GCHQ releases its toughest puzzle ever in honour of codebreaker Alan Turing

As Alan Turing becomes the face of the new £50 note, Cheltenham-based GCHQ releases its toughest ever puzzle in his honour.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
GCHQ has created 12 increasingly difficult puzzles for its TuringChallenge, to honour the great codebreaker becoming the face of the new 50 note.
GCHQ has created 12 increasingly difficult puzzles for its #TuringChallenge, to honour the great codebreaker becoming the face of the new £50 note.

In honour of the legendary codebreaker, Alan Turing, GCHQ is releasing its hardest ever puzzle.

Cheltenham-based GCHQ unveiled its #TuringChallenge on Thursday 25 March 2021, as the Bank of England revealed that Alan Turing would be the face of the new £50 note.

The challenge involves a string of 12 increasingly difficult puzzles, based on the new banknote itself and technical drawings from Alan Turing’s designs.

Budding codebreakers will have to solve 11 puzzles to reveal the final – and most challenging puzzle – 11 single words or names that form their very own Enigma code.

According to GCHQ, the challenge could take even an experienced puzzler seven hours to complete.

Alan Turing is known as the father of modern computing and was instrumental in cracking the German Naval Enigma code during World War II.

Alongside fellow codebreaker, Gordan Welchman, Turing helped to develop the first special-purpose cryptanalytic machine called ‘The Bombe’ at Bletchley Park – the wartime home of GCHQ.

With this and the incredible minds of Alan Turing and other codebreakers, they were able to crack the Enigma code and supply British forces with intelligence that helped them win the Second World War.

Alan Turing is also an important LGBTQ+ icon, as despite his scientific brilliance and huge contribution to the war effort, he was prosecuted for being gay in 1952 and sadly took his own life in 1954.

GCHQ director, Jeremy Fleming, said: ‘Alan Turing’s appearance on the £50 note is a landmark moment in our history. Not only is it a celebration of his scientific genius which helped to shorten the war and influence the technology we still use today, it also confirms his status as one of the most iconic LGBTQ+ figures in the world.

‘Turing was embraced for his brilliance and shunned for being gay. His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity, but also the work we still need to do to become truly inclusive.

‘Our Turing Challenge, a set of 12 puzzles, has been put together by some of our intelligence staff, where problem solving and a diverse mix of minds are at the heart of our work to help protect the UK from increasingly complex threats.’

For more information, or to try your hand at the #TuringChallenge, visit gchq.gov.uk.

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