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780 – Generally accepted solution


Where you want,
By the nag and the coachman.
But where you must,
By the compass and the foot.

Solvability: Many mysteries still to solve with this clue.

There is more debate about this clue than almost any other. However, Max said this clue give an “important thing” and many people believe this is the game measure of 33cm.

The reasons are as follows:

The ‘pied du roi’  or royal foot was an old french measure, and the word ‘step’ in the title also hints at this measure A common value was close to 33cm.

The visual shows a compass. The perimeter is 33 cm, and Max was quick to confirm the diameter of 10.5cm when he was asked about this.  The method to work out the perimeter of the circle = 2 x Pi x radius, where the radius = diameter / 2 = 5.25 cm and Pi = 3.1415, or about 22/7.

The 33cm measure fits very well with the measures mentioned in the book, to give neat whole numbers eg. 185km rather than messy numbers like 176.457889km!

The visual

Max was forced to explain some elements of the image. The foreground shows the dial of a compass , the background shows the crossing of a pedestrian and a horse carriage. He explained that we are seeing the compass in the pedestarian’s hand. The white needle, which we can assume we must follow points to the south, the black needle to the north. It’s an odd drawing with it’s back to front N,E,S,W. Many people assume the ‘bad horse’ route is abandoned, so it seems we head south following the compass. Where do we head to? That is not clear in this enigma.

Points to consider

The starting point of this enigma is the place found in the previous enigma 530, so the city of Bourges. We can assume the ‘first step’ will be taken from Bourges by taking a virtual step on our map.

The text of this puzzle is about opposites, desire versus duty with the words  ‘want’ and ‘must,’ poor transport with a prescribed coach route and unruly horses, versus a clear plan to walk with a compass in hand.

None of this is clearly understood, and the biggest problem I have with this puzzle is the mystery the first line. If Max wanted to give us the measure and the direction south he doesn’t need a coach and horses at all. So why does he introduce this element?

If the pedestrian is our hero heading south the way he ‘must’ what purpose is served by the nags pulling a coach to the south? It could be that this is one of the leftover clues to solve in the super solution stage.

The coachman and the pedestrian could be understood to cross at Bourges on an axis generally oriented north-south. The coachman and his horse appear to be introduced rather pointlessly and not followed.

The notion of a circle, centered on ‘Bourge’ the  ‘Opening’ is reinforced. The circle is crossed in the middle by the north-south axis. The pedestrian moves away from Bourge, perhaps along a radius of the circle. We are not interested in the coach but we note that it was on the same axis in the opposite direction.

Max said this clue gives an, “important thing” which is almost certainly the ‘measure’ which is referenced in three later clues so essential to solving the treasure hunt. Yet, in this short clue, the ‘compass and the foot’ line is the only line important to this element. No one seems to understand the purpose of the first line.

Let’s look at this short clue in french.

Où tu voudras,
Par la rosse et le cocher.
Mais où tu dois,
Par la boussole et le pied

‘Rosse’ is an odd word, rarely used, I’ve seen it translated as ‘brat’ or ‘wayward horse’ it is a poor assistant to the coachman in getting where he wants to go. Perhaprs the compass and the ‘foot’ (game measure) will efficiently take you where you have to go. The unruly horse and the coachman will take you where you desire to go? It doesn’t seem to make any sense.

In conclusion

Many people believe this clue gives the game measure of 33cm and if it’s not that then it’s revealed somewhere in this clue.

The compass is believed to give a general direction to take, apparently South, although there is some debate about the direction.

This clue follows enigma revealing ‘Bourges’ so it can be assumed we travel south from Bourges

No one seems to understand the purpose of the first sentence referring to the coachman and horse, why mention a coachman who is not of any apparent use in solving the enigma?

See also

Clue 3 – 780 enigma

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