This is a very simple variation on a very simple cipher. I'm sure one of you geniuses on this site will be able to figure it out without any hints (aside from the title). I encourage you to use a computer to solve it, but that is ultimately not necessary.

Here you go:

Xwj wdwzq sklqgv, bzmjm qk sv micst ifl whxgaabw jmsklqgv.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I believe any cipher question should have indication (maybe some cleverly hidden hints) on how it should be decrypted. $\endgroup$ – oleslaw Sep 12 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ I haven't hidden any clever hints, but I think what is here is enough for anyone to solve it in a reasonable amount of time. I'm sort of planning on using this kind of thing as part of a future puzzle, so it really isn't terribly complicated; this is sort of a test run though so I'll drop a hint in several hours if necessary. $\endgroup$ – rm-vanda Sep 12 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ tips on improving for future use are appreciated~ $\endgroup$ – rm-vanda Sep 12 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ If you are looking at suggestions for improvement, I would suggest looking at what Gareth went through to solve the puzzle. It is rather labor intensive with no obvious path from question to solution. Is that how you expected someone to solve this? If not, how would they know your intended mechanism? How might you lead readers to that mechanism in the question? Calling it a "Zipper Cipher" doesn't help much as there is no standard definition for this and even if someone guessed the meaning they might reject it due to the inclusion of spaces in the count but not the encryption. $\endgroup$ – Barker Sep 12 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ Hey, I don’t know if it helps but if you have a look at my ‘nature walk’ puzzle I tried to tie the cipher into a story, through which the key was gradually hinted at, and it seems to have been well received. It was really no different in difficulty or task than yours, it was the ‘hidden hints’ (as oleslaw said) that did it I think. $\endgroup$ – Tonks Sep 12 at 16:28

I believe the plaintext is


and it seems as if

each letter has been shifted by 8 places in either direction in the alphabet, alternating between the two with each character. (Not with each letter; spaces and punctuation count too for that purpose.)

Mode of solution:

the obvious way in is the fact that we have both SKLQGV and JMSKLQGV. It seems plausible that these are two different words, so I prepared a list of common words of length 8 whose length-8 suffix is also a word and with no repeated letters. There aren't actually very many of these. It seemed likely that the two words were related somehow (just on stylistic grounds) so we could eliminate things like (fo)replay and (ra)venous. REACTION kinda jumped out at me, and then there was an obvious guess at the whole phrase, and then it was just a matter of figuring out exactly what had to have been done to get from there to the given ciphertext.


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