How do I set up a team?
Click here to go to the registration page.
One person from each team will need to set up the team initially. You can do
this by clicking the link `Option 1: register a new team'. You will be asked
for a team name, a contact email address for the team, your name and
nickname, and contact details for your school including the name of a
teacher. You can then send out invitations to the other people that
are part of your team.
If you want to join an existing team, then you should click the `Option 2: join an existing team' link or, if you have been invited to join an existing
team, click on the link in the invitation email.
You can then enter your details, including your name and nickname.
Optionally, each team can have a 50x50 pixel team icon or avatar.
Does it cost anything to take part in the competition?
No. The competition is free to enter.
Do I have to be in a team of 4?
No. Teams can be made up of 1,2,3 or 4 people. However, doing
mathematics/cryptography is very much a collaborative activity, and
you will probably find it easier and more fun to work together on the
What can we choose as a team name?
Anything you like! (Although we reserve the right to ban offensive
or inappropriate team names.)
Can we change our team name, usernames or email addresses?
No. As you will be competing against other teams and there will be a
leaderboard so that you can compare how you're doing, you have to
keep the same team name throughout the competition. Furthermore your username
appears when you post on the forum and it would hence be confusing if this could
be changed. To ensure we can communicate with you we require a valid email address that can't be changed.
Do team members have to give their real names?
When you register, you will be asked for your real name and your
nickname. Your real name will be used on the certificates (if you
are in a winning team!), but will not
be used on the
competition website. Only your nickname will be used on the
competition website and forums.
Why do team members have to give their school year?
Because the competition is only open to persons who are in full-time
education (including home schoolers) in the United Kingdom in years up to and including Year 11 (in England and Wales), S4 (Scotland), and Year 12 (Northern Ireland).
What is the difference between a competing team and a non-competing team?
A non-competing team will not be eligible to win any prizes, will not
appear on the leaderboard and will not be able to post in the forum.
However, if you are in a non-competing teams then you can play along
with the competition, and submit your answers and see if you have
correctly solved the codes! Teachers and parents who want to see if
they are smarter than their pupils and children should enter as
Who can I contact if I have problems registering?
You can contact us on email@example.com
What happens if I forget my password?
On the login page you can click on the link 'Forgotten your password?'. Follow the steps after clicking that link to reset your password. (Note: this
option will become available soon)
When is each chapter released?
The schedule is as follows:
|1||7th January 2013|
|2||21st January 2013|
|3||4th February 2013|
|4||18th February 2013|
|5||4th March 2013|
|6||18th March 2013|
|Solutions||8th April 2013.|
Each chapter is normally released at 4pm on the day of release
. This is done using the
clock of the server on which the site is hosted, so there may be a slight difference with your clock. We reserve
the right to release the chapter at a later time and/or day in case of an unforeseen event or technical problems.
The competition closes at midnight on Friday 5th April 2013. The answers
will be released on Monday 8th April 2013 or shortly afterwards.
How long do we get to complete each chapter?
Once released, each chapter remains open until the competition closes
at midnight on Friday 8th April 2013. You do not need to solve the
chapters in order, nor will solving earlier chapters necessarily help
in solving subsequent chapters. That said, spot prizes will only be awarded to
teams that complete the chapter within two weeks of its scheduled release.
The chapters take place in various locations in and around
the University of Manchester. Do we have to visit them?
No, visiting the locations in the story will not help you solve the
codes. All of the information needed to crack the codes is contained
in the codes themselves, the story, and the hints provided.
We're completely stuck trying to solve a code - what should we do?
Firstly, don't panic! The codes increase in difficulty as the story
progresses, and you will probably have to spend some amount of time
thinking about and trying possible ways of cracking the codes before
you hit on the right method. Sometimes, if you get stuck, then
putting the codes to one side and doing something else can help you to
mull over possible ways of making progress.
What happens to teams who misbehave in the competition?
Any team that cheats or tries to cheat (by getting or asking for help
from someone outside of their team, or by requesting or giving hints
to the codes on the forum or on other websites) will face a penalty.
Anybody who posts inappropriate or offensive posts on the forum will
also face a penalty. The penalties we can impose range from a formal
warning, a deduction of points, a ban from the forum, or expulsion
from the competition.
In short: we know you're all competitive and want to win, but please
don't spoil the competition by cheating.
Can we post solutions to the chapters in the forum?
No. In order to not spoil the competition for other teams, any post
on the forum that contains the solutions (or links to where
solutions can be found) will be deleted and you or your team may be penalised.
What can we discuss in the forum?
Use the forum to discuss (or boast about!) your progress with other
teams. The competition organisers may also use the forum to drop
the occasional hint...
Are the forums moderated?
The competition organisers will keep an eye on the forum and will
delete any inappropriate or offensive material. Any team who make
offensive posts risks being banned from the competition.
Who can we contact if we have a problem with the forum?
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the team notepad?
The team notepad section of the website (click on Notepad
when you are logged in) is where you can leave messages for other people in your team. This means that you can still work together in solving the codes, even if your team aren't all in the same place!
Can other teams read my team's notepad?
No. Only the people in your team can read your team notepad. The competition organisers can also read what you post, and will keep an eye out for any inappropriate or offensive material.
How does the scoring system and leaderboard work?
As well as their rank, teams will be awarded a number of points for
each chapter they solve correctly. The first team to solve each code
will be awarded fifteen points and then the clock starts ticking for
the other teams. The other teams will be awarded points based on how
much longer it takes them to solve the code compared to the first team
to crack it, according to the following table:
|Points awarded:||If the correct solution is received by our server:|
|15||within one hour of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|14||within two hours of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|12||within four hours of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|11||within one day of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|10||within two days of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|9||within three days of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|8||within four days of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|7||within five days of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|6||within six days of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|5||within one week of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|3||within ten days of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|2||within two weeks of the first team to submit the correct solution|
|1||later than two weeks after the first team to submit the correct solution,|
but before the end of the competition
Teams who have solved the most number of chapters will appear at the top of the leaderboard. If teams have solved the same number of chapters,
the number of points awarded for each chapter will be summed to give a total points score and the team with the highest score wins.
If teams tie on the number of points, these teams will be ranked according to the total time taken to solve all the codes
(the team with the shortest overall time being ranked highest).
What are the prizes?
The prizes are kindly sponsored by the flight search company SkyScanner
, which was set up
by two former University of Manchester based Computer Scientists. There are prizes for:
- being the first team to solve each chapter
- coming first, second or third in the leaderboard at the end of the competition
- spot prizes for teams who have solved each chapter.
What do I win if my team is first to solve a chapter?
If your team is the first to correctly solve a chapter, then each team
member wins £15 in Amazon gift vouchers. The winners will be formally
announced on the competition website and forum when the next chapter
of the competition is released, and will also be informed by email.
What do I win if my team is one of the top three at the end of the competition?
The following prizes will be awarded to the teams that are at the top of the leaderboard when the competition closes:
- first place: each team member wins £30 in Amazon gift vouchers
- second place: each team member wins £25 in Amazon gift vouchers
- third place: each team member wins £20 in Amazon gift vouchers
In addition, each team member will receive a certificate and the school will receive a trophy.
How do the spot prizes work?
Each chapter will have at most 5 spot prizes. To win a spot prize,
your team must have correctly solved the chapter within two weeks of
the scheduled release of that chapter. Five teams who have solved the chapter
within that time will be chosen at random by our server and awarded a
spot prize of £10 in Amazon gift vouchers
for each team member. The winners of the spot
prizes will be announced on the website and forum, and will also be
informed by email.
In order to spread the prizes around as much as possible, if your team
is the first team to solve a chapter, then you won't be eligible to
win a spot prize for that chapter.
When will I receive my prize?
For the chapter prizes and spot prizes, the vouchers will be sent out
by post on the Tuesday after the following chapter has been released.
(So if you win one of the chapter prizes you might have to wait 2
weeks to receive your prize.) The vouchers will be sent to your
school, addressed to the teacher you named as a contact when you
For the overall winners, we will send out the prizes on, or shortly
after, Monday 8th April. The vouchers, certificates and trophies will
be sent to your school and addressed to the teacher you named as a
contact when you registered.