Thanks to everyone who participated in the Who Killed Ickey? $50,000 Treasure Hunt on the weekend of January 27, 2024! We hope you had a good time!

Overall, 768 teams registered for the Hunt, and 138 teams successfully solved the final metapuzzle (Hyle’s Hideaway) and completed the Hunt before 11:59 PM PT on Sunday 1/28. Congrats to everyone who did so!

We’re also thrilled that we did not have to issue a single erratum to any puzzle during the Hunt! Seasoned puzzlers will know how rare an achievement this is.

Here are some of the Hunt statistics:

  • MOST-SOLVED PUZZLE: Chimpanzee, 294 teams solved
  • LEAST-SOLVED PUZZLE: Coit Tower, 127 teams solved (and only 48 of those solved it prior to solving the final metapuzzle)
  • FIRST SOLVE OF THE HUNT: Pleasant Mother Pheasant Pluckers solved Chimpanzee, 36 seconds into the Hunt (this was also the first answer guessed during the Hunt)
  • TOTAL GUESSES: 8,643
  • TOTAL SOLVES: 3,968


Warning! The following section may contain spoilers for some of the Hunt’s puzzles!

Perhaps the most exciting moments of the Hunt occurred at about the 30-minute mark, when multiple teams that had been flying through the Hunt up to that point hit the final metapuzzle and got stumped. All of them had skipped Coit Tower, which was the puzzle that provided the critical letters “HY” to the final solution (which had also been deliberately crafted to be unguessable by online solving tools like Nutrimatic or Qat). As a result, many teams started guessing phrases that were close to the correct answer (most with three of the four answer words correct), but not close enough. The types of “life” suggested ranged from “LOVE LIFE” to “IDLE LIFE” to “ISLE LIFE” to “EVIL LIFE.”

Later guessers in the same predicament thought that maybe Hyle was giving a twist on Hand’s “LEND SOMEONE A HAND” instruction and guessed “SPEND SOME ON HAND,” “LEND ME A HAND,” “HAVE A DRINK ON HAND,” and our personal favorite, “HAND SOMEONE A LEND.” Still others thought it might be a rhyme, guessing “GIVE ME A GRAND,” “LEMONADE STAND,” and “GO TO DISNEYLAND.” Finally, some just thought he’d give a bit of in-character advice, like “KEEP THE MONEY,” “GIVE HYLE SOME,” “LEND ME SOME MONEY,” or the rather out-of-character, “I’D DO SOME PLANNING AHEAD.”

Most wrong answers to other puzzles seemed to be good-faith attempts to solve or guess the answer, although both RASPUTIN and BUBBA GUMP appeared in the San Francisco Marina, nearly every (single) letter of the alphabet was guessed for Balboa Theater (along with GRIZZLY BEARS, the entire alphabet in the form ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ, and the films THE ARTIST and THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL). For Twin Peaks Tavern, someone entered the technically accurate but incorrect “AFTER KAZOO DAY” (National Kazoo Day is, in fact, January 28th), and in the Cow Palace, someone believed THIS IS AN ILLEGAL GAMBLING RING.

Registration and individual team login has now been disabled, the Leaderboard is frozen, and all puzzles, hints, and solutions are now unlocked for the general public. You’ll still need a copy of the book to solve some of the puzzles for yourself, and you can find out where to pick up a copy by clicking here.

Again, we hope you enjoyed the Hunt and that we’ll see you again in the future!

With gratitude,

Hand and Hyle Ulro,

Galbraith Literary Publishers,

John Bromels, Hunt Designer,

and the entire Who Killed Ickey? Team