How did the game of chess relate to the treasure’s location? What are “geohashes,” and how did they fit in? Where was the Globe of Magellan buried?
As the opening quotes in the animations hinted, the Summer 2017 Global treasure hunt was all about the game of chess – and solving the puzzle probably meant pulling out a chess board and playing a few games on your own. There were four types of clues hidden in the animations to lead to the treasure: hidden pictures, red letters, long geohash segments, and short hidden chess moves. Here’s how they fit together:
Hidden Globes, Keys, and Other Images
Each episode contained three hidden objects that related to the overall story: a globe, a key, and something tied to that week’s bonus challenge (decoder rings, paintings, compasses, stars, seeds and butterflies). These images related symbolically to the treasure hunt, but neither the objects themselves nor their placement in the animations contained any clues to the location of the buried treasure. These images were intended to provide motivation, a diversion, and a feeling of accomplishment to participants who might otherwise have felt overwhelmed by the more intricate puzzle.
Each week’s first video began with a quote, and each quote contained a few letters that were colored red. As the other letters disappeared, the red letters remained, spelling words that would provide critical hints about how to solve the treasure hunt: geohash, corners, three games, nested, your move, and checkmate.
Four of the twelve animated episodes contained a single hidden sequence of 9 letters and numbers. As the first red word suggested, running these sequences through the decoder ring revealed different geohash coordinates. By using an online geohash converter, these strands identified four spots on the globe that would become the corners (another red word) of an overlayed chess board. More on that in a minute…
As the third red word indicated, there were three different chess games going on in the episodes – and each game was revealed, play by play, with hidden letters and numbers. When deciphered with the ring, these games played out as follows:
The Big Game: E4, D5, ED5, QD5, KE2, (then one final move)
The Medium Game: E4, E5, QH5, KE7, (then one final move)
The Small Game: Our personal favorite. See it played out here.
Learning the basics of chess notation were very critical for mapping out the moves and identifying locations on the chess board.
Putting it All Together
As the red words indicated, these three games were “nested” inside one another – but to understand how, you first needed to finish each game. The games were left incomplete, and it’s your move to finish them off by figuring out which single move makes checkmate. The square which puts the opponent in checkmate became the square where the next board was nested, and the final square – with each of its sides measuring roughly 4 miles – concealed the Globe of Magellan.
But how to overlay a chess board on a sphere? It would take some pretty fancy math to do measurements that would accurately take into account the curvature of the globe. We just used the “overlay” feature on Google Earth. Once you’ve located the four corners from the geohash clues, click the overlay button and upload the image of a chessboard. Align it with each of the four corners (some slight rotation was necessary), then overlay another board in the square that completed the first game, and a final board in the square that completed the second. The first participant to place a pin on the map in the area of the square that completed the third game was the winner.
Here’s what Google Earth looks like with the first two games nested:
The Globe of Magellan was buried in a farm northeast of Toronto, Canada (the red X in the image below approximates the winning square of the final chess game).
Congratulations to our winners!
Did you solve the puzzle? There’s plenty more adventure where this came from. Register today for the next Brain Chase program, and you could be the next treasure hunter traveling around the world to claim your prize.
The Brain Chase Team