• Friday, May 20, 2022


Christmas card with puzzles twist to test intelligence

FILE PHOTO: Jeremy Fleming, director of Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ)(Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Sattwik Biswal

THE UK’s intelligence, security and cyber agency, Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) has released this year’s official Christmas card, director Sir Jeremy Fleming has said.

Each year the card contains a Christmas brainteaser, only this time there’s a twist as the seven difficult puzzles have been specially designed for 11 to 18-year-olds.

The agency, which works to keep the country safe, is encouraging secondary schools and colleges of the country on Monday (13) to take part in the #GCHQChristmasChallenge. The aim is to persuade more young people to take an interest in STEM subjects and consider future careers in the intelligence services.

Director GCHQ Sir Jeremy Fleming, said:  “From enigma to artificial intelligence, GCHQ’s history is full of talented people tackling the country’s most complex challenges. If we’re to help keep the country safe, problem-solving skills and teamwork are absolutely crucial.

“That’s why this year’s Christmas puzzles are aimed at young people. I want to show  young people  that thinking differently is a gift. It is only with the right  mix of minds that they can solve seemingly impossible problems, just like we do at GCHQ.” 

Director’s Christmas card is traditionally sent to National Security colleagues and partners across the world, who work alongside GCHQ every day to counter the organised crime gangs, terror groups and hostile states.

But this year the card sets a not-so-secret  mission for young people through a  set of puzzles  which increase in difficulty. Each one is aimed at a particular age group and will need  young people to think outside the box and work together to  find the festive answer.  

GCHQ is also encouraging the wider public to take  on the challenge  and  pit their wits against school children to find  out, if they’re smarter than an  11-year-old.  

In 2019, the intelligence, security and cyber agency celebrated its Centenary year, and it now has sites across the UK including London, Bude, Scarborough, Cheltenham, and its latest addition being Manchester. With origins in WW1, the agency’s history is full of ordinary people working together to solve the extraordinary, using their ingenuity.

 To support greater take up of STEM subjects, particularly among young girls, GCHQ has partnered with the organisation Stemettes on several activities over the last few years.

Young people who would enjoy the Christmas Card puzzles and are interested in developing their cyber skills are encouraged to take part in the National Cyber Security Centre’s CyberFirst activities, or there are more puzzles on the GCHQ website.

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