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‘The Imitation Game’ Cryptography Competition

imitation game codes

To celebrate the release of the upcoming Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game (see our incisive analysis of the film’s trailer by James Grime) the guys at the University of Manchester – who have previously run the hugely successful Alan Turing Cryptography competition – have been asked to run a one-off Imitation Game Cryptography Competition. And they have.

The competition is themed around the (possibly true? Who knows. It’s not like it’s my job to research these things) idea that Alan Turing’s fortune in silver is buried in a secret location somewhere near Bletchley Park, and it’s your job to crack the three coded clues and find out where. Prizes will be in the form of exclusive Imitation Game merchandise donated by the makers of the film, and the competition runs until the 28th of November.

More information

Imitation Game Cryptography Competition

33 Responses to “‘The Imitation Game’ Cryptography Competition”

  1. Josh

    1 was easy, just took time. 2 has a minimum of 28 symbol cipher meaning there maybe some excess ‘noise’ in the code to throw one off, 3 is an enigma encryption, I’ll give you a clue, an anagram solves one missing pieces of data

  2. becky

    One wad easy peasy.. 2 and 3 are turninb my head inside out and back again!!! :( :( :( :( please someone give me some kind of hint go start on… I am only a loely art reacher!!! ;)

  3. Edward Conklin

    Hint for #2: This isn’t a random character set. These symbols have commonly accepted meanings, which you need to investigate and understand before proceeding further.

    • Sarah

      Im strugling with 2 can anyone give a hint to get started with. Do the symbol meanings group the mathematical symbols and each ‘family’ represents the same letter. Or does the meaning of the symbol give away which letter it represents. Also does the clue need to be re written in a different order?

      • Edward Conklin


        Your first thought is on the right track. The clue does not need to be rewritten.

        • Angus

          Hi all

          Can’t get going with code 2 even with these clues. Would Alan Turing really have been able to use this cipher in the 1940s, or does it require later knowledge, e.g. Unicode?

  4. Jon D

    I have solved 1 and 3. I know exactly what the character set is in 2 but can’t yet map it to make sense…………………?

  5. Jon D

    Does the essential information for solving clue 3 appear in clue 2, please? (My initial solution for 3 is not correct!)

  6. Lindsey Jones

    I have now tried everything I can with two. I am assuming it is a substitution cypher with noise. I have looked up all the symbol meanings. Any clues as to which maybe “noise” to discard? Is punctuation coded? Thanks

  7. im not telling a pc my name

    i really need help on clue 2 can someone tell me the first 5 letters and i will be fine. i am desperate to solve this

  8. frustrated cypographist

    OK so i have taken on board all the previous clues, without any joy. I desperately want to crack before the solution is published. Are the non logical symbols noise? is mylan correct?
    any help would be greatly appreciated, it is only for self satisfaction at this point!

    • StringyBob

      Yes, MYLAN is correct…
      Spoiler Alert… look away now! a good way to get started is a frequency analysis of PAIRS of symbols… and also to find one of the pub names… There is no ‘noise’ – it’s a homophonic code.
      Good Luck

  9. crosswhit99

    Solution is online now, so not sure if you’re still trying to solve this. If you are and need a further hint, the 28 symbols code 22 letters of the alphabet (J, Q, X and Z do not appear in the message). 4 of the commonest letters in English are enciphered by multiple symbols, 2 by 3 and 2 by 2. Take the advice given here on Nov. 26 to find these groupings.

  10. OJ

    Did you use a specific enigma emulator to decode clue 3? I have the grundstellung from clue 2 but can’t seem to get the solution out. Not sure if I’m using the wrong emulator, inputting it wrong or missing something

    • StringyBob

      The output from the emulator will still need a bit of decoding (ie a few letter substitutions) – so it’s possible you have been doing it right, but it still looks wrong…start with the final word before the X at the end, just a couple of letters to swap

  11. Anonymous

    Just received an email to say I’ve won a prize! Wasn’t even sure my answers were correct, so really pleased!

  12. Anonymous

    Have just looked at the solution – I got the clues right, but gave the wrong sqaure and yet I’ve still won a prize – haha did they not get enough correct answers?

  13. crosswhit99

    The missing letter from the steckerverbindungen (possibly the longest word I’ve ever typed) is N and the output from the emulator should not require any further decoding.

  14. Lily

    I am still trying to solve it. It would be a huge help if someone could give me a hint about clue 1. Its really important for me to solve it. HELP!!!


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