The Decipher jigsaw was a relatively famous puzzle released in the early 80s, promising a $100,000 dollar prize to those that could solve it. After two years with no winners, the creator, Warren Holland Jr., released more and more hints until ultimately it was solved in 1985. You can read more about it in this paper released by MIT students who used access to MIT's computing power to help solve the cipher which was present on the jigsaw.

Image of Decipher jigsaw

Holland went on to release another two puzzles; Decipher II and Decipher III. Both of these offered similar $100,000 prizes, but I'm struggling to find any info about solutions for them online.

So, were these ciphers solved and was the prize claimed? If so, by whom, and when?


1 Answer 1


Two videos have been made that investigate this topic in detail and explain who won each.

The first video about the Decipher puzzles has a good background. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meaUE2b5whI

The second video covers the Decipher II and III puzzles. https://youtu.be/-XnCfS3ee8c

Karen Puzzles has detailed out which are solved and all the clues that are available to date in this doc including images of the box, puzzles and news articles.


Puzzle 2-1: Eileen Novak
Puzzle 2-2: Tom Chirpich
Puzzle 2-3: Sharlet Brown
Puzzle 2-4: Solved and the prize awarded, but the winner is lost to time

To answer the question directly there is no public record of any Decipher III puzzles being solved however some of the Decipher II were solved (at the time of writing).

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Could you add which parts of the Decipher II were solved into your answer? $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ Updated answer to include names $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 16, 2021 at 9:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks John! It was Karen's first video that inspired this post, I hoped someone else might provide more info, but it really does seem like she's done an amazing amount of research on the topic. As I understood it though, puzzle 2-4 was solved and the prize awarded, but the winner is lost to time? $\endgroup$ Commented May 21, 2021 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ And additionally, from the link you have posted, Tom Chirpich solved 2-2, and Sharlet Brown solved 2-3. If you can tidy these points up I will accept this as the answer. $\endgroup$ Commented May 21, 2021 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ updated thanks for the extra detail $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 21, 2021 at 9:20

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