In Brief

GCHQ unveils annual Christmas card puzzle - can you solve it?

Spy agency challenges ‘wise men and women’ to take on bauble brainteaser

As the UK nears the end of a year full of twists and surprise, the nation’s intelligence and security agency is keeping up tradition by releasing its annual Christmas card puzzle.

The GCHQ website says “the card is sent by our director Jeremy Fleming to colleagues and partners across the world”, but also invites members of the public to have a go at “one of our most fiendish puzzles to date”.

“Problem solving is at the heart of what we do,” said a spokesperson for the agency. “Taking on this Christmas cracker gives puzzlers an insight into the skills you need to be a GCHQ analyst.” 

Following last year’s snowflake sudoku, the 2020 challenge is in “the form of a bauble which contains a hidden message”, says The Telegraph. “Those attempting it will need to complete a series of letter sequences before plotting their answer from an enigmatic ‘frosty’ location.”

The only tip offered by GCHQ is to “bring together a mix of minds by sharing it with the wise men and women in your household to find the solution”.

But according to The Telegraph, “to find the solution, the wise will have to find the missing letter at the end of nine seemingly random sequences on the Christmas card, which shows a stylised bauble with an arrow running through it”.

The card instructs wannabe sleuths to: “Plot your single-letter answers in the corresponding golden nodes on the bauble. Follow the flow of arrows from somewhere frosty to unblock the message.”

GCHQ's annual Christmas puzzle

GCHQ

The Telegraph has promised to reveal the answer on Saturday so that would-be sleuths can “see how close they have come to matching the code-cracking ability of Britain’s intelligence experts”.

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