GCHQ Releases Christmas Card Brainteaser

GCHQ is the UK’s intelligence monitoring agency which collects data in the interests of national security. In recent times, the organization has come under a great deal of scrutiny for abusing their powers via the Tempora computer system. This system was used to buffer internet communication extracted for fibre-optic cables. As as result, the system can access individual’s data without any trace being left or making service providers suspicious. The UK’s obsession with surveillance is a worrying trend and some critics argue GCHQ isn’t acting in a democratic manner.

In the run up to festive season, GCHQ has decided to release a Christmas card designed to test people’s cryptography skills:

From the offset, you can see how baffling this brainteaser is and GCHQ has set a very difficult challenge. For those of you struggling, (most of us), here’s some advice from the organization:

“In this type of grid-shading puzzle, each square is either black or white. Some of the black squares have already been filled in for you.”

“Each row or column is labelled with a string of numbers. The numbers indicate the length of all consecutive runs of black squares, and are displayed in the order that the runs appear in that line. For example, a label “2 1 6” indicates sets of two, one and six black squares, each of which will have at least one white square separating them.”

This is certainly an interesting way to gauge the reasoning skills of the general population and I wouldn’t be surprised if a member of the public managed to solve the entirety of GCHQ’s challenges. Perhaps, this is seen as a recruitment drive, and successful entries could be offered a role at the organization.

Have you managed to work out the first puzzle yet?