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Everything in the next section is flavor text only. You may skip right over it, if you´re impatient.


"So, how did it go officer? I hope there was no blunder this time!"

The chief commander looks rather stern and critical at the small group of men in front of him.

"We´ve spent months to get the investigation so far, and it might be our only chance to take out the southern drug syndicate. Did we get what we need?"

"Well, yes, sir. I think so, sir. When we blasted through the door we caught Jimmy red-handed with several kilos of the stuff neatly prepared for delivery. And we also caught all the heavy hands of the gang. They will go down for good, sir!"

"Jimmy and his gang? What do I care about Jimmy and the gang! We need to get to the bosses behind them. Jimmy is just the little delivery boy. I thought I gave clear instruction to intercept the next big delivery, didn't I?"

"Yes... sir, you did. Just..."

"Just what ?!"

"Just that we were a tiny bit too early. See, a delivery was made to Jimmy via the usual routes, and we were positive that it would contain the instructions on the next delivery. So our plan is to grab those papers, take out Jimmy, and lay an ambush at the delivery appointment. That way, no warning could go out, and we catch all the big fish."

"Hmm, if you say so. So when is the deal taking place and where?"

There is a silent pause of unease before the man answers.

"That is part of the problem, Sir. When we blast into the room, Jimmy was just reading the instructions and the first thing he did was trying to destroy everything. We were faster than him, though, and could fixate him before anything was destroyed. Just... "

"Just what?"

"Just that it appears the message was somewhat encoded, and Jimmy refused to cooperate. We have all the pieces, but we are still working on the decoding. And, actually, we all hoped that you could be of help here, Sir."

"Code cracking? Just great, thanks. Well, then give me what you have..."


Crack the cipher and find time and location of the deal

The team took a quick snap shot of the scene where they surprised Jimmy.

Scene

And somebody spent the time to create a cleaned up, digitized version of the evidence as well.

The code sheet The letter square


Hints

Small spoiler.

There are two valuable hints in the scene photo. The differnce between circling and ticks is not relevant, though.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Q7 and RO seem misaligned in the image - is this intentional? $\endgroup$ – boboquack Dec 2 '17 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ @boboquack no, it isn’t. Sorry for the red herring. Just the way CorelDraw thought ˋcenter-alignˋ should look like. $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Dec 3 '17 at 8:04
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    $\begingroup$ I'm quite sure the fact that the lettergrid paper is folded is important - it looks crumpled at first, but the lower two corners look deliberately folded diagonally. I wish i have the resources to print a sheet out and tinker with it.. $\endgroup$ – votbear Jan 9 '18 at 10:49
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    $\begingroup$ I had thought that the letters in the 6-by-6 corners being mirrored was some kind of clue, but I guess not. $\endgroup$ – gnovice Jan 9 '18 at 22:03
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    $\begingroup$ @gnovice they were a clue , actually. They clued that you have to ‘split’ the paper into 9 rectangular sections, with the sides being the ‘walls’ (all facing to the center) and the corner “not used” ( they overlap in th folding process) $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Jan 10 '18 at 6:31
15
+100
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Thanks to the others here, I managed to figure it out. Sorry about the terrible formatting, I'm pretty new at this.

Solution:

Old Tower on Sunday at Noon

Explanation:

The black arrow in the key, of course, indicates North. The white arrows indicate the direction of the letters. Toward the end of the second column, the lines started intersecting outside the center area and it didn't make sense. This gave me the idea to project the coordinates onto the center square. This is a bit hard to explain so hopefully this helps clear it up. The following image if for the top right item on the clue sheet (2Z, KV).

enter image description here

Clarification: The reason this projection works is because the puzzle was meant to be folded into a cube (well, without a rear face). From there you would trace the lines up the side of the cube and use the intersecting lines to get the character.

Credits:

VotBear - Noticed the directions in the corners
AstroMax - Sent me down the intersecting lines path
D.M. - Noticed the 3x3 grid

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  • $\begingroup$ Gotta be it, good catch! $\endgroup$ – AstroMax Jan 9 '18 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ The solution is correct, and the "projection" is valid. The reason for it should maybe be edited in though. @Votbear got it right in the comments: The code-sheet can/should be "folded upward" so that you get 4 "walls". (That's why the letter are oriented towards the center). Connecting lines between these walls are projected downward - in effect what you're doing. VotBear should also get credits for spotting the North/South/East/West hints first. $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Jan 9 '18 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ Of course, I wasn't trying to take credit for finding the directions in the grid or anything like that. I'll edit in some credits. I actually didn't see the folding comment however I did notice it in the picture and folded it myself. In practice, though, I had an easier time decoding it using the projection over the almost-cube. $\endgroup$ – Toast Jan 9 '18 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ The only thing that bothers me is that I was puzzling over it for weeks, and you got it in one hour! :) And, you're new to Puzzling SE. Just kidding - great answer! I can finally stop thinking about this :) $\endgroup$ – R.M Jan 9 '18 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ Man, it was really great to wake up and see that this puzzle has an answer already. Nice job with the solution! $\endgroup$ – votbear Jan 10 '18 at 2:49
10
+50
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Very partial answer

... "We have done some analysis. If you split the grid into a larger 3 by 3 grid, every box contains the 36 symbols (A-Z, 0-9). And the side boxes are identical; they're the same combination of letters rotated around the center. Also, the center box is almost the same as the center-right box! Only a few letters have been rotated."

Boxes

"Also, we noticed that only squares in the corners have flipped symbols."

Flipped

[The team tried to see the connection between the cypher-text and the letters Jimmy decrypted. They found none. After a hint from the OP, the team realized that the digitized version does not match the orientation Jimmy used at the crime scene, and this confused them. Fortunately, officer VotBear noticed something:]

"It seems that each of the four corners contains the word North, East, South and West respectively, just next to the letter P. This is unlikely to be just a random coincidence, so perhaps this has something to do with the orientation of the page?"

"How could we miss that! Thanks a million! Now, let's highlight the letters in the boxes that match the orientations of the arrows."

[After 30 minutes] "We did as you said. The decoded letters lie on the same rows and columns as one of the decoded letters often, so we might be on the right track. 59% of the coordinates match. Also, interestingly, none of the decoded letters are on the same column when rotated properly (except when they're the same letter)." (Click to enlarge)

1D 2E 3A 4L 5A 6S 7U 8S 9U 10A 11L

"What did you do there exactly?"

"For every pair of the ciphered letters, we looked at the black arrow above it. Then, we rotated the paper so that the top left corner showed the direction indicated by the arrow. In the top-center 6x6 square, we highlighted the two letters of the cipher-text. 59% of the time, one of these highlighted letters happened to be on the same columns as the decoded letter. There is a correlation; random chance would only make this happen 33% of the time. That means that the decryption probably has something to do with matching the columns and rows of the cyphertext."

"Why are we still getting 41% of the coordinates wrong? Once we understand the rules correctly, we will be able to decode the message. Now, there is a lot of guessing required."

tldr

- The grid is symmetrical, with exceptions.

- Divide the grid in 3*3 boxes and every box contains every symbol. Middle box is the same as the side boxes, but some letters are rotated.

- As pointed out by VotBear, every corner has a direction written in it.

- We can use this to get 59% of the coordinates of the deciphered text right (more than random chance would offer - 33%).

Things to think about (for me and others)

  • The white arrows probably mean something, too, because they're not always the same.
  • I am assuming that the black arrows represent the direction that should be pointed up. But there are other interpretations. For example, they could be the direction a compass would show if the page is oriented correctly (I tried this, it didn't help).
  • I am assuming that the current orientation of the page is written on the top right. It would perhaps make more sense if the top left corner was the one to look at (again, this didn't give any results)
  • Currently, I'm thinking that the row and column of the description letter can somehow be found by rotating the page appropriately and highlighting the cypher-text letters (see above). This makes sense for most of the cyphertext, when the black arrows are at 90° to each other. For others, this wouldn't work (when the arrows are either in the same direction or opposite to each other). Also, this doesn't explain why you need 2 letters for each coordinate.
  • I'm not using the corner 6x6 squares (except for orientations), but they could be a part of the cypher (or not).
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    $\begingroup$ A very good start and important observation, officer. Go on, we still have, eh.. maybe a day or so until it is too later? $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Dec 17 '17 at 12:38
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    $\begingroup$ "We additionally highlighted in blue the cypher-text that matches the direction of the arrows above it."... "Hmm, and how did you know which side was up, officer?" ( I edited your post, No need to manipulated links, you can have a separate URL for an image and the images it links to.) $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Dec 17 '17 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ "...but one question remains, officers: How does Jimmy know which side he should put up? There has to be something in the cipher itself, don´t you think? Or it has to be agnostic for the orientation and any should work." $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Dec 17 '17 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ Sirs! It seems that each of the four corners contains the word North, East, South and West respectively, just next to the letter P. This is unlikely to be just a random coincidence, so perhaps this has something to do with the orientation of the page? $\endgroup$ – votbear Dec 18 '17 at 3:21
  • $\begingroup$ @VotBear thank you so much! How could I miss that? :) I found that if we rotate the page so that the direction indicated by the compass appears on the top right, and highlight the two letters on the center-top 6x6 square, one of them will match the column of the deciphered letter 59% of the time.This is more than random chance (33%, given that the letters appear on different columns). But 59% is not enough to decipher the rest of the message... $\endgroup$ – R.M Dec 19 '17 at 1:18
4
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Very Partial Answer

Thanks to all the hard work done by R.M and VotBear I was able to gain some ground on solving the first column. This is just a very partial answer to contribute to the solution, I was not able to solve the next two columns yet.

Using the same technique as R.M,

I separated the grid into 3x3 squares. Then kept thinking about the remark R.M made in the answer about there being two letters for each coordinate. After a lot of trial and error, mostly error, I found a pattern that fit for solving the first column. Grid looks like this,

SEpuzgrid

Starting with the assumption

that the black arrow indicates north, I turned the "north side" of the page the same direction the arrow was pointing. So for the 7N coordinate the arrow is pointing left, turn the page so north is on the left hand edge.

Next assumption made was the if the arrows are only pointing horizontally I would use the left and right box to mark the coordinates. For the 7N the arrows are horizontal so I drew a line from 7 in the left box to N in the right.

If the compass direction has a vertical arrow I would turn the page so north was pointing towards the black arrow and again used the left and right box. GM has a vertical arrow pointing up so I turned the grid to have north facing up and again drew a line between the left and right boxes, G on the left and M on the right.

Doing this creates an "X" over one of the letters in the center box. Example below,

Grid7NGM

Continuing this pattern spells out "DEAL AS USUAL". Unfortunately I tried the same technique on the following colomn with no success. Off to work will dig deeper later.

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  • $\begingroup$ Officer, I think you are getting very close! Maybe we are still missing an observation, but I think your line of thought will eventually get us there! $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Dec 20 '17 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ @AstroMax that's smart, I would have never thought about even using the opposite side (+1)! Note that the first four lines in the second column in the cypher-text are probably there to confuse us (the arrows above them are a reversed copy of those on the first column). Decoding the rest doesn't give anything meaningful either, though. Maybe we'll have to look at the white arrows, too. $\endgroup$ – R.M Dec 20 '17 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ Hint to both working on this at the moment: There is a visual clue in each, the scene picture and the code-key which nobody seems to have picked up on until now. (@R.M @astromax) $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Dec 23 '17 at 12:47

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