# Tackling the GCHQ 2021 Christmas Card!

Every year, one of the puzzliest challenges many solvers will encounter all year descends upon the world, as the GCHQ issue their Christmas card.

The GCHQ — or 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.

This year’s Christmas card was directed toward solvers with a secondary school education (essentially solvers age 11 and up), and was less complicated than offerings in previous years, but still offered an engaging challenge.

Here’s the link in case you’d like to try it for yourself.

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Last chance before we walk through the solution!

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Okay, ready? Good! Let’s do this!

Clue number one is an easy one, as you simply read the first letter of each word in the message. Your solution is CHRISTMAS.

Clue number two is a simple 4×4 across-and-down grid where 1-Across and 1-Down are the same word, 2-Across and 2-Down are the same word, and so on. The completed grid reads:

T H I S
H O O T
I O W A
S T A G

And the letters in THIS are highlighted in the grid, so the solution is THIS.

Clue number three is a complete-the-sequence puzzle where the names of the Hogwarts houses from Harry Potter are listed, but each house in the sequence has more letters missing from the beginning and end of the word. Slytherin is the missing house, and with three letters missing from the beginning and end of the word, your solution is THE.

Clue number four is a Blackout! or Minesweeper-style puzzle where you deduce the location of bombs in the grid according to numbers in the neighboring squares. Once you’re marked off each of the bombs, the remaining spaces form letters and spell out a word. Your solution is SAFE.

Clue number five is a mnemonic device, and solvers must puzzle out what chain of related words is represented by the device. In this case, the major taxonomic ranks that are used to organize related living things are represented, and the word Kindly points toward the second word in the taxonomic ranks, so your solution is Kingdom.

Clue number six has three overlapping circles, each with letters inside, and you have to figure out not only what the words are, but what missing six-letter word would sit in the middle of this Venn diagram.

I found this to be the hardest puzzle in the card by far, as I tried and failed in numerous attempts to anagram the letters into recognizable words. Finally, I decoded the shortest word — LEEDS — only because I remembered that this is a British organization and I have friends who live in Leeds.

Leeds led me to unraveling the other two answers — MANCHESTER and NEWCASTLE — and my meager knowledge of European football provided the missing six-letter word. The solution is UNITED.

Clue number seven is a simple cryptogram, and is quickly decoded to read “This is the 7th question: people born between nineteen forty-six and nineteen sixty-four are commonly known as baby what?”

The solution appears to be BOOMERS, but there is an additional instruction to follow after decoding the message, and you must encode the answer. Following the same letter-substitution rule, BOOMERS becomes KEEPING, and that is your solution.

Now each word must be placed in order on the tree for your message to properly read out.

• The word BABY in clue 7 points toward the stroller icon, so our message begins with KEEPING.
• The lightning bolt icon refers to Harry Potter, so the word THE from clue 3 goes next.
• The soccer ball icon points to clue 6, so the word UNITED continues the message.
• The word KINGDOM from clue 5 aligns with the crown icon, so that’s our fourth word.
• The lock icon is most closely associated with SAFE from clue 4, so that’s next.
• At first, I thought the image of the Stag was a Harry Potter reference, but I then realized that STAG was one of the answers in clue 2’s grid, so this was the place for THIS.
• Finally, the present is the perfect spot for clue 1’s solution, CHRISTMAS.

And the message is revealed, celebrating the mission of the GCHQ itself: Keeping the United Kingdom Safe This Christmas.

Did you unravel this festive puzzly challenge, fellow PuzzleNationers? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.

Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

# Solution to Last Week’s Merry Birthday Puzzle!

A week ago, we shared a brain teaser sent in by a PuzzleNationer named Darrin (who credited Marilynn Rapp Buxton as the creator of the puzzle). Darrin challenged us to solve the following logic puzzle.

Today, we’re going to share not only the solution, but how we got there! Please enjoy this brief solve and tutorial, submitted by one of your fellow PuzzleNationers!

Four friends — two girls named Holly and Joy, two boys named Kris and Noel — all celebrate their birthdays during December. Though none was born on Christmas Day — each was born on a different day — they all have festive names. Can you figure out each person’s last name and order of birth?

1. Nobody’s first name goes with the traditional last name (Berry, Fully, Kringle, or Singer) that you might expect.
2. Someone’s birthday is three days after their friend Joy’s birthdate.
3. Holly’s birthday is three days before Noel’s and three days after Kris’.
4. Miss Fully’s birthdate is six days after Joy’s.
5. Noel’s birthdate is six days after the one whose last name is Berry.

[Image courtesy of Moji-Moji Design on ravelry.]

Let’s sort out the order of birth first.

We know from rule 3 that Holly’s birthdate is three days before Noel’s and three days after Kris’s. So their birthdate order is Kris, Holly, Noel.

But we also know from rule 2 that someone’s birthday is three days after Joy’s. Since they all have different birthdays, that means Joy’s birthday comes first in the order, giving us Joy, Kris, Holly, Noel.

Rule 4 tells us that Miss Fully’s birthdate is six days after Joy’s, so Holly’s last name is Fully.

Rule 5 states that Noel’s birthday is six days after the one whose last name is Berry, so Kris’s last name is Berry.

That gives us Joy ____, Kris Berry, Holly Fully, Noel ____.

Rule 1 tells us all four last names — Berry, Fully, Kringle, and Singer — and that nobody’s first name goes with the traditional last name that you might expect. Logically, those names would be Holly Berry, Joy Fully, Kris Kringle, and Noel Singer.

Since Kringle and Singer are the two remaining last names, and Singer can’t go with Noel, our final list reads Joy Singer, Kris Berry, Holly Fully, Noel Kringle.

How did you do, fellow PuzzleNationers? Did you solve this one? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.

Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

# A Festive Brain Teaser Submitted For Your Puzzly Pleasure!

[Image courtesy of SharpBrains.com.]

When’s the last time you had your brain properly tied in knots by a riddle?

That’s a pretty common occurrence around here, honestly. In our puzzly explorations of the world, we stumble across all manner of brain teasers, riddles, logic puzzles, math problems, mind ticklers, deduction games, and wordplay-fueled bits of linguistic legerdemain.

Sometimes, we even receive them directly from our fellow PuzzleNationers!

And on those occasions, we happily share them with you, dear reader, so that you can also enjoy the challenge of unraveling whatever fiendish puzzly conundrum has been placed before us.

This time around, a solver named Darrin submitted this festive holiday puzzle he found in his aunt’s collection of puzzle books. (He credits Marilynn Rapp Buxton as the constructor of this puzzle.)

Let’s see how we do.

Four friends — two girls named Holly and Joy, two boys named Kris and Noel — all celebrate their birthdays during December. Though none was born on Christmas Day — each was born on a different day — they all have festive names. Can you figure out each person’s last name and order of birth?

1. Nobody’s first name goes with the traditional last name (Berry, Fully, Kringle, or Singer) that you might expect.
2. Someone’s birthday is three days after their friend Joy’s birthdate.
3. Holly’s birthday is three days before Noel’s and three days after Kris’.
4. Miss Fully’s birthdate is six days after Joy’s.
5. Noel’s birthdate is six days after the one whose last name is Berry.

Will you be accepting this puzzly challenge from a fellow PuzzleNationer? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

# A Puzzle for Thanksgiving!

Today is a day for celebrating with family and friends, and giving thanks for all the good things in our lives.

We here at PuzzleNation want to thank you, our fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers, because you help make PuzzleNation one of the greatest puzzle communities in the world.

And when it comes to saying thanks, a Thanksgiving puzzle seems like the perfect offering. So we’ve cooked up a little instructional Thanksgiving puzzle for you to enjoy!

Can you solve this holiday puzzler?

What’s Leftovers?

Following the instructions, cross off words in the diagram. When you are finished, the remaining words will form a message reading left to right, line by line. Some words may be eliminated by more than one of the instructions.

1. Cross off all three- and four-letter words that can be spelled from the letters in the word THANKS.
2. Cross off all words that contain all five vowels (A, E, I, O, and U).
3. Cross off all words that form phrases when following the word TURKEY.
4. Cross off all words in columns A and B that end in ING.
5. Cross off all two-letter words in columns C and D.
6. Cross off all words that rhyme with the word YAM.
7. Cross off all words in row 4.
8. Cross off all words that contain the word ROLL spelled out.
9. Cross off all four-letter words that make a different word when reversed.
10. Cross off all words that name family members.

Did you unravel this holiday puzzler? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you!

Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

# Rain Boosters: A Puzzly Hashtag Game (Featuring Some Cirrus Punning)

[Image courtesy of Perfect Presents.]

You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie or hashtag games on Twitter.

For years now, we’ve been collaborating on puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny Dell Puzzles, and this month’s hook was #PennyDellPuzzleWeather. Today’s entries all mash up Penny Dell puzzles, magazines, and products with weather terminology, seasonal terms, conditions, climate effects… anything that falls under the umbrella of meteorology!

Examples include Squall Fours, Frostbits and Pieces, or ABC7 Chief Meteorologist Lee-From-Nine Goldberg.

So, was the wordplay partly-lousy or partly-punny? Let’s check out what the puzzlers at PuzzleNation and Penny Dell Puzzles came up with!

You Snow the Odds

Blizzard Words

Cold Spellbound

Frost and Last

Polar Vortext Message

Wintry Mixmaster

Pairs in Rime

Raining Categories and Dogs

Dew Point the Way

Gust Star Framework

Crisscrosswind

Forecast Corners

In the Humid-dle

Lucky Cl(oud C)over

Santa Anagrams Winds

Cumulostrategy

Letterdrop in Temperature

Extreme Weather Sudoku

Bull’s-Eye Spiral of the hurricane

Misty Vowels Word Seek

Partly punny, with a chance of Chain Words

“This fog is thick as Alphabet Soup!”

April Showers Bring May Flower Powers

Fancy Five Day Forecast

Forecast ‘n’ Aft

“The temperature was Seven-Up from yesterdaisy, and we can expect Plus Fours tomorrow as well.”

Climate Changaword

As always, one of our contributors went above and beyond, creating something special for everyone to enjoy.

Please check out this pun-filled take on a Penny Press-style Wizard Words, complete with grid and bonus answer!

It’s a stormer of a puzzle!

Did you come up with any Penny Dell Puzzle Weather entries of your own? Let us know! We’d love to see them.

Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

# Ten Year Celebration: A Brief History of PuzzleNation

As you no doubt saw across all our social media yesterday, PuzzleNation is celebrating ten years of delivering quality puzzles to solvers.

Given this marvelous milestone, I thought I would take you on a brief trip through the history of PuzzleNation.

It all started with a website. PuzzleNation.com. A place to sign up, solve puzzles, and engage socially with fellow puzzlers in both forums and head-to-head puzzle-solving.

But that nearly wasn’t our name. No, in the early days, there was the suggestion that we call our site Puzzle Beach, but that got nixed fairly quickly. After all, you can really only enjoy the beach at certain times of the year, whereas you’re welcome to visit PuzzleNation and enjoy puzzles whenever you like!

As the cover image for our Decade of PuzzleNation Puzzle Packet, I made a timeline chronicling the history of PN through our various puzzles, and the first few images are from PuzzleNation.com puzzles.

It started with a handful of puzzle types to solve. There were some favorites from our friends at Penny Dell Puzzles like Tanglewords and StarSpell, along with classics like crosswords, Sudoku, and word searches.

I started working for PuzzleNation as the volunteer forum manager for the site. I answered questions, offered solving advice, posted conversation starters, and hosted contests for site users.

But even then, we knew our future rested in the pockets of millions of solvers: puzzle apps.

By the time we launched PuzzleNation Blog, our Penny Dell Crossword App was already available for iPad and iPhone.

Fred, our Director of Digital Games, joined us not long after, and has been deftly steering the ship ever since.

We soon followed with iBooks for Classic Word Search and downloadable puzzle collections called Penny Dell Jumbo Crosswords. The green, blue, and red icons should be quite familiar to our long-time app users.

In 2014, we expanded our iPad puzzle app library to include Classic Sudoku and Classic Word Search, as well as launching an update to Penny Dell Crosswords, our flagship app. The next year, Penny Dell Crosswords came to Android by popular demand.

We relaunched a much improved Penny Dell Sudoku for all platforms the following year, and in 2017, we launched the first in our Daily POP series, Daily POP Crosswords. Focusing on themed days and the freshest puzzle themes and cluing, Daily POP Crosswords launched us to the next level in puzzle apps.

Along the way, our programming team has gone from strength to strength, and the addition of insightful puzzlers, both behind the scenes and in the ranks of our contributing constructors, have made our puzzles better than ever.

Our most recent app launch was Daily POP Word Search, and as for what’s on the horizon… well, all I can say for now is that we have some very exciting projects in the works. Be sure to watch this space.

And, as you might expect, as our brand evolved and grew, so did my duties at PuzzleNation. Soon I was social media manager for the forums… and then occasional blogger for PuzzleNation Blog… and then social media manager for the whole brand… and then lead blogger for PuzzleNation Blog as well.

It’s been an amazing journey, and we’re so grateful to have you, our fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers, along for the ride. Thank you for your enthusiasm, your support, and your puzzly spirit.

For anyone who would still like to participate in our Decade of PuzzleNation Celebration and receive a free downloadable puzzle packet, there are a few ways you can do so:

• Like us on Facebook and share our anniversary post there