Note: You are reading the site of the 2012 competition. For the current one, click here.
Cartoon of Alan Turing is (c) 2011 Charles F Cooper and used with permission,
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The tale...

Chapter 1
(Is released!)

Chapter 2
(Is released!)

Chapter 3
(Is released!)

Chapter 4
(Is released!)

Chapter 5
(Is released!)

Chapter 6
(Is released!)

(Is released!)

(Is released!)



How do I register?

Click here to go to the registration page. You will be asked for a team name, a contact email address for the team, a password so that you can log into the site, your school, and the names or nicknames of up to 4 team members. Optionally, each team member can supply an email address. Each team can also optionally add 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 challenges.

What can we choose as a team name?

Anything you like! (Although we reserve the right to ban offensive or inappropriate team names.)

Can I change the team name or the team email address?

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. 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?

No, you can use a nickname if you prefer. However, if you are part of one of the winning teams, then we will need your real name for the prize ceremony.

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 7-11 (in England and Wales); Primary 7, S1-S4 (Scotland); Years 8-12 (Northern Ireland).

Who can I contact if I have problems registering?

You can contact us on

What happens if I forget my team's 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.

The competition

When is each chapter released?

The schedule is as follows:

ChapterDate released
19th January 2012
223rd January 2012
36th February 2012
420th February 2012
55th March 2012
619th March 2012
Epilogue2nd April 2012.

We aim to release each chapter at, or slightly after, 4pm on the day of release but the date and/or time of release may vary.
The competition closes at midnight on Friday 13th April 2012. The answers will be released on Monday 16th April 2012 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 13th April 2012. You do not need to solve the chapters in order, nor will solving earlier chapters necessarily help in solving subsequent chapters.

The chapters take place in various locations in and around 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.

The forum

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.

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

The leaderboard and the prizes

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:
15within one hour of the first team to submit the correct solution
14within two hours of the first team to submit the correct solution
12within four hours of the first team to submit the correct solution
11within one day of the first team to submit the correct solution
10within two days of the first team to submit the correct solution
9within three days of the first team to submit the correct solution
8within four days of the first team to submit the correct solution
7within five days of the first team to submit the correct solution
6within six days of the first team to submit the correct solution
5within one week of the first team to submit the correct solution
3within ten days of the first team to submit the correct solution
2within two weeks of the first team to submit the correct solution
1later 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).

Why did you introduce a points system?

We've been extremely pleased by the popularity of the competition, but unfortunately the original scoring system is no longer suitable for such a large number of teams. Therefore, we have introduced a points-based system that will still reward teams that solve codes as quickly as possible, but prevents teams from falling too far behind if they struggle with one chapter. The revised system also means that teams that didn't find out about the competition until after it started still have a chance; and those that were initially unable to view the first code because they had to use older version of Internet Explorer are not disadvantaged.

Note that the introduction of points will not change the ranking of the teams that solve each chapter it just bunches up teams with similar times. We believe that this revised scheme will make the competition fairer and much more exciting!

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. The prizes are as follows:
- first place: each team member receives £150 in Amazon gift vouchers
- second place: each team member receives £100 in Amazon gift vouchers
- third place: each team member receives £75 in Amazon gift vouchers.

How are the prizes allocated?

The prizes are awarded to the three teams who top the leaderboard at the end of the competition. See above for how the leaderboard works.

When and where will the prizes be awarded?

Prizes will be presented on Tuesday 12th June 2012 prior to the public lecture by Andrew Hodges - Alan Turing's biographer - at the University of Manchester.
The cartoon of Alan Turing is (c) 2011 organised sponsored and is organised in honour
Charles F Cooper, the Universitybyof the Centenary of Alan Turing's
Furthermore this competition...of Manchesterwww.skyscanner.netbirth in London on June 23, 2012