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The Most Popular Preliminary Tasks Set For The Entrant


These I hate, for the chances of obtaining a correct line and guaranteeing one's place on the final judging table, is entirely dependent upon the number of factors or points are provided for the entrant to place in order of importance or suitability against whatever criterion the promoter sets.

We might for instance be asked to place in order of importance several features relating to a holiday in the United States all arrangements for which are made by a travel firm sponsoring the competition. So the factors might include: destination, safety record of airline, cost, special facilities for children, and so on.

To my mind the only good thing about this particular task is the fact that statistically the entrant is able to analyse exactly how many lines or entries he or she must submit in order to provide that which proves 'correct' or rather coincides with the order in which the features are placed by the judges whose opinion in this respect is final.

By way of illustrating this method of statistical analysis, the number of combinations for 3 factor is:

3 x 2 x 1 = 6 combinations and consequently 6 entries will ensure that 1 coincides with that of the judges.

Take 10 factors, not an uncommon number to discover in a great many promotions, and the formula becomes:

10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = ???

Work this one out for yourselves and I'm sure you'll come to understand the reason, why several millions of pounds have been up for grabs to that person who comes up with a 'correct' line in many recent competitions. If you fancy odds such as this stick to something with a far better chance of a winning line - like the football pools.

Factual Questions:

This type the expert tie breaker creator loves, for unless some really gruesome trick question is put in for good measure, and they rarely are, all the entrant need do is subscribe to a good solutionist agency, to whose services is added a liberal dollop of research, research, research. Factual questions as the name implies have an actual answer, not one subject to guesswork or opinion. Sometimes we must discover and provide the answer in its entirety; at other times we are provided with a list of alternatives from which to make our selection.


Again an often easy task, we usually are shown two photographs, pictures or diagrams, which we are told differ in several respects. Sometimes we are told how many differences exist; sometimes not. In the latter case the task becomes much more difficult, often leading the over-cautious entrant to identify printing errors and anomalies along with genuine differences.

Solutionists again are an extremely useful idea particularly when confirming or otherwise one's own findings. It is not uncommon for agencies to miss one difference that you have in fact spotted; hence you will avail yourself of a good chance of reaching the final judging table, far greater than those who rely entirely upon the deliberations of outside sources.

Matters of Opinion:

As the name implies we are asked our opinions on a set topic or theme. We might for instance be asked to select from a list of alternatives, that meal best suited to a particular occasion, the breed of dog best suited to certain families for which personal details are provided, the dress or outfit best suited for attendance at particular functions and events.

Often one, sometimes two or more, selections have an obvious partner. The heavily sequinned ball gown would not for instance be considered by most as prime choice of outfit for a ride with the local hunt.

As the order-of-merit exercise, the winning line will be that to coincide with the resultant deliberations of the judging panel.

Spot-the-Ball (or whatever):

We surely all of us are familiar with this particular task, whereby on a picture of such as a football match, children playing handball on the beach, a scene from a Wimbledon tournament, we are required to identify the location of the obliterated ball. Sometimes the obliterated object is: the sun, a dog, the dog's bone, the position where an aimed arrow will fall, the golf ball will reach, and so on.

Locate the Buried Treasure:

Here we are usually given a set of clues along with map, grid, even a picture or photograph, from which we must identify and mark the location of the treasure, often than which forms the prize matter of the competition involved.

Word Squares:

These often present as easy task - and a highly boring one too, as we seek to discover words hidden in a grid resembling a cross-word puzzle without the blacked-out squares. The grid is filled entirely with letters, many of them consecutively will form actual words which we must identify and mark. Sometimes we are told what words we must look for, sometimes we must carry on often for hour until we either are convinced we have found all words involved, or the entrant collapses instead into an exhausted heap - 'orrible!

Word Making:

And I hate this task too, one which requires the entrant to make as many words as are possible from a set phrase. Often one forming the name of the sponsor or the product the competition is promoting. Even from a phrase comprising just a very few letters, words produced can extend to many hundreds, even thousands.

It takes ages to be just a little happy that one's list will be in with a fighting chance of a prize - unless of course you consider that many computer buffs entrants have programmed their computers to churn out all potential words in virtually a few minutes - dare I say I rest my case?

Estimation Exercise:

This type of preliminary task requires of us an estimation based usually upon something concerning the competition theme or prize on offer. In a holiday competition we might be asked to estimate the number of passing through Heathrow Airport in the coming holiday season; in a baby competition we might be asked to estimate the number of babies to be born in London during the current year, and so on.

A highly subjective task, this is another which is almost certainly never to guarantee a place for the expert writer of tie breakers to have his or her skills accurately assessed. Estimation exercises incidentally, usually concern fact, feats, events and such which have not yet reached completion. YUK!

Identify the Locations, Celebrities, etc:

From a group of such as masked celebrity photographs, slightly obscured pictures of landmarks, locations, etc., we are expected to identify the person or whatever is involved. Sometimes we are provided with that invaluable list of alternatives; again sometimes not.

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