Christmas card for spies features hidden coded message – see if you can crack it

GCHQ have unveiled their 2021 Christmas card which contains seven puzzles to test your brainpower – but can you find all the answers hidden in the festive card?

The GCHQ Christmas card placed on a table. It has a Christmas tree made out of technological symbols, as well as a star on the top.
The card comes with seven puzzles aimed at testing 11 to 18-year-olds

Puzzles are a great way to keep our brains active, and who better to set some fiendishly tricky tests than the intelligence and security organisation, GCHQ.

The Government Communications Headquarters have officially unveiled their 2021 Christmas card from their director, Sir Jeremy Fleming, and much like previous cards, there is another festive brainteaser to crack hidden within the card.

However, this year there’s a twist – as the seven puzzles have been specially designed for 11 to 18-year-olds to try.

Sir Jeremy’s cards are traditionally sent to National Security colleagues and partners across the world who work alongside GCHQ every day to counter organised crime gangs, terror groups and hostile states looking to do the UK harm.

The GCHQ Christmas Challenge invites everyone to have a go at the tricky tests


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But you can download the festive card at the GCHQ website and take on the GCHQ Christmas Challenge yourself – and see how your brainpower ranks against your family members.

Sir Jeremy said: “From Enigma to modern day encryption, GCHQ’s history is full of talented people tackling the country’s most complex challenges. If we’re to help keep the country safe, problem-solving skills and teamwork are absolutely crucial.

“That’s why this year’s Christmas puzzles are aimed at young people. I am keen to encourage STEM skills, thinking differently, and help foster the next generation of talent.

“I want to show young people that thinking differently is a gift, and it is only with a mix of minds that they can solve seemingly impossible problems, just like we do at GCHQ.”

To support greater take up of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, particularly among young girls, GCHQ has partnered with the organisation Stemettes on several activities over the last few years.

And CEO of Stemettes, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, is eager to see young girls try and tackle GCHQ’s Christmas Challenge.

She said: “No matter your age, STEM skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving are important skills to have. In my work across the Stemettes with partners like GCHQ, we want all kinds of people to have the chance to explore these skills, and for those that enjoy this type of challenge to get an opportunity to further themselves in these areas.

“GCHQ’s Christmas Challenge is a fun festive way to do this, and I’d encourage schools and those who work with children to explore this type of activity as another way to engage the next generation in some light-hearted STEM fun.”

You can download the GCHQ Christmas Challenge on the GCHQ website, and the solutions will be posted on their Twitter and Instagram channels.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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