlight of the day would definitely have to be the KEVA Challenges. Prior to each challenge, no one really knew what to expect - most of us were just told that we would be given a blueprint five minutes before the actual challenge, and that we have half an hour to design a similar structure using 190 KEVA wooden planks. So as you might imagine, there were plenty of baffled faces when the first challengers received a picture of Ramses II. 

That's right, each team had to build an Egyptian Pharaoh
Photo Credit: Alisraa Aldin
Besides the initial baffled question of : Who is this Ramsy- Ramsey- Ramses fellow, other common questions include "How do we build his face with just a few rectangular- sorry I mean, precision-cut rectangular blocks?". Well, that question just summed up the whole challenge. 

There were a total of 5 different competitions, namely Sculptures, Interior Design, Transportation, Contraption and Skyscraper. Each challenge had its own unique twists and features: Contraption involved replicating a track for a ball to roll through, while those in Interior Design had to recreate the picturesque scene on the blueprint given - an inverted pyramid with several potted plants surrounding it. Not only did teams have to worry about figuring out how to build an inverted pyramid, but it was important that they did not leave out the greenery. Yes, apparently the potted plants were a pivotal aspect in the design. We're not sure how severe the consequences would be if anyone were to leave it out, but either way, none of the teams dared to find out.

Rumah Seladang's ship for the Transportation Challenge!
Photo credit: Alisraa Aldin
The atmosphere was especially wild and intense during the Skyscraper Challenge. This particular challenge was one of the more straight forward ones (Well, the closest thing to straight forward in challenges as crazy these were). There was no complicated blueprint or additional criteria - it was purely a game of who could build the tallest tower within 30 minutes.

Contrary to popular belief, any participant would probably tell you that building the tallest tower is much easier said than done. The teams were given the freedom to choose where they would build their tower, be it on the floor or table. They were also given a chair, to be used as an aid when the tower gets too tall. As the tower got higher and higher, the placement of each wooden block sent the tower tilting dangerously. No matter what, each team will be judged on the skyscraper standing after half an hour - or whatever that was left of it. The entire team’s hard work could come crashing down with the slightest wrong move by any one of your teammates. The stakes were high and any errors could prove to be fatal. 

Frankly, it was amusing to see how each house handled such a risky task at hand differently. Helang, for instance, was the epitome of calm and collected, with their team splitting up to do two separate towers. Playing it safe, they even decided to stop building their tower altogether once they had reached a decent height, and put the chair given to them to good use. (i.e. for relaxing purposes) 

On the contrary, Harimau was their polar opposite. Shrieks and laughter could be heard from both participants and sideline supporters alike each time someone accidentally dropped a wooden block nearby their skyscraper - and let's just say, that happened a lot. The Harimau participants were not exactly the tallest people either, which led to them to place a chair on the table and stand on said chair in an efforts to make up for their shortcomings. Somehow amidst the chaos however, there was an organized system, and they succeeded in building a skyscraper tall enough to make them a strong contender for first place.

In between the 20 and 25 minute mark, the unthinkable had occured - Harimau’s skyscraper collapsed, leaving only small portions of its base standing. While all this was happening, Seladang had suddenly caught up too, forcing Helang out of their state of ease, and continue building. With a new fierce battle taking place between Helang and Seladang, and slightly over five minutes left on the clock to rebuild their entire tower, it seemed like the end for the Harimau team. 

When they measured all four houses' skyscrapers at the end of the Challenge, everyone was shocked. Seladang, Helang and Harimau's towers were all 18 feet tall, with Beruang narrowly missing the mark at 17 feet. We're not sure what surprised everyone more: the fact that the fierce battle to the top between Seladang and Helang had ended in a draw, or how Harimau had somehow managed to catch up to everyone (and even overtake Beruang!) despite hitting the rock bottom.

With the skyscraper event coming to a close, this marked the end of ThinkCON Day 2. All in all, it is most likely participants went home worrying about the last-minute homework left rather than the placement they received that day. However, we still had great exposure to puzzling games of all types as Qwirkle had us analysing each tile placement and crazed by colours by the end of the day while KEVA had us on our toes, desperately trying to keep our heartbeat steady for fear it would suddenly jump out and crash through our buildings. At the end of the day, ThinkCON was able to prove once again that board games are no longer boring (pun intended) but rather a fun and challenging way to instill the love for learning and the thrill of thinking in individuals.
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