Last year, one of the toughest puzzles I encountered all year was the GCHQ Christmas Card.
The GCHQ — Government Communications Headquarters — provides security and intelligence services for the British government. Back when they were known as GC&CS — Government Code and Cypher School — they were responsible for funding Bletchley Park and its successes cracking the German “Enigma” code during World War II.
And last Christmas, they released a puzzly Christmas card that challenged the staunchest puzzlers, with over 600,000 submissions, but only 3 successful solutions!
This year, they’re doing things a little bit differently.
[Click here for a larger version.]
This puzzle is the first step in a larger event that the GCHQ expects will take MONTHS to solve. (Their official due date for submissions is February 28, 2017!)
The big change here is that instead of a series of webpages available free to the public, they’re releasing this puzzly master challenge as a book containing over 140 codes and puzzles.
But it’s for a good cause, as “all GCHQ’s proceeds from sales of the book will be donated to the Heads Together campaign, supported by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, who wrote the foreword for The GCHQ Puzzle Book.”
The Duchess writes:
I have always been immensely proud of my grandmother, Valerie Glassborow, who worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. She and her twin sister, Mary, served with thousands of other young women as part of the great Allied effort to break enemy codes. They hardly ever talked about their wartime service, but we now know just how important the men and women of Bletchley Park were, as they tackled some of the hardest problems facing the country.
In a new century, their successors at GCHQ continue this intellectual tradition. Like their Bletchley predecessors, they have become well known for valuing and understanding the importance of mental wellbeing. This is so important when dealing with such discretion and the pressure which comes with this.
William, Harry and I are very grateful that this book is supporting our Heads Together Campaign. I hope it will not only amuse and challenge readers, but help to promote an open discussion of mental health problems, which can affect anyone, regardless of age or background. Together, we are aiming to change the national conversation around mental health from stigma and fear to openness and understanding. Those who buy this book and support the Heads Together campaign will be playing a part in helping people get the important mental health care they deserve.
Puzzles and charitable works: a perfect holiday match, to be sure.
For US shoppers, the book is available as a Kindle ebook through Amazon.com, but if you want a paperback copy, you’re better off ordering it from Amazon.co.uk. With shipping and conversion, it still cost me less than $20.
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