You wake up in an unfamiliar location. Struggling to your feet, you see at least a dozen other people scattered nearby, some rubbing their eyes. You take a look at your surroundings and notice that you are in front of what appears to be a deserted hotel. There is a sign posted on the front entrance.

There is a treasure hidden inside one of the rooms. Whoever enters the correct room first gets the treasure. -G.S. Holmes

As you walk through the front doors, you perceive that there is a keycard in your pocket. There is a large 'V' emblazoned on its front. You flip it over and read the following text printed on the back: Can be used 1x/day.

You decide to wander through the hallways, making note of the fact that all the room numbers are three digits long. All the doors seem to be locked, but you get the feeling that the keycard in your possession can unlock them. After a couple hours, you find yourself back in the lobby. Passing by the front desk, you spot a telegram, which reads:

The report indicates that the number of livestock in town is going down.

At the close of today, it dropped to the lowest in almost nine months.

We asked three times for chickens, but only thirty eggs were available.

You decide to take a stroll in the garden to clear your mind. You pass by a large oak tree, and you notice something carved onto the trunk. Curious, you approach the tree and see the following:

156 872 544 268 370 984 662 729 201 833 490 431 188 707

You're not sure if this contains any useful information, but you jot down the numbers on the back of your keycard just in case and continue your stroll. As you walk back into the lobby, you come to the realization that you don't know what day it is, or even what year you're in. How did you end up here anyways?

Snooping around, you finally locate a calendar by the concierge. It looks like someone circled some of the days. Unfortunately, it doesn't say what year it is, and given the abandoned state of the hotel, you're not confident the month is even accurate. Still, you make a mental note of the calendar.

Calendar for puzzle

You make your way to the bar and find that there are still some bottles of wine in the cabinet. You pour yourself a glass of wine to drink, mulling over the day's events. Suddenly, you come to a realization. With confidence, you walk up to one of the rooms, put in your keycard, and open the door. Lo and behold, the treasure chest is on the ground in front of you - you have won the game.

Which room did you enter?


1 Answer 1


I was under quite a bit of time pressure since there were at least a dozen other people who might figure out which room to enter before me, so I tried to stay calm and clear-headed. While sipping my wine, I realized a definite recurring theme with

the number 5, since
the letter V (Roman Numeral 5) is emblazoned on my keycard,
the calendar is May, the fifth month, and
the first day, then every fifth day of the month is circled

So, I looked closer at the strange telegram, and through some trial and error, found that applying the

pattern from the calendar, I took the first word, and then every fifth word and that gave me what has to be a solid clue:
The report indicates that the number of livestock in town is going down.
At the close of today, it dropped to the lowest in almost nine months.
We asked three times for chickens, but only thirty eggs were available.

"The number is close to 9 x 30", which is 270.

I looked back at the list of numbers on the Oak tree and thought

that the correct number must be in that list, and the closest one to 270 is 268, so I entered room 268, and the treasure was mine!

I promptly put in my notice at work and now I'm a world traveler and spend much of my time at high-end resorts in exotic locations.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well done! The "G.S. Holmes" part was actually a reference to the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Gloria Scott, where I got the inspiration for this hidden message technique (the way it works is described on its Wikipedia page - I certainly don't expect everyone to be familiar with that story). $\endgroup$
    – mai
    Jun 2, 2022 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ You are spot on with the other clues. One more thing I will point out is that the calendar has every fifth day circled, starting from the first day - which matches exactly the pattern to find in the telegram. $\endgroup$
    – mai
    Jun 2, 2022 at 13:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @mai Thanks for the puzzle. It was fun, I have used that technique more than once but I never knew it was in a Sherlock Holmes story. Good points. I will update my answer based on that. $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jun 2, 2022 at 13:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ah I was curious about that part! Googling "G.S. Holmes" led me down a much different path... $\endgroup$
    – SQLnoob
    Jun 2, 2022 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @SQLNoob Here's one of the ones I saw: goodreads.com/author/show/21676763.G_S_Holmes $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jun 2, 2022 at 16:07

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