Q: What is the solution to Treasure by Dr. Crypton?

A: "Treasure" was a puzzle by Dr. Crypton (Paul Hoffman) released simultaneously in 1984 as a book, a videotape and a laserdisk. The book and video versions include a number of mysterious pictures and images connected by a loose plot involving the theft of a golden horse. The 1-kilo golden horse itself was buried, and the mysterious images were supposed to give instructions on how to find it. The lucky winners would get the golden horse and $500,000. The clues were interesting and obscure; it was impossible to tell which of the puzzles were relevant to the solution and which weren't. Enough of them were sort of solvable to give people hope that they were on the right track. For example, some clues written on an umbrella gave the birth and death years of Mary, Queen of Scots; and a chess game turned out to be identifiable as Anderssen vs. Kieseritzky, the "Shower of Gold" game. Evidently neither of these observations was relevant to the solution in the end.

It was alleged that during the production of the video enough people were let in on the secret that the location had to be changed... but that very little of the puzzle was changed to reflect the new location.

Nobody solved the puzzle in time -- i.e. by midnight of 26 May 1989. The horse was dug up by the promoters and the prize donated to a charity: Big Brothers and Sisters of America. However, the promoters and Dr. Crypton refused to make the solution public. Seven months later two men, Nick Boone and Anthony Castaneda, went to Tennessee Pass in Colorado and dug up a vial with congratulations inside. They wrote a description of their thought processes that left other frustrated treasure-seekers suspicious and annoyed: their "solution" appeared to be motivated very little by anything in the puzzle itself, so that it seemed apparent to many that they were virtually guided to that location by the promoters. This suspicion has not been confirmed or denied.

--Jim Gillogly <uunet!rand.org!James_Gillogly>

The New York Times August 21, 1989, Monday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section D; Page 6, Column 1; Financial Desk

HEADLINE: THE MEDIA BUSINESS; FAILED HUNT MAY END TREASURE BOOKS AND VIDEOS

BODY: Four years ago, Richard Baker of Gatlinburg, Tenn., set out on a treasure hunt based on a puzzle that had promised to bring the winner $500,000 and a miniature golden horse.

Mr. Baker crisscrossed the country, from Meridian, Miss., to Santa Claus, Ind., working full time on the puzzle and taking odd jobs.

The contest ended on May 26. And Mr. Baker, despite his efforts, was $4,000 poorer. He was not alone. Tens of thousands of people bought the clues to the puzzle, which were included in a book and a video, both called Treasure. Many also spent hundreds and thousands of dollars searching for the horse.

No One Wins the Prize

But the contest had gone awry. No one was able to solve the puzzle and collect the prize.

Over the last two months, treasure hunters in Minnesota, Michigan and elsewhere said they had complained to their state attorneys general, contending that the contest could not be solved.

Publishing executives said the complaints could dampen sales of future treasure-hunt books and videos.

The golden horse could very well kill the entire phenomenon, said Jim Williams, the editor of Treasure magazine.

The treasure hunt promotions peaked with two best sellers published in the early 1980's, Masquerade, by Kit Williams, which offered $35,000 to the finder of a golden hare, and Who Killed the Robins Family by Bill Adler and Thomas Chastain, which offered $10,000 to the reader who submitted the best answer to their puzzle. Both books sold more than a million copies each.

'It Only Worked Once'

John Baker, editor of Publisher's Weekly, said there are no industry figures, but none of the 10 or so treasure books and videos since 1982 have matched the success of the first two.

The idea worked well, but it only worked once, said Lawrence Hughes, chairman of the Hearst Trade Book Group Treasure was conceived in 1982 when Sheldon Renan, a Los Angeles film maker, teamed up with Paul Hoffman, also known as Dr. Crypton, an editor at Discover magazine and a puzzle writer, to write and film a story about a young girl's quest to find a horse named Treasure.

A series of clues were hidden in the story that pointed to a specific site in the United States. There, a golden horse worth more than $25,000 was buried, along with a key to a safe deposit box containing an annuity worth $500,000.

The Rights Are Sold

In 1983, Mr. Renan and Mr. Hoffman sold the rights to the book and video to Barry Grieff, a former record company executive, who raised $3.5 million and formed a New York video production company, Intravision Inc., to market the contest. Intravision then contracted with Warner Books and Vestron Inc. to distribute the book and the video.

D. L. Blair, a New York sales promotion agency that frequently oversees sweepstakes, was hired to insure its fairness.

Thomas J. Conlon, president of D. L. Blair, said his company acted as referee on the condition that it oversee the burial and check the puzzle to insure that it could be solved. Mr. Conlon also demanded that, if no one found the treasure, it would be donated to charity.

With that agreement made, Mr. Renan and Mr. Conlon buried the horse, and they, along with Mr. Hoffman, remain the only people who know its exact location.

Sales Trail Off

In the first two years, about 80,000 copies of the book were sold, Mr. Grieff said. And Mr. Renan said about 12,000 videos were sold.

But sales of the book and video began to trail off. By 1986, Intravision was $600,000 in debt, and Mr. Grieff sold his interest to Lawrence De-Mann, a New York physician.

Warner Books and Vestron said that by 1987 they had stopped distributing the book and video because of low orders and had ended their involvement with the project.

Still, treasure hunters continued to search even as the contest neared its scheduled end on May 26.

Hundreds of letters appeared at Intravision's office, Dr. De-Mann said. People would send in videotapes of themselves singing or pictured in front of rocks which they said contained the horse, he said.

'Some Mystical Solution'

Many treasure hunters seemed to believe that there is some mystical solution, Mr. Conlon said. One insisted that the horse was a cloud formation over Wyoming.

After the contest ended, the $500,000 was given to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. But the horse has remained buried because, Mr. Conlon said, he has not yet had time to retrieve it.

Although D. L. Blair said the puzzle could be solved with the clues in the book and video, many treasure hunters demanded proof, as well as the solution to the puzzle.

Jane Burnett of St. Paul, for instance, filed a complaint with her state Attorney General's office, demanding that the sponsors prove that the horse was actually buried.

'Lot of Angry People'

In addition, some treasure hunters wanted reimbursement of the money they spent hunting. For example, Tony Casteneda, a lawyer in Los Angeles, and James Mosier, an electrician in Brainerd, Minn., each said they spent more than $10,000.

There are a lot of angry people, said another treasure hunter, Deborah Holmes of Monroeville, Pa.

Officials in the Minnesota Attorney General's office declined to comment on the case, but said that in general sponsors of such a puzzle could be required to prove the validity of the contest and even reveal the solution if there was evidence of fraud. Similar regulations apply in New York and other states.

Mr. Conlon, Mr. Renan and Mr. Hoffman all said they would not release the solution because the contest rules did not require them to do so.

In the meantime, several treasure hunters said they would still continue searching for the prize.

GRAPHIC: photo of $25,000 golden horse

--

The New York Times November 30, 1989, Thursday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section D; Page 19, Column 2; Financial Desk

HEADLINE: Site of Golden Horse Is No Longer a Puzzle

BYLINE: By ELEANOR BLAU

BODY: The mystery of the golden horse has been solved.

Succeeding after tens of thousands had failed during a six-year search for a $25,000 horse statuette and a $500,000 prize, an F.B.I. agent and a deputy prosecutor discovered that the little horse had been buried in Tennessee Pass, 10,424 feet above sea level, along the Continental Divide in Colorado. The treasure hunt was a commercial venture marketed by Intravision Inc., a New York video production company, that sold both video and book versions of Treasure: In Search of the Golden Horse, providing arcane clues to the site. The contest was overseen by D. L. Blair, the sales promotion company, which helped to bury the horse.

Nothing but Satisfaction

The statuette was no longer there, though, when puzzle solvers arrived. The contest ended May 26 with the site undiscovered. So the prize was awarded to a Philadelphia-based charity, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. The finders, in the end, get nothing but satisfaction.

When the contest ended, the site was not disclosed. That rankled Nick Boone, 45 years old, who has been an agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 18 years, and Anthony Castaneda, 44, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles for 16 years.

A lot of people in the United States had worked a long time, Mr. Castaneda said yesterday, emphasizing that they had a right to know where the horse was. Indeed, the lack of disclosure had caused many to protest the contest and even to doubt that the horse had really been buried. So the two men kept up their search, joining forces last July after finding each other through a puzzle solvers' grapevine.

--

Here is their description:

CAPT. NEMO, THE GOLD HORSE & ME

The search for the Golden Horse ended on May 26, 1989, five years from its beginning in 1984. I should have been happy. After all, I would be saving a great deal of time and money - but I wasnt. A feeling of gloom persisted - a feeling of something wrong.

Two months after the contest closed, fate took a hand and I met another treasure seeker, Captain Nemo (not his real name, but it must suffice for this story).

We had many similarities - age, job, drive - but nothing compared to your insatiable desire to know. "Where had the Golden Horse been buried? How close had we been to finding it?".

It was clear that finding the site of the Golden Horse was a passion with Captain Nemo. He was a man who would not accept defeat. Together, we moved forward.

THE ADVENTURE

On Thursday, November 2, 1989, the telephone rang. It was my friend Captain Nemo. He had unlocked the final part of the Rabbit Card clue in the puzzle known as "Treasure; Search of the Golden Horse." This difficult part of the puzzle had been confounding thousands of treasure seekers for the last five years.

Midnight of the next day found us on the "red-eye" out of Los Angeles heading for Tennessee Pass. Tennessee Pass rises 10,424 feet above sea level and is intersected by Route 24 on the Continental Divide in central Colorado.

As we stood at Tennessee Pass, we were awed by the majestic sight of snow-capped mountains, but we soon found its high altitude and freezing temperatures made it very difficult to dig for buried treasure and breathe at the same time.

A large monument, and a nearby smaller one, immediately attracted our attention. The larger one was a commemoration of the 990 fallen comrades of the 40th Mountain Division of WW II fame - the smaller one a dedication to the 99th Battalion of the same division. An aura of sacredness surrounded the area.

With some trepidation, we inspected both monuments, top and bottom. We found nothing! In our hand we held the puzzles final map, which at first appeared to be a confusing abstract drawing. Surrounded by trees, we now suspected something we had earlier seen as a possibility., that the pattern of lines and arrows on the map represented tall, thin trees around an unusual misshapen one. We walked into the forest looking for such a tree and searched for four or five hours, but found nothing. We succeeded only in exhausting ourselves., having done a great deal of hiking. Tomorrow was another day so we drove back to the hotel.

The next day, revived, we again inspected the smaller monument . This time we brushed away handfuls of snow from the base of the back side. An inscription met our eyes - "11 June 1980." For five years we had been staring at that date on Amandas fathers gravestone, wondering whether or not it was a clue. Finally, we knew its significance: it stood for itself. We now knew that we were following the puzzles command, "To find your Treasure you must first find your fathers grave."

At a heading of 150 degrees, we walked back into the forest for 100 steps. All the trees of the forest were straight and thin - all except one. This solitary tree was thick, wide, and its branches formed a kind of wooden scarecrow as if it had been placed there for the sole purpose of guarding the ground around it. This tree perfectly matched the one shown on the map.

Interpreting the map as a perspective drawing, we projected a spot for the "x" and began to dig a hole near the unusual tree. There were large rocks everywhere. We decided on a digging plan that required using a pick to form a channel around the rocks, which we removed by hand. After much digging, we found nothing.

Five feet away from he first hole and closer to the wide, thick, tree we dug a second hole. Assuming the roles of geologists and forensic scientists we analysed everything, even trying to draw conclusions from the multi-coloured dirt. We found pieces of freshly cut roots and voids between the rocks, telling us that someone had recently dug there. Again we found nothing. It was extremely cold, late and we had a plane to catch, so we filled in he hole with dirt and rocks and left. Unknown to us, we had been approximately 18 inches from the exact spot where the Golden Horse had been buried for five years.

Once home, we analysed the pictures we had taken and saw our mistake. Apparently, the map was not drawn in true perspective, but appeared to be a camera reproduced on paper. We decided to go back, this time with a Polaroid camera.

NOVEMBER 18, 1989

We left Los Angeles at 6:30 a.m. on November 18, 1989, arriving at the site 8 hours later. Although it was about 20 degrees with snow on the ground, we at least were not in the middle of a blizzard and the weather was holding.

We again walked into the forest. Exactly 238 1/2 feet from the smaller monument, we marked a new spot and began to dig. The top layer of ground was now extremely hard, almost frozen. We picked our way through and quickly discovered the same voids between the rocks as in the second hole of two weeks before. We wondered, "Could the promoters recovery team have dug a hole in error and the corrected themselves?"

As we dug, we came across a small piece of fabric and some smaller pieces of red plastic. Our excitement increased forgetting for the moment that the Golden Horse was no longer buried in the ground. About 2 1/2 feet down, we struck something that was neither dirt nor rock. It had a foreign sound that we could not identify. We continued removing dirt and found at the bottom of the hole the object that was very dark, almost black. It looked and felt like rubber.

While investigating this rubber-like object further we inadvertently overturned a 9 inch cylindrical fire-red plastic vial. Captain Nemo reached for it. The words "Open Me First" were visible through the translucent plastic and were written in calligraphy on a parchment inside. The vial was broken at one of the ends and a larger piece of rolled up parchment was sticking out from there. It was damp and appeared to have been welded together by the elements of nature. We couldnt pull the parchment out without tearing it, so we put it aside temporarily. We looked up anxiously, almost involuntarily, to see if anyone saw us unearth our find, before realising that the real treasure had already been removed.

Later, returning to the black rubber-like object, we removed the dirt. To our surprise, it was the bottom of a rectangular wooden box. We realised that this had been the box that had housed the Golden Horse. Five years of weathering had given the wood its dark, rubbery appearance. All that remained of the box now was its bottom and two sides.

We took it out. The bottom was 3/4 inch plywood, measuring 14 1/4 by 15 inches. The sides were 6 by 13 and 6 by 15 inches respectively. All the wood was caked in dirt. Later examination would reveal that one side of the pieces was labelled "TREASURE," but all that was visible now was a faint "A."

We turned back to the hole and found additional pieces of fabric. These were later identified as part of the plaid jacket in which the box had been wrapped by Sheldon Renan, the writer of "Treasure."

Later, back at the hotel, Captain Nemo, working like a surgeon and utilising makeshift tools, was able to pull the parchment from the vial. It read "Congratulations" and revealed to us a secret code number, 165-69 INF, and a special phone number belonging to the D.L. Blair Corporation, the contest referee. Our five year search was over!

THE SOLUTION TO THE BOOK

The cornerstone of the puzzle was in the realm of ciphers. Without following this approach there could be no solution. It was also necessary to understand that most of the story was fairytale, allegory and misdirection.

In 1980, Kit Williams authored the artistic and elegant English puzzle "Masquerade." "Treasure" was similar to "Masquerade" in that there was a natural tendency for treasure seekers to quickly convince themselves that they had arrived at a solution to the puzzle and then continue to mold and fit the facts of the story to "their" solution.

"Treasure" was a puzzle of ciphers. Luckily, this concept came to me early in the contest, and I devoted a great deal of time to ciphers. I asked myself, "How would treasure seekers have known that this was a puzzle of ciphers?" In general, the following are some of the insights that came to us indicating ciphers were involved.

One of the clues illustrated in the chapter "Road" was the license plate of a mustang ("MLGGS/VER"). it practically cried out "I am ciphertext."

The video and laser disk had some obvious clues. At the end of the story was the message:

V E E B N T F A D

I W R E O A R I.

This is a classic rail fence cipher. I deciphered it by simply reading the first letter top row, first letter bottom row, second letter top row, and so on. I formed a break after each word and the message became "VIEWER BE NOT AFRAID."

Also in the video, the main character, Amanda, picked up a book titled Fort Michael Meade. For Meade houses the headquarters of the National Security Agency - the highly classified branch of the government that intercepts and analyses the worlds cryptography.

I also learned that Dr. Crypton frequently wrote about ciphers. That convinced me that he used ciphers in this puzzle and that they were highly important.

Later Captain Nemo confided to me that his early belief that ciphers were critical to the solution.

A CIPHER DEFINED

A cipher is a letter, number or symbol that stands for another letter. There are two ways to solve ciphers. One by substitution and the other by transposition.

For example, the cipher "SGBBX" could be deciphered by substituting the letters in the bottom row (the cipher letters or cipher alphabet) of Figure 1 for the corresponding letters in the top row (the plaintext letters). The message "HELLO," which is called the plaintext would result. This is a classic example of a cipher solved by substitution.

Figure 1

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

L K J H G F D S A M N B V C X Z P O I U Y T R E W Q

Deciphering by transposition, the letters of the ciphered message are simply transposed to obtain plaintext message. For example, the cipher "LLOHE" spells "HELLO" be reordering the letters around.

THE ATBASH CIPHER

The license plate (MLGGS/VCER) is an Atbash cipher, a reverse substitution. The sentence on page 33 of "Treasure" - "Soon she began to feel awash in a babel of crowds" - was a very subtle hint to the ciphers solution. On pages 77-78 of The Codebreakers, the monumental treatise on ciphers, was the reference to the time of Babel (Babylon) and the Atbash cipher.

To solve the license plate cipher, each letter of "MLGGS/VCER" was matched on the bottom line of Figure 2 to the corresponding letter selected on the top line. For example, "M" is located on the bottom line and "N" is therefore selected. "L" becomes "O"; "G" becomes "T"; and so on.

Figure 2

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Z Y X W V U T S R Q P O N M L K J I H G F E D C B A

"MLGGS/VCER" deciphers to "NOT THE XVI", or "NOT THE 16th" - a perfect illustration of the layered effect of the puzzle. "NOT THE 16th" is the first layer, but what did it mean? Did it mean the 16th President of the United States, or the 16th chapter of "Treasure," or perhaps a 16th paragraph or a 16th word? We found the correct meaning of "NOT THE 16th" only after solving the Rabbit Card.

THE BACON CIPHER

The Bacon Cipher, named after Sir Francis Bacon, is a bilateral substitution cipher where each letter of the alphabet is given a different combination of two symbols in groups of five. Bacon used "a" and "b" for the symbols. For example, aaaaa = A aaaab = B, aaaba = C, and so forth.

In the chapter "River," Amanda saw "Treasure running along the shore...," but a pig, not a horse, was pictured on the river bank. It was a substitution of something completely out of place that signalled a clue. The pig was running toward a tight group of ten trees - five short and five tall. Together, they formed a Bacon Cipher. Were we supposed to associate pig with bacon and thereby come up with the Bacon Cipher?

Was Dr. Crypton displaying a sense of humour as he had with the "musical notes" on page 56? These notes were a substitution cipher that read "Dr. C Was Here" (Secret Writing by Henry Lysinf, page 42). Pretty funny? Im still laughing.

We looked at Bacons full substitution alphabet, and began by assigning "a" to the small trees ("b" to the tall trees) and "reading" the trees left to right and also from right to left. We then assigned the letter "b" to the small trees and proceeded in the same manner.

The above combinations gave us three possible solutions "TN" or "OV" or "GK."

Since the solutions to the puzzle seemed to come in layers, we waited to choose among the three possibilities until after solving the Rabbit Card.

THE RABBIT CARD

The Rabbit handed Amanda a card, but said "...I will mask it" (an anagram of Kit Williams). On the card is a message masked in a master scheme to deceive and eliminate the timid. We kept coming back to it many times. The solution evaded us.

From the message that read in part "your horse will be found by four things, all concealed and lettered," we assumed that four words of four sets of letters should be placed on the first line of the card containing the numbers and four symbols. The four symbols (seven circles, one square, six diamonds, and two triangles) indicated the length of each of the words or sets of letters. The first line was reordered, according to the numbers, on the second line.

The Rabbit Card was a combination of four separately solved clues. Clue

  1. 1 was to be deciphered; Clue #2 to be left unaltered; Clue #3 to be

interpreted; and Clue #4 to be translated.

CLUE #1: DECIPHER THE FIRST

Mary Queen of Scots was a cryptographer whose cipher system was used in the book. The controversial Scottish queen, born in 1542, was the cousin of Queen Elizabeth I of England, who considered her a threat to the throne and had here executed in 1587.

Mary used ciphers extensively to elude Queen Elizabeths spies, substituting her own symbols for the letters of the alphabet.

There were two ways of connecting Marys importance to the solution. I found the easier clue that Mary Queen of Scots and her cipher alphabet were important. Her birth and death dates were written on the umbrella in the chapter "Party." I looked at biographies of her life. When I read that she used ciphers, I knew that she and her ciphers were central to the puzzle.

Captain Nemo found the more difficult clue. The globe illustrated on page 42 contains a collage of many different maps and locations superimposed one over another. Captain Nemo painstakingly inspected and identified every location on the globe, with the sole exception of one piece bearing the letters "EVEN."

Consulting road maps as well as geographical and place name dictionary he finally determined that "EVEN" was the only non-American location on the globe. "EVEN" was part of Scotlands "LOCH LEVEN." Mary Queen of Scots had been imprisoned on an island in Loch Leven.

We therefore, strongly suspected that Marys cipher symbols were hidden in the book. For weeks, we looked for these and nightly discussed the various possibilities. We finally found the following seven.

1. The books artist, Podevin, signed his name in the lower right hand corner of the drawing on the dedication page. Marys symbol for "F" (resembling a base clef without dots) was in the place where the "D" in Podevin should have been.

2. Either page 13 or 14 is missing. The "H" on the dresser on the page after 12 was Marys symbol for "E."

3. Marys "beta" symbol in the upper left hand corner of page 17 stood for the letter "S."

4. A plus sign (instead of the Roman numeral "X") on the Tarot card on page 24 stood for the letter "T."

5. The only constellation that is out of place (i.e. incorrect) on page 40 is the one on the left side with the two "Xs." These two "Xs" (actually Greek chis) were Marys symbols for "Os."

6. The earring on page 68 (similar to an "S" but actually a delta) was her symbol for "N."

The Rabbit Cards first command was "Decipher the first." We deciphered Marys hidden symbols, formed a word "FESTOON," and placed it into the spaces occupied by the circles in the Rabbit Card.

For an illustration of how we placed "FESTOON" in the Rabbit Card, see Figure 4.

Figure 4

F E S T O O N

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

1 13 7 14 6 8 16 2 15 9 5 3 12 10 4 11

Following the Rabbit Cards command "Reorder them anew," we placed each letter of the word "Festoon," in its proper numerical order, in the second row. We now had what you see in figure 5.

Figure 5

F E S T O O N

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

1 13 7 14 6 8 16 2 15 9 5 3 12 10 4 11

F N O E O S T

There was a possible first word of "FIND" in the second line, but we were unable to make sense of the rest of the letters.

CLUE #2: LEAVE THE SECOND UNALTERED

The outline of the state of Idaho was cut from page 36. We saw the letter "J" at the middle left of this outline. The reproduced piece of Idaho was on page 45. at the middle of this outline, what appeared to be the letter "T" was actually the top half of the "J" on page 36.

Following the command "Leave the second unaltered," we placed the unaltered "J" into the Rabbit Card in the space occupied by the square. The first and second lines of the Rabbit Card now read as you can see in Figure 6.

Figure 6

F E S T O O N J

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

1 13 7 14 6 8 16 2 15 9 5 3 12 10 4 11

F N O J E O S T

CLUE #4: TRANSLATE THE FOURTH

Years ago, I noticed how two pieces of a "water splash" on pages 10 and 50 fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Captain Nemo discovered that when the piece on page 50 was superimposed over the piece on page 10, and the two were held up to the light, a grille cipher could be seen. He remembered the quote "On its grille, leading the way, was the figure of a running horse."

Four pieces of green glass outlined the words "He did it himself." We considered this phrase as being either the third or forth part of the Rabbit Card. If it was to be interpreted it could have been many things. If translated, then Latin was the clear choice.

Amanda in the chapter "Forest," picked up a book that was described as being "written in the tongue of ancient Rome," and she "copied only two short words." "He did it himself" in Latin translated to "Ipse Fecit."

Having only two spaces, we placed the abbreviation "IF" in the spaces occupied by the two triangles. The first and second lines of the Rabbit Card now resulted in Figure 7.

Figure 7

F E S T O O N J I F

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

1 13 7 14 6 8 16 2 15 9 5 3 12 10 4 11

F N O J F E I O S T

We were still not able, however, to make sense of the second line.

Captain Nemo and I started discussing the possibility of applying polyalphabetic ciphers. These ciphers used multi-alphabets instead of just one alphabet. A polyalphabetic cipher uses a keyword along with a 26 by 26 matrix (Figure 8), which consists of 26 alphabets.

Figure 8

Vigenere Matrix

KEY LETTERS

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A a b c d e f g

h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z B b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a C c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b D d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c E e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d F f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e G g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f H h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g P I

i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h L J j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i A K k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j I L l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k N M m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l T N n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m E O o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n X P p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o T Q q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p

R r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q S s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r T t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s U u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t V v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u W w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v X x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Y y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Z z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y

Long before the contest started, I had knowledge of keywords and polyalphabetic ciphers. When I read the phrase on page 74, "The Map Is The Key In More Ways Than One," the association between keywords and cipher text literally jumped out at me. I immediately thought that "Map" was the keyword that would solve the Rabbit Card. I tried, however, to use various cipher texts but came up with nothing.

Later, Captain Nemo told me that he too thought of "Map" as a keyword, but he had not been able to find the right ciphertext.

Now, we thought, "Could the second line, which had been eluding us so far, be ciphertext instead of spelling out a message?"

Following this thought of using "map" as the keyword, we ran the ten letters of the second line backwards through the Vigenere matrix (The Codebreakers page 149(, which produced Figure 9.

Figure 9

T _ Y _ O U T E T _ O D _ _ E _

Trying to form a message out of the letters, we tried various letter combinations. When we added an "R" after the first "T", and an "R" after the "Y" we produced two words, "TRY" and "ROUTE."

Running "Rs" backwards through the matrix added two new letters in the two lines of the Rabbit Card (See figure 10).

Figure 10

F E S T O O N J R D I F

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

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F R N D O J F E I O S T

Now having three full parts of the first line of the Rabbit Card, we were looking for a six letter word ending in "RD." The Rabbit Cards command was to interpret something to get this word.

CLUE #3: INTERPRET THE THIRD

Our search for more clues continued. The letter at the top of the stairs on page 53 attracted our attention. It was either an "N" or a "Z." We discussed this numerous times. Our preferred choice was a "Z" because the legs of the letter appeared to be too slanted and uneven for a "N." Could a "Z" somehow be interpreted into a six lettered word?

On November 2, my telephone rang. It was Captain Nemo. He had broken the Rabbit Card by finding the third word, reordering it, and running it through the matrix. Captain Nemo told me that he had kept the third word "Izzard," on a piece of paper in his pocket for an entire day, being too nervous to try it out in the Rabbit Card. "Izzard" was another way of saying "Z." Captain Nemo had remembered a slang expression of his grandmother, "From A to izzard."

When he finally made himself try the third word, the result was the completed lines of the Rabbit Card, which are depicted in Figure 11.

Figure 11

F E S T O O N J I Z Z A R D I F

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F R N D O J F E I I O S A Z T Z

Then he ran the completed second line through the matrix. He had the answer that none of the thousands of treasure seekers had discovered. The message that leaped out at him was "TRY ROUTE TWO DOZEN."

Next, Captain Nemo interpreted "Try Route Two Dozen" to mean "Try Route 24." After consulting a United States road map, he found interstate Route 24, a route that is somewhat reminiscent of the legendary Route 66. Route 24 begins near Detroit, Michigan, winds its way down and cuts across the United States, ending near Vail, Colorado.

Now the exact location on Route 24 had to be found. He started tracing the route and searching for clues to fit the ones that we had. Suddenly he spotted the words "Tennessee Pass" in Colorado.

Number 16 leaped to his mind - Tennessee was the 16th state admitted into the Union. However, our clue said, "Not the 16th."

The Bacon Cipher, however, was interpreted to be "TN" or "OV" or "GK," Captain Nemo chose "TN," which was the abbreviation for Tennessee. If it wasnt the state of Tennessee, but Tennessee was still part of the solution, then it had to be Tennessee Pass - the only mention of "Tennessee" on Route 24.

So we began our odyssey to Tennessee Pass. We already ad determined the number of steps by counting the stairs on the staircases (including the spiral staircase on page 43) in the books illustrations. We first found the 150 degree heading in the movie version, but that solution is another story. How it surfaces in the book is something other treasure seekers might like to determine for themselves, as one last challenge.

EPILOGUE

The adventure of Captain Nemo and me has now been written. Our solution to the puzzle has been revealed. So, where do we go from here? I asked Captain Nemo that very question. He said, "Another Puzzle, no matter what!"

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