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 13 (in England and Wales), S6 (Scotland), and Year 14 (Northern Ireland). Although we feel that it is most suitable to students studying for A-levels or Scottish Highers, the puzzles will be accessible to students in earlier school years.
You can set up a team on the registration page.
Before you can set up a team, your teacher needs to register and provide you with a school registration code. (If you are home-schooled then a parent or carer can sign up and provide this.)
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, your chosen username and password, and your the school registration code provided by your teacher. Optionally, each team can have a 50×50 pixel team icon or avatar.
If you want to join an existing team, then you should click the 'Option 2: join an existing team' link. You can then enter your details, including your school registration code and the name of the team you wish to join.
If you create a team by mistake or accidentally join the wrong team, then you should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First, the new team member should apply to join your team by going to the registration page and requesting to sign up to your team.
The person who originally set up the team should then log in and go to the Profile link at the top right of the screen. They can then accept you as a team member.
No. The competition is free to enter.
No. Teams can be made up of one, two, three or four people. However, doing mathematics is very much a collaborative activity, and you will probably find it easier and more fun to work together on the puzzles (within your team).
Anything you like! (Although we reserve the right to ban offensive or inappropriate team names.)
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.
When you register, you will be asked for your real name and your nickname. Your real name will not be stored by us, but will be sent to your teacher so that they can identify you from your user name, for example if you have won a prize. Only your nickname will be used on the competition website and forums.
Knowing how the competitors are distributed across different school years provides useful information to the organisers for planning future editions of the competition.
While only students at school can create a team and submit answers, once the puzzles are released they are visible to everyone, and you can play along without submitting an answer. You will be able to see how you have done when the solutions will be released on Wednesday 11 March.
If you entered an e-mail address when you registered, your username will have been emailed to you. If not, please contact your teacher, who will have been emailed your real name and username
Please contact us on email@example.com, quoting your username. We may need to contact your teacher to verify your identity.
|Puzzle sets||Date released|
|Puzzles 1 & 2||Wednesday 29 January at 4:00 pm|
|Puzzles 3 & 4||Wednesday 12 February at 4:00 pm|
|Puzzles 5 & 6||Wednesday 26 February at 4:00 pm|
|Puzzles 7 & 8||Wednesday 18 March at 4:00 pm|
|Solutions||Wednesday 11 March at 4:00 pm|
Each puzzle set (and the solutions) 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 puzzle set at a later time and/or day in case of an unforeseen event or technical puzzles.
Have you ever got stuck trying to solve a mathematical puzzle and needed to do something else for a bit while waiting for inspiration? So have we! If you get stuck on one of the puzzles, then you can switch gears and work on the other puzzle. You'll need to solve both puzzles as quickly as possible to get the maximum points available. Usually one of the puzzles will be slightly easier; it's for you to decide your solution strategy.
Once released, each puzzle remains open until the competition closes on Wednesday 25 March at 3:59 pm. You do not need to solve the puzzles in order.
For each puzzle your team has three attempts to submit the correct solution. If all three attempts are incorrect, you will not be able to submit any more entries for that puzzle and hence you won't earn any points for that puzzle. We want to prevent teams guessing solutions, yet on the other hand we also want to allow for incidental mistakes and typos.
Firstly, don't panic! The puzzles get harder as the competition progresses. You'll need to be mathematically smart and quick-thinking, but all the puzzles should be solvable without recourse to complicated techniques from the A-level syllabus. If you can't solve one of the puzzles then perhaps you can formulate and solve an easier case - and maybe that will give you a hint.
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 puzzles 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.
Absolutely not. 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.
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...
The competition organisers will keep an eye on the forum and will delete any inappropriate or offensive material. Any team who makes offensive posts risks being banned from the competition.
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well as their rank, teams will be awarded a number of points for each puzzle they solve correctly. The first team to solve each puzzle 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 puzzle compared to the first team to solve 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 puzzles will appear at the top of the leaderboard. If teams have solved the same number of puzzles, the number of points awarded for each puzzle 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 puzzles (the team with the shortest overall time being ranked highest).
If your team is the first to correctly solve both puzzles in a puzzle set then each team member wins £15 in Amazon gift vouchers. The winners will be formally announced on the competition website and forum shortly the next puzzle set of the competition is released, and will also be informed by email.
In addition, each team member will receive a certificate and the school will receive a trophy.
Each puzzle will have at most 3 spot prizes. To win a spot prize, your team must have correctly solved a puzzle within two weeks of the puzzle being released. Three teams who have solved the puzzle 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 puzzle, then you won't be eligible to win a spot prize for that puzzle set.
For the puzzle set prizes and spot prizes, the vouchers will normally be sent out by post on the Thursday after the following puzzle set has been released. (So if you win one of the puzzle set prizes you might have to wait 2 weeks to receive your prize.) The vouchers will be sent to your school or college, addressed to the teacher you named as a contact when you registered.
The teams who come first, second and third on the leaderboard at the end of the competition will be invited to attend the 'Alan Turing Cryptography Day' on Wednesday 29th April 2020, the live finale of MathsBombe's sister competition. If you or your team can't make it, then we will send the prizes (together with certificates and trophies) shortly afterwards to your school or college and addressed to the teacher you named as a contact when you registered.
Every team member of every team who successfully completes all 8 puzzles by the end of the competition will receive a certificate. These certificates will be sent out in early April to your school or college.