“Odd Numbers” place in the top 5% in the National Cypher Challenge 2012-13
Report by Georgiana Jefferies - Year 9
Britain has always been at the forefront of code breaking and cypher since World War 2, when many secret German messages, created by their great creation of the ‘Enigma machine’ were broken and plots intercepted when British operatives were able to decrypt many of the messages. Until this day thousands of cypher messages are created worldwide each year and are still considered as very useful in military operations. Cyphers are usually based on patterns that can be unlocked with a type of ‘key’ and when you know they ‘key’ or pattern the cypher becomes easier and quicker to solve.
Each October all budding code breakers from around the country wait with great anticipation for the next National Cipher Challenge organised by the Maths Department of Southampton University. The competition runs from October to January and has a series of 8 increasingly difficult challenges to solve. Each new year comes with new challenges and a new theme. This years’ theme was “The Hawksmoor Inheritance”, a mystery set between the two World Wars.
Hoping to better their effort from last year, three year 10 boys from Richard Lander School, Jordan Curnow, Will Dash and David Dixon, who are collectively known as “Odd Numbers”, soon had the easier challenges completed and made their way all the way through to the last and most difficult challenge. They completed challenge 8, part A in a very quick time, and this earned them a £25 prize for their effort, which they kindly donated to their Young Enterprise company, ‘Comic Corn’ for product development! They then started to decode the final and extremely challenging part B. They finally managed this, but just after the deadline for entries. However they still finished a highly creditable 81st out of the 2,389 teams that entered the competition!