A friend and I like to play chess regularly. Like me, he is a lover of a good puzzle, which is what drew us to the game. The thrill of finding a checkmate in a board riddled with pieces cannot be found elsewhere for either of us.

Today, he sent me a list of moves from a game he played with someone online, read from left-to-right, top-to-bottom:

a3  h2  f8  g6  a1  e2  g3  e6  a1  f7  e6  g7  e6
g3  a1  g5  f8  f8  a1  f8  f5  e5  a1  g5  f8  a1
g1  f5  e2  h2  a1  e4  f1  e6  g4  g4  a2  a3  a1
b6  e3  f8  e3  e3  h2  a1  e7  f2  g4  e4  f1  e6  g3

Naturally, I found this to be quite peculiar. What kind of game doesn't have checks, a checkmate, or, for that matter, pieces other than pawns? The moves don't seem to be all legal either, including odd things like the pieces not starting in the correct places, or moves to the same square in successive turns without a piece capture.

Given our shared love of puzzles, I think there may be a hidden message in the move list. Can you help me find it?

For reference, I've put a picture of a chessboard below, with coordinates.

Chessboard Image

Hint 1:

I asked my friend what the meaning to the moves is. He said, "It's all rather simple if you start with a nap, counting by black socks."

Man, he's cryptic sometimes.

Hint 2:

We went to university together, for Software Engineering. It's not out of the question that the moves might be related to something programmers would know or use.

Hint 3:

I truly don't believe that the moves actually mean anything. But my friend isn't exactly into cryptology. Maybe there's some other way he encoded this...

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Question based on the notation of moves is the order left to right, top to bottom as in 1. a3 h2 2.f8 g6, etc. or do the moves not necessarily correlate as one person than another? Also understand if you prefer not to say and leave it as part of the puzzle $\endgroup$
    – gabbo1092
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, you would be correct in that assumption. I formatted it how I did to make it a bit more readable than a single one-liner. I'll edit the question to clarify. $\endgroup$
    – Meerkat
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting - i just notced that rot13(gurer ner 53 pbbeqvangrf, juvpu frrzf ernyyl fgenatr. Va purff gur ahzore bs pbbef vf hfhnyyl qvivqnoyr ol 2.) $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 7:03
  • $\begingroup$ @EugeneAnisiutkin Unless the 53rd is the final movement like a checkmate or whatever ends the game in this version $\endgroup$
    – gabbo1092
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ I've added a couple of hints. Hopefully these will point you in the right direction! $\endgroup$
    – Meerkat
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


The solutions is:


The reason is:

The 8x8 is used for a 6-bit ascii encoding. See here. Here is a link to a spreadsheet with the decoding.

  • $\begingroup$ Your answer is extremely close, and your reasoning for it as well! ROT13(Lbh ner pbeerpg gung lbh arrq gb hfr nfpvv naq bpgny; ubjrire, nyy bs gur punenpgref va gur zbirf ner ernqnoyr. Gurer ner fbzr nqqvgvbany punenpgref lbh'er zvffvat va gur dhbgr, naq gur fcnprf ner abg ahyy punenpgref. Vs lbh pna qrpvcure gur svefg uvag, vg fubhyq or zber pyrne.) $\endgroup$
    – Meerkat
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ The edited answer is correct! ROT13(Gur nafjre jnf zrnag fcrpvsvpnyyl gb or fgnegvat ng 040 (bpgny) tbvat gb 140 va NFPVV. Uvag #1 ersreraprf guvf: "Vg'f nyy engure fvzcyr vs lbh fgneg jvgu n anc (fyrrc pna or ersreerq gb nf "sbegl jvaxf"), pbhagvat ol oynpx fbpxf (ersrerapvat onfronyy'f Oynpx Fbk fpnaqny naq gur zbivr/obbx nobhg vg, "Rvtug Zra Bhg")." Guvf jbhyq zrna gb "fgneg ng 40, pbhagvat ol rvtugf". Ertneqyrff, pbatenghyngvbaf!) $\endgroup$
    – Meerkat
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 20:40

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