Here is the string I was given:


All I know about this puzzle (after asking the people who created it) is that there's a key that will either solve or help solve the puzzle.

I've tried all kinds of stuff to get something coherent to show up. I did a frequency analysis and tried different combinations of those letter matches (e.g. "E" is most frequent in the string, so I plugged in "E" to the cipher per ETNORIA, and so on). It does appear to be natural language based on the frequency analysis, but none of the substitutions I was making seemed to get me anywhere.

The double letters are throwing me off too. There are only so many likely double letter combinations, and the fact that the double-W starts the cipher is hard to work with. It could be a word like OOPS, but that seems an odd way to start the string. I thought maybe the double letters indicated something else like a space, or that they should be ignored all together, but that didn't get me too far.

I also looked at the most common trigrams and digrams. HNE and ORE repeat twice each so I tried using THE as one of those. I didn't really have anywhere to go from there. TE repeats 4 times and NE repeats 3 times.

Not having spaces is really making this difficult. This is part of a series of puzzles they've had sitting around my office, and they've gotten progressively harder. Based on the last one I solved, it's possible this one goes multiple levels deep, such as revealing another puzzle after solving the cipher.

You don't necessarily have to solve this for me, but I could really use some more tips!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To me, it looks more like a transposition cipher than any kind of substitution cipher, since the letter frequencies are very similar to English. That would also explain your "double-W" issue. $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2015 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ If there's a key, it might be hinted at by the message that was left with the string. Was there a title for the puzzle or a message? $\endgroup$
    – Gordon K
    Oct 7, 2015 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ On the sheet it says "Puzzle 3", and "Cracked the code? Come to 6302 for your prize," but all of the other puzzles to this point have said the same thing. There are also random German newspaper clippings in the background, but all the other puzzles have had the same clippings. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    Oct 7, 2015 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps "Cracked" is the key. $\endgroup$
    – Gordon K
    Oct 7, 2015 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ So I got the key out of them, but I still haven't figured out the puzzle. The key is "DELIVR". I fed this into a Vigenere solver and it returned gibberish. They said it was a transcription cipher-- is Vigenere a transcription cipher? $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    Oct 7, 2015 at 18:31

1 Answer 1


This is a columnar transposition cipher. The message was written out in 6 columns, and then the columns were taken in the order 1-2-4-3-6-5 corresponding to the order of the letters in 'DELIVR'. To get the message back, reconstruct the columns:


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