Sherlock Holmes,
Consulting Diplomat

by Manus Hand,
Master Aenigmatist

The Solution to the Hunt for the Venison Camper

"Your extra information helped, Holmes!" I cried exultantly as I entered the Baker Street lodgings, with my hand waving a pile of papers I had received in the morning post. "We have a fair number of Venison Camper searchers!"

"Indeed, Watson?" came the reply. Holmes was obviously in control of his emotions, but my years at his side enabled me to see a slight twinkle in his eye that betrayed that excitement or relief which I had expected he would feel. "Let us have a look!"

With that, I cleared Holmes's tea from the writing table and laid before him a number of the messages that I had been brought. Holmes had no time to read them before we launched in depth into the first, but in scanning his eye over the text, I could see that he was very pleased with the abilities of my readership.

"These come from the Regulars, then, Watson?" Holmes asked, referring, as he was wont to do, to the readership of The Diplomatic Pouch as the Baker Street Regulars.

"They do, Holmes. Brought to me by hand, they were, one and all."

"Excellent, excellent! Let us see if any of my humble lessons in detection are being harvested." Holmes took the first set of papers from the pile and, handing it to me, asked me to read it aloud. For his part, he stocked his pipe and then sat silently to listen intently, his eyes closed.

I thereupon commenced reading the first document, which was was from one Marc Leotard. Here is what it said:

Dear Doctor Watson:

I enjoyed your tale of the Hunt for the Venison Camper very much. I found all but one anagram (Irish Sea) without using Holmes' highlighted text. It was a great pleasure. Alas, the Sultan's instructions were rather too cryptic for me to understand until the clarification you published as a follow-up, especially the fact that only provinces on the continent were concerned. Or that you had but English units on the board.

Nevertheless, here is my answer.

You have to pass through Brest, Ruhr, Berlin, Moscow and Galicia before getting to Greece. (Clyde and Smyrna, while not anagrammed, are not on the European continent.) I could do it in 13 turns and 5 convoys.

S01 A Lpl-Wal F Lon-Eng F Edi-Nth  
F01 A Wal-Bre F Eng (C) F Nth-Ska
S02 A Bre-Bel F Eng (C) F Ska-Swe
F02 A Bel-Ruh F Swe-Bal F Eng-Mao build F Lon
S03 A Ruh-Kie F Bal H F Mao-Wms F Lon-Eng
F03 A Kie-Ber F Bal H F Wms-Tys F Eng-Mao
S04 A Ber-Lvn F Bal (C) F Tys-Ion F Mao-Wms
F04 A Lvn-Mos F Bal H F Ion-Aeg F Wms-Tys
S05 A Mos-Ukr F Bal H F Aeg-Con F Tys-Ion
F05 A Ukr-Gal F Bal H F Con H F Ion-Aeg
S06 A Gal-Rum F Bal H F Con-Bla F Aeg H
F06 A Rum-Con F Bal H F Bla (C) F Aeg H
S07 A Con-Gre F Bal H F Bla H F Aeg (C)
After I stopped reading, Holmes pulled from his pipe and finally said, "Interesting! Quite interesting indeed! As you know, Watson, I solved the problem in one fewer movement phase, but I hadn't considered that the journey was possible so quickly using only a single fleet more than England begins the game with."

Sheepishly, I admitted to Holmes that the discrepancy was surely in my own chronicles of the episode. I averred that it was my opinion that when writing of the restriction against building in more than one location, I probably misled some solvers into believing that only one single unit more could be built by England in toto to accomplish the purpose. Holmes looked crossly at me, in silent agreement, and I resolved to do a better job in future of recording my friend's deeds.

At just that moment, the bell rang, and on being admitted, we found it to be none other than M. Leotard himself, bearing a freshly finished work. He explained that the missive I had received from him was incomplete and that I was missing the latter half of his message. In this latter half, which he presented to us now (after paying the kindest of compliments to my friend), M. Leotard had solved the solution in one phase fewer, in case my meaning should be taken that multiple builds may be accomplished. After apologizing for the confusion and explaining that this indeed was what the famed Sultan of Suwat had intended, Holmes asked me to read M. Leotard's addendum. Here are the moves it contained:

A LvpF LonF EdiF LvpF LvpF LvpF LvpF Lvp
S01 -Wal -Eng-Nth     
F01 -Bre (C) -Skabuild
S02 -Bel (C) -Swe-Nao
F02 -Ruh -MaoH -Nwgbuild
S03 -Kie -Wes-Bal-Bar-Nao
F03 -Ber -Tys(C) H Mao build
S04 -Sil -Ion-DenH -Wes-Nao
F04 -Gal H -NthH -Tys-Maobuild
S05 -Ukr H -NwgH H -Wes-Nao
F05 -Mos H H H H H -Mao build
S06 -StP H H H H H H -Nao
F06 -Gre (C) (C) (C) (C) (C) (C) (C)

When I finished, Holmes removed his pipe and addressed himself to M. Leotard. "Well done! Well done indeed. I see but one error. In your scenario, no new center is occupied in Fall of 1904, and so your build at the end of that year becomes impossible."

Shocked, I checked what Holmes said and it was indeed true. I looked for disappointment in M. Leotard's face, but saw only surprise and a sense of awe for my friend's unique abilities.

Interested now in pursuing the subject, M. Leotard asked if he could remain with us to look through the rest of the correspondence I had received, so that the manner in which his error could be remedied might be shown him. Holmes gladly consented, the two men sat down, and I picked up the next dispatch from the table. It was from Robert Rehbold and it ran as transcribed below:

Dr Watson:

Here is my solution to the Venison Camper mystery which was solved so ably by your esteemed friend Mr. Holmes, saving the Empire of late from an unquestionable tragedy in the making.

To solve part one of the puzzle, we must unravel the anagrammed province names in the Sultan's story. Having done this, I state that the only provinces not mentioned in the story are Berlin, Brest, Clyde, Galicia, Greece, Moscow, Ruhr, and Smyrna. Now, if this is wrong, the rest of my answer obviously will be as well.

Next we take away Smyrna which is not European and Clyde which is not on the continent, that leaves Berlin, Brest, Galicia, Greece, Moscow, and Ruhr. As the Sultan states that he is currently at the sea, only Berlin, Brest, and Greece remain as vacation spots. However, he says that there is no port or city ("urban life") around, so neither Berlin nor Brest can be the solution, which leaves us with Greece; luckily the same result which your friend Sherlock H. came up with.

Part two of the puzzle charges us to find a path from Liverpool to Greece which passes through Berlin, Brest, Galicia, Moscow, and Ruhr (not necessarily in that order), in the minimum number of moves and with the maximum number of convoys. As additional constraints, we are to use only English units starting with the normal start setup, take only one new supply center per year, and build always in the same English home center.

It takes me six years to to the trick, and I do not think it can be done faster (though I'm not sure that it cannot be done with more convoys). Note that with exception of the unnecessary convoy extensions twice through North Sea and the useless convoy through the Baltic, the other convoys seem to be necessary for the fastest route regardless of the condition "use as many convoys as possible."

S01F01S02F02S03F03 S04F04S05F05S06F06
A Lvp-Edi-Bre-Hol-Ruh-Kie -Ber-Sil-Gal-Ukr-Mos-StP-Gre
F Edi-Nth(C)(C)-Den-Bal (C)-Swe-Nor-BarHH(C)
F Lon-Eng(C)(C)-Nth-Nwg HHHHHH(C)
F Lvp build-Nao-Mao-Wes-Tys -IonHHHH(C)
F Lvp build-Nao-Mao-Wes-TysHHH(C)
F Lvp build-Nao-Mao-WesHH(C)
F Lvp build-Nao-MaoH(C)
F Lvp build-Nao(C)

When I finished reading this solution, which was nearly identical to that produced by Holmes, my friend said, with undue modesty, "You see, Watson, my skills are not so specialized as you think. It seems to me that your readers, both M. Leotard here and others, are well-suited to 'match wits,' as you say, with me."

M. Leotard and I both began to protest, claiming that it was only the great Holmes's hints and clues which enabled my gentle readers to follow his speeding intelligence. It was to no avail, however, and the three of us retired happily to the dining room, where, over a supper of mutton, we perused another correct solution from Jeff Behan.

In his message, Mr. Behan made some good points, with which Holmes agreed. One was that the possibility exists at two points in the journey for the army to take one of two routes. First, in convoying from Brest, the army may arrive either at Belgium or in Holland. Holmes justified his choice of Holland by noting that if the emissary, as stated, enjoyed ocean voyages so, it would make sense to convoy him as far as possible. Secondly, in moving from Galicia to Moscow, either Warsaw or the Ukraine could be a choice for the army. Holmes allowed that he didn't think it mattered much, but that he chose Warsaw while Herr Rehbold had chosen Ukraine.

At dessert, Holmes admitted that he had not thought the convoy from Kiel to Berlin would be seen by the readership, and that he was pleasantly surprised that the respondents, to a man, noticed that there would be a fleet available to transport the Sultan's emissary from Kiel to Berlin through the Baltic Sea.

We bade M. Leotard a fond farewell, hoping to see him the next time Mr. Holmes is presented with a difficult Diplomatic problem. One cannot help but think that, with my friend's well-known prowess for such puzzles, such a time is just around the corner.

-- Dr. John H. Watson

via Manus Hand

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