My friend came up to me and said he had a question for me. He then handed me this note and asked me to reply in one line (whatever that's supposed to mean).

Sidbmuaca jg Ztctmedte, xoeh zeuh ele mafj knp pnib iufe dudbhs simlzi?

What should I tell my friend?

Hint #1:

My friend called and said that the title of the question he gave me is actually two hints.

Hint #2:

Just got an E-Mail from my friend saying that the way he wants me to answer is a third hint.

Hint #3:

Aside from being an occasionally cryptic jerk, my friend claims to be a lyricist.

Hint #4:

My friend just dropped by to give me another hint. Apparently The first letter that's missing in the question is supposed to stay missing (alphabetically of course)

Hint #5:

I wish he'd told me sooner, apparently the way he told me to answer was backwards...

  • $\begingroup$ Should the title be squ4re instead? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ @GordonAllocman for some reason I forgot there was an "a" in that word lol $\endgroup$
    – dcfyj
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ I know the cipher used but I have no idea how to actually decode the message and if I am right about the cipher the possible keyspace is $25!^4 \approx 5.7887 · 10^{100}$ $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


Following on from Gordon Allocman, using his helpful tool

Four-Square decoder
I entered the first two lines of the lyrics from "It's Hip To Be Square" as the keys.
They are:
"I used to be a renegade"
"I used to fool around"

Using hint #4

There is no "Q" in the question, so select the option to skip Q in the tool.

And I got the following result:

According to Wikipedia, what year did this pop rock band become active?

To which the answer is:

A new group was formed in 1978 under the name "Huey Lewis & The American Express". They changed their name the following year to "Huey Lewis and the News"

  • $\begingroup$ Correct. That is indeed the right answer. $\endgroup$
    – dcfyj
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ Just for the sake of proper attribution, I did not make the tool, just found it. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 0:43

Here is a partial answer of info I have determined so far:

The cipher is a

Four-square cipher as hinted by the title

The title may be a reference to:

Hip to be square the song

About hint #2:

Reply in one line might be a clue to determining the key for the cipher, or maybe the song is a hint, or maybe both together will lead to the key

About hint #3:

Key is maybe hidden in the song lyrics to the song previously mentioned

About hint #4:

Using the tool (or however you are decoding it) skip the letter A. I still can't get a hit with any lyrics from the song yet

Helpful tool:

Four-Square decoder

  • $\begingroup$ You're on the right track $\endgroup$
    – dcfyj
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately I have no experience with this cipher or how to go about solving it, so I might have to just pass the torch to someone else $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ The tool you found will definitely get you the answer my friend wants. You just need to figure what his key is... My friend is way too cryptic sometimes... $\endgroup$
    – dcfyj
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ I have tried pretty much all the lines of that song as the key but no success $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 18:37

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