Spies release Christmas card puzzle to find future codebreakers among UK schoolkids | The Sun

HAVE you got what it takes to be a GCHQ codebreaker?

Spies at the government’s listening post have released their annual Christmas card puzzle – and it is aimed at teams of school kids to help find the next Alan Turing.

Turing cracked the Nazi’s Enigma which helped win World War Two and is considered the father of modern computing.

A series of “fiendish” Christmas conundrums cover languages, engineering, codebreaking, analysis, maths, coding and cyber security – all key skills for GCHQ spooks.

They are included on spy chief Jeremy Fleming’s official Christmas card which is sent to partners and allied intelligence services around the world.

Fleming said a “mix of minds” was key to solving the “seemingly impossible”.


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He added: “Our brilliant people have worked together throughout our history to help keep the country safe.“

This year’s GCHQ Christmas Card Challenge gives an insight into the skills we need every day as part of our mission.”

The spooks have played a leading role defending Ukraine from cyber attacks and helping President Zelensky’s forces intercept Russian military messages.

GCHQ’s top puzzler, Colin, said half a dozen spooks had designed the brainteasers over the last two months.

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The secret cyber-warrior said: “We are trying to ensure the next generation have the skills needed for securing the UK in future.

"We hope that young people will enjoy the puzzles and the variety should mean kids with all sorts of interests can get involved.

"To solve the whole thing you need to have skills in a number of different areas and once you have the answers you then have to put them together to get the final answer.

“If someone manages to solve the whole thing on their own without any help, then that is terrific. If you have got a team, it will be quicker.”

Once puzzlers have the answers they must arrange the answers on a coded Christmas tree. The seemingly random words can then be plugged into What3Words – a global mapping service which uses words to locate grid squares – to reveal a "festive location”.

Thousands of pupils from hundreds of schools are expected to tackle the puzzles today, he said.

Colin refused to reveal how quickly his colleagues had solved it – in case members of the public are quicker.

But he said most groups should find the solution over the course of a day. He said: “It is meant to be a bit of fun for Christmas.”

GCHQ will publish the answers on Thursday.

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