Learn More About Our Puzzle Hunt

About Puzzle Hunts in General and This Hunt in Particular:

What the heck is the Who Killed Ickey? $50,000 Treasure Hunt?

The Who Killed Ickey? Treasure Hunt is an online puzzle hunt with $50,000 in cash prizes. Teams of 1 to 6 players will compete to try to be the first to solve the puzzles and win the one of the eleven prizes. Plus, between now and then, there will be a set of warm-up Mini Puzzle Draws with additional prizes.

Sounds great, but I don’t know what a “puzzle hunt” is. Like, jigsaw puzzles?

No, the puzzles in this Treasure Hunt are what you might call “pencil puzzles.” Think of the kinds of puzzles you see in newspapers and magazines, like the New York Times’ Wordle, Spelling Bee, crosswords, sudoku, and similar puzzles like wordfinds or logic grids.

This sounds hard. Am I going to look at the first puzzle and have absolutely no idea what to do?

NO! The folks who created this Hunt believe that the vast majority of online treasure hunts and puzzle hunts are WAY too hard for most people. That’s why we are deliberately and purposefully keeping the difficulty level low. Our goal is for all puzzles to be solvable by beginners, yet to still be interesting for experts. Additionally, we’re deliberately including plenty of familiar puzzle types like crosswords, wordfinds, and sudoku, so that everyone has a chance to win.

What kinds of puzzles will there be?

Well, we can’t tell you exactly without giving too much away. But we’re committed to ensuring there are puzzles of all types: word puzzles, number puzzles, visual puzzles, logic puzzles… our goal is to have something for everyone (and a few surprises, too!). To get a feel for the types of puzzles that will be in the Hunt, you can also check out the free Mini Puzzle Draws.

One thing we should mention to veteran puzzlers: most of the puzzles have clear solving methods and/or instructions. While some of the fun of advanced Hunts is figuring out what you’re supposed to be doing, that aspect of Hunts is really difficult for beginners, so we’re intentionally keeping it to a minimum.

How many puzzles are there?

About 20.

Can I use online tools like search engines?

Yes, definitely! Feel free to use any online resources (like online dictionaries, thesauruses, etc.) to help you solve the puzzles.

Does this Hunt contain any objectionable content?

No. Although you must be at least 18 years old to participate, in compliance with U.S. contest laws, there is no objectionable content in the Hunt itself. The book contains some mature content (see the About the Book and How It’s Used in the Hunt section below), but you don’t need to read any such content to participate in the Hunt.

How long will it take for the Hunt to finish?

We anticipate that the eleven prizes will be claimed within 2 hours of the start of the Hunt. That said, even after all prizes are claimed, teams can continue playing until they finish: the Hunt will be open through the entire weekend so teams can pop in and out at their convenience.

What if I get stuck on a puzzle?

It’s important to us that players are able to have fun, and being blocked from finishing the Hunt because you’re stuck on one pesky puzzle cuts down on the fun considerably.

Here are some general puzzle tips that might be useful in the event you get stuck:

  • Reread the puzzle’s instructions from beginning to end. You may have overlooked something important!
  • Check the work you’ve already done. Sometimes it’s easy to make a tiny mistake early on that snowballs into an unsolvable puzzle.
  • Take a break and look at a different puzzle for a while, then come back to this one later.
  • If your team consists of more than one person, ask a team member to look at the puzzle with fresh eyes.
  • Look at any information you haven’t used yet. It’s probably there for a reason. What could that reason be?
  • When in doubt, check your favorite search engine.

What is your hint policy?

Sometimes, not even the above tips and tricks will get you unstuck, and in that case, you’ll need a hint.

At set time intervals, we intend to release hint tokens. The initial set of tokens can be used on Round 1 puzzles only, while subsequent rounds of tokens can be used on any puzzle in the Hunt. When using a token, you’ll describe where in the puzzle you are stuck, and we’ll send back a response to help you past that spot. Hints will be processed in the order in which they are received, and due to volume, there may be a delay in responding.

No hints will be given during the first hour of the Hunt, and no Round 2 hints will be given during the first 90 minutes of the Hunt, to ensure that all teams have the opportunity to solve puzzles on their own.

What if a bunch of teams are stuck on a puzzle before Hints become available?

We will be continuously monitoring teams’ progress throughout the Hunt. If it becomes clear that the Hunt is taking longer than anticipated to complete, we may offer hints or errata to ensure teams can complete the Hunt in a timely manner. Any such hints or errata will be offered to all teams simultaneously and in a manner that does not disadvantage any team with regards to prize eligibility. For example, if only three teams have solved Puzzle #10, but nobody has solved Puzzle #11, we’re not going to give out hints for Puzzle #10, which would disadvantage the three teams that had already solved it on their own.

If I don’t know anything about San Francisco, will I be at a disadvantage?

Nope! San Francisco is the setting of the book and the Hunt, but there aren’t any references that would give locals a leg up on outsiders. Nothing is actually hidden in the city.

Will I have to fly to San Francisco and go thrashing around in the underbrush of some public park to try to find a hidden chest or something?

NO. This entire Hunt can be solved online, wherever you are, provided you have a working internet connection and a copy of the book. No BOTG (that’s Boots On The Ground, in Treasure Hunt lingo) required!

Although we’re calling this a “Treasure Hunt,” be aware that it’s more of a puzzle hunt in the style of the MIT Mystery Hunt or P&A Magazine Puzzle Boat than a treasure hunt in the style of The Secret or The Great American Treasure Hunt.

How does the difficulty level of this Hunt compare to other online puzzle hunts?

This is much, Much, MUCH easier than puzzle hunts like the MIT Mystery Hunt, Galactic Puzzle Hunt, teammate hunt, and Huntinality. It’s even much easier than the Cryptex Hunt, which is generally regarded as one of the easier Hunts out there. Most of the puzzles will have clear instructions on how to solve them, since casual puzzlers find the lack of instructions in puzzle hunts particularly vexing. However, even though it’s not as difficult, feedback from our testers – most of whom are puzzle hunt veterans – indicates that it’s still lots of fun to play! It just takes less time.

How many team members should I have?

Your team can be made up of just you (to prove how smart you are), or just you and your significant other (to prove how romantic you are), or you can invite up to five friends for a total of six team members (to prove what a party animal you are): it’s up to you! But your teammates will, of course, expect a share of any prize money you win, so be sure to factor that into your plans.

About the Mini Puzzle Draws

What are the Mini Puzzle Draws?

The Mini Puzzle Draws are basically warmup puzzles for the Treasure Hunt, offered periodically via the website and social media, from now until the week prior to the Hunt. Those who think they can solve a Mini Puzzle can enter a free drawing to win $50.

When an entrant solves a Mini Puzzle, they will receive a congratulatory message on the Mini Puzzle Draws website. If the entrant shares that message on social media, then subject to certain limits, they will obtain additional entries to that period’s draw, increasing their odds of winning. (See the Contest Rules.)

What are the benefits of the Mini Puzzle Draws for Treasure Hunt entrants who have solved a Mini Puzzle?

There are four great reasons to participate in the Mini Puzzle Draws:

  1. The Mini Puzzle Draws allow prospective participants in the Treasure Hunt to see many of the types of Treasure Hunt puzzles and how to solve them.
  2. If you solve a Mini Puzzle and go on to enter the Treasure Hunt, and your team is one of the eleven winning teams chosen, then you’ll be entered, as an individual, in a special winners' draw for a bonus $5,000 prize, drawn from among all the members of those eleven teams.
  3. Solve more Mini Puzzles to get more chances to win: you can accumulate multiple entries from participation in the Mini Puzzle Draws by solving multiple puzzles or sharing your success on social media. These multiple entries can be applied to the $5,000 draw, thereby increasing your chance of winning that draw. So, the earlier you start solving the Mini Puzzles, the better your odds will be.
  4. By signing up now for the Mini Puzzle Draws, you’ll receive updates on the status of the treasure hunt without needing to register right away.

About the Prizes/Entry Requirements:

Are you really giving away $50,000 in prizes?

Yes. We really are.

Wait, really?!

Yes. Really!

Hang on: is this some trick where the prizes are, like, signed posters of the author and you’re valuing them at $1,000 a pop?

No tricks! All prizes are cash prizes. The first-place prize (for the fastest team to solve all the puzzles) is $25,000. Second prize is $5,000; third prize is $4,000, fourth prize is $3,000, fifth prize is $2,000. The next five finishing teams will each win $1,000. In addition, a $5,000 bonus prize winner will be drawn among all individuals who are members of winning teams and have participated successfully in the Who Killed Ickey? Mini Prize Draws described above. All prizes are cash. That said, winners will have to pay all applicable taxes on their winnings, and we can’t help you with that.

What’s the catch?

The only “catch” is that each player on your team has to buy a copy of the book Who Killed Jerusalem? by George Albert Brown. You’ll want to buy a copy anyway, not just because it’s a fun, fair play mystery novel full of zany characters and wild situations, but because you won’t be able to solve some of the puzzles without the information in the book!

To enter without purchasing a copy of the book, you can complete the Alternate Method of Entry form by visiting https://www.ickeyminipuzzles.com/amoe/. Please see the Official Rules for full details: https://ickeytreasurehunt.com/rules.

Is the book expensive?

Not at all! The ebook costs just $9.99 wherever ebooks are sold. If you’d rather have a physical copy, the paperback costs about $15, and the hardcover version costs around $30.

Are there any other costs to play?


Which version of the book should I buy?

Well, we recommend buying the ebook because its search feature will allow you to jump quickly to different places in the book to find the references quickly (Note: some ebooks take time to “index” themselves in your device, so we recommend buying your copy well in advance of the Hunt). But we guess if you really wanted to, you could probably mark up a physical copy with tabs or paper clips at the start of each chapter and get a similar effect. And although the audiobook version is fantastic – especially the performance of well-known narrator Patrick Lawlor – it’s probably not well-suited for the purposes of the Hunt, so we recommend buying a text copy.

Can anyone play the Hunt? What about teens or kids? What about people who don’t live in the U.S. or Canada?

The contest is only open to adults 18 years of age and up. In accordance with applicable laws, we are unable to make any exceptions to this rule. Residents of all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and all Canadian provinces and territories besides Quebec (sorry, Quebec!) are eligible to participate. For more details about eligibility, see the Contest Rules.

About the Book and How It’s Used in the Hunt

Does this have anything to do with the recent unrest in Israel?

No. The “Jerusalem” of the title is the last name of the murder victim in the book, which is set in 1977 and has nothing to do with the city of Jerusalem in the Middle East or any events there, past or present. The word “Israel” doesn’t even appear in the book.

Do I have to read the entire book before the Hunt starts? Because I’m a procrastinator and I’m probably not going to buy it until, like, five minutes beforehand.

No need to read the book in advance! In fact, you don’t actually have to read the book at all! The book has some mature content that won’t be appealing to all players (see below). Don’t worry, though: the portions of the book referenced in the Hunt do not contain any mature content.

If I don’t read the book beforehand, will I be at a disadvantage?

No. It’s very unlikely you’d gain any meaningful advantage from reading the book in advance. While it might acquaint you with some of the more unusual character names and the general storyline, that knowledge isn’t likely to make it easier or faster to look up the content about which we’ll be asking. That said, if you have a photographic memory and can confidently recall, say, the last three words of the third paragraph of Chapter Twelve of the last book you read, well, reading the book in advance might indeed come in handy!

Will participating in the Hunt provide any spoilers for the book?

No, it would have been pretty unfair of us to have you buy a mystery book and then spoil it so it’s no longer fun for you to read! We’ve specifically avoided any references that would spoil or even provide clues to the solution of the mystery in the book.

The one (sort of) spoiler is that the Hunt storyline will confirm that two very minor characters survive the book. This information has absolutely no bearing on the mystery or its solution. Plus, if you’ve checked out our Story tab, you already know which characters we’re talking about.

Ooh, did you say there’s mature content in the book? Tell me more about THAT!

O…kay… well, first things first: the Hunt itself contains no mature or objectionable content. Neither do the portions of the book you’ll be referencing as part of the Hunt.

As for the rest of the book, here’s a quick content advisory: Who Killed Jerusalem? is a murder mystery, so naturally it includes scenes of violence. Also, there’s some sexual content (some of it graphic) in there as well, plus references to substance abuse, prostitution, and other vices. And some bad language to boot.

But the most important thing to note is that because it’s a period piece – set in San Francisco in the late 1970s – some characters express derogatory and prejudicial opinions, attitudes, and/or language, which – although commonplace in the 1970s – would be completely inappropriate in a contemporary setting, and which might offend some readers.

It goes without saying that any opinions, attitudes, and beliefs expressed in the book are those of the (fictional) characters therein and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, attitudes, and beliefs of the author, the publisher, or any member of the team that created this Hunt.

But again, the good news is that you don’t need to read any of those portions of the book in order to successfully complete the Hunt, and the Hunt itself contains no such content.

Where can I buy a copy of the book?


Administrative Questions

When does the Treasure Hunt begin?

January 27, 2024, at 1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM PT. However, the Mini Puzzle Draws have already begun. Click here to participate in the Mini Puzzle Draws!

Is there a registration deadline?

To comply with the Contest Rules, all teams must be registered by 2:00 PM ET/11:00 AM PT on January 27, 2024 (one hour after the Hunt begins). That said, remember that all team members will have to confirm their registration by clicking a link in their email once the team is registered on our site, and all participants must buy a copy of Who Killed Jerusalem? or complete the Alternate Method of Entry by the registration deadline, and that will take more time than just filling out the registration form, regardless of whether you’re buying an ebook or a hard copy from an online bookseller, so make sure you don’t wait until the last possible moment!

I think something is wrong with a puzzle, or with the website. What should I do?

Please describe the error in an email to help@ickeytreasurehunt.com with “ERROR! [Name of puzzle or page]” as the subject line. We recommend using the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. While we will review and respond to all reports, we cannot guarantee fixes for all browsers, and high volume may delay our responses.

Can I change the number/names of people on my team?

Up until the Hunt’s start time, members can be added to or deleted from the team. So, for example, you can sign up by yourself as a single-member team to reserve your place, and later add up to five more people to your team as your friends demand to join you.

Can I write code that interacts with the website?

Please don’t. This will not be necessary to complete any aspect of the Hunt, and we’d prefer you didn’t, for our server’s sake.

Is anything on this page or in this FAQ a puzzle?


My question wasn’t listed!

Get in touch with us at


and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can! We’ll try to answer all questions as quickly as we can, but we will likely experience periods of high volume, so we thank you in advance for your patience.