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Irishman wins cryptography challenge set by top British intelligence agents

cryptic challenge-n
Part of one of the puzzles set by GCHQ

A DUBLINER has proven that he can compete alongside Britain’s top intelligence and security experts after he won a complex Christmas card cryptography challenge.

David McBryan, who now lives in Edinburgh, beat 600,000 competitors to become one of three people to come closest to solving the series of challenges set by the nation’s intelligence and security agency.

Director of the British Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) Robert Hannigan, who is of Irish heritage, had set the word and number puzzles, which had taken a team of eight cryptographers two months to create.

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It included subjects ranging from phonetics, French, snooker and Lord of the Rings.

The three winners, which also included US-born Kelley Kirklin, 54, from London and Wim Hulpia, 40, from Belgium, were chosen based on the quality of their reasoning.

McBryan, a former Fifteen to One game show winner who now writes questions for the show, said the possibility of winning drove him along to completing the challenge.

“I thought I had solved it, but a news report came out a few days ago saying nobody had … so I went back and had another look and figured out what I missed, but I was too late at that point,” he said.

“But it seems that everyone else missed it as well and I was joint closest. It was challenging – a very well-constructed set of puzzles, I’d recommend it to anyone actually. It’s enjoyable but it’s tough.”

The organisation has denied claims that it uses the challenge as a recruitment tool but said the winners, like anyone else, were welcome to apply for jobs.

The deadline has passed, but if you’d like to try solving the series of puzzles click here

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