This question is part of a puzzle crime story I have started recently (you can see previous puzzles from the series HERE, HERE and HERE). I would like to test the difficulty (not sure if too easy or too hard), and possibly get some feedback/ideas for improvement. The text looks a bit out of context, but the backstory is not necessary to solve the puzzle. The goal is to find a 4-digit passcode encoded in it.

Sanders arrived home and looked sick. He closed the door behind him, took off his coat, and slowly went to the living room. He opened a cupboard, took out a pack of cigarettes and lit one. He quit smoking two years ago, however today he couldn’t stop himself. Sanders turned around and went to his “memory” wall – the place where he used to hang all his favorite pictures. He stopped in front of one of them and looked at it…

enter image description here

“Oh Teddy…” Sanders muttered and shook his head. He took the picture in his hands, sat in an armchair, and stared at it. Suddenly, he felt something attached to the back of the photo. He turned it around and saw a map.

enter image description here

Initially Sanders was confused – he couldn’t see written coordinates on the map or a target place on it. After few minutes of contemplating however, he stood up, put his coat back on and left. He knew exactly where to go.

P.S. I know, probably I won't become a world-renowned writer.

  • $\begingroup$ The best guess I have right now is 1001 or 0110, but I feel like there's a major part of the puzzle I'm missing... Very nice visuals! I didn't even recognize the hidden "Trees" word at first! $\endgroup$
    – user14478
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @LukasRotter, I am using Fiverr artists for some of the puzzles, and I think these two guys have made great job at expressing my ideas. The answer is not 1001/0110, but you got one of the clues:) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ Me again. Got sucked into the mystery of puzzling. Well, I noticed that the trees are the key same as @Dan Russell noticed. But what is the strategy between numbering the trees? I don't really understand. P.S. Your other puzzles were a bit easier. $\endgroup$ Commented May 12, 2017 at 14:17

2 Answers 2


Not sure if this is right, but here's my guess.

There are some hidden

Letters in the map that seem to spell "trees". This could hint that the trees are important.
enter image description here

Notice that there are

10 different tree symbols on the bottom and left side of the map. This might mean they should be translated into digits.

Since the thing in the

lower left corner seems like an "origin", I assumed that we're dealing with sort of an x-/y-axis situation, and the numbers increase to the right and up. Based on where the first digit changes, we can fill in some of the numbers (again, assumption: step size of 1).
enter image description here

Then we have only

three remaining unused digits (4, 5, and 6) and so can fill in the rest of the map.
enter image description here

Then if we

overlay the photograph, we notice that the cross in Teddy's hands marks a particular box.
enter image description here

And taking the

x/y coordinates of that square, our 4-digit code is 5259.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's right, the trees are the encoded coordinates of the map. Thanks giving such thorough solution, if you have any suggestions for improvement, feel free to share:) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ Damn it, I was so confident that the symbol in the lower left corner had something to do with XOR :( $\endgroup$
    – user14478
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ @LukasRotter, actually the symbol was supposed to be a mix of a compass/the sign of the Zodiac Killer/the origin of the axises. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ @ArturKirkoryan No real suggestions for improvement! I really like this series of puzzles and just checked out Puzzle Prime a bit. Very cool stuff. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ @ArturKirkoryan The only "wobble" is that the Teddy image can be overlaid as I did, or as it would be in the frame (horizontally flipped). That still only leaves 2 final possibilities, but if you wanted to be 100% sure you could add a little "alignment mark" which would line up when you overlaid the images properly and confirm the orientation. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 20:09

My try. I think it can be interpretated. I see in the first image

A cross in the hand of one boy.

Looking better I can see that

A cross in Roman number is ten. But (zoom the image) there are four dots like a face of a dice.

Looking at the map we can

overlay the map (if Sanders can remove it) over the first image and you have a cross pointing in the square of coordinates (4,3) just north of the lake.

So the code is

14 (10+4) / 4-3 = 1443

Another possibility

if Sanders could not remove the map from the back of the photo, I have to revers the overlapping and obtaining 14-13 (it points west to flowers). In both cases in an empty square (a hidden treasure?)

Another possibility again

It is not 10+4 = 14 but, remembering it is a cross, 10x4 = 40

Yes, I can not decide which is the best.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. You got part of the puzzle right, but the intended answer is different. There is a better justified encoding for the target cell, you can check @LukasRotter's comment above for a hint:) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 18:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ArturKirkoryan Well, I tried. Thank you for the puzzle (very nice both the puzzle and the map). I see that Trees have a certain order (i. e. full fir always after "white" fir) but still I can't assign them an indisputable value $\endgroup$
    – marcoresk
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 18:09

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