News Article

GCHQ challenges you to crack codes for charity with its first ever puzzle book

Last Updated: 17 Jul 2018
We use our problem-solving skills to help keep Britain safe. Our puzzle book enables you to test your wits against us. Best of luck!

News article - 15 Oct 2016

Published by Penguin on 20 October 2016, ‘The GCHQ Puzzle Book’ features over 140 pages of codes, puzzles, and challenges created by GCHQs expert code breakers in their spare time. Ranging in complexity from easy to mind-bending, the challenges include ciphers and substitution codes, tests of numeracy and literacy, as well as picture and music challenges.

The idea for a puzzle book came after the success of last year’s cryptographic puzzle which featured in the Director’s Christmas Card and saw some 600,000 people from across the globe take part in a challenge that was dubbed the ‘hardest puzzle in the world’. 

Writing in the book’s introduction, GCHQ Director, Robert Hannigan says: “For nearly one hundred years, the men and women of GCHQ, both civilian and military, have been solving problems. They have done so in pursuit of our mission to keep the United Kingdom safe. GCHQ has a proud history of valuing and supporting individuals who think differently; without them we would be of little value to the country. Not all are geniuses or brilliant mathematicians or famous names, but each is valued for his or her contribution to our mission.”

All GCHQ proceeds from the book will be donated to Heads Together, the campaign spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, to tackle stigma, raise awareness and provide vital help for people with mental health challenges. 

The foreword for the book has been written by The Duchess of Cambridge, whose grandmother Valerie Glassborow was a codebreaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. 

The Duchess writes: 

"I have always been immensely proud of my grandmother, Valerie Glassborow, who worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. She and her twin sister, Mary, served with thousands of other young women as part of the great Allied effort to break enemy codes. They hardly ever talked about their wartime service, but we now know just how important the men and women of Bletchley Park were, as they tackled some of the hardest problems facing the country.

"In a new century, their successors at GCHQ continue this intellectual tradition. Like their Bletchley predecessors, they have become well known for valuing and understanding the importance of mental wellbeing. This is so important when dealing with such discretion and the pressure which comes with this.

"William, Harry and I are very grateful that this book is supporting our Heads Together Campaign. I hope it will not only amuse and challenge readers, but help to promote an open discussion of mental health problems, which can affect anyone, regardless of age or background. Together, we are aiming to change the national conversation around mental health from stigma and fear to openness and understanding. Those who buy this book and support the Heads Together campaign will be playing a part in helping people get the important mental health care they deserve.”



The GCHQ Puzzle Book cover
©Penguin Books 2016



Additional information 

The GCHQ Puzzle Book is published by Penguin Random House. It has been on sale sinceThursday 20 October 2016 at High Street book retailers and online.

About the Publisher

Penguin Random House UK exists to connect the world with the stories, writing, and ideas, that matter. It is part of Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, which was formed on 1 July 2013 by Bertelsmann and Pearson, who own 53 percent and 47 percent respectively. With nearly 250 independent imprints and brands on five continents, Penguin Random House comprises adult and children’s fiction, nonfiction print, and digital English and Spanish-language trade book publishing businesses in more than 20 countries worldwide. With over 15,000 new titles and close to 800 million print, audio and eBooks sold annually, Penguin Random House’s publishing lists include more than 60 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors. 

About the Charity 

Heads Together brings together The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry in partnership with inspiring charities that are tackling stigma, raising awareness and providing vital help for people with mental health challenges. Further information about Heads Together can be found at: