A friend gave me this and challenged me to decipher it.


I've tried a few things like using the numbers as a rotational shift value for the following two letters, but I've been unsuccessful so far and I'm looking for ideas about what else to try. The digit-letter-letter sequence is interesting and I'm not sure what to make of it. If it helps, here are the characters used:


  • $\begingroup$ Are there multiple steps to solving it? Using the numbers as a rotational shift value, like you said, gives: uh Qk em Lx hi ur qo qf va tu pp rw vk gy il oy va qI $\endgroup$
    – ZN13
    Jul 9 '16 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ He told me something about it, and IIRC, there is actually random gibberish thrown in here. I believe the numbers are pointless and maybe also the second or third letter of each three character group. $\endgroup$
    – robyoder
    Jul 28 '17 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ If it includes blanks (random gibberish) then it is not solvable in any meaningful way. For example, if you ignore everything but the capitals you get QLI. Rotate 15 and you have FAX. Ta da! Think about it. All the information we have is that some subset of these 54 characters manipulated in some way gives us some sort of message. The possibilities are endless. $\endgroup$ Aug 3 '17 at 11:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ have you checked this link: wikihow.com/Decipher-a-Secret-Code $\endgroup$
    – l.lijith
    Aug 4 '17 at 19:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Using the three character grouping, the last letters of the groups roughly follow the letter distribution of English. So it might just be a transposition cipher, possibly with the number and the first letter indicating position. Running the last letters through an anagram solver does find possible phrases (eg. "I like moving tree sex" or "veto mixing like ever"), so the theory remains plausible. Finding a meaningful order is a whole another matter though. $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Oct 22 '17 at 1:52

The message (or at least, the first step, depending on whether the remaining unsolved noise is actually just noise) is

I love extreme skiing

You get that by

ignoring every letter that follows a number, then reversing the second row, and reading from bottom to top and from right to left.

Like so:

 9in5kk8lm7ot1pe3nl (elements of "3nl1pe7ot8lm5kk9in" reversed)

Got this far by using

rudimentary letter frequency analysis (which I added as a comment on the question) that suggested this might be a transposition cipher. Acting on that assumption, while abusing the fact that the ciphertext is quite short, I used an anagram solver to suggest possible phrases, which I then tried to find in the ciphertext to see if they formed a pattern.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice job. It looked like an impossible one! $\endgroup$
    – wanderer
    Oct 24 '17 at 8:59

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