These festive brainteasers and codes are set by real life spies – can you crack the answer?

In the new year I’m quitting my job to become an undercover agent


Every year for the past few years, actual spies at GCHQ have set a range of festive brainteasers and codes to see if you have what it takes to be an undercover agent. This year, GCHQ has just set its latest quiz, full of questions to get your mind going.

The test this year comes on a Christmas card, and you have a series of questions which will help work out a secret word. GCHQ director Anne Keast-Butler said the task is the “trickiest Christmas challenge so far.”

She said: “Puzzles have been at the heart of GCHQ from the start. These skills represent our historic roots in cryptography and encryption and continue to be important to our modern-day mission to keep the country safe. GCHQ’s history at Bletchley Park is represented in this year’s Christmas card as a reminder of the role this historic place has played in our wartime efforts but also as home to this year’s AI Safety Summit.

“Our puzzlers have created a Challenge which is designed for a mix of minds to solve. Whether you are an analyst, an engineer or a creative, there is a puzzle for everyone. This is one for classmates, family and friends to try to solve together.”

In the task, there are seven puzzles that all have a one-word answer, which can follow the word “Christmas.” Once you solve the seven brainteasers, you need to use the clue on the front of the Christmas card to place certain letters from your answers into the grid at the bottom of the sheet.

When you do, you’ll reveal the final answer which should be a festive message. The spies have said it is tough – so recommend getting people to help you on bits you might get stuck on, or checking out Twitter or Instagram for comments which might help under the hashtag #GCHQChristmasChallenge.

Here are the brainteasers and Christmas card front cover clue you need:

GCHQ festive brainteasers set by spies, questions and codes

via GCHQ

And here’s the space to add your final answer:

Here’s a recap of the instructions set by the spies, to help you crack the brainteasers:

Good luck!

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