GCHQ Christmas puzzle 2022: what is annual festive Christmas card challenge - and how to play

The UK’s cyber security agency has set a series of festive challenges for British schoolchildren to set their minds to

GCHQ Christmas Challenge 2022GCHQ Christmas Challenge 2022
GCHQ Christmas Challenge 2022

The GCHQ Christmas Challenge is an annual festive quiz designed to test the skills needed by Britain’s top cyber security minds. The challenge, aimed at children aged 11-18 features questions on across categories involved in intelligence and cyber security and is aimed to encourage children to consider a career in the sector.

GCHQ first launched their Christmas puzzle last year, and this December the agency’s director Jeremy Ian Fleming (no relation to the spy novel author who also worked for British intelligence) recorded a Christmas message setting students across the country on another festive mission.

The tricky questions have been sent out to schools UK schools on a virtual Christmas card, along with some helpful hints, and certificates for successful students.

How can you play the GCHQ Christmas Puzzle 2022?

You can download the resources for the challenge, including the full list of questions and a page of hints, from the GCHQ website. The challenge officially launched on Wednesday 14 December, and school students will be getting involved in the challenge during lessons over the course of the day.

Students will need to work out the answers to the seven questions in this year’s quiz and then in an added twist, they will have to use the design on the front of the card to assemble the answers, forming three separate what3words locations - assembling the three place names from these addresses will reveal a festive-themed answer.

Students are encouraged to get involved on social media using the hashtag #GCHQChristmasChallenge on Twitter on 14 December, sharing their progress and helping others who are also working on the questions. GCHQ may also offer more hints on the day to help students who are stuck on the difficult brainteasers.

What are the GCHQ Christmas puzzle 2022 questions?

There are seven questions in the categories of cyber security, languages, coding, analysis, engineering, codebreaking, and mathematics.

  • Cyber security - Rudolph needs to escape from cyberspace and can only travel in the direction of arrows on the grid. Reaching a key will change the direction of the arrows, and Rudolph needs to reach the flag in the shortest route. The route should be described in one seven-letter word.
  • Languages - If a French ailurophile fancies a chat, what does a Polish cynophile fancy?
  • Coding - A language grid contains the letters FORMATION - changing eight of the letters with letters from a list will reveal three new three-letter words that also forms one nine-letter word.
  • Analysis - Find the ‘odd’ word out in the following sentences - The Director has written his usual Christmas message, but now uncover the odd one out amongst the words forming these two sentences. It’s odd because it’s not odd!
  • Engineering - A visual task involving gears with letters and numbers on them.
  • Codebreaking - Translate this code: xibu4xpset beesftt jt pvucpbse.hsje.sfkpjot
  • Mathematics - If 2 = GROWTH and 6 = EXIST, then 9 = what seven letter word which describes what you’ll be doing with your presents on Christmas Day?