Cryptography Competition goes nationwide in honour of Alan Turing

03 Dec 2012


The winning teams from the 2012 competition
The winning teams from the 2012 competition

To round off a year of international events marking the centenary of Alan Turing, The University of Manchester’s fiendish Cryptography Competition is going nationwide.

With almost 2,000 children entering the first Alan Turing Cryptography Competition earlier this year, the organisers have decided to open the challenge to children across the country.  

Dr Charles Walkden from the University’s School of Mathematics says: “This has been a fantastic year celebrating the vitally important work of the code breaker and father of modern computing Alan Turing.  Our competition was one of the first events highlighting his ingenious mind and it seems fitting to end such a special year with a nationwide search for the next Turing.”  

To mark Alan Turing’s role in helping to crack the Enigma machine during the Second World War, the University’s Cryptography Competition challenges school children to decipher the story of Mike and Ellie, two children who get caught up in cryptographic adventure involving a mysterious artefact – the Egyptian Enigma!  

Charles says the competition has proved to be very popular: “We had 1,800 children in Year 11 and below taking part in our first competition in January when it ran just in the North West. Now we’re taking it nationwide so we’re expecting thousands more to enter this year. We’re also delighted to announce that the leading travel search site Skyscanner is once again sponsoring the competition.”

There are six cryptographic puzzles spread across the six chapters of the story. The first chapter will be released on January 7th 2013, with a new chapter and new puzzle following every two weeks.  

Charles adds: “You don't need to be a mathematical genius or a computer whizz to take part.  Problem solving and thinking logically are all that's required!”  

There will be prizes for the three top placed teams and for the first team to solve each puzzle.   

The competition is open to all students up to and including Year 11 (or equivalent) in the UK. To take part teams of four need to register on the competition website from 16:00 on Monday 3 December.  


* This competition is too hard for adults.  If you can read this then you should take part in our cryptography competition to prove you're the next Alan Turing and win a prize.


Notes for editors

Charles Walkden is available for interviews.  

The prizes have been sponsored by leading travel search site, Skyscanner whose founders, Gareth Williams and Bonamy Grimes, are graduates of The University of Manchester.

The prizes are:   

1st prize: £30 in Amazon vouchers for each team member 
2nd prize: £25 in Amazon vouchers for each team member 
3rd prize: £20 in Amazon vouchers for each team member   

In addition there are prizes of £15 in Amazon vouchers for each team member of the first team to solve each code.  There are also up to five spot £10 prizes in Amazon vouchers for team members in randomly chosen teams who have correctly solved each chapter within two weeks of its release.  

For interview requests or more information please contact:  

Morwenna Grills
Media Relations Officer
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences  

Tel: 0161 275 2111
Mob: 07920 087466

About Skyscanner:  

Skyscanner is Europe’s leading travel search site providing instant online comparisons for millions of flights on over a thousand airlines, as well as car hire and hotels.   

Skyscanner was founded in 2003 by Manchester University graduates, Gareth Williams and Bonamy Grimes along with fellow IT professional Barry Smith.

Skyscanner’s head office is based in Edinburgh with a second office in Singapore.   

The site is available in 29 languages and is offered as a mobile site as well an app for Android, iPhone and iPad, which have received over 5 million downloads.

Having seen an average annual growth of 94% over the last three years, Skyscanner was ranked in the top 20 in Sunday Times Microsoft Tech Track 100 (2011).   

The company is focusing on rapid expansion in existing and new markets with the objective of becoming number one in the world.