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I wanted to see if my group of 8 long-time online friends, some of which had the same nationality and some not, would be clever enought to figure out where I've hidden a treasure somewhere in the world, so I arranged a puzzle for them. I sent them a message, in a group chat, of unique flight routes they must take in order to find the treasure.

I wrote:


  • My eb friend, you must first fly to ge and then to th and then to xy. Positions: (BR-MM-TL)
  • My th friend, you must first fly to da and then to jf and then to xy. Positions: (TL-TM-TR)
  • My da friend, you must first fly to ge and then to si and then to xy. Positions: (TM-MM-BM)
  • My kd friend, you must first fly to si and then to eb and then to xy. Positions: (BL-BM-BR)
  • My jf friend, you must first fly to dg and then to eb and then to xy. Positions: (TR-MR-BR)
  • My other kd friend, you must first fly to ge and then to jf and then to xy. Positions: (BL-MM-TR)
  • My other th friend, you must first fly to ac and then to kd and then to xy. Positions: (TL-ML-BL)
  • My ac friend, you must first fly to ge and then to dg and then to xy. Positions: (ML-MM-MR)

xy, of course, represents other letters but when you figured out what two letters they represent, have in mind the treasure is actually located in preciely "xy" and not the other one you might think.

See you there in some weeks, I'll be there too. Good luck!


In which small location do they all meet and get the treasure?

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1 Answer 1

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The treasure is in ...

... Macau.

The two-letter destinations ...

... are ISO 3166-1 country codes, but reversed:

daad Andorra
ebbe Belgium
acca Canada
kddk Denmark
geeg Egypt
jffj Fiji
rggr Grenada
thht Haiti
siis Iceland

The positions ...

... are positions in a 3×3 grid indicated by Top / Middle / Bottom and Left / Middle / Right.
The filled in grid is:

 ht  ad  fj 

 ca  eg  gr 

 dk  is  be 

The "flights" ...

.. are actually sums; the destination is the result of summing the origin and stop-overs.

Note that the first letters of the countries and their codes conveniently span the first nine letters A–I. So let's replace the countries with the respective digits 1 to 9:

 8  1  6 

 3  5  7 

 4  9  2 

It's magic! In this magic square each row, column and main diagonal – or, for that matter, each of the flights – have a sum of 15.

The destination xy:

So we need a country that starts with the fifteenth letter, O. Luckily, there is only one sovereign state that starts with O, Oman with the country code om.

Since all codes in the itinerary are reversed, om correponds to yx. The final destination is xy, which must be mo or Macau.

(At least I hope so. If anything, it's easier to dig up Macau's 45 square miles for treasure than Oman's 120,000.)

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    $\begingroup$ Ah this is probably it! Wouldn’t have guessed a magic square was involved. $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Apr 21 at 6:38
  • $\begingroup$ That's where it is, well done! $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ Title was a hint too (sound like rot13"fhz") $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 8:43
  • $\begingroup$ Anything with a magic square is cool, but i don't see how you concluded "So we need a country that starts with the fifteenth letter, O." When i think "small location", i don't think country. And why the 15th letter? $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Apr 21 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ @jlee PN’s puzzles often requires a lot of trial and error, where the next step is not alluded to at all in the puzzle. Like here you could also ask why convert half of the letters into numbers? Why convert them at all? Why form a magic square? I don’t think that is a bad thing though. $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Apr 21 at 12:54

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