GCHQ Christmas brainteasers leaves Brits baffled with seven codebreaking puzzles

The annual GCHQ Christmas brainteaser is here – and it's harder than ever.

Every year, the government office releases a series of puzzles designed for 11-18-year-olds. Over 1,000 secondary schools across the UK signed up for this year's code.

It's based on a Christmas card sent by director of the intelligence agency Anne Keast-Butler. Each challenge is harder than the last as it's designed to test mathematical and analytical skills.

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All seven questions have a one-word answer that can follow "Christmas". So let's see if you can you crack the festive code!

The first challenge shows four clocks at different times which is apparently a four-letter word. Then the second question asks kids to solve a riddle.

In the riddle, it asks: "What breaks but cannot fall, can leap but never crawl, can be seized but never gripped, often present, never skipped."

Code three states nine gifts have been jumbled up. These are: Declan, Beverley, Jasmine, Pudsey, Penny, Pitch, Scarborough, Sirius, and Sticky.

You must split them into three groups and find the one word that links each group. Now onto the fourth one, people need to solve an equation.

If MI X MI = MAA, TI+TI=RA, and DO-SO+TI-MI=RE. What does RExRE =? Remember, you're looking for a collection of letters that once again form a word that can come after "Christmas".

  • 'I met lad on app but something was fishy – one trick proved he had wife and kids'

Now, which pair of letters come next after the following sequence:

  • TH, RD, ND, ??
  • ET, EL, PM, ??
  • WU, SQ, OM, ??
  • WR, AP, PI, ??

Onto the sixth question, there is an image with four bars of music on – which is secretly concealing a word. Using 1s and 0s as well as the numbers 16,8,4,2,1 – can you discover the hidden word?

Lastly (kind of) is a message you need to decode to find out the secret four-letter word:

  • Agklq ldhum qom ndem
  • Gembqgax c 4-hmqqmk vdke
  • Hddp mumkxvomkm
  • Ycxim gg'l umkx diugdsl

Colin, a chief puzzler at the spy agency, said: "Like the work at GCHQ, solving the puzzles on the card requires a mix of minds, and we want to show young people that thinking differently is a gift."

You can download the Christmas Challenge 2023 on the official GCHQ website.

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