When asked when they first realized they might have the answer to the Cryptogram, Adrienne called it a “Eureka moment. It was like `how come we didn’t get that sooner.’ I was seriously concerned that somebody would submit the answer before we did.”
“About four clues back from the final clue, it was like a carrot in front of a donkey. It was maddening because it was right there but we still couldn’t seem to grab it. It was tricky because of the short solution,” Stephen said.
Since this was the second puzzle solved by the pair, GEN was curious if the team took a different tack in attacking the two cryptograms.
“What I like to do is to keep a grid going and then I color code the different parts of the grid according to the clues that are revealed,” said Adrienne. “I try to keep track of things this way because not every single spot can be a letter.”
“We have different approaches,” pointed out Stephen. “Adrienne tends to organize the information. I usually begin with a Perl script and put everything into a computer. Then I start monkeying around with all the different possibilities. That served me well in the first one.
“This time I abandoned that about halfway through when I could see that we were doing better just looking at the spreadsheet. The nice thing about what Adrienne does is it’s easy for her to share it. We function collaboratively. I can always benefit from what she’s done. She tends to instinctively line things up in ways that work really well.”
Adrienne and Stephen agreed that it took about 30 hours to solve the Cryptogram.
One of the themes emanating from GEN’s Cryptogram Challenge is that virtually all of the contests have served as team-building tools. Based on interviews with all Challenge winners, it’s become clear that at least two people have been involved in solving every puzzle (except for Jason Jens’ recent success in deciphering a Cryptogram during a one-day marathon session).
“I think that’s a key part of the whole exercise,” said Adrienne. “It’s just like bouncing ideas back and forth between one another in the lab. You know you can’t really do it in isolation if you’re going to do it well. The GEN Cryptogram Challenge feels like the same kind of thing. And that’s what makes it so much fun.”