GCHQ Creates a Holiday Puzzle for Aspiring James Bond kids

The problem is meant to test students’ teamwork skills as well as their knowledge of important subjects. It is included on the Christmas card that Cheltenham-based GCHQ director Sir Jeremy Fleming sends to his contacts across the world.

The Christmas challenge, according to a GCHQ spokeswoman, was created to assess students’ problem-solving abilities and spark their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.

GCHQ director Sir Jeremy Fleming sent puzzle-themed Christmas cards to his contacts all over the world. (GCHQ/PA) “The card is sent to partners in the UK and around the world who work with the intelligence, cyber, and security agency to counter threats, including hostile state activity, terrorist groups, and organized crime gangs,” says the agency.

“To solve the Christmas challenge, which consists of seven difficult problems, secondary school classrooms around the nation will need to collaborate.

The riddles are based on the seven disciplines of languages, engineering, codebreaking, analysis, math, coding, and cyber security. These disciplines are all essential to GCHQ’s role in keeping the nation secure.

The trick in this year’s challenge is that after completing all seven riddles, students will need to think creatively in order to put the solutions together to make three different What3Words destinations.

“The unique holiday solution will be revealed by combining the three place names.

The GCHQChristmasChallenge “tests the lateral thinking, ingenuity, and tenacity needed by individuals working at GCHQ throughout its missions to keep the country secure” and is based on the seven disciplines listed in the recently published Puzzles For Spies book.

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

Sir Jeremy Fleming, GCHQ

With the help of the What3Words mobile app, users may broadcast their exact position by dividing the world into a grid of three-meter squares and assigning three words to each square.

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.

“The GCHQ Christmas Card Challenge this year provides a glimpse into the abilities we need on a daily basis to carry out our work, from coding to languages.

But abilities alone won’t be sufficient to solve this problem. To overcome the seemingly insurmountable, puzzlers must pool their diverse wits.

A resource bundle for schools interested in participating in the puzzles is available on the GCHQ website.