Friday, December 23, 2005

Xmas Puzzle 2005 - The Solution

And now, after weeks of toiling, here are the results for this year’s Annual Stoddard Family Christmas Puzzle.

First, thank-you to all who participated. I received a quite a number of compliments this year, and they are much appreciated. Oddly enough, I received absolutely no abuse this year. The secret government program to treat our drinking water with anti-depressants must be going forward.

Anyone who wants the answers to the first round, please email me and let me know. I’ll shoot them over to you. Below you will find the final question and solution.

Final Jeopardy Category: The Grinch

gggrf gbpny L5uuu usgqz
ucrpy frbvb zbnef oubna
haenr fvzve izgtt rffgf
rgvra uuuzu abgnz ffbrg
rnrge zabgp ntbul gprnf
ezbue snoub zfnrn gnvfq
rbznc yzfgv abaph rlrvr
2yqpz gutso ege0r nuroe
uerug e0na

Clue: On the 13th day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A cipher to solve
Can you? Let’s see . . .


1. Read the Clue.

2. Realize that there are lots of people playing this game, and the solution can’t be too overly complicated.

3. Read about ciphers.

4. The first step to solving a puzzle like this is to arrange the letters in a grid.

5. Count the letters. There are 169 (that’s 13 squared - what a coincidence!)

6. How about a 13 x 13 grid?

Here’s what it should look like:

7. Use 13 (that silly clue again!) as a transform, also called a Caesar Cipher after Julius Caesar, who is credited with developing this type of enciphering to send coded messages to his military commanders in the field.

a = 1 + 13 = 14 = n
b = 2 + 13 = 15 = o

a=n, b=o, c=p . . .n=a, o=b, p=c . . . x = k, y = l, z = m

8. Reletter the grid using the transformation

Here’s what it should look like

9. Transpose the vertical columns to horizontal rows.

Here’s what it should look like:

10. Remove the grid, separate into intelligible words, and punctuate. And voila!

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more.”

Merry Christmas 2005!


Scott, Leah, Sam, Noah, & Aidan

Two notes of interest:

1. The capital “L” in the first line means absolutely nothing. A lower case “l” could be mistaken for the number “1”, as it is adjacent to a “5” in the puzzle grid. I didn’t want any confusion.

2. I made a mistake in the enciphering. I forgot the “i” in the first “Christmas”. Only one person caught it.

Monday: the winner!