# The Hunting of the Snark: Given ciphertext and plaintext, what cipher is used?

This is a cryptogram puzzle.

Below is some text; each section of the original text ('plaintext') is followed by an encoded version of that text (the 'ciphertext').

Your challenge is to explain the encoding for each section.

Most of the ciphers are 'pen-and-paper', meaning that you don't need a computer to decode them; but for at least one of them you will probably need help from your computer (unless you have a lot of patience to go with your pen and paper). Some of them are easier than others. :)

You may find the Rumkin.com cipher tools useful, also cryptii.com. Also you might find this post here on Puzzling.SE useful: What characteristics of a ciphertext can be indicators of a particular cipher?

Plaintext - "The Hunting of the Snark" by Lewis Carroll, fit 8:

0: Title

Fit the Eighth
The Vanishing

hthgiE eht tiF
Gur Inavfuvat

1.

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

Moif mbnouz wy ppxz ghzwusiz, nuxg fuilaa ml jikr vhvl;
Nuxg cafxnlh ag wzda msyef tvq ncux;
Alwl tybxhxlhrw qgy znyl aagh r btppdul-lpnxs;
Yalc uuaiwxk ma qvmp fswqxz efq sfki.

2.

They shuddered to think that the chase might fail,
And the Beaver, excited at last,
Went bounding along on the tip of its tail,
For the daylight was nearly past.

Tdam eto f ilste txtnh twse s,edtop,aeet gn,lnnioh
uicaeiW aes.eh vabgo lr ht esit
s adkalBenlildnh tiAr uo Fgyhh fhc,gethatr
te a n yayothd ad trtpdnhi teati

3.

"There is Thingumbob shouting!" the Bellman said,
"He is shouting like mad, only hark!
He is waving his hands, he is wagging his head,
He has certainly found a Snark!"

BAABAAABBBAABAABAAAAAABAA ABAAABAAAB BAABAAABBBABAAAABBAAAABBABAABBABABBAAAABABBABAAAAB BAAABAABBBABBABBAABBBAABAABAAAABBAAAABBA BAABAAABBBAABAA AAAABAABAAABABAABABAABABBAAAAAABBAA BAAABAAAAAABAAAAAABB AABBBAABAA ABAAABAAAB BAAABAABBBABBABBAABBBAABAABAAAABBAAAABBA ABABAABAAAABAABAABAA ABABBAAAAAAAABB ABBABABBAAABABABABBA AABBBAAAAABAAAAABAAB AABBBAABAA ABAAABAAAB BABAAAAAAABAABBABAAAABBAAAABBA AABBBABAAABAAAB AABBBAAAAAABBAAAAABBBAAAB AABBBAABAA ABAAABAAAB BABAAAAAAAAABBAAABBAABAAAABBAAAABBA AABBBABAAABAAAB AABBBAABAAAAAAAAAABB AABBBAABAA AABBBAAAAABAAAB AAABAAABAABAAAABAABAAAAAAABAAAABBAAABABABABBA AABABABBABBAABBABBAAAAABB AAAAA BAAABABBAAAAAAABAAAAABAAB

4.

They gazed in delight, while the Butcher exclaimed
"He was always a desperate wag!"
They beheld him—their Baker—their hero unnamed—
On the top of a neighbouring crag,

Lwpf ktstw wp pjztubz, lyczp alx Tnfpiqi sazugmqjr
"Ss ztk quccdk p noevbazap dez!"
Lxxe oqaswb bqw—dastu Utdtd—miqcu sodc vjfpisg—
Pf cbr vgg iq y mkmxahflvofw vjcs,

5.

Erect and sublime, for one moment of time,
In the next, that wild figure they saw
(As if stung by a spasm) plunge into a chasm,
While they waited and listened in awe.

. .-. . -.-. - / .- -. -.. / ... ..- -... .-.. .. -- . --..-- / ..-. --- .-. / --- -. . / -- --- -- . -. - / --- ..-. / - .. -- . --..-- .-.-.. / .. -. / - .... . / -. . -..- - --..-- / - .... .- - / .-- .. .-.. -.. / ..-. .. --. ..- .-. . / - .... . -.-- / ... .- .-- .-.-.. -.--. .- ... / .. ..-. / ... - ..- -. --. / -... -.-- / .- / ... .--. .- ... -- -.--.- / .--. .-.. ..- -. --. . / .. -. - --- / .- / -.-. .... .- ... -- --..-- .-.-.. / .-- .... .. .-.. . / - .... . -.-- / .-- .- .. - . -.. / .- -. -.. / .-.. .. ... - . -. . -.. / .. -. / .- .-- . .-.-.-

6.

"It's a Snark!" was the sound that first came to their ears,
And seemed almost too good to be true.
Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
Then the ominous words "It's a Boo—"

"KV'V V RGWZX!" GXI SPN UQCOA UKJY NDZBB RWDJ CW FNKBT ARXR,
ELN AJKPDV HHDSNJ FLZ WKQY AP QO IXBK.
GZLG XSZJWKKY Y RQAXHSD SU MMKQJZNZ GSF HNKNTG:
BVHS DCQ TAARIJT XSEFI "VI'V D VJN—"

7.

Then, silence. Some fancied they heard in the air
A weary and wandering sigh
That sounded like "-jum!" but the others declare
It was only a breeze that went by.

101+105+103+104+116+121+45+102+111+117+114+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+111+117+114+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+101+110+35+102+111+114+116+121+45+102+111+117+114+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+105+102+116+101+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+105+118+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+101+105+103+104+116+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+101+110+35+110+105+110+101+116+121+45+110+105+110+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+102+111+114+116+121+45+115+105+120+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+101+105+103+104+116+121+45+116+104+114+101+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+101+108+101+118+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+110+105+110+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+119+111+35+110+105+110+101+116+121+45+115+101+118+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+101+110+35+110+105+110+101+116+121+45+110+105+110+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+105+118+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+115+105+120+116+101+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+111+117+114+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+119+101+110+116+121+45+111+110+101+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+111+117+114+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+110+105+110+101+116+121+45+115+101+118+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+111+117+114+116+101+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+105+118+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+101+110+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+115+105+120+116+101+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+111+117+114+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+110+105+110+101+116+121+45+115+101+118+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+105+118+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+111+117+114+116+101+101+110+35+116+101+110+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+115+105+120+116+121+45+102+105+118+101+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+110+105+110+101+116+101+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+110+105+110+101+116+121+45+115+101+118+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+111+117+114+116+101+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+119+101+110+116+121+45+111+110+101+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+110+105+110+101+116+121+45+115+101+118+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+110+105+110+101+116+101+101+110+35+110+105+110+101+116+121+45+115+101+118+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+111+117+114+116+101+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+105+118+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+104+114+101+101+35+116+104+105+114+116+121+45+116+119+111+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+105+102+116+101+101+110+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100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8.

They hunted till darkness came on, but they found
Not a button, or feather, or mark,
By which they could tell that they stood on the ground
Where the Baker had met with the Snark.

Moif bhgbrj hnes hsekeolz gyty bg, fxm bspb ffeah
Fgv a nyhgph, hk miyyvye, re atrl,
Vr pvvqy yler jslzu fecv ufwa bjlr zxmqr iy wai rchbnw
Poipw mvs Eoxxy lgu ayg zeal klx Zrbru.

9.

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

Feedback / constructive comments / suggestions on the puzzle and the ciphers themselves are welcome, as well as actual answers. Partial answers are welcome, in the spirit of teamwork.

• To be clear: The clear-text does not contain a hint why a particular cipher was used, does it? Dec 16, 2014 at 16:18
• +1 for this question. Not because it would be extremely creative or complex, but because it is very nice resource to cite when demonstrating the most common ciphers. And the tool link of course. Dec 16, 2014 at 17:04
• @WChargin, yeah, I'm just making a joke. That's a "Caesar 26" substitution cipher.
– A E
Dec 16, 2014 at 17:25
• Since this is a community based solve, with different parts being solved by different people, perhaps there should be a single answer by Community Wiki with all the answers in? Dec 23, 2014 at 16:57
• @ForIInRange, that sounds like a good plan to me! It would solve my "who do I award the green tick to?" problem. :) Although 6 is as yet not-totally-solved.
– A E
Dec 23, 2014 at 17:01

Cipher 1 is

Vigenère with the key "thehuntingofthesnark". The different encodings of "They" tipped me off to look at a polyalphabetic cipher. After getting the first 4-5 letters of the key by trial and error, the rest of the key was easy to guess.

Cipher 2 is

Decoding the plaintext with Skip 13. That is, take every 13th character. The tool does this in "Decode" mode. The fact that the ciphertext consisted of exactly the characters of the plaintext made it clear it was some kind of transposition cipher.

When this is used as the plaintext:

They shuddered to think that the chase might fail,
And the Beaver, excited at last,
Went bounding along on the tip of its tail,
For the daylight was nearly past.

I get this ciphertext:

Tdam eto f ilste txtnh twse s,edtop,aeet gn,lnnioh
uicaeiW  aes.eh  vabgo lr  ht esit
s  adkalBenlildnh tiAr uo Fgyhh fhc,gethatr
te a  n  yayothd ad trtpdnhi teati

The whitespace in neither matches your example, but I suspect browser/Stack Exchange formatting is to blame for that.

Cipher 7 is

Converted to decimal ASCII codes (84 104 101 110...), then spelled out and separated with # (eighty-four#one hundred and four#one hundred and one#one hundred and ten...), then converted to decimal ASCII codes again. (101+105+103+104+116+121+45+102+111+117+114+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+102+111+117+114+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+111+110+101+35+111+110+101+32+104+117+110+100+114+101+100+32+97+110+100+32+116+101+110...)

Boy, am I glad I didn't do that by hand.

Cipher 8 is

Vigenère Autokey with a null Alphabet Key (ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ) and passphrase "thehuntingofthesnark". Since this started with the same "Moif" for "They" as #2, I figured it must be related.

• Good work, @Simon. ;) Ok to ignore white space differences, for exactly the reasons you say.
– A E
Dec 16, 2014 at 22:44
• Making progress! :)
– A E
Dec 17, 2014 at 8:51

The First Line of the Title:

The text is simply reversed. "Fit the Eighth" becomes "hthgiE eht tiF"

The Second Line of the Title:

A Caesarian Shift Cipher is used. This involves shifting each letter a fixed number of places in the alphabet, in this case 13 places.

For Paragraph 3:

Bacon's Cipher. Each letter has a 5-bit representation, in As and Bs.

For Paragraph 5:

Morse Code. Each letter has a dot-and-dash representation.

For Paragraph 9:

Caesar Shift of 0?

• Correction: #9 uses the encryption algorithm from the research paper pruefziffernberechnung.de/Originaldokumente/2rot13.pdf Dec 16, 2014 at 18:16
• @Lopsy Ah, how could I have missed it? I knew it looked familiar but I just couldn't put my finger on what it was. Dec 16, 2014 at 21:12

Section 4 is a:

keyed Vigenère cipher with a passphrase and an alphabet key.
The passphrase is thehuntingofthesnark
The alphabet key is Boojum (or bojum to avoid duplicate letters)

Here are the steps that I used:

- subtract the plaintext from the ciphertext (mod-26) to try to identify the type of cipher. A majority of the characters are repeating at intervals of 20 or multiples of 20. It looks like a messed-up Vigenère cipher with a likely passphrase length of 20 characters. Therefore, assume that the same 20 character passphrase is being used (thehuntingofthesnark).

- split the plaintext and the ciphertext into 20 character segments and map the ciphertext to 20 rows of alphabets as shown in this example (this specific cipher is also called Quagmire III.)

- and yes, fragments of the passphrase now show up under the plaintext letter B. But, because the passphrase is long, only 25% of the map is populated (130 characters in a 20x26 grid) and the alphabet key is not obvious.

- so back to the puzzle to find words that start with B which are Beaver, Bellman, Baker, Butcher, and Boojum. Boojum gives a match for the ciphertext so the analysis is complete.

Section 6 could be a:

Vigenère cipher with a null alphabet or a mixed alphabet.

With an alphabet key of BOJUM, the passphrase would be:

With a null alphabet, the passphrase would be:
ccdvztwinkxqzijccibxbdjfivijipwrfjimggtcwrgzeykifgdzshwrevqmxlqwcvhbpkpghgnshtseoyiogvyycjgdfkepbmqkcgjigfcfggjcoiodfkvmfoseupbbencqnpdduvz

However, these passphrases are the full length of the ciphertext which is no different than enciphering with a one-time pad. So unless, there is some meaning to these passphrases, this solution for Section 6 is likely incorrect.

– A E
Apr 3, 2015 at 8:51
• 6 is really pretty hard. It's not double encryption though.
– A E
Apr 5, 2015 at 9:33
• @AE - I have run out of ideas to try for Section 6.
– Len
Apr 7, 2015 at 5:47

Title

First line is reversed. The second line is simple substitution cipher, shifted by 13.

3.

Bacon Cipher

5.

Morse code

9.

Is the same thing?

This is work in progress:

Title

Simply revers. (solved with this tool as a helper)

Section #3

Baconian Cipher (solved with this tool as a helper)

Section #5

Rather obvious Morse code (solved with this toolas a helper)

Section #9

Is funny! :c) ( Replacement cipher with a->a b->b c->c etc.)

• I'm glad you like the joke in section 9. :) I call it a "Caesar shift 26".
– A E
Dec 16, 2014 at 16:29

Taking a wild punt on #6. Is it an Enigma machine encryption? I say this because it has the unusual property that no letter ever gets encoded to itself.

Edit: then again, this also applies to #4, the other uncracked message. Gah.

• Oooooo, you might be onto something there! ;)
– A E
Dec 18, 2014 at 17:28