A record 40,000 people took to GCHQ's puzzles, we reveal the answers

So could you crack GCHQ’s Christmas brainteaser? After thousands of Britons were baffled and a record 40,000 people downloaded the puzzles, we reveal the answers

  • Sir Jeremy Fleming, GCHQ leader, released ‘seemingly impossible’ puzzles
  • Today the Mail reveals the answers to the brainteasers
  • GCHQ also sent one to Kensington Palace for the Prince and Princess of Wales

For budding James Bonds, it was a ‘seemingly impossible’ mission. 

Yesterday Sir Jeremy Fleming, GCHQ’s spy chief, set a challenge for children across the country. But did you crack the Christmas card conundrum designed by the intelligence agency’s top minds? 

Today the Mail can reveal the answers to the brainteasers which baffled thousands of Britons – since yesterday a record 40,000 people have downloaded the puzzles. The card has also been downloaded by more than 500 schools so far, with three times as many requesting the puzzle compared with last year. 

GCHQ has also sent one to Kensington Palace for the Prince and Princess of Wales to fathom after the couple wrote a foreword for GCHQ’s puzzle book for children, published earlier this year. 

Today the Mail can reveal the answers to the brainteasers which baffled thousands of Britons for the QCHQ’s Christmas brainteaser

The seven-step Christmas puzzle featured codebreaking, engineering, languages, analysis, maths, coding and cyber security. The puzzles had the following answers: seaweed, pies, carpentry, director, picky, outboard. grid.rejoins and opening. 

Using the design on the front of the card, wannabe sleuths had to arrange these to form three what3words addresses using the online geocode system designed to identify any location with a resolution of around 3 metres. 

Once the locations had been identified, children needed to take a single word from each address, joining them together to discover the secret GCHQ message of ‘Christmas greetings’.

Yesterday, Sir Jeremy Fleming, the spy chief who leads GCHQ, set out a seven-step puzzle to be solved in time for the 25th

The fiendish puzzle designed for children aged 11-18 was said to be ‘seemingly impossible’ to solve.

GCHQ first started work on the card back in June, with staff spending months coming up with the tests working on their own time outside their day jobs.

Sir Jeremy said: ‘From breaking Enigma to harnessing the latest cutting edge technology, our brilliant people have worked together throughout our history to help keep the country safe.

‘This year’s GCHQ Christmas Card Challenge gives an insight into the skills we need every day as part of our mission – from languages to coding.

‘But skills alone won’t be enough to crack this one. Puzzlers need to combine a mix of minds to solve the seemingly impossible.’

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