It's pretty clearly that everyone has hit a brick wall, and so I thought it might be time for us to pool our thoughts and see if we can get somewhere or at least reduce the ridiculous number of solution options.

As far as I'm concerned, I'd just like to see SOMEONE solve this thing, even if that someone isn't me. We risk this entire hunt being forgotten and shut down due to inactivity if everyone gives up. While I think that the finances of the hunt are pretty shaky (the $1M gold prize should be reduced drastically to ensure the longevity of this hunt and actually help this thing to raise some money for cancer, IMO. $100K would be a fantastic prize, and allow this hunt and its goals to thrive), it's still a lot of fun, and there's clearly a lot of undiscovered secrets in the 12 chapters that need to be found.

I also wrote to the hunt organizers, and was told that it is okay for us to discuss theories and "small pieces of the text". Their main concern is that they don't want chapter answers plastered everywhere, which makes sense. So I am confident that posting the occasional text of a single clue, like I shall do here, is okay. Any clues I post are so braindead easy to find that they're not really secrets. Still, if you're new to the hunt, you should look for them on your own anyway, as there are other clues in their location.

So let's get to work on chapter 1. This assumes you have all 240 keys, although I'm still not certain that you need all 240 to solve chapter 1. Maybe you only need chapter 1's information, although that doesn't make much sense to me. I would think that you'd want people to complete all 12 chapters before starting on the silver eagle hunt. In which case, stuff like chapter 13 1/2 is important.

There are 4 or 5 obvious major clues that relate to chapter 1's silver eagle, and MANY other minor things that look like they might be clues. The reason that no one has solved this hunt yet is that it is, IMO, "practically unsolvable".

That means, there does exist a solution and clues lead to that solution, but the very same clues also lead to hundreds if not thousands of other possible solutions. If there were tens of thousands of people working on this hunt, then the actual solution would be lucked upon. Since we have such a small number of people working on this hunt, no one will solve anything.

As I will show, there are hundreds of interpretations of every major clue, and none of them disambiguate or self-verify. There is also no partial-validation, as you only get a "yes" or "no" when you submit a sequence. So, perhaps someone did come close in the past, but they never would have known, and they would likely have given up out of frustration.

There is simply not enough information for anyone to solve chapter 1 without brute force guessing of possibilities, and to me that's a pity, because there's no way that I'm going to sit there and list 100 possible solutions and guess them over the course of 200 weeks (2 week lag per submission). That's just a waste of time. Even when we follow ocam's razor and assume the most obvious interpretation(s), we run into major problems.

As some of you have found (I know from discussions with some of you), there exist other well (and very clever and fun-to-discover) hidden clues, which may or may not deal with chapter 1 or silver eagles. These clues speak vaguely about sequencing, a starting point (gold eagle?), and some other hints about what might make up a sequence (which one?). Unfortunately, it's impossible to know whether any/all of these relate to the gold eagle, all silver eagles, or a specific silver eagle. Thus, these are not very helpful.

Now let's get into the intractability of Chapter 1:

A starting point: "To find your way on the map keep in mind that the first is equal to the last"

This is one of the major clues for chapter 1, clearly labelled as such, and a major chunk of our CERTAIN starting information. Unfortunately, it is so completely unhelpful that it's hard for me to express how unhelpful it is. (a) What Map, and (b) First and last WHAT, and (c) how strict is relationship "equal to"?

When we're talking about finding your way on the "map", there is the obvious interpretation: the key entry map. But there is also another hidden map that my wife and I found (at least it appears to be a map -- perhaps it's just a weird coincidence -- again, no way for us to verify whether its a clue or not because it doesn't self validate). There is the "map" at the start of the book. There is also a 4th "map" which is hidden elsewhere in the book -- at least, I interpret it as a form of map. We could also consider the sudokus in each chapter to be maps, and there's evidence that I have found to believe that the 3d sudoku is also a "map". So it's possible that this clue is talking about one or more of a number of different maps. So before we even get to the confusing part of this clue, we're already confused.

Let's assume that the clue is talking about the "obvious" map -- the one that you enter keys into. If this assumption is wrong, then this clue becomes even more unhelpful than I'm about to lay out:

The obvious interpretation for "first is equal to the last" is that it's talking about keys. We know what keys 1 and 2 are. They have been published.

But clearly key 20 can't be numerically the same as 1, since keys have to be unique. So what about a specific clue for key 1 then being equal to the specific clue for key 20? But then, are we talking about clues only in chapter 1 (the 20 keys), or do the clues span all chapters (say, key1 = chapter1,clue1 -- key2 = chapter3,clue5, etc). All evidence appears to point to the first interpretation (order the 20 chapter 1 clues as keys), but nothing guarantees that this is the right interpretation.

The only keys with "equal" clues in chapter 1 deal with a President. 1=President, 20=President? That's assuming that keys have clue meanings, and are not cipher or book-spanning relationships (which is a huge leap of faith that no clues seem to deal with). So taking the "obvious" solution, it appears the author is trying to give us keys 1,2,and 20. There's no accident here. Given the first, second, and last, you theoretically have enough information to determine a sequence. A lot of logic and mathematical proofs work precisely that way - given first, second, last you can piece together the progression. We're supposed to be able to work out what the last key is from this clue. But.... it's not at all obvious how that's supposed to work.

Clearly the interpretation (1=president,20=president) doesn't make sense since we know what keys 1,2 are, and clue 1 is not a president. Clue 1 is a poem author. There are no other poem authors, nor anagrams nor any other obvious relationships between the clue for key 1 and key 20, so it makes no sense to follow this logical thought. So back to the drawing board.

What about the first key = the last clue? But, how does that help us? And why is this interpretation any more meaningful or probable than any other?

Does this mean that the omega key is the president? Or, the way to determine #1 = way to determine #20? Or, the TYPES of keys 1 and 20 are equal? And does equal mean EQUAL, as in mathematically exact? Or does equal mean "similiar", in which case perhaps the CLASS of 1 = the class of 20? Could 1 and 20 each be rivers for example? Or certain classes of numbers?

Does "first equal last" mean that there's some sequence within the chapter's sudoku that we're supposed to be looking for, and that the first number/box/square/sudoku is the same as the last? And if so, how are we supposed to guess what the interpretation is? Are we expected to hopscotch around sudokus randomly trying to find key1,key2? Or rearrange sudokus based on column transpositions or applying 1st=last? Find a progression where the 1st and last numbers are the same? But, there are thousands of such sequences in each sudoku.

Or does it mean that the clue of the first (a poet) is related to the last key? So the last key is a poet? Or the letters of the poet anagrammed? Or, the clue of the first (poet) implies the last is related to the poet (so a poem, or something that appears in that poem)?

Or does it mean that the two keys given to us (which happen to be the first and last numbers) are somehow equivalent, and therefore the sequence is a set of equivalent pairs? Or, that clues are entirely irrelevant and this is just some creatively barren mathematical progression, where we're counting by some number, or something that boring? I hope not. I haven't looked at that possibility in detail because frankly if the answer is some unrelated numerical sequence completely unrelated to clues, the story, and the articles I'd rather not win.

( to be continued.... )

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