As Holly grew up, she was nurtured by her detective grandfather DCI Derek Ward. He taught her to love solving puzzles and ciphers. Those were skills she would come to need in the near future. Becoming a sleuth made her a crime magnet and cases started dropping into her lap. Here’s a look at some of the codes Holly learned to solve. She has even created a few for you to try. Solving the codes will reveal little facts about Holly and her code breaking.
We’ll begin with the simplest way to hide a word and indeed create a puzzle. That is the humble anagram. Here a few simple ones. Can you solve them all? Clue; the answers have something in common or coincidental to the anagram.
VOICES RANT ON-
HERE COME DOTS-
This next sentence is an anagram of sorts. ‘Mr. Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx.’ In fact it’s a perfect Pangram. It uses every letter of the alphabet just once.
Holly loves Morse code. In 1836, the American artist Samuel F.B Morse helped develop an electrical telegraph system. It sent messages by sending electronic pulses along a cable. It was that which gave birth to Morse Code. It would become widely used to send messages around the world. The code is still useful today, as a way to get secret messages across and even signal help if done by flashing a torch for example.
Try using the chart above to decode this;
…. — .-.. .-.. -.– / – .-. .. . -.. / – — / – . .- -.-. …. / … .- — ..- . .-.. / — — .-. … . / -.-. — -.. . .-.-.- / …. . / — -. .-.. -.– / — .- -. .- –. . -.. / – — / .-. . — . — -… . .-. / … — …
The Pigpen Cipher
Holly often found Pigpen ciphers waiting for her at her granddad’s house as she grew up. A prize would always await her, with the solution to the puzzle. The Pigpen Cipher was used by Freemasons in the 18th Century to keep their records secret. Long before them the Knights Templar had a similar set of symbols for their secret messages. It is still practiced by the scouts today. The cipher doesn’t substitute one letter for another. Instead it works by substituting each letter for a symbol. It can be further complicated by changing the sequence by starting the alphabet in a different position on the chart. Can you use the chart above to solve this one?
Simple Substitution or Caesar Shift Cipher
This type of cipher is the most common type, using shifts, keywords or simply two letter coordinates to encode a message. The Roman Historian Suetonius stated that Caesar simply replaced each letter of a message with the letter, three places further down the plain text alphabet. Cryptographers describe the plain text alphabet as being the one used to write the original message. Thus the cipher text alphabet is the letters that are substituted in place of the plain letters. So when encrypting/decoding, the plain text alphabet is placed above the cipher text alphabet. Like that it is clear to see that the cipher text alphabet has been shifted by the agreed amount of places.
In the short story ‘A Sleuth is Born‘ Holly has a substitution cipher to solve. now you’ll be able to solve it too. If you don’t know the shift number, It is possible to use letter usage frequencies as in the chart, to break these codes. Holly’s granddad wold often get her to do it that way as part of her teachings in the ways of the sleuth.
Your turn, this first one Holly used Caesar’s method. Can you solve it?
KROOB OHDUQHG DQG PHPRULVHG WKH OHWWHU IUHTXHQFLHV EB WKH DJH RI HLJKW PDNLQJ KHU JUDQGGDG VR SURXG RI KHU. XVH ILYH WLPHV WKUHH QHAW
Did you solve that one? Great use it to solve round two, have fun.
WDAANH UPKDJGXIT RDADJG XH QJGVJCSN. HDBTIXBTH IWT CJBQTG DU ATIITGH XC P LDGS AXZT QJGVJCSN LXAA VXKT NDJ IWT GTFJXGTS HWXUI ID HDAKT IWT RDST.
The Playfair Cipher
This one always gives Holly a smile for it’s a little more challenging. Especially for without a keyword its virtually unbreakable. The Playfair Cipher was popularized by Lyon Playfair. However it was invented by Charles Wheatstone. An important pioneers of the telegraph. The Playfair cipher replaces each pair of letters in the message, to be encoded, with another pair of letters. As such it is a type of digraph cipher
Firstly, the sender and receiver must agree on a keyword. The letters of the alphabet are written in a 5×5 square, beginning with the keyword and with I-J combined into one interchangeable element. Now. Remember The two letters in a digraph must be different, so we use an X when we need to split a double. So VILLAIN would be done as VI LX LA IN to follow the rule. When deciphered we simply remove the unnecessary X’s and reveal the message.
The actual encryption depends on the position of the digraph in the grid. The digraphs fall into one of three categories – both letters are in the same row, or both letters are in the same column, or the letters share neither a row nor a column. They then encrypt and decode as follows.
If both letters are in the same row, then they are replaced by the letters to the immediate right of each one. If the letter is at the end of a row , it is replaced by the letter at the beginning of the same row.
If both letters are in the same column, then they are replaced by the letter immediately beneath each one. If the letter is at the bottom of a column, it is replaced by the letter at the top of the same column
If the digraph letters are neither in the same row nor the same column, the rule changes. To encipher the first letter, look along its row until you reach the column containing the second letter; the letter at this intersection replaces the first letter. To encipher the second letter, look along its row until you reach the column containing the first letter; the letter at the intersection replaces the second letter.
Okay my ‘friends’ Holly wants you to try this one.
RP NF GP KY TE QB OM LP AB UZ BT PL RT KB VE KA NS RQ LR SH LR KD YF KR GL RA WA RB RP NF LR OV QY PL NI FK LP TB QY YB SH VT PN FN YQ LI ZX PF AF AW BH NT PL
Now you have your second keyword try this one.
SD SI GE FR DL GP OH ES PT HL TQ BI PW QG NG LU DQ US HN LB ST PT LH OE CW GH MP BK NB TP SD DL WQ CK HO VP WL BM BK NB TP
Well done if you solved both.
Holly and I hope you enjoyed playing with these codes. Look out for our posts on the website and in social media for new puzzles to break may appear there soon.
We’d like to thank http://www.simonsingh.net/The_Black_Chamber/letterfrequencies.html and Wikipedia for some of the information shared on this page.