Annual Treasure Hunt

The Annual John H Watson Canonical Treasure Hunt

The Ultimate Sherlockian Quiz

In keeping with the long-standing tradition of canonical quizzing among Sherlock Holmes society members around the world, The John H Watson Society invites all Sherlockians, Holmesians, and Watsonians to participate in the Annual John H Watson Society Canonical Treasure Hunt.

The goal of the Treasure Hunt is to bring together Watsonians, Sherlockians, and Holmesians on a global, collegial basis to further the scholarship and enjoyment of our mutual interest in all things 1895.  The JHWS hopes participants will find the Treasure Hunt to be the definitive — and the most enjoyable — canonical quiz.   The competition runs from August 1 through August 31 each year.

The Treasure Hunt involves encryption, obscure references, geographic and biologic inferences, people, objects, dates, unique terminology, and all manner of canonical knowledge.  While most answers will be no more than two to ten words, the questions are not simple.  See the Resources and Rules pages for guidelines on completing the Treasure Hunt. The Treasure Hunt is a difficult 100 question quiz designed to challenge participants’ knowledge of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson, and their world. The competition is open to individual participants and to teams of two to five.  The JHWS welcomes and encourages participation from all over the world.

And there are awards! The first individual and first team to submit the most correct answers will each receive a unique and distinctive award from the JHWS. The JHWS hopes that over the years these singular awards will become Watsonian/Sherlockian treasures.

Questions about the annual treasure hunt, or the JHWS as a whole, are welcomed by the Treasure Hunt Master. The JHWS asks its members to tell other clubs, organizations, and individuals about the Annual John H Watson Society World Canonical Treasure Hunt — and to participate if at all possible.  The game is afoot — come along for the adventure!

The Agra Treasure Chest: “There’s a Pony in Here Somewhere!”

Treasure Hunt News:

  • 7th Annual Treasure Hunt – Results

    Dear all, thanks for your patience in waiting more than expected to get the results of the Hunt. Between some personal problems (I might hint that perhaps the machinations of a certain “M” are behind an unfortunate recent string of events) and the fact that many of you sumbmitted alternative answers that required a lot of time for checking and evaluation, I’m some days late: it took me twenty days when I though ten would be enough. I can only offer my humble apologies. Here are the results:

    Individual Competition 

    Michael Ellis (“Lobo”) has once again achieved the highest score, winning the High Honors with 56,5 points of the 60 available. Second place goes to Enrico Solito (“Devon”), who earns Honors in this category with 53 points.

    Following the leaders, we have Carmen Savino with 51,5 points, Joanna Freeman (“Mia”) with 49 points, and Mark Doyle with 48 points. A mention for Alessandro Melillo, who only 24 hours before the end of the hunt realized that time was almost over and put in a valiant effort, scoring 9,5 points out of the only 10 answers he submitted.

    Team Competition

    Only two teams competed this year and it was a very close call. I had to examine carefully every single alternate answer and decide. The High Honors go to “The Quartered Flag” with 58,5 points; team members are Paul Thomas Miller (“Buck”) and Brad Keefauver (“Calder”).  Honors go to “The Sound of the Baskervilles” team with 57,5 points; team members are Sheila Holtgrieve (“Daisy”), Cameron Brandon, Sunny Even, Ron Lies (”Chips”) and Nancy Holder (“Diana”).

    I have prepared a list of the alternative answers that have been accepted and some of those that, in spite of their sometimes wonderful and most entertaining mental effort, I had to reject. See below for the link to the file.

    Let me thank all the participants for their contribution. If I were prone to exaggeration, I could say that it took me almost the same amount of time to check the many ingenious alternative answers than it took me to prepare the Hunt! But that forced me dive deep into the Canon again, and that’s always a good thing.
    I must also say that I have gained some important hints from this year’s experience. Some questions were too broad and generic, others were good but could have been better worded. I hope that next time that I’ll act as Quiz Master I will remember to make use of what I’ve learned.

    I hope you enjoyed the Hunt anyway and to see even more participants next time!

    With my warm congratulations and regards,
    Michele Lopez (“Reggie”)

  • 7th Annual Treasure Hunt – Answers

    Hunters, dear fellow Watsonians, quiz fans,

    The 7th Annual Treasure Hunt is now officially closed. I hope you had fun and you liked the questions that I have tried to put together.

    We had a good number of participants; perhaps not many groups (only two answers received in that category) but we had six participants for the individual competition.

    Hereunder you will find the answers enclosed. I will check the answers in the next days and the results will be posted here by the 12th of September.

    The John H Watson Society 2019 Treasure Hunt – questions and answers
    The John H Watson Society 2019 Treasure Hunt – questions and answers

    With my best regards,
    Michele a.k.a. “Reggie”
    2019 Treasure Hunt Master

  • The 7th Annual Treasure Hunt is open!

    Hunters, dear fellow Watsonians, quiz fans,

    The 7th Annual Treasure Hunt has officially opened at midnight, July 31st, PDT. I have chosen the hour as an homage to our other Treasure Hunt Master, Margie Deck a.k.a. “Mopsy” and to our Beth Gallego, a.k.a. “Selena Buttons”, who both live on the Pacific coast. You can submit your answers until midnight, August 31st, PDT. For further details, please check the Rules page.

    A forum has been opened on the Quiz page for questions, clarifications, complaints, etc.  I will try to respond to any postings as quickly as possible. I will also answer to the email address
    Clarifications and answers to requests will be posted to the forum.  Please check it for updates every now and then.

    As I have already said, the hunt is scored on a very simple point system; 1 correct answer = 1 point, for a maximum of 60 points available. However, many questions are composed of multiple parts, so if you know part of a question (e.g. Who?), but not the other part (e.g. When? Where?), please add the part you do know to your document.  You will receive credit for each individual part of the question that is answered correctly, so 0.5 points will be awarded for partly answered questions.

    I have uploaded the Treasure Hunt both in Microsoft Word (.doc) and in .pdf.
    Please see the rules page for instructions for submitting your answers.

    The game, ladies and gentlemen, is afoot. Happy Hunting!

    Michele a.k.a. “Reggie”
    2019 Treasure Hunt Master

    The John H Watson Society 2019 Treasure Hunt – questions

    The John H Watson Society 2019 Treasure Hunt – questions

  • TH7 Discussion Forum

    “I should guess that to be the Something Hunt, the local hunt (…) which has made him a small presentation in return.”  (HOUN)

    This post is now open for clarifications/questions/discussions concerning the 7th Annual JHWS Treasure Hunt.
    The Treasure Hunt will start on July 31st at midnight (PST) and will close on August 31st at midnight (PST).

    This forum will remain open for the duration of the Hunt to discuss anything related to the questions.
    Please do not post specific answers to any of the questions, not even as working hypotheses.
    Any questions posted here for the Treasure Hunt Master will be answered as quickly as possible.
    You can also get in touch directly with the THM by e-mail:

    Happy Hunting!
    Michele Lopez
    2019 Treasure Hunt Master

  • TH7: Third Warm Up Quiz – Answer

    Dear friends,

    the last warm up quiz was well received and, as usual, the sharp brains of the Watsonians came up easily with the correct answer.
    The quickest was Beth, our “Selena Buttons”. Correct answers were also sent by Paul Miller “Buck” and by the SOB team (who, in their typical fashion, sent a more elaborate and ingenious explanation than necessary). Ron Lies “Chips” explored another possibility, and he went close but not quite on the mark.

    Here is the answer to the quiz:
    “It could be rampant or couchant, and it was also the victim of a fish. What are we talking about?”

    The answer is: a lion. There is a rampant lion in VALL, a crouching lion in SECO and Count Negretto Sylvius, that Holmes described as a fish, used to shoot lions in Africa.
    «Just beyond were two ancient stone pillars, weatherstained and lichen-blotched bearing upon their summits a shapeless something which had once been the rampant lion of Capus of Birlstone.» (VALL)
    «“There is a seal of red wax stamped with a crouching lion.”» (SECO)
    «“And is this Count Sylvius one of your fish?”
    “Yes, and he’s a shark. He bites.”» (MAZA)
    «“Come now, Count. You used to shoot lions in Algeria.”» (MAZA)

    Congratulations to all and see you in ten days for the start of the Hunt!

    Michele Lopez
    2019 Treasure Hunt Master

  • TH7: Tips and Tricks

    Dear friends,

    The seventh Annual Treasure Hunt is due to begin in less than two weeks, so I think this is a good moment to give all participants some pointers about what to expect and how to get ready to face the challenge.

    The rules of the hunt can be found, as usual, on the Rules page, and there is a page with the main resources that will be necessary.

    This year’s hunt will be composed of 60 questions divided in ten sections. One of these sections is composed of chain questions, like those of last year’s hunt. For some questions in this section, you will be occasionally required to skip back and/or forth a certain number of pages; therefore, a 1930 Doubleday edition facsimile (or the equivalent Penguin edition with the same page numbering) is a necessary resource. You can alternatively use one of the free online versions of the Canon where the Doubleday page number is indicated in brackets (such as

    Some questions (not many) will require the use of sources of extra-Canonical informations, such as a good annotated edition, a Canonical index, or a “mainstream” encyclopedia. Your favorite Internet search engine and Wikipedia will also be very useful.

    The hunt is scored on a very simple point system: 1 correct answer = 1 point, for a maximum of 60 points available. However, many questions are composed of multiple parts, so if you know part of a question (e.g. Who?), but not the other part (e.g. When? Where?), please add the part you do know to your document.  You will receive credit for each individual part of the question that is answered correctly, so 0.5 points will be awarded for partly answered questions.

    Coming to a point that caused some discussions and misunderstandings in the past, there is usually a specific word or a group of words in each question that can be electronically searched, and that will lead you to the answer. This is what our other great Treasure Hunt Master, “Mopsy”, called a “hook”. However, if the “hook” was always explicit, it would take away from the fun of the game; the solution could always be found by simply putting words in a search engine and scanning the results. Therefore, the use of a synonym or a different turn of phrase will be often (not always!) used to mask the “hook”.

    Let me give you a couple of example taken from last years’ Hunts:

    (TH6, #40) «Many of the neighbors to [one of the houses in number 39] may have lived icily distant from it, but once Watson protested to Holmes that, as a matter of fact, it was there, and should not be tampered with. What it? [1pt] Where did Watson insist it was? [1pt]»

    The answer is “Romance”, and the reference is to the passage in WIST, 882: «The other mansions belonged to prosaic and respectable people who live far aloof from romance.» In this case, “icily distant” is used as a hint to “far aloof”. Had the question included the words “far aloof”, a 10-second electronic search would have given the answer. No fun in that!

    (TH5, #40) «The minister and the squire were equally able to control their rage. Name the men and the stories.»

    The answer is “Lord Bellinger and Von Bork”, with reference to the passages in  SECO, 652  «“I am not accustomed, sir,” he began, but mastered his anger and resumed his seat» and LAST, 976 «Von Bork had mastered his anger» where “to control one’s rage” is used as a synonym of “to master one’s anger”.

    Finally, I have tried to make a mix of easy and hard questions. On the whole, this should be an easier hunt than the one I did in 2017. So, if you find a question to which an answer seems too easy to be the correct one, the odds are that it probably is! At least five or six questions should be very transparent and straighforward to the experienced student of the Canon.

    As usual, a forum shall be opened for the duration of the Hunt where you can submit requests for clarification of any doubtful point. I will also be available at the e-mail address

    Happy Hunting!
    Michele Lopez
    2019 Treasure Hunt Master

  • TH7: Third and Last Warm Up Quiz

    Dear fellow members,

    The game is (almost) afoot. The seventh Annual Treasure Hunt, composed of 60 Canonical questions, is almost ready. I hope that you will have fun.

    The Hunt will open on midnight, July 31st, PST, corresponding to 9 a.m., August 1st, (CET) here in Italy. You can submit your answers until midnight, August 31st, PST.

    As I already said two years ago, I must stress the fact that I am not a native English speaker, and so there may be obscurities and imperfactions regarding the form of the questions. I will of course be ready to help and clarify anything that might result in a misunderstanding on the meaning of certain expressions in the quiz.

    In the meantime, please enjoy the third and last “appetizer” question for the Hunt:
    “It could be rampant or couchant, and it was also the victim of a fish. What are we talking about?”

    Since we are very near to the beginning of the Hunt, you have time to submit your answers to until July 21st, 2019.

    Happy Hunting!
    Michele Lopez
    2019 Treasure Hunt Master
    JHWS “Reggie”, BSI “Attenta, Pericolo”

  • TH7: Second warm up quiz – Answer

    Dear fellow Watsonians,
    we didn’t receive a great response to the second “Appetizer” quiz. In fact, we only had one. I suppose that the Easter holidays kept many people away.

    “An excess of frankness could make it sink. What?”

    Answer: Sherlock Holmes’s “poor little reputation”.

    «“I begin to think, Watson,” said Holmes, “that I make a mistake in explaining. ‘Omne ignotum pro magnifico,’ you know, and my poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so candid.”» (REDH, 177)

    Congratulations to Cameron Brandon on behalf of The Sound of the Baskervilles who sent the only and correct answer.

    See you for the next preliminary quiz. Happy Hunting!
    Michele Lopez
    2019 Treasure Hunt Master
    JHWS “Reggie”

  • TH7: Second Warm Up Quiz

    Dear fellow Watsonians,
    here’s the second “Appetizer” quiz that will be published before the Hunt. I hope that it will be challenging and stimulating.

    “An excess of frankness could make it sink. What?”

    Since it’s a busy period for many of us, what with Sherlockian conventions and other things (221B Con starts in Atlanta tomorrow) you have time until after the Easter holidays to submit your answers to:
    Please send your email within April 23rd, Tuesday.

    Happy Hunting!
    Michele Lopez
    2019 Treasure Hunt Master
    JHWS “Reggie”, BSI “Attenta, Pericolo”

  • 2018 Treasure Hunt Six Results

    ‘The ideal reasoner,’ he remarked, ‘would, when he has once been shown a single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the chain of events which led up to it, but also all the results which would follow from it.’

    Hello Watsonians—

    The month of August is, as always, Treasure Hunt month for the John H Watson Society. Knowing the many hours required to finish the Treasure Hunt, we are always gratified to see the number of entries submitted. After many hours of scoring today with the help of Sheila Holtgrieve (JHWS ‘Daisy’), I am happy to announce the results of TH6: Every Link Rings True.

    Individual Competition 

    For the third consecutive year, High Honors in the difficult Individual Category goes to Michael Ellis with 70 points of the 74 available. Denny Dobry earns Honors in this category with 66 points.

    Two competitors new to the individual category earned our O.V.E. (Order of the Valiant Effort) Award: Brad Keefauver with 52 points, and Carmen Savino with 50 points.  Honorable Mention to first time participant Paul Thomas Miller and returning competitor Gerry Turnbull who each earned 35 points before their time ran short.

    Team Competition

    Returning team ‘Experience of Canon’ earns High Honors in the team category with 66 points; team members are Beth Gallego, Paul Hartnett, and Ron Lies.  Honors go to the ‘Uno Studio in Holmes’ team with 65 points; team members include Stefano Guerra, Michele Lopez, Vera Mazzotta, Gianluca Salvatori, and Enrico Solito.

    O.V.E. awards in this category go to ‘The Retired Beekeepers of Sussex’ with 60 points, and the ‘Sound of the Baskervilles’ with 58 points.  The Beekeepers team members are Elinor Gray, Rowan MacBean, and Cheryl LeBlanc-Weldon.  Cameron Brandon, Lauren Messenger, Sunny Even, and Francis Bond represented the SOBs.

    We send a Shout-Out to our Treasure Hunt friend Anne Nelson who managed 16 points while traveling across South Korea; she said she plans to finish it just for the fun of it after she returns home.  “Just for the fun of it” is music to the Treasure Hunt master’s ears.

    Thank you all for joining in the fun.  I send many thanks to Sheila Holtgrieve for her proof-reading and scoring research assistance; as always, her good humor and phenomenal Canon knowledge made the work enjoyable. I will be contacting all the participants concerning addresses for the delivery of the small mementos.  You will find the answers attached.

    I have enjoyed serving as Treasure Hunt Master this year. I appreciate your participation, patience and good humor.

    Margie Deck

    JHWS/ ‘Mopsy’

    2018 TH6 Answers