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Congratulations to our winners!

If you want to find out who won the prizes this year, then head on over to the leaderboards! If you want to find out how they did it, then hang around a little longer, we hope to be able to post something in the next few days.


We are still making plans for Bletchley, and, of course, starting to think about the next Cipher Challenge. If you want to be kept up to date with all our news then please do sign up to Twitter and follow us!


For those of you doing exams this year, good luck, we will be thinking of you. And if you want to talk about studying at Southampton do get in touch.


All the best,



And that’s it for another year …

Well done to everyone who took part in what is undoubtedly the most successful National Cipher Challenge we have ever run.

8255 of you took part in a total of 3976 teams. You identified as

Male: 4,454

Female: 3,290

Neither: 269
with 355 of you preferring not to say. We had 2348 submissions to challenge 1A, but, surprisingly, 5,810 submissions to 8B which suggests that a number of you were trying a known text/brute force attack on the solution. Good effort!
We are writing to the prize candidates to ask them to tell us how they cracked the final challenge (this is a standard part of the process) and hopefully they will let us publish their solutions so you can all learn from them and get set up for glory next year!
We had quite a few of you find the hidden message in the final decrypt (YOU HAVE BEEN BETRAYED BY MIDAS THIS IS A FORGERY) and some of you have written to ask where they can find Tacitus original last chapter. It is tempting to say that Jodie has it, but if enough of you ask then we will post it here!
We are still making plans for Bletchley, and will publish details with the information about the winners here on the website in the next two weeks. Do keep checking back.
Before I go we want to thank all the teachers who have supported and encouraged you through the Challenge, without them the competition would not be the success it is. The Elves and I would also like to wish you all a very successful year, and look forward to welcoming many of you back for the Challenge in the Autumn.
Thanks for your enthusiasm and support, and congratulations once more on all your efforts. You can consider yourselves true heirs of Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace, and  it is good to think that the future is in the very capable hands of such brilliant young mathematicians!

The Prizegiving

Owing to changes at Bletchley (which are amazing – they are working so hard to restore it) we have had to book a smaller scale prize giving event this year. The event will be held on Tuesday 6th March and on current plans will be restricted to prizewinners and guests. After many years of talks, workshops and tours we are sorry that we won’t be able to provide the same experience this year for the many who would like to come.

We are working to try to find a solution that would bring more of you to Bletchley for the day. Do email us if you or your school would still like to come.

Again, we would love to have you all join us for the day, and we will see what we can do, but for now we do guarantee a great day out for the winners and their guests.

Best wishes,


Publishing solutions

In case we weren’t clear enough, please do not publish hints, tips or solutions to challenges without asking our permission first. On the forum we can deal with this via moderation, but publishing information about the challenge on other sites can ruin the competition for others and is not fair. This is (and always has been) against the rules, but we have added a clarification to the rules as follows:

The challenge texts are copyright. You are licensed to use them to participate in the competition but they come with the following restriction: In analysing a Challenge text, or fully or partially deciphering it you agree not to publish details of the encryption method or key, or to publish any part of the plain text while that Challenge is still live. The live period is published on this website for each challenge. We reserve the right to ask media platforms to remove information published about the challenge in breach of this restriction during the live period for each Challenge. You are however encouraged to discuss the challenges themselves once the final submission deadline is past.

Cipher Challenge competitors are a smart bunch, so hopefully we won’t have to test this rule again during the competition!


Hope you are enjoying the mystery.