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Thu, 30 Mar 2017

GCHQ Christmas Puzzles: Did You Tackle Them?

In the run up to Christmas 2015, GCHQ launched a website with a series of puzzles for people to solve, with the option for people to submit their answers if they reached the final part. The deadline set for entries was 31 January 2016.

The puzzle challenge started with a puzzle that was actually a standard hanjie - a picture-forming logic puzzle that will be quite familiar to many puzzle solvers. Presumably it was intended to be accessible whilst providing a sense of satisfaction when solved in order to entice solvers to tackle the subsequent challenges.

In this instance, the puzzle when solved created a QR code rather than a standard picture, which could be used to go to a website that had a range of different logic, number, maths and code puzzles of varying difficulty across different parts.

The story received quite a lot of press attention with several newspapers and TV segments on the puzzles, and this increased again at the end of January when it was announced that no-one had submitted a fully correct answer to all parts (there are five parts in total).

It was recommended that to increase the chance of solving (and presumably for enjoyment too) that puzzlers should get together to tackle the problems as many heads are better than one.

For those that are curious about the puzzles, they can be found on the GCHQ website and there are also some tips and solutions online on various sites where people have discussed and brainstormed solutions.

Here is a link to the initial hanjie puzzle:
http://www.gchq.gov.uk/press_and_media/news_and_features/Pages/Directors-Christmas-puzzle-2015.aspx

For the rules of hanjie look here:
http://www.clarity-media.co.uk/puzzleblog/print-hanjie-puzzles

We'd love to print the answers here but unfortunately time precludes us. It would be remiss to do so when we really must get around to posting that promised video of how to exploit superpositions in a quantum computer (working demonstration, of course) to instantly factorise an arbitrarily large number first.

Did you tackle the puzzles and how did you find them? Feel free to comment below!
Date written: 29 Jan 2016

Category: Puzzle competitions

Keywords: puzzles | competitions

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