Treasure Hunt 2017 discussion forum

“We are hunting together, Mr. Holmes.” (WIST)

This post is now open for clarifications/questions/discussions concerning the 5th Annual JHWS Treasure Hunt.
The Treasure Hunt will start on July 31st at midnight (PST) and will close on August 31st at midnight (PST).

This forum will remain open for the duration of the Hunt to discuss anything related to the questions.
Please do not post specific answers to any of the questions, not even as working hypotheses.
Any questions posted here for the Treasure Hunt Master will be answered as quickly as possible.
You can also get in touch directly with the THM by e-mail:

Happy Hunting!



Treasure Hunt 2017 discussion forum — 35 Comments

  1. Hi Reggie:

    Question about #12: London Merchant is a very broad field of inquiry. While I have what I think is a good, but silly, answer, can you please clarify if we are talking about a London merchant in the canon, or a London merchant that may exist beyond the canon?



  2. 12, 14, and 20 (and arguably 13) have all been these very broad “association” questions and they are killing me. I have sunk more time into those four than I have the the other 16 questions I’ve tackled so far and to less result. I’m about to start skipping this question type.

    Robert “Sampson”

  3. Hey Reggie:

    I have a question about #14 as well; the question appears very broadly written. I would like clarification on the ‘is mentioned’ part of the question. Please advise if you mean–

    –is mentioned in the canon?

    –is often mentioned in Sherlockian history/lore/circles?

    –is often mentioned in discussion of great English literature in general?


  4. First of all, my apologies. I thought that the revision process had clarified enough questions, but evidently it isn’t so and some problems have escaped my attention. In answer to your questions:

    #12: We are talking about a London Merchant that exists beyond the Canon.
    #14: I have forgotten to make some specifications and on reading again the question is VERY generic indeed. Sorry. I’ll try to rewrite it:
    “A member of a famous club of literature is mentioned in the Canon in connection with a character that Holmes and Watson meet. What club and what character?”
    (Since Sherlockians are apt to find amazing answers to any question, I find it my duty to specify that the club is NOT the Diogenes Club and the character is NOT Mycroft. After all, it is technically true that the Diogenes IS a famous club of literature.)
    #13 and #20 are two examples of questions for which a good Canonical Index (such as Jack Tracy’s) is very helpful. A Google search may also help a lot, provided that you have an idea about where to start from. Please note that the Hunt by its own nature involves following many hypotheses that turn out to be dead ends, and finding the right one through a process of elimination. Anyway, that’s how I worked it when I was on the other side…
    Always at your disposal for further clarifications.

    • On #12, if you consider the Diogenes to be a “club of literature” then I am completely lost as to what a club of literature is. I just assumed you meant school of literature but if you mean any group that maintains some sort of library I don’t even know where to begin.

      Also, can I ask my fellow quiz takers for a temperature on question #20? To me it is another question where it is not clear what element if any is found within the Canon, and, in general I don’t see that there is enough information to proceed from. I don’t want to go into specifics in this venue but I feel like I’ve exhausted every variable in this question and I have gotten absolutely nowhere. I guess I’m hitting a point where I’m trying to figure out if I am just not quiz-taking material. I’ve put several hours into this question with the Encyclopedia Sherlockiana, Lives Beyond Baker Street, the Google, and a plaintext searchable Canon at hand and I have absolute zero on that question. This is hurting my personal pride as a Sherlockian and my professional pride as a librarian.

      Robert “Sampson”

      • On #14 I must again apologize for my poor choice of words.
        The expression “club of literature” is ambigous. Let’s see if I can put it better:
        “14. A member of a club in a famous work of English literature is mentioned in the Canon in connection with a character that Holmes and Watson meet. What club and what character?”

        On #20 I’m afraid I cannot agree with you. It is implied that at least one of the elements of the question is mentioned in the Canon, otherwise the Hunt would be very unfair indeed. And I can assure you that this is the case for this question. I can give a hint: the Encyclopedia Sherlockiana or an Annotated version of the Canon is actually very useful in this context.

      • Let me also tell you that if you’re tackling question #20 on the 4th of August you’re going very fast indeed. Last year, with my team, in the first four days we had only found 4 or 5 answers, and we were exchanging ideas and hypotheses: you’re working alone, and that’s always much more difficult! The Hunt lasts a month for a good reason, so my advice is not to worry if you don’t get a specific answer, but skip to another question and go back on it later: ususally the solution comes easier after a period of rest. Two years ago I found the solution to one last question literally 30 seconds before clicking “Send” on the e-mail with the answers. So cheer up.

  5. Not to harp on this but #26 “It would not have been easy to hide this object or to obliterate it. Who or what?” How is that an answerable question?

    • The answer I got for #26 I got by working backwards from 27. Of course, I don’t know that my answer is *correct*…

      By the way, if you decide you don’t want to go it alone, we (Rob, Ron, and I) are down a 4th team member this year.

      • Thanks for the kind offer but at this point I feel like I am dead weight on my own team of one. I don’t want to drag anyone else down with me. 😉

    • The use of a synonym or a different turn of phrase is often used in this kind of quiz. Let me use an example taken from last year’s Hunt:

      “Holmes was perhaps being imaginative when he wrote about a suspect living loftily among the irrational.”
      The answer is Murdoch, the mathematical coach in LION, who is described with these words: “He seemed to live in some high, abstract region of surds and conic sections with little to connect him with ordinary life.”
      I hope this gives you an idea of how the words “It would not have been easy to hide this object or to obliterate it” must be interpreted.
      To take into account Margie’s comment below, yes, there is also a “hook”, a word or combination of words that can be searched. Good luck!

  6. Hi Robert—

    I feel your pain. This is such an involved process. I hope you won’t give up. I think perhaps you are working alone and that makes the difficulty rise to another level. Anyone who tries this alone has my undying admiration.

    In reply to your request from those of trying this thing–

    #20–I did get it, after two hours of “maybe x + y = z, or maybe or maybe”…and then, in the end, I was able to get the answer after reading down a list of the 60 story titles, and thinking about awards and or prizes.

    The ever amazing Sheila/’Daisy’ found #13. Bravo to her!

    As for #12, even with the small clarification above, I am still feeling the question is very broad, but I will continue to chew on it for awhile.

    As for #14, I think Reggie meant in the clarification that the Diogenes is a famous club IN literature–a little joke. I think we are looking for something recognized formally as a club or association; I certainly don’t have it yet. [Of course, I could be totally wrong! :O ]

    As for #26, I keep thinking about what Reggie said when he posted the first practice question: there are usually specific words in each question that can be searched that will lead you to something. I haven’t tried this one yet–I hope there is a ‘hook’ of some sort in it. Fingers crossed!

    Deep breathing (and possibly the doctor’s brandy) recommended.

    On we go…


    • Thanks very much. I probably should refrain from posting at the end of a research period. I believe I got #26, but only by working backwards from later questions in the series.

      Robert “Sampson”

    • #12: please note all the details of my answer. (as Holmes says, “there is nothing so important as trifles.”).

      #14: see my reply to Robert above for what I mean with “club of literature” (i.e. “a club mentioned in a literature work”). I apologize for any misunderstanding, but when you chose a non-native English speaker as Hunt Master you knew you were looking for trouble. 😉

  7. Do the plus signs in 34 and 35 indicate that you are supposed to combine the character names or do they replace the word “and”? So is question 34 “A butler and a merchant both wore the same kind of accessory. What was it and what are their names?” or is it “When you mash together the name of a butler and a merchant you get the name of an accessory that either might wear?”

    • Sorry if it wasn’t clear. I used the same convention that Margie used last year. It is meant to replace the word “and”. It means that the butler and the merchant wore the same clothing accessory and that the cripple, the porter and the crook uttered the same invocation to the Divinity.

  8. Pingback: I hereby declare the 2017 Treasure Hunt... open! - The John H Watson Society

  9. Ok, Reggie, Treasure Hunt Master supreme:

    I take back every rotten thought I had about #12.


    I am forever in awe of your question writing skills,


    • Regarding no. 12 and speaking in general, please remember that not ALL questions have difficult, complicated or tricky answers. There are some that are in fact very easy. I thought it necessary to make a mix of easy and hard questions. So my advice is to look for a simple answer before you try the more elaborate ones. Of course, the tricky part is how to discriminate between the questions with simple answers and the others… 😉
      Happy Hunting!

  10. Hy!
    We would like to ask you if there is any possibility that in question no.46 the number 35 could be a typo and the right number should have been 350.

  11. We would like to ask you if there is any possibility that in question no.46 the number 35 could be a typo and the right number should have been 350.

  12. Hey Reggie:

    On question #98, please confirm if the use of ‘wages’ specifically means income from paid work, or if it is used in a general sense of income coming in from any sources?



    • It is used in the sense of income coming from paid work, of any kind. It could be the fees or the emoluments earned by a professional man, such as a doctor or a lawyer, or the wage or pay earned by an employee. Other sources, such as an annuity from capital or a pension, are excluded. I hope this can help you.

  13. Hi, Reggie, Sheila (Daisy) here from the SOB team in Seattle. Please define what you mean by apocrypha, for example, are you including scholarship? Or only what ACD wrote?
    Thanks. Daisy

    • Hi Sheila, in that section are included sources like ACD’s other writings, scholarship, and pastiches (including movies and others). All sources are pretty well known, no need to dig out an obscure article from the BSJ or the SHJ from the fifties. Good hunting!

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