Chapter 119: A God-Like Zhang Ye, Shocking Couplets!
Zhang Ye was in first place for now!
Considering this momentum, everyone knew that Zhang Ye had the chance to become the champion. The contestants could not sit idle. It was their turn to provide the questions. They decided to come up with the most difficult questions. Some of them even decided to change the questions they had originally intended to use.
For example, someone from the Beijing Writers’ Association was Contestant #1. He would be the first to produce a question. He originally had a palindrome couplet, as the difficulty was much higher. If no one could answer it, he would obtain ten points. This would at least guarantee that he would enter the top five. However, the moment he saw Zhang Ye answering palindrome couplets so easily, as if he didn’t need to think, he decided to change couplets on the spot.
This couplet was not created by him, but obtained from a master, so he had not planned on using it, afraid that he would be suspected of cheating. But now, with Zhang Ye’s imposing momentum, he had no choice but to use it!
Contestant #1 gave his question, “Shuǐ shuǐ shān shān chù chù míng míng xiù xiù! (Lakes, mountains, bright and gorgeous everywhere)!”
This sort of couplet was in a conversational style called couplets with reiterative locution. The difficulty was quite average, and was considered quite low.
Big Thunder’s eyes lit up. He could match this couplet. After giving some thought to smooth the word flow before beginning to open his mouth, that second of thought had allowed Zhang Ye to beat him to it.
Zhang Ye smiled, “Qíng qíng yǔ yǔ shí shí hǎo hǎo qí qí (Sunny days, rainy days, wonderful and miraculous all the time).”
The three judges gave his answer some thought. They did not pass him immediately.
Many of the contestants could see that there was a twist to it. This couplet was not that simple!
Big Thunder saw this, too. After Zhang Ye spoke, he had thought of another second half, but after some further thought, that second half was not appropriate. It did not match!
There was a trap!
There was a trap in it!
Contestant #1 noticed that Zhang Ye had fallen for his trap and gave a laugh, “Sorry Teacher Zhang Ye, this first half of the couplet can be read backwards. Even with the repeated locutions, it can be read backwards, xiù xiù míng míng chù chù shān shān shuǐ shuǐ (The clear mountains and rivers are everywhere).”
Zhang Ye smiled, “What a coincidence. My couplet can also be read backwards, qí qí hǎo hǎo shí shí yǔ yǔ qíng qíng! (It’s very good even when it’s rainy or sunny!)”
The first contestant was stunned, “My first half can be read in parts, and can be repeated in a cyclic manner. Shuǐ chù míng, shān chù xiù, shuǐ shān chù chù míng xiù! (Clear is the water, gorgeous are the mountains, the lake and mountains are clear and gorgeous everywhere!)”
Zhang Ye smiled, “What a coincidence. My couplet is the same, and can also be repeated in a cyclic manner. Qíng shí hǎo, yǔ shí qí, qíng yǔ shí shí hǎo qí! (Wonderful when it is sunny, marvelous when it is raining, it is miraculous when it rains on a sunny day!)” This was a popular couplet from his world. It was rumored to be written by . But in this world, the second half had apparently been lost.
When Contestant #1 heard this, he nearly vomited blood. He felt as if he had suffered a great deal of internal injuries. In such a short period of time, no, it was almost in an instant, he had managed to see through all the variations of the first half of the couplet?
And he had come up with such a perfect second half?
Is a god possessing your body!?
There were the sounds of gasps!
The three judges pressed their buttons. Beep, all of them unanimously passed him!
Contestant #2 was a member of the Couplet Organization, and he refused to have his beliefs shaken. He gave his question, “Wú shān dé shì wū shān hǎo. (No (Wu) mountain can be compared to Mt Wu)” This was a couplet with different homonyms. It was very difficult!
Just as someone was about to attempt to match it.
Zhang Ye gave the second half, “Hé shuǐ néng rú hé shuǐ qīng! (What (He) water can be clearer than the river’s (He) water?)”
The second judge, the old granny could not help but shout out, “Great couplet!” As a judge, she should not have said anything, but as a lover of couplets, she could not resist giving her kudos!
Wú shān…wū shān?
Hé shuǐ…hé shuǐ!
She looked at Zhang Ye with a pleasant surprise!
The next person tried a different method and came up with a rare couplet that had a missing word, hiding its true meaning, “Wū yā fēi rù lù sī qún, xuě lǐ sòng tàn. (A crow flies into a siege of herons; delivering coal in the snow – meaning to help someone when they need it most)”
But Zhang Ye immediately gave the second half, “Fèng huáng lì zài yuān yāng pàn, jǐn shàng tiān huā! (A phoenix stands upon the mandarin ducks’ pond; adding flowers onto embroidery – to make something beautiful, perfect)”
That person, “…” Then he admitted Zhang Ye’s superiority by giving him a big thumbs up. He did not say another word.
Zhang Ye obtained more and more points. At this moment, it no longer seemed like a Couplet Competition amongst contestants; it became a competition with Zhang Ye soloing against everyone!
It was Contestant #5’s turn. This person was also from the Beijing Writers’ Association. Before he gave the question, he signaled to Big Thunder with his eyes. This person had previously exchanged questions with Big Thunder. He had given Big Thunder the answer, so as to allow him to become the champion. This was one of their tiny tricks up their sleeves.
Big Thunder understood tacitly. The moment the person said his question, Big Thunder would be the first to answer. He definitely did not want Zhang Ye to obtain another point.
And this was a rarely seen riddle couplet. The difficulty of riddle couplets were even more difficult than reverse couplets!
“Yī kǒu néng tūn èr quán sān jiāng sì hǎi wǔ hú shuǐ! (Able to swallow the two springs, three rivers, four seas, five lakes with one mouth)” a person said confidently.
In the end, just as Big Thunder opened his mouth, Zhang Ye was already faster than him, “Gū dǎn gǎn rù shí fāng bǎi xìng qiān jiā wàn hù mén (Daring to enter the hundred surnames, the thousand families and the ten thousand households from everywhere alone)!” The answer to the riddle was a hot water bottle. He had matched it perfectly!
Big Thunder’s face sunk!
The other contestants looked at each other!
“Bái shé guò jiāng, tóu dǐng yī lún hóng rì (a White Snake crosses the river, a red sun overhead),” It was another riddle couplet. Someone had challenged Zhang Ye. The moment he finished speaking, he looked at him.
Zhang Ye immediately matched, “Qīng lóng guà bì, shēn pī wàn diǎn jīn xīng (an Azure Dragon hangs on the wall, multiple golden stars it wore)!”
“Tiān wèi qí pán, xīng wèi zi, hé rén néng xià (the sky as a chessboard, the stars are its pieces, who dares play)?” Another person looked unconvincingly at Zhang Ye.
Zhang Ye chuckled, “Dì zuò pí pá, lù zuò xián, nǎ ge gǎn tán (the ground as a pipa, the paths are its strings, who dares play)?”
Another person said with a blackened face, “Fēng qǐ dà hán shuāng jiàng wū qián chéng xiǎo xuě (the winds are cold, as frost turns to snow)!”
Zhang Ye answered, “Rì zhào duān wǔ qīng míng shuǐ dǐ jiàn chóng yáng (the sun shines in Duanwu, Chongyang can be seen in the Qingming/clear waters)!”
A female comrade said, “Běi yàn nán fēi shuāng chì dōng xī fēn shàng xià (a northern goose flies south; its wings point east and west as they go up and down?)!”
Zhang Ye answered, “Qián chē hòu zhé liǎng lún zuǒ yòu zǒu gāo dī (a cart in front leaves behind; two tracks left and right as it wobbles up and down)!”
A middle-aged man said, “Lǎo yā tà duàn lǎo yā zhī, yā fēi zhī luò (an old crow steps on an old forked branch; the crow flies; a branch falls)!”
Zhang Ye tapped the table with his fingers, “Xiān hè guī lái xiān hè jiàn, hè lì jiàn míng (the red-crowned crane returns to the heavenly ravines, a crane cries; the ravine sounds)!”
It was followed by another long list of couplet duels!
As usual, Zhang Ye answered the moment he opened his mouth. He did not hesitate to answer more than ten couplets!
The female host nearly shouted bravo from seeing this!
The male host was already staring with his eyes wide open while holding the microphone!
Finally, it was the Beijing Writers’ Association’s Zheng Anbang’s turn to provide a question. His eyebrow ticked, for he did not believe Zhang Ye had superhuman powers. Hence, he came up with his question, “Shù yǐ bàn xún xiū zòng fǔ (A halved tree does not need an axe – meaning there’s no need to kick someone when he’s down).”
Zhang Ye looked up and said his words to everyone’s surprise, “Guǒ rán yī diǎn bù xiāng gān (It is indeed not a bit relevant)!”
Why did he match with this?
He didn’t match it successfully!
Zhang Ye had finally failed!
Zheng Anbang laughed, “You call that a couplet? What sort of standard is that?”
The first half and the second half had no relation at all. The meaning was completely different, yet Zhang Ye could brazenly say it out?
“What sort of couplet is that?” Xiao Lu from offstage could also tell that it didn’t match!
“Is Teacher Zhang beginning to fail? After matching so many, his mind is also messed up?” Hou Ge said in a surprise.
However, an unexpected scene appeared. Elder Qian and the other two judges initially felt it did not match. Their eyes were filled with suspicion. That’s not right. Zhang Ye had matched so many, so how could he make a mistake even beginners would not make?
Why did he match in such an entirely disparate manner?
But in the blink of an eye, he understood something before laughing loudly, “Good. What a good guǒ rán yī diǎn bù xiāng gān (it is indeed not a bit relevant).” After explaining a few words with the other two judges, Beep, Beep, Beep. All three of them passed him!
“What?” Zheng Anbang exclaimed, “Passed?”
Some players beside could not accept it, “This second half can actually pass? How’s that possible!?”
Many of the audience and guests were also completely lost. What and what?
Elder Qian smiled as he explained, “I see many people puzzled. Hur Hur. I wonder if people have heard of ‘Mismatched Couplets’?”
Of course they knew!
This was created many years ago by a famous predecessor. However, few people used it, as it was a most unorthodox amongst unorthodox types!
Elder Qian explained in detail, “Shù yǐ bàn xún xiū zòng fǔ, guǒ rán yī diǎn bù xiāng gān (The halved tree does not need an axe, it is indeed not a bit relevant). The ‘shù’ (树, tree) matches with ‘guǒ’ (果, meaning fruit, part of indeed) as the substance. ‘yī diǎn’ (一点, a bit as a length) matches ‘bàn xún’ (半寻, need) as the quantifier. In ancient times, 8 feet is ‘xún’. And ‘gān’ (干) matches fǔ (斧, axe), which is the name of a weapon. In ancient times, gān was a weapon.
So the second half completely corresponds, but the words do not match, so it is considered a Mismatched Couplet. The meaning has no connection at all, but Teacher Zhang Ye’s second half not only miraculously matched the first half neatly, but he had used such an odd ‘guǒ rán yī diǎn bù xiāng gān’ as the second half. This is one of the most impossible Mismatched Couplet amongst impossibles! Of course I need to pass him!”
You can even do that?
You even knew such an unorthodox Mismatched Couplet?
Everyone’s expression when looking at Zhang Ye again looked like they were looking at a god!
The next person to provide a question was Big Thunder. Seeing Zhang Ye killing from all directions, Big Thunder was gritting his teeth with hate. But for his own couplet, Big Thunder had absolute confidence, “Dú lǎn méi huā sǎo là xuě (Leaving a path in Spring’s snow to view the plum blossom)!”
It was so simple?
All the contestants knew Big Thunder was good. He was the first runner-up last year. With last year’s champion, an old professor, not coming, many people believed that Big Thunder would likely become the champion. The couplets he gave would be extraordinary. But when they heard it, they were extremely puzzled. This wasn’t just simple; it was overly simple, right?
Dú lǎn méi huā sǎo là xuě (opening a path through Spring’s snow to view the plum blossom)?
Anyone present could match it!
After Big Thunder finished his question, he smiled without a word.
Zhang Ye narrowed his eyes and came up with a second half, “Xì nì shān shì wǔ liú xī (the stream flows through the glorious mountains in a sidelong glance).”
With this, the judges also did not understand. The both of them had come up with an extremely simple couplet, making them have doubts.
Big Thunder chuckled, “Little Zhang, this time you answered wrongly. Do you think my couplet is so simple?” Seeing Zhang Ye fall for his trick, he was very pleased, “My first half has another way of reading it.”
Zhang Ye answered with a chuckle, “What a coincidence. My second half has another way of reading it, too.”
Seeing how Zhang Ye was unwilling to repent, Big Thunder decided to serve him the death sentence as he dissected, “My first half is dú lǎn méi huā sǎo là xuě . The first sound of each word matches to do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti, the seven tones!”
“So that’s how it is!”
“I knew it wouldn’t be so simple!”
“This is too profound, right? Why is it so obscure?”
“Haha, Zhang Ye really hit his head hard on the wall!”
Big Thunder no longer looked at Zhang Ye as he said to everyone else, “Has anyone come up with a match?”
Zhang Ye leered at him, “Didn’t I already give my second half? Why are you asking others? Your first half may have a trick behind it, but I already said that coincidentally, my second half also has another way of reading it.”
Big Thunder snorted, “What other way of reading it?”
“Read my second half again.” This time, it was Zhang Ye’s turn at smiling without a word.
“Read it again? Xì nì shān shì wǔ liú xī?” Upon reading that, Big Thunder stared with horror, “This…This is.. a homonym. One-Two-Three-Four-Five-Six-Seven (Yī’ èr sān sì wǔ liù qī)?”
Matching against One-Two-Three-Four-Five-Six-Seven?
Go f**k your sister!
You can even f**king match that?
Big Thunder nearly fainted!
All the surrounding judges, audience members and contestants were dumbfounded!
*This entire scene of crossing verses with each other can be best understood from comedian actor, Stephen Chow’s movie, Flirting Scholar. It’s quite a funny scene too. The subtitles also become somewhat nonsensical as there is no good way of translating the essence of couplets into English.