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Rules, Regulations and Policies

You can download our GDPR Compliance Statement here.

Please read on to find out about our data policy and rules and regulations for the 2019 competition.

Cookies on the site

  1. We use cookies to anonymously track usage of the website through Google Analytics. No personally identifiable information is recorded by Google Analytics’ cookies.
  2. We also use cookies to keep track of users’ activities when they login in order to facilitate the core functions of the site. We don’t request more information from you when registering for an account than is necessary to administer the competition. If you have any questions or concerns about this or any aspect of data security on this site then please do contact us at [email protected].

Your data

  1. We collect data about you solely for use in connection with the competition.
  2. We will only share that data with those who need it in order to administer the competition or prizes. This includes the competition staff at the University of Southampton and a small number of staff in the website development team and they are only permitted to use that data in connection with the competition.
  3. With the exception of the Leader Boards and material you post on the Forum, if any, we will not share your data with anyone else without your consent.
  4. We will delete your data on request, submitted in writing or by email to [email protected]

Who can take part?

  1. The competition is only open to persons aged 18 or under on 31 August 2019.
  2. Only entrants from the UK who are in full time school-level education in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are eligible for prizes. (For the sake of clarity, home-schoolers in these regions do qualify). If you don’t qualify for this or age reasons please tick the “ineligible for prizes ” box when you register, it saves embarrassment!)
  3. Entries may be received from individuals or from teams. The teams may be of any size, but we reserve the right to restrict the number of team members listed on the honours board, and competitors under 13 will be listed by team name and school only.
  4. Team Captains set the team name in their account.
    Teams with more than one member must be set up by a Team Captain who we may contact via email and must provide details of a teacher we can contact if necessary.
  5. In order to qualify for any of the prizes, all entrants, whether solo or part of a team agree to their team and school names being used in publicity associated with the competition including publication on the competition web-site. We will publish team member names only with your permission.

Submitting your solutions

    1. Each challenge consists of two parts, part A and part B. You may submit solutions to either or both parts of the current challenge on the entry form.
    2. Only Team Captains, or those with the Team Captain account login, can submit answers for a team.
    3. Rapid fire multiple submissions put an unreasonable load on the servers and make it difficult for others to submit. Anyone who makes an unreasonable number of submissions will be open to disqualification. In the first instance this will mean that anyone who submits more than 20 times in 10 minutes will be disqualified.
    4. A submission will only be deemed to be valid if it is submitted on the entry form and all the instructions on this site are adhered to.
    5. In submitting an entry solo entrants vouch that it is solely their own work and teams warrant that it is solely their own collective work.
    6. In submitting an entry to the competition, all entrants, whether individuals or members of a team, agree to be bound by all the rules of the competition.
    7. Any “mistake” in the text might be deliberate. Don’t try to correct any errors you think we have made, always type in an exact decryption of the text.
    8. Don’t try to tell us what cipher we used, or to ask us a question, or to say how you solved the cipher in the entry form, we don’t read it and it will be marked as an error in the solution.
    9. Do not include any headers like Challenge 1A in your solution as these will also be marked as an error.
    10. If you do make a mistake you can resubmit using the usual submission box on the Challenge page, but be careful not to abuse this (see 3 above on rapid fire submissions).
    11. Check for feedback in your account area under will usually be a bit delayed but will at least appear after the next Part B points deadline, which you can find listed on the current Challenge page under the Deadlines link.

Scoring the challenge

  1. For each of the challenges 1 to 10 for which you submit an entry for part B you will be awarded a score, based on the accuracy of your best submission for that challenge and the order in which we receive the submissions. Accuracy will be measured using the Damerau-Levenshtein metric. Time points will be based on a schedule published alongside the challenged. Accuracy is more important than speed, so we will use the lexicographic order on the pairs (accuracy, speed) to determine your position on the leaderboard.
  2. The scores for Challenges 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B, and 9B will be aggregated to determine the Championship Leaderboard and to decide on the winners of the main prizes, who will be chosen from among those achieving the highest total scores.
  3. A solution will only be deemed to be correct if, disregarding the punctuation [and spacing], the deciphered plaintext (only involving the Roman characters A to Z is letter perfect as compared to our master solution. UPPER or lower case solutions will be treated the same.


  1. Winners aged over 13 at the time of registration will be notified by email, and we will endeavour to contact those under the age of 13 via the provided email of a parent, guardian or teacher. All winning teams will be announced on the website. Please ensure that our messages to you are not filtered by your spam filters by adding our email address [email protected] to your address book, and check the competition website after the competition closes for details of winners and prizes.
  2. The competition will be judged by the Challenge Committee, whose decision will be final in all matters regarding the competition including the award of prizes. We reserve the right to take into account the methods of solution in judging the final winners, and may ask potential winners for a brief description of their methods and a copy of any programmes they wrote when making the final decision.

Variations in the rules

  1. The organisers reserve the right to change any aspect of the competition at short notice and to split prizes where it is deemed appropriate. Such changes will be announced on the competition web-site as soon as is practical.
  2. The Challenge Committee may publish clues on the competition web-site if it considers it appropriate to do so.
    If a correct solution of a challenge is not received before the deadline given on the schedule the Challenge Committee will have the discretion to not award the prize or award some or all of it to the entrant or entrants whom it judges to represent the best solution or solutions.


  1. Anyone posting a solution or partial solution in any public forum before the deadline for the given Challenge will be disqualified and barred from the forums. Please do not publish hints without checking with us first as this may spoil the competition for others.
  2. Entrants who do not abide by the rules will be disqualified from the competition and will not qualify for any of the prizes.