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GCHQ's cryptic Christmas card will help hone your code-breaking skills

It's a cross between sudoku and all-out code-breaking

GCHQ's cryptic Christmas card will help hone your code-breaking skills
Danielle de Wolfe
19 December 2019

If you’ve always seen yourself as a bit of a code breaker and felt as though you missed out on an alternate career at Bletchley Park, then fret not, for GCHQ’s latest Christmas Card might just be the challenge you’re after.

Drawing inspiration from the weekly GCHQ puzzles (which in turn are based on a pair of GCHQ Puzzle Books), the Sudoku-meets-code-breaking card is a thing of intellectual beauty.


Released by director Jeremy Fleming, the puzzling card is sent out to colleagues and their relatives every year.


GCHQ has warned, however, that you may need to get the whole family involved in order to solve this Christmas conundrum. Whether this is merely an attempt to make you feel inadequate or a mission to indoctrinate young minds remains to be seen.


That being said, there’s no need to feel left out if you don’t happen to know a super-sleuth or have a GCHQ employee in the family, as you can have a go yourself by downloading the puzzle and following the simple instructions.


And when they simple instructions, what they really mean is simple in concept, hard in reality.


The aim of the puzzle is to work out the message that snakes its way through the snowflake design.


According to the instructions, puzzlers must then ‘colour in the snowflake so that each circle of six hexagons surrounding a grey hexagon uses each of the six colours once.’

We’re lost already.


Participants must then work out the significance of the coloured snowflakes, with Fleming dropping the hint that you might just need a ruler. Intriguing.


Those taking part have been encouraged to tweet their answers directly to @GCHQ - no word yet on whether you receive a job at the end of it.