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Michel Becker’s hints, tips and controversies

Michel Becker took over the organisation of this treasure hunt in 2021. He decrypted the 1993 floppy disc containing the Golden Owl treasure hunt solution and now knows the answer to where the owl prize is buried.

Max Valentin, the original game organiser, answered thousands of questions about the game on the Minitel, an early form of the internet. The questions and answers became known as ‘Madits.’ (meaning ‘Max told me’.) Now Michel Becker takes a similar role, answering questions on his Discord server. Some people call his statements Beckerdits, or Midits.

Michel Becker has made some bold statements about the game, challenging many of the things that have been accepted as truth for nearly 30 years. I’ll summarise the key points here.

-He insists searchers should not trust Max Valentin’s Madits, as many are misleading, or take hunters off track.

-He suggests that Max’s repeated statements about the way the 12th clue ‘super solution’ is put together should be ignored. He says that the final directions to find the treasure are simply found in the last two clues (650 and 520.)

– He says the first 9 clues have mostly been solved, with answers available online. We can suppose that commonly accepted solutions such as Bourge and the game measure 33cm are correct. But does he mean more cryptic elements are online somewhere too?

– He tells us there is an expression in the clues that gives a kind of ‘eureka moment’, that helps us to unlock the solution. He says that when this expression is understood it helps hunters understand the numbers and the supersolution, and it leads players to do something. He has suggested the expression is a fairly common phrase, “used every day by millions of people” rather than a specialist clue-style phrase such as ‘becalmed nave’.

– In addition there are many small new details that were not revealed by Max. There are no calvary crosses in the game, the opening is not used for the super solution, the 600 clue gives a place, we have the area at the end of the 9th clue, either 75 or 57 will work equally well as the last numbers of the 650 clue, the super solution can only apply in one place, and during the super solution we don’t go back to previous puzzles. And there are no doubt many more.

– He has released his own additional clue, in the form of a poem called Pierrette et le pot-aux-roses. 

There is an excellent site called collecting many of Becker’s statements and summarising them. If you set your browser to auto-translate it is easy to navigate in English.

Becker claims he read around 5,000 private messages from treasure hunters on Discord and he learned some people have elements of the solution. One or more persons have found a mechanism for the use of the mysterious numbers 71721075 in the 650 clue, and someone who has amusingly become known as ‘the entity’ has the right idea for the supersolution. All this has caused an outcry in the community, with many people angry that the hunt organiser is giving tips to those who sent him messages. However, Becker reassures searchers not to be disheartened. He said this new information only proves the game is ‘solvable’ but the people who wrote to him with ideas didn’t seem to know the significance of what they’d suggested.

To add to the controversy of Michel Becker challenging elements of the game that have been accepted for decades, many people point out that when Becker retrieved the solutions and dug in the treasure location he found a bird made of iron, and not Max’s owl marked 1/8. He placed a new bronze owl marked 2/8 in the spot so the game could go on. There are some people who think Max Valentin’s solutions lead to the original owl and that Becker was duped with false solutions. Could there now be 2 owls buried in France with Max’s super solution leading to owl 1 and Becker’s super solution leading to owl 2? I personally do not believe this, but it’s an interesting theory.

It’s certainly been an eventful time for hunters since Becker became involved. It adds even more complexity to the hunt that now each hunter must decide whether to take a lead from Max’s tips or Becker’s new hints. This is especially the case with the clear divergence in the method of the super solution which reveals the exact burial spot of the owl. A Becker route says the super solution is mostly devised by the final 2 clues, while Max’s instructions repeatedly tell us to assemble ‘remnants’ of the clues and assemble them in order. I like to think both methods might be right, but just use a different emphasis. Possibly Max’s remnant approach relied heavily on the final two clues for the super solution? Or maybe Becker understands a simplified version of the super solution that he thinks works with just two clues? Quite possibly Becker’s  ‘expression’ is a phrase that Max might describe as one of the important ‘remnants’?

All of these extra bits of information must surely mean this this long running hunt will finally get solved in the next few years… Or will it? I’ve a feeling that if Becker’s owl 2 is found, there’ll still be some obsessed hunters who won’t quit until Max’s fabled owl 1 is unearthed. Happy hunting!