A great story from crossword constructor Brendan Emmett Quigley. He wrote on his Facebook page the other day that a friend of his, Alex, had sent him an e-mail:
The lady that sits next to me in the lab has a 10 year old son who’s just of the age to be questioning Santa. Since Santa sees all, he decided to write a Christmas list in code, and only utter the decryption key to the code once, out loud, to a friend of his on the playground, under the assumption that Santa or his agents should hear it and would decrypt his list. His mom and dad have been working on the code for a week or two now with little progress, and Christmas is getting close. Think you know a puzzle geek that wants to take a crack at it?
The coded message is as follows:
Wlju vdgz bcn J iyci b bnsjgpgwwo, gpb jsijgm gp fhrga: kxfabmt ivryt, Frqeqkg, bcn J iyci hju Mtnnxvrhcfpf gp icqyayeqpj xjfqwo ryu. Prdju xqz!
As Alex points out in his e-mail to Brendan, the first and last phrases sync up nicely to “Dear Santa” and “Thank you.” But what about the rest of it? Click through to see how a group of puzzle solvers helped save Christmas.