With today, the John H. Watson Society's annual Treasure Hunt has begun.
Last year, I took one look at it, got a cold chill at the memory of a previous year's time and trauma spent trying to unravel, litigate, and generally stare the text, and decided to hide for the month of August, until the Godzilla-of-quizzery had left the area. This year, however?
When the notice of the contest's start first came via e-mail, I couldn't help myself. I had to look. And when I looked, I saw something I was sure I knew the answer to. And so I looked at the next question, and the next, and the next. And when I finally forced myself to head for bed, this being a "school night" for us working class folk, I found I had completed almost a third of the quiz.
This year's John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt is actually a pleasurably enjoyable way to spend some time re-connecting with the Holmes Canon. No arcane outside knowledge needed. Questions that, if they are too mysterious, will find a clue in the question that comes after. And a path of connection through the fifty questions that let's you feel good about your answers, because you know the next one couldn't be right without the preceding one being also correct.
Two years ago, I worked with a team of four to fight our way through the Treasure Hunt, it took us the entire month, we had an ingenious librarian helping carry us along, and we still couldn't come up with solid answers to everything.
This year, I'm working it out alone and having a lovely time.
And that's important, because testing your Sherlockian knowledge isn't done to impress anyone -- we've far too many scholars in this hobby for that. Spending time finding answers that someone else already knows isn't even productive time spent. Any test of familiarity with Holmes and Watson's lives should be simply time you spend having fun.
And I think that this year, the John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt has found the right mix.
At least for this old Sherlockian. Give it a try yourself and see what you think.