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Congratulations and Thanks

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    Thank you for being a great (if not cryptic and slightly annoying at times) cipher master. This is the second year I did this but I loved it more this time.


    50,000 over 18 years, just 6,508 this year!


    Glad to be of service!



    Thank you for this year cipher challenge Harry.
    I haven’t had the time to compete for 9A and 9B but 7B and 8B were very interesting.
    I’m an old cryptanalysis hobbyist and I appreciate to compete for fun.



    Harry, I see what you mean by Only 6,508.

    Here I’ve collected together the last 3 years info as was posted by you…
    Thursday 15th December 2016 · From Harry
    47 teams still in 1st place and it is still all to play for …
    Challenge 8 is just two hours away and we have 47 teams in joint first place, but there are a ton of points available for Challenge 8B and just maybe one of the lower ranked teams will sneak through to beat them all. It might be you!
    We are amazed and delighted at the response to the competition this year. At the last count we had 7622 registrations organised in 4396 teams. They made 17295 submissions across the competition so far, including 1322 for Challenge 7, of which 599 were for Challenge 7B. They have cracked Caesar shifts and affine ciphers, keyword substitutions and Vigenere ciphers, column transpositions and even the notorious bifid cipher. And this afternoon they will be trying to crack a (whoops, almost told you! No clues yet!) Everyone who has tackled any of them has joined an elite group of Cipher Challenge alumni that includes some of the UK’s leading cyber security experts. Don’t forget to put it on your UCAS statement!

    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!

    And so to the competition!
    Well done everyone for their work on the practice challenges, it has been amazing to see so many of you do so well. We have over 7,000 competitors registered and gearing up for the competition proper, which goes live with the first Competition Challenge (Challenge 4) at 3pm this afternoon. (Thurday 1st November 2018).

    The school member numbers seem to have declined although that is still lot.
    It could be due to many factors, the main I think is the becoming 19 years of age over the years.


    Thanks Letter-Wriggler. Anecdotally, in part the numbers have reduced because more teams are only registering the captain, but it is hard to get an accurate measure of this. We are very keen to get more schools taking part, so any suggestions about how to do that would be warmly welcomed.



    Hello, Hello! Well done on that, it was no mean achievement! Hope you will come back next year!




    Thanks. We didn’t get far on the leaderboard, but we came in the top 200 schools 😅.


    Thank you Harry and all elves, and if course the sponsors. As usual the fiendish 9B was that perfect puzzle that is hard to solve but oh so simple when you know the answer. Oh to be a fly in the wall at your story-booking earlier in the year, with such a timely tale of the moon missions.
    As usual can’t wait for next year’s challenge (will be my 6th one), though this hobbyist has now to look elsewhere for equivalent mental stimulus. Squaring the circle or a grand unified theorem, anyone?
    At least I’ve now learnt how to program an Android App, will tune it for next time round…

    Cheers indeed


    Thanks The-code-less-travelled. Take a look at the Challenge page at 3pm this afternoon! Madness has a little treat for you all!


    (PS, if you think I am a sadist, wait til you see what he has in mind. You will need the hints and tips!)



    I’ll add my thanks to everyone else’s. I would welcome some kind of “pro” leaderboard – not that I’m a pro but I am far too old to be eligible for a prize, but am as competitive as anyone else!

    Looking forward to next year, but first, onto Madness’s “present”…


    I welcome the friendly competition, and would be glad to share some knowledge, if we can
    find a way to do so.


    Here is some stuff to occupy your mind:
    Both are free to register and play.
    You could also go through the archive and do all of the old challenges!

    Now for some true sadism:
    Who thinks that there are only two messages hidden in the bonus cipher?


    I’ve done a few from MTC3 over the last 12 months
    but ringzer0ctf is new to me so I’ll be having a look at that.

    Do you want a change from solving ‘Classic’ ciphers?
    Would you like to tackle some enigma machine codes using a nice enigma simulator?
    Then I would recommend you visit Dirk Rijmenants website and start flying the flag for your country!
    His CHALLENGES: Enigma Challenge and Operation Tinker Bell,
    also The Crypto Box Challenge (I solved boxes 3 & 2) and The Crow’s Mystery (Unsolved to this day!) await you.
    Find it here-


    Now for some true sadism:
    Who thinks that there are only two messages hidden in the bonus cipher?

    Definitely sadism. If you are not including the fun you had with the key, I would love there to be more than two, but do I start looking for something that might not actually be there? If both messages are removed, are we left with anything but a Madness grin??

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