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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bag o' Zyps (continued)

If you successfully solved the first three Zyptograms in this package (next post, below), you're ready to move on to the elimination round. Zyp 4 is rated "difficult," and Zyp 5 is what Cryptopop calls a "stumper."




jdege said...

You're getting me to waste quite a lot of my life, with these.

#4 still has me stumped. #5 was actually easier (Firefly, Episode 4).

BreakingCodes said...

Jdege, I wouldn't call it wasted! You've got to admit that these give a sense of satisfaction greater even than the effort put into them.

However, both of these stumped me. I finally took a hint for each and got Zyp 5. Then, an additional hint got me through Zyp 4.

For anyone who wants to get those same hints, read on.

In Zyp 4, the plaintext for ciphertext O is the same as the forty-fifth letter from the end of this sentence.

In Zyp 5, the plaintext for ciphertext R is the same as the thirty-ninth letter from the end of this sentence.

The additional clue for Zyp 4 is a word spelled with five letters, which can be anagrammed from the fourth, sixteenth, seventeenth, twentieth, and twenty-first letters of this sentence.

jdege said...

That second hint for #4 confused me. I tried to fit it into the cryptogram. but there are only two five-letter words, both have O in their second place, and the second letter in the anagrammed word didn't match the O given in the first hint.

Which meant either that I had counted the letters wrong, or the hint was germane to the content of the text, rather than a word within it.

It was the latter.

Cryptopop said...

Actually, the hint for Zyp # 4 is a double clue.

1- the word was descriptive of the content as you said.

2- all letters in the "word" are also in the plain text of the cryp.

...and the reason that I rated #5 a "stumper" was because it was shorter and thus had less of an availability of clues. Both were difficult but most solvers have a harder time with brief puzzles containing word lengths of 4-7 letters.

jdege said...

#5 is bouncing awfully close to the unicity distance of standard English.

BreakingCodes said...


Yep, right at 28 letters. That brings up two important characteristics of Zyptograms.

1. Economy of letters: Cryptopop uses laser precision to trim any fat, usually resulting in cryptograms that are tightened up to the bare minimum needed for solution (and for them to still make sense, of course) -- as little as 15 letters! With very short cryptograms, especially those that are shorter than the alphabet used, the next point becomes critical.

2. Uniqueness: Each Zyp is tested to ensure that it can produce only a single solution. This gets more and more difficult the further south of the unicity distance that you go, as your comment implies. The more you do these Zyps, the more you appreciate the skill that went into creating them.

Cryptopop said...

Thanks for the kind and poignant comments. I appreciate your recognition of the time and effort that goes into making these puzzles.