The first character of the plaintext is 'P'. The final character of the plaintext is 'E'.

Hint 1;

The second word of the plaintext is DISPUTE.

Hint 2:

NW = 'end of message'. It's an end-of-file marker.

Details (not part of the puzzle):

  • "↗↑↙↓↘←↑↙↘↘↗↓↗←↙↓↖" is the cyphertext. What is the plaintext?

  • The answer is a clue to The Security to the Party [12] (now with party soundtrack!)

  • This type of puzzle is called a Cryptogram. The Google search "How to solve a cryptogram" leads to all kinds of useful resources, hints and tips.

  • The answer is a pair of dictionary words in the English language. The puzzle is not case-sensitive. The plaintext does not contain any slang or acronyms, it does not contain any proper nouns (names), it does not contain roman numerals, it does not contain punctuation or spaces.

  • For anyone who's having trouble with fonts, and for accessibility: the cyphertext is a series of Unicode arrows pointing in different directions. The sequence is: NE N SW S SE W N SW SE SE NE S NE W SW S NW

  • Chat about this puzzle is here: http://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/18676/pick-up-sticks I'll be popping in and out. Feel free to ask any questions there or in comments.

  • On some screens it looks like some of the arrows are in bold and some aren't. That is not the intention, it's just the way the fonts look. If you use the list of compass points above then you are at no disadvantage.

Update: Argh! I was so busy doing the cipher that I didn't notice the spelling mistake in the plaintext. Well done to nexolute for solving anyway! Future readers beware that the first word of the puzzle is (unintentionally) not a dictionary word, because it has a spelling mistake in it. Are my cheeks red!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user2324360 That's classified. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you - sorry! $\endgroup$
    – A E
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 9:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The answer is "fat hen" - obviously these sticks have already been picked up and laid straight. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 10:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have tried nearly ever possible way of translating these arrows to a phone number pad and using those letters, but I've got nothing $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 10:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nice idea though! I might do that one next. :P $\endgroup$
    – A E
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 10:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Victor converting hex to dec and dropping (8#) gives c]_?\] ??c_c\ _b where ? = error. I've also managed to map to telephone keypad 32789427993834781 no luck $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 11:17

1 Answer 1


Going in clockwise, ignoring NW, we get the following...

W  : GNU

And let NW be the EOF character. Now this is where I'm bad with, how can we construct the final solution from these?

Using regular expression dictionary, I didn't manage to find anything, so I reduce to search with less characters and get use a little guess and check to get PATERNATY DISPUTE (should it be paternity dispute?). Not so sure if this is right?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ you probably just need to see what english words can be made... we now know the last word Is 7 letters long (DISPUTE). so the first word is 9 letters long. $\endgroup$
    – d'alar'cop
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 8:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I edited the answer with my guess of word. $\endgroup$
    – user5508
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ Correct! On the same theme as puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/4057 (I'll check it for that possible spelling mistake later, but either way you've got the right answer). Well done! $\endgroup$
    – A E
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 9:04

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