back to article Ducks, Lord of the Rings, movies and maths: The GCHQ Xmas puzzle solutions revealed

GCHQ has posted the answers to its Xmas puzzle, a five-part crypto extravaganza that saw 600,000 people start but just three win – and even they didn't get it all right. The lucky winners, one from Scotland, one from Belgium and another unnamed, will be given a GCHQ paperweight (presumably with a bug implanted), a biography of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bet the third winner was Vladimir Putin, using his nefarious KGB skills. The entry wasn't announced because it's highly radioactive...

    Anonymous because that's Vlad's next challenge.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many people would actually flag themselves up to a clandestine agency as someone who can think outside of the box?

    Let's be honest, the pay is shit and you have to have no morals.

  3. ZSn

    Get on with your job.

    Charmed as I am that GCHQ have nothing else to do with their time. Shouldn't they actually, let's say, do what they are being paid to do?

    Really, does nobody have anything better to do with their time than this (and I say this even as a regular poster to this site!).

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Get on with your job.

      Odds are a place like the magic doughnut has quite a lot of people who happily make up stuff like that in their own time.

      And at least one of them has a twisted sense of humor. French numbers? That's just mean.

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        French numbers? That's just mean.

        Unless you are French .... or Belgian. One of the winners, for example.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: French numbers? That's just mean.

          The Belgians use their own version, for good reasons - it doesn't drive you round the bend. The drawback is of course that the French use that* as a test to spot Belgians.

          *using a different system

        2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: French numbers? That's just mean.

          French numbers? That's just mean.

          Prefer the letters.

      2. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: Get on with your job.

        They decided that French "phrases of surrender" would be a bit too easy.

    2. djack

      Re: Get on with your job.

      This sort of thing could be a very useful way of training the mind and thought patterns. Often thinking about something else let's you gain inspiration about the problem you are actually needing to solve.

      Besides, they have already said that the puzzles were designed in people's spare time.

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Get on with your job.

      'Shouldn't they actually, let's say, do what they are being paid to do?'

      Yeah but then people get all pissy that they're being spied on so it's hard for a crypto-analyst to know what to do.

    4. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Get on with your job.

      They did in fact create the puzzle on their own time - this was reported on Radio 4, and probably other places.

    5. yossarianuk

      Re: Get on with your job.

      I'd prefer they kept on doing silly puzzles that 'their job; which by all accounts is to spy on us all and subvert democracy.

  4. MrT

    'Operations Log 1970:452/18...

    Subject H is in the bath singing to the bugged rubber duck:

    "Rubber Duckie, joy of joys,

    When I squeeze you, you make noise!

    Rubber Duckie, you're my very best friend, it's true!"

    Meaning unknown - leak suspected. Recommend replacement of subject with in situ clone due to possible infiltration of red cypher. Replacement programme currently scheduled to begin early 1993. Continue monitoring until then. Mission abort phrase confirmed as Rainbow Connection

    Entry ends.'

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    600,000 really clever idiots!

    Don't they mind that GCHQ is a criminal enterprise that spies on them and their loved ones private communications?

    1. fearnothing

      Re: 600,000 really clever idiots!


  6. Stevie Silver badge


    Wow. We're all doomed.

  7. Ali Um Bongo

    Usually I Like These Kind of Logic Puzzles...

    But didn't visit this one.

    I've no interest in helping GCHQ's transparent attempts to rebrand itself as 'Jolly Old Uncle M', wearing his novelty Christmas Jersey and playing riddles in with the children, in front of a roaring log fire.

    [Ironically, I just noticed, on proof-reading this, that my Android swipe keyboard had misinterpreted "roaring log fire" as "rotating log fire" —which sounds like just the kind of thing, behind which Jolly Old Uncle M would hide his mass communications monitoring equipment]

  8. JeffUK

    I found it interesting that they made it progressively harder to cheat on the puzzles, they could have made it impossible to cheat from the start, but chose not to (brute forcing #2 was made possible when they could have just hashed the answer like they did in #3.. for instance. I took this as a sign that cheating was allowed and did so to get to level 4... then I gave up, because I couldn't work out how to cheat and I hate number sequence puzzles.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It didn't help that the final part was deliberately kept "open-ended by ensuring that a definitive complete solution could not be readily identified" – or in other words, utterly confusing on purpose."

    Not really. The words making up the final part have no connection, to ensure each puzzle was solved on its own.

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