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"If you're worthy, the secret is found within you," the wise old lady had told you before you had entered the villain's lair. When the townspeople had told you to seek her out for advice, you thought that it would actually be helpful. Now it's just pounding through your head as you enter the deepest room in the lair.

"Hello," you hear in the villain's voice. You panic, because you thought the villain wouldn't be here at this time. He's not. It's a voice recording. "Sit down, and let's play chess for a while."

A table in the center of the room contains a chessboard, although the position set up on it is very unusual.

enter image description here

After looking at the chessboard for a little while, you notice words burnt into the side of it:

WHEREVER YOU ARE, YOU ARE ALWAYS ONE STEP BEHIND.

You know the villain is a big fan of codes and ciphers, so you know the chessboard probably helps decode something. What it could be, you have no idea.

You peer through the room's sole window into the adjoining room, where you get a nice view of a gigantic laser, that is almost charged and ready to fire.

"There is now one hour until fire." A robotic voice resonates through the room.

You don't have a second to lose. You grab the villain's laptop and navigate to the application you know will have the ability to shut down the laser.

You navigate to the shutdown option, and are greeted by a classic ENTER PASSCODE screen with room for four characters.

"There are now 55 minutes until fire," the robotic voice says again.

Can you figure out the passcode in time using all the information you've been given?

(Note: This puzzle has the tag because it does in fact require minimal chess knowledge. Happy puzzling!)

Hint Section

1. You realize that the villain has said he's especially fond of Vigenere ciphers, especially one where the key and cipher text are the same length. And isn't there a correlation between the number of pieces on the chessboard and another piece of information you've been given?
2. The secret is literally ‘found within you’.
3. There's more than 1 layer of vigenere. And aren't the files of a chessboard named after letters?
4. Isn't there a way to represent chess pieces as letters? And how could 'one step behind' refer to vigenere?

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  • $\begingroup$ ooh you're back! $\endgroup$ – Omega Krypton Jul 4 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ @OmegaKrypton yep, I am :P $\endgroup$ – Excited Raichu Jul 4 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ Why does everything include chess even when it's not a chess problem :/ $\endgroup$ – PotatoLatte Jul 4 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ I need another hint, how are we supposed to read the chess pieces? $\endgroup$ – PotatoLatte Jul 6 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ So it had nothing to do with the fact that every empty square on the board is attacked by at least one white piece after all... "Wherever you are" kind of pointed in that direction. $\endgroup$ – Arnaud Mortier Jul 11 at 22:50
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The password is:

8122

Because:

1) Using foundwithinyou as a ciphertext and hcbdafaaccdegg as a Vigenere key (the files of the chess pieces if you search top to bottom, left to right), you get mqvqdbitjkqcua.

2) Using mqvqdbitjkqcua as a ciphertext and rrkqprnkbknqbn as the key (the piece names in the same order as before), you get dhfgssvdkudsvn.

3) Since we are "one step behind", rotate the letters of dhfgssvdkudsvn forward by one letter. This gives eighttwelvetwo or "eight twelve two" (matching the word lengths in "found within you"). Thus the password is 8122.

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  • $\begingroup$ congrats on 5k! +1 $\endgroup$ – Omega Krypton Jul 9 at 5:27
  • $\begingroup$ @OmegaKrypton Thanks! Actually my activity history is funny. Lots of activity in 2015 when I first started, then very little from 2016-2018, and now in 2019 I've taken a renewed interest since I started creating my own puzzles instead of just solving them. $\endgroup$ – JS1 Jul 9 at 5:33
  • $\begingroup$ This is it! Nice job. Bounty will be headed your way soon. $\endgroup$ – Excited Raichu Jul 9 at 11:29
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The password is

INME

Because:

The pieces that are not protected in order are the King on C1, Queen on D6, Rook on F5, and Knight on G1. Therefore, the Cipher is KQRK, and the key is CDFG

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  • $\begingroup$ Not quite. Have you looked at the hint section? $\endgroup$ – Excited Raichu Jul 8 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ You are, however, on the right track with using letter abbreviations and files as keys. $\endgroup$ – Excited Raichu Jul 8 at 17:56

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