The GCHQ Puzzle Book (2016)

Introduction to the Puzzles

The puzzles in this book range in difficulty but we hope there is something for everyone.

Roughly speaking the puzzles tend to get harder as you progress through the book, but this isn’t precise – so if you have solved an early puzzle it may still have been a hard one. In multi-part questions the later parts tend to be harder than the earlier parts.

For the first section, ‘Starter Puzzles’, we have provided clues for each question, which can be found here.

Both these questions and the later ones will become easier once you are attuned to the mindset of the setters – there are several repeated themes and styles which occur throughout. Because of this we have designed a way in which you can get help without cheating – by using the ‘Hints’ section (here). In this we explain how to approach some questions and also give various themes and topics which you can consider if you are struggling with a puzzle. These are all presented as general hints, not specific to any particular question. Hence by looking at the Hints, you aren’t cheating – so you can still give yourself full credit when you solve the puzzle you were stuck on.

Some styles of puzzles (called ‘Where’ and ‘Which’) appear several times throughout the book, and how these work is described in detail here.

As an additional aid, particularly for those of you trying to answer questions whilst on a plane, in a jungle, or halfway down the M4 – in other words where you may have no signal to access the internet – there is an Appendix which contains some useful lists of information, and which like the Hints section may help you if you are struggling.

As many of the questions, or kwestions, have come from the Christmas Puzzle Quiz and the Kristmas Kwiz, you will find a few Christmas references throughout, and also mention of the kwiz koffee kup. This is a notoriously unstable drinking vessel which tends to get knocked over and spill koffee over crucial parts of certain kwestions!

As well as the puzzles in the main sections, there is the Kristmas Kwiz Challenge here, and also a Competition, the first part of which can be found in the first colour section. Other than for these, the answers to puzzles are in the answer section at the back. And of course there may be more questions in the book than those which are immediately obvious …

We hope you enjoy the puzzles in this book, whether you start from the beginning and work through, or just dip in and out of the pages.