Puzzle Solutions

Solution to Puzzle 18

Last week I posted this problem:

- X . . . . X . . X   . . . X X . . . X .   . . . X - - - X . . 
- X . - . . X - . .   X X - . . . X . X X   . - X X . - - . X . 
- . X . X - X - X -   . - - X X . X . - X   . . . X - . - - X X 
. - - . X . . X . X   - . - . X . X X - -   - X . . - . X X - X 
. X - . . - X - X .   - . - . - X X . . X   - X . . . X X . X - 
. X - . - . X - - -   X - . . X . X - . .   X X . . - X . . . X 
. . X - . X - - . X   X - - X - - - X . -   . X . . . X . X X - 
. - . X - - - X - .   . X . X . - . - . -   X X - . . X - - - X 
- X . . . X X . - X   - . X - . . X X - .   . X . - X . . . X . 
. . . X . X . . . X   X . . . . X . - X .   . . - X . X X - X . 
. . . X . X . . X .   - . X X . . - X . .   . X . . - X . - X . 
- . . X X - - X . X   . - X - . X . . X -   . X - - . X . - . - 
. - X X . - X - . X   X - . . - X X . . X   . . . X X . - X X . 
. . X . - - . X . -   X - . - . X . X X -   . . . X . X - X . - 
- X . X . X - . X X   - . - . X . . . . X   . - X . - . X . - X 
- . - . X - X . X .   - . X . . . X 

As usual, if you'd rather try to work the problem out for yourself, then please do so before reading on!

The key lay in pure recognition, this is morse. The dots and dashes have their usual meaning. The X is a pause between characters, XX is a pause between words.

The decoded text is below:

This should be a pretty easy piece of text. It's encoded using Morse code. Dots and dashes have their usual meaning. An X is a space between characters.

Solution to Puzzle 17

Last week I published this puzzle:

R D L T Y D H Q R H W S J A A R L E A O O C L Y U
U Y N J T G R I O X B L D M M V D E O U P L R A Q
E D E O X B I S P B L F T F K P L Y Y V W C Z W A
D R H M N G T N V U U Y D R H M N Z N S E C U W T
C W M J C Z L B L P C O Y D P X P B L Y U U Y N V
D E C R Z C B N D Q Q R D I Y O D E M N H C V Y O
M R I S L Y Y U G R I

If you haven't yet attempted it, you may wish to do so before moving on.

To solve this you would have first tried to establish the key length, and then looked at the frequencies of letters encoded with identical key letters. This would have allowed you to make good guesses for each key letter, and then form the plaintext.

This text was prepared using the Cipherclerk applet, the input text was a quote from the Lenny Henry show, 'Chef!'

L E T M E E X P L A I N T H E O R D E R O F T H I N G S T O
Y O U T H E R E S T H E A R I S T O C R A C Y T H E U P P E
R C L A S S T H E M I D D L E C L A S S W O R K I N G C L A
S S D U M B A N I M A L S W A I T E R S C R E E P I N G T H
I N G S H E A D L I C E P E O P L E W H O E A T P A C K E T
S O U P T H E N Y O U

Reformatting the text we get this:
Let me explain the order of things to you. There's the aristocracy, the upper class, the middle class, working class, dumb animals, waiters, creeping things, head lice, people who eat packet soup, then you

Source: Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

Enciphered using 'Beaufort cipher'.
Using the alphabetic key 'chef'.
The length of the plain text is 161 letters.

Plain text alphabet is 26 Letters: A-Z.
Operation Mode:Repetitive Key

Within beaufort, the enciphering and deciphering operations are identical, and so it does not matter which is chosen for decryption.

Solution to Puzzle 16

Last week I posted this puzzle:

MOE FRXSTGNJ-THPED NEGSBNHMSZE HTD XEGYNHMRXJ XELRXP FSNN SB ST LHAM H ZEXJ DHTGEXRYB QSEAE RL NEGSBNHMSRT. SM GXHTMB HTJ PSTSBMEX MOE HFSNSMJ MR HPETD, XEQNHAE, RX XEQEHN EUSBMSTG NEGSBNHMSRT. MOE LXSGOMETSTG MOSTG SB MOSB: MOEJ IRYND FE HFNE MR PHCE PHKRX AOHTGEB MR MOE NHI ISMORYM QHXNSHPETM FESTG HFNE MR EUHPSTE SM QXRQEXNJ, MHCSTG HIHJ MOE HFSNSMJ RL QHXNSHPETM MR PEHTSTGLYNNJ XEQXEBETM MOE ASMSVETB RL MOSB ARYTMXJ.

If you haven't yet attempted it, you may wish to do so before moving on.

The boringly-named Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is in fact a very dangerous piece of legislation. It grants any minister the ability to amend, replace, or repeal existing legislation. The frightening thing is this: they would be able to make major changes to the law without Parliament being able to examine it properly, taking away the ability of Parliament to meaningfully represent the citizens of this country.

This is the preamble on the Save Parliament website.

You probably would have solved this by looking at the most frequent letters in the ciphertext, and knowing that ETAIN are the most common letters in english, with TH and HE the most common pairings of letters, you could have assigned best guess values to each letter in the ciphertext. Words would have begun to suggest themselves, after a few false starts you should have got a near complete text.

Solution to Puzzle 15

Last week's puzzle was:

HZ ZHZCECCZ LCXCZEF EUI, A WDAWR WITTAZMI GZHE UAL LCZE EI A THSHEADF JDHLIZ NID A WDHTC EPCF MHMZ'E WITTHE.

EPCLC TCZ JDITJESF CLWAJCM NDIT A TAVHTGT LCWGDHEF LEIWRAMC EI EPC SIL AZOCSCL GZMCDODIGZM.

EIMAF, LEHSS UAZECM YF EPC OIXCDZTCZE, EPCF LGDXHXC AL LISMHCDL IN NIDEGZC.

HN FIG PAXC A JDIYSCT. HN ZI-IZC CSLC WAZ PCSJ. AZM HN FIG WAZ NHZM EPCT.

TAFYC FIG WAZ PHDC: EPC A ECAT.

Here is the solution:

The solution was from the introduction to 'The A Team'

In nineteen seventy two, a crack commando unit was sent to a military prison for a crime they didn't commit.

These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles Underground.

Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune.

If you have a problem. If no-one else can help. And if you can find them.

Maybe you can hire: The A Team.

The cipher alphabet was formed by lining up ABCDEFG etc with the key order on my keyboard, that is AZERTYUIOP... I am using a french layout. If you can't see this, try changing the way you write out the alphabets (i.e. sort the other alphabet into alphabetical order).

Solution to Puzzle 14

In case you have forgotten, here was puzzle 14:

fradsrwo adn bcwrsdaka, to adn for, weerh i sopt nbdyoo koswn!

... and now the solution:

forwards and backwards, to and fro, where i stop nobody knows

Essentially the puzzle was an anagram. Each word can be found by taking the first, then last letter of each word in the puzzle.

Solution to Puzzle 13

Matthew gave this solution to Puzzle 13:

(Solution: the first riddle is "What thing is brown and sticky?", and the second is "What do you call a boomerang that does not return when thrown?" -- the answer to both, and the keyword for the transposition, is a STICK. The hint is encyphered using a 3-step Caesar shift, and says "A known plaintext attack would be fruitful, hoping to find common words in the riddles. For instance, one of the pieces contains the word 'you', 'and' is in a different one, and the other has 'does'."

Solution to Puzzle 12

Here is the, rather frank, solution to last week's puzzle.

The puzzle was:

SHNON OYBRN XIGML MYKPH YCFSE HNXHN HYTFS HQMEL
SMWFS HFQON GPKDA RFSMK YXIMZ SNGFS MWFSY LDSHN
LWGMQ FEMQS HEHNK FOMQS FA

You may want to try the puzzle before moving on.

This is a quick monoalphabet which I have thrown 
together simply due to lack of time to get anything 
more worthwhile sorted.

Solution to 'Puzzle for Discussion'

Puzzle for Discussion

A while ago I gave out this graphical puzzle for your delight and amusement.

If you have not yet solved the puzzle, I suggest that you have a go before moving on

The solution didn't lie in manipulating the bits into numbers, in some clever binary code or similar.

The solution was purely graphical, and inspired by an advert for Volkswagen on TV at the moment.

The solution rests in sliding the bottom half of the image over the top half. Text rapidly appears.

If you would like to see the solution, I've made one available here. It is an animated gif, made for me by Hobnobs, and as such might not animate if you are using an older browser or have switched animations off.

Solution to Puzzle 4

This post provides a solution to puzzle 4:

PEFDN FIUQC UCRJD PLXTK FLJFJ TYHWC UGJXQ BAJXR
ICXTL FQFXY WCLJL FLJYM QLTHC FXDTS TBTZJ EBFAC
UUPJL FPJWW GCKYF MYYYC SIKYF FWNUF FLYJV UCYTJ
ESTZR IUYYF FEJDU BMKNT FFJYR FLXQM OADTS XIZQB
IUAJR IYSIM OYFKP FKZJL DSHTS ONNSM SXJWR PYXYY
CFNXF IIBRS DBJAC SSKND UBQJR UYWMY EVJJL DUJXY
SMMND UYIDM VQTZJ EBFAC UBJSS OMMND UYIYF FFJYR
FLXFL ELJHM OMYWS DNJIR IYRJQ TULJR IYPJW CSYMC
XUDBY TVZKD Z

Solution to Puzzle 1

If you haven't looked at the puzzle yet, you might like to do so before continuing.

We begin by neatly or printing out the cipher, being sure to give us working room, then as we know it's a Caesar Shift this may be solved by brute force.

Taking one word for simplicity:

"FRXSOLQJ"  GSYTPMRK
 HTZUQNSL
 IUAVROTM
 JVBWSPUN
 KWCXTQVO
 LXDYURWP
 MYEZVSXQ
 NZFAWTYR
 OAGBXUZS
 PBHCYVAT
 QCIDZWBU
 RDJEAXCV
 SEKFBYDW
 TFLGCZEX
 UGMHDAFY
 VHNIEBGZ
 WIOJFCHA
 XJPKGDIB
 YKQLHEJC
 ZLRMIFKD
 AMSNJGLE
 BNTOKHMF
 COUPLING  <------
 DPVQMJOH
 EQWRNKPI
 FRXSOLQJ

A word appears on the line indicated, at a shift of +23, or -3. Repeating for the whole text we get:

"FRXSOLQJ" LV D YHUB JRRG FRPHGB .....
"EQWRNKPI" KU C . . .
"DPVQMJOH" JT B . . .
"COUPLING" IS A VERY GOOD COMEDY .....

 ..... RQH RI WKH EHVW LQ UHFHQW BHDUV
 ..... ONE OF THE BEST IN RECENT YEARS.

Coupling is a tightly plotted comedy set in London, and is about six good friends.... sound like a rip off of a certain US sitcom? Well, this is infinitely superior, and nothing like that other show in tone. It has short seasons (like many UK programmes) and tightly polished scripts. Jeff, the welshman with the curly hair, is worth his wait in gold.

There was a spin-off in the states. Lead balloon. They got the tone wrong.

Why do I mention Coupling? Well, as it's one of my few must see TV programmes as I wrote this problem, and it just popped into my head. Simple as that. It's on DVD, Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4 (Update in 2010: Meh, it was good at the time)