Royal Mail competition: Now it's your Final Problem

THE FINAL day of our Royal Mail competition offers the chance to unravel the last clue, which features Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty in a scene from the story The Final Problem. The Royal Mail has launched a set of five stamps to mark the centenary of Holmes's death. The 24p stamps depict scenes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, and in keeping with the theme, they incorporate a challenge to decipher some extremely well-disguised clues.

Your first task is to find the letter hidden in today's stamp and rearrange it, with the week's other four letters, in an order with strong Holmesian connections. Your second problem is to solve today's clue.

The winner will receive a week's holiday for two in Switzerland's Bernese Oberland region. Flying Swiss Air and travelling with Kuoni Travel, they will stay at the picturesque Park Sauvage Hotel, overlooking the Reichenbach Falls, where Conan Doyle himself plotted the death of his most famous creation. Accommodation is half board and the holiday must be taken between 1 April 1994 and 31 October 1994, subject to availability. Three runners-up will win a copy of The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes, which includes The Final Problem. There will be 100 further prizes of presentation packs of the stamps.

The Clue

'CJM RVLQPMQR QY TNSEM,' said Watson. 'And you say that's the coded message that saved you?'

'It told me what to beware,' answered Holmes.

'But how did you break the code?' asked the doctor.

'I surmised it was based on a simple letter substitution table,' explained the detective, 'and was intended for myself alone.'

He picked up a pen and wrote eight letters on a sheet of paper. He paused, then added five more letters from the beginning of the alphabet, never repeating any letter already used. He continued the process in a second row of 13 letters immediately beneath the first. 'And that cracked the code,' concluded Holmes.

The Question

What was the decoded message?

To enter, send your answers on a postcard to Royal Mail Sherlock Holmes Competition, PO Box 6, Hampton, Middlesex, TW12 2HE by Friday 29 October 1993. Winners will be announced and the answers given on the Miscellany page on 8 November. Standard Independent competition rules apply.

Stamp collecting is one of the world's favourite hobbies, enjoyed by 4 million people in the UK and millions more around the globe. If you are interested in embarking on an enjoyable and inexpensive hobby, the British Philatelic Bureau will be happy to provide details about its service and stamp collecting in general. Please state on your entry whether you wish to receive further information from the British Philatelic Bureau.

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