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Codebreaker II All quiet on the Western front

Clock ticking for abject failures

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Our enigmatic Codebreaker II competition has produced a flurry of, well, nothing much at all really. Except pleading.

Seth Alan Kintigh's email is typical:

Your last competition was so easy, I would have solved it in a snap had I known about it. Honest. But this one has me stumped, and your timing it with my finals is truly cruel. Last time you practically gave away the answer with a clue, can I look forward to repeat of history? At least some sort of context of the code so I have a lead or two as to the algorithm, never mind the key. Please? Pretty please? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Get a grip on yourself, man. Less whining and more analysis. Like Andrew Palfreyman:

The frequency distribution looks flat as the proverbial flat thing, so that rules out single-letter substitution. A little scratching around in Web dirt turned up a Vigenere attack, which seems to indicate that, if this is the chosen method, the keylength would be 22 letters. Bummer! "Biting the hand that feeds IT" is 24; I was disappointed.

So now I'm musing that this is some sort of Playfair cipher variant. I think this mainly because that is the only other cipher I've found on the Web so far. And also because you couldn't resist using it.

Hmmm. But what about Jessee Andrews, who needs to catch up on some kip:

I have been working on the crypto contest, and after just looking at the printout non-stop for two days straight without sleep, I have determined the solution. I should have thought it earlier, but ... et tu Register?

I knew I should have tried the Ceaser Cipher a lot earlier. I then spent two days writing a distributed algorithm using MPI on a Cray supercomputer to decipher that complicated cipher. In the end, D->A, E->B, ...

The exact original text was:

Jessee then attached an incomprehensible sequence of letters too tedious to reproduce here. The cheeky monkey continued:

I have no idea what this means, but I have sent a copy to the CIA, NSA, FBI and Seti. They are looking into it. Also the MPAA got into the action because it thought it was yet another method of transmiting De-CSS.

So when can I get my prize ;)

Not right now, because I have no idea what it means either. Finally, what do our codebreakers reckon to Eric Lambert's thinking?

Anyone have a Japanese Purple code machine, vintage 1941?

That's all you're going to get from us for now. Remember, the deadline for entries is 5.00pm GMT on Friday 4th May. Get to it.

The original Codebreaker compo

Boffin brainteaser book bonanza
Codebreaker conundrum confounds crypto-cretins
Codebreaker crybabies call for clues
Codebreakers concours crypto climax
Four triumph in Codebreaker comp
Codebreaker crypto correspondence

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