Pablo's Armchair Treasure Hunt

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What the heck is an Armchair Treasure Hunt?

A. Every year, just before Christmas, a team of setters buries a small box somewhere in England and issues a cryptic puzzle as to its whereabouts. The first finder wins a (small) cash prize, and there are various other prizes according to the whim of the setter. The Hunt is free to enter and anyone may compete.

Q. Help, this is really hard!

A. The Armchair Treasure Hunt is hard—it wouldn't be so satisfying if it were easy! But it's also intended to be solved by teams working together, so if you're struggling, it might help to recruit more team members.

Q. Is the team size restricted?

A. No—a team can be any size. Experience suggests that 3–6 people is an optimum size: with more than that, it's hard for everyone to keep abreast of what is solved and people start repeating each other's work.

Q. How long does it all take?

A. The puzzle is designed to last around a month. However, the degree of difficulty is not easy for the setter to assess. Sometimes the box is found within a matter of days, and sometimes the setter is forced to issue additional clues in order to ensure a timely finish. These are posted on this site, and will also be e-mailed to teams who have registered with the setters.

Q. How do the setters know whether or when to issue any extra clues?

A. This is up to the setters, of course, but it will only be done if it seems likely that nobody will find the treasure before the closing deadline, or if those hunting teams who share their work with the setters all become stuck on some point.

Q. What happens if the setter finds a mistake after the Hunt has been issued?

A. If necessary, errata or additional information may be released while the Hunt is in progress. If you have registered your team by contacting the setters (recommended), you will receive all updates by e-mail. They are also posted on this site, so you should take a look from time to time while the Hunt is in progress.

Q. What happens if the box is discovered or removed by someone not connected with the Hunt?

A. The instructions in the box ask people to leave it where it is. It contains nothing of value. So far, we have not had any problems with the box going missing.

Q. How are the setters chosen?

A. An informal committee of previous setters determines who should set the next puzzle. This is always a person or team with a good track record as an entrant in previous hunts. The setter is chosen around two years in advance, because it takes around a year to set a puzzle of a suitably high standard. See details of how to apply.

Q. Does it help to have been a member of Logica in order to solve the puzzle?

A. In the past it has been a tradition for one element of the puzzle to be Logica-related. Since the demise of Logica this tradition may not continue but nostalgic setters may well refer to the history of the Hunt. However this element is never a significant part of the overall Hunt.

Q. I really like these puzzles. Is there anything similar I can do in between ATH competitions?

A. The Armchair Treasure Hunt Club runs Hunts of varying degrees of difficulty throughout the year. Also see our page of links to Treasure Hunt websites.