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This is the user's guide to the interactive CryptoLeague Puzzle solving tool.

  1. Starting the Tool.
  2. The Main Buttons.
  3. Quick guide to using the tool.
  4. Help on Solving the Puzzles.
  5. Limitations on Guest Users.


You can start the tool by either:

  1. Selecting "Latest Puzzle" from the menu - this will start the tool with latest puzzle in the database loaded.
  2. Selecting "Browse puzzles" from the menu - this will start the tool and present a dialog box with a list of puzzles, from which you can select one to open in the tool.   Up to thirty puzzles will be shown in the list with the most recent first.   At the bottom of the list is a button to show more puzzles which will load the 30 next most recent puzzles into the list.

When a puzzle is opened, the tool will look in the database, to see whether the currently logged on user has already saved any solutions for that puzzle, and if so, it will restore the state of the tool to the saved state by loading the saved solution alphabet(s) and saved record of hints used.

If a puzzle that has previously been successfully solved by this user is loaded then the display will show the completed puzzle but will no longer allow any editing.   (Return to Top)


Once a puzzle is open, the tool will show various information about the puzzle and three buttons.   The three buttons are enabled and disabled according to their appropriateness and they are:

  1. Clear Solution - This button will return the solution to an empty alphabet.   Hints that have been shown will however remain visible.
  2. Check Solution - Once all letters of the cryptogram have a plaintext letter, it is possible to send the solution to the server to have it checked.   If it is correct, it will be saved, the puzzle status will be changed to "Completed" and the time of completion will be recorded.
  3. Save Solution - The current state of the user's solution will be saved.   At the moment, this will consist of the current alphabet(s) and which hints have been used.   (Return to Top)

Quick guide to using the tool:

The Alphabet part of the display shows the cipher alphabet.  Under each cipher character is an entry field where you can enter your guess for the matching plain text character.   Any changes entered here will date the Cryptogram display as well.

The Cryptogram text part of the tool displays the text of the cryptogram.   i.e. the encrypted text.   Underneath each letter you can enter your guess for the matching plaintext letter and both the current alphabet and the rest of the cryptogram will be updated accordingly.   e.g. if you see a cipher 'D' and enter a 'V' undrneath it then all 'D's in the cryptogram will show a 'V' and as will the 'D' in the alphabet display.

You can also delete characters in any of the places where you can enter them.   (Return to Top)


Getting Help on Solving the Puzzles:

The tool offers 4 basic types of hints on solving the puzzle.   These are selectable using the check boxes underneath the Cryptogram Text.   Once displayed, they cannot be hidden again and use of them will be recorded when you save a partial or complete solution to a puzzle.   Obviously a solution where no ints were used is more impressive than one which used all available help.   The hints are:

  1. Show Whitespace.   The basic cryptograms have had all empty space stripped out of them.   This means that you do not know where words end or start.   If you choose to show the whitespace then you will have a big advantage when it comes to guessing complete words.   This is especially useful with short word, e.g "two letter word ending in E" - does not have that many possibilities...
  2. Show Punctuation.   If you are working on solving the puzzle from the top end, i.e trying to guess complete words and sentence structure then this option will show all punctuation marks (otherwise stripped out of the cryptogram) and can be of great assistance.   Of course, some puzzles will have a single full stop at the end and nothing else - but others may have much more information available.   You won't know till you look...
  3. Show Frequencies.   Working on the bottom end of the solution, i.e. letter by letter, then a frequency analysis of how often each cipher character is used can be of great help.   This approach works particularly well on larger texts where there are enough characters to be statistically significant.
  4. Show Comments.   Each puzzle has a comments field which is initially hidden.   If you choose to show it then you will see whatever the creator of the puzzle saw fit to mention.   This may or may not be helpful;  e.g. knowledge of a quote's author can be useful for famous quotes, especially if you are the sort of person who then goes off and uses an internet quotation database (shame on you!).   Or maybe there is a quirk in the encipherment?

For more information on solving puzzles, please see the Hints and Tips article.   (Return to Top)


Limitations on Guest Users:

Guest users (i.e. non-registered) may select and solve puzzles using the tool - however, there are some limitiations:

  1. Guest Users may not save solutions.
  2. Guest Users will only have access to hints on the first 100 puzzles in the database.   After that you will have to register or solve the puzzles without any extra information.   (Return to Top)
 
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