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Archive of Old Challenges

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    There is an archive of old challenges for you all to use as practice at
    It exists because the official website only goes back three years, and it can be difficult to dig up the old challenges from and other places.

    The archive contains all ciphertexts, and all the information you need to solve them, except for these two missing files:
    FialkaSettings.pdf [2005]
    cards.png [2010]
    If any of you belong to a cipher club with a long memory, and have these files, please share them. Thanks in advance.


    I have a copy of the FialkaSettings.pdf file. As for the cards.png file, I don’t have that file but I do have some screen shots of the cards as they were revealed over the days of the challenge. Let me know How I can get these to you.



    Can you fill in some missing keywords for transpositions from previous years?
    Here are the ones I am not sure of, or have no idea. Thank you!

    (permutations start at 0, not at 1)
    2003 #8 4,3,6,1,0,7,2,5 MISS DISASTER ?
    2006 5A 2,4,1,3,0
    2009 4B 3,0,2,4,1
    2011 4B PORTA ? PIANO?
    2012 7A 2,4,0,5,3,1 ELATED? ERASED?
    2014 7B 2,0,1,4,3
    2016 4B 0,4,3,1,2 or 2,1,3,4,0 BYTES?
    2016 5B 4,0,1,3,2 VACUO? VIRUS?
    2018 6B 1,0,4,3,2
    2018 8A 2,5,7,3,4,0,6,1


    I am not sure if I can. I will try to dig through the old files to see what we still have!



    Please go to this page and attach your files to a message by dragging them onto the message.

    Thank you!


    Hi, Madness.

    For 2011 7B, you have it down as a route transposition cipher but I don’t believe this is the intended solution. 2011 7A mentions that 7B is a ‘columnar transposition with a twist’. Thus, I believe the intended solution for 7B is a Myszkowski transposition with key ‘ABCDE EABCD DEABC CDEAB BCDEA’.


    Another user has asked about seeing your screenshots. Do you have time to upload them?
    Much appreciated.


    @Cryptoismus You can also upload the screenshots that you mentioned. I will handle the
    editing etc. Thanks.

    @Agent-p-z Thank you, I will look into those things.


    Sometimes there are several ways to look at the same cipher. You might be correct that it
    is a Myszkowski transposition. I am still working on coding that. But the key you suggest
    is just too complicated for what we should expect; also notice that it has a pattern in it,
    suggesting that there is a simpler underlying idea, especially since we are expecting a
    meager “twist”. I suggest that the simplest solution is a columnar transposition in which
    each column is rotated (shifted down) by one more than the preceding column. Thoughts?


    Like taking a scytale and twisting it.


    I’ve looked at the updated solution you put up and I agree that that is most likely. I guess the literal ‘twist’ makes sense. Thanks for clarifying.


    Many thanks to Madness for the archive of previous Cipher Challenges – it’s nice to have something to do when Cipher Challenge 2020 is still so far away …

    I may have missed something but I have a slightly more complicated answer for 6B from 2009. The given answer is “keyed substitution cipher, key = MONHIERSTUVWXYZABCDFGJKLPQ, keyword = MONHIER”. I get the same key but I think it is a homophone substitution cipher, where every plain text letter is replaced either by the ‘MONHIER’ key letter, or by its ‘opposite’ letter in the alphabet. Hence a plaintext ‘a’ could be either ‘M’ (from MONHIER) or ‘z’ (its opposite letter), a ‘b’ could be either ‘O’ or ‘y’ etc.

    Cipher Plain
    M a
    z a
    O b
    y b
    N c
    x c
    H d
    w d
    I e
    v e
    E f
    u f
    R g
    t g
    S h
    s h
    T i
    r i
    U j
    q j
    V k
    p k
    W l
    o l
    X m
    n m
    Y n
    m n
    Z o
    l o
    A p
    k p
    C r
    i r
    D s
    h s
    F t
    g t
    G u
    f u
    J v
    e v
    K w
    d w
    L x
    c x
    P y
    b y
    M Z
    a z

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