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The Alan Turing
Cryptography Competition.
edition 2017
You are reading the website of the 2017 edition of the competition, which ended on Saturday 29th April at 11:59 pm.

Mike and Ellie will return for a new adventure next year!

The website for that new edition, to start in January 2018, appears in December here. If you would like to receive a reminder around that time by email please look here. For any particular enquiries you can contact us on cryptography_competition@manchester.ac.uk.
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The Tale of the

Mediæval

Manuscript

Is released!
Is released!
Is released!
Is released!
Is released!
Is released!
Is released!
Announcing

The Alan Turing

Cryptography Day

2017!

Want to come over to Manchester for a bit of live crypto stuff, the prize ceremony and an opportunity to meet the organisers?

Find out more!

Chapter 5 of the Tale of The Mediæval Manuscript.

1952, Department of Mathematics, The University of Manchester

"Meet Michael Ventris," said Turing to Barquith, as he introduced a smartly dressed man in his mid-30s. "Ventris is an expert in deciphering unknown languages."

"I wouldn't say that," laughed Ventris. "I believe I'm well on the way to deciphering Linear B, but it's hard going." Ventris went on to explain that Linear B was a script used by the Mycenaean civilisation about 3,400 years ago. All surviving examples of texts in Linear B were written on clay tablets recovered from archaeological sites at Knossos and Pylos, but nobody knows how to read them. "Or at least they didn't," concluded Ventris, "until people like Alice Kober, James Chadwick and I started working on it. I'm sure it's an ancient form of Greek, but I estimate it will take another year or two to prove it!"

"Now what about you," asked Turing, turning to Barquith. "Have you found this mythical mediaeval manuscript in the John Rylands library?"

Barquith stood with downcast eyes. "I'm afraid not, Dr Turing", he said. "Every time I think I'm making progress, something or someone interferes. I tracked down the manuscript to a particular archive collection, but when I got there all the documents were gone. I heard that there was a clue to the manuscript's location hidden in a window, but that window has been 'removed for cleaning'. Once, when I thought I was onto something, a piece of stonework fell from the ceiling and nearly landed on my head. I was very lucky not to be killed! And every time, there's someone lurking nearby in what appears to be a gown or robe..."

text divider

Present day

Mike inspected the locked door. "This is a very old lock. I can get it open in no time," he predicted confidently.

"The Fifth Folio!" said Ellie. "That must be something to do with Shakespeare. I'm sure we saw some early editions of Shakespeare's plays in the Spencer Reading Room down the corridor."

Mike turned the handle and gently pushed the door. "After you" he said.

"Brother Aldred will be so pleased with us!" they heard Darcie say. "We've solved all of his clues—and we've made sure we'll find the manuscript before Mike and Ellie!" Donna replied. "We're far smarter than them!" they said together, as they entered the reading room.

"Manuscript," said Mike. "I wonder what manuscript they mean. Is that the legacy we're looking for? Hey do you think that this eerie litter lout is one of the guardians?"

"Let's not worry about that now," said Ellie. "We need to teach the twins a lesson and I think I know how. Mike, can you distract them for a few minutes?" Before Mike had chance to reply, Ellie had dashed off back down the corridor.

"Hello Darcie. Hello Donna," said Mike as he entered the room. "Fancy meeting you here."

The twins turned around, shocked looks on their faces. "Where's Ellie got to?" demanded Darcie. "Did she tell you to distract us? We're too smart to fall for that!" said Donna. A sly grin came over Darcie's face. "Let's be friends," she said. "Why don't you tell us what you've found out."

Mike laughed. "I'm not going to fall for that," he said.

Mike, Darcie and Donna continued to argue until Darcie, glancing over Mike's shoulder, saw a brown-robed arm appear at the door, throwing a scrunched up ball of paper into the room. "I think that's ours!" she said to Mike, as the twins ran off to pick up the paper.

Mike shrugged his shoulders, walked out of the reading room, to see Ellie standing there with a brown towel wrapped around her arm. "Amazing what you can find in the cleaner's cupboard," she said, and they headed off down the corridor, giggling.

Your task: Above is the scrunched up ball of paper that was thrown at the twins. You should decipher the message that Ellie wrote. Once you have done that, submit your answer to the question below.

code
Your task:

Your task: Above is the scrunched up ball of paper that was thrown at the twins. You should decipher the message that Ellie wrote. Once you have done that, submit your answer to the question below. Once you have done that, submit your answer to the question below.

Question: What is the 21st word of the plaintext?
Your answer:
 

You can not submit your answer since the Competition has now closed.