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Headlines: The Setting Mystery Cache

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The Rat: Archived

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Hidden : 09/26/2008
Difficulty:
4 out of 5
Terrain:
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:


The Headlines puzzle was created by an NSA employee for recreational purposes for cryptographers who just want to kick back and solve something "easy" while honing their skills during lunch breaks and off hours. Headlines puzzles require solving five related cryptograms, each a simple substitution cipher with spaces and punctuation shown. Each of the five is encrypted using the same mixed alphabet shifted for each headline. See the full description on the American Cryptogram Association website. Headlines are enciphered using a setting, a key, and a hat, which combine to form the mixed K3 alphabet and its shifts. Be sure you understand this description before you attempt to solve this puzzle.

There are three caches in this series using the same five headlines. For the first and easiest puzzle you must find the setting. To do this, solve the five cryptograms below, then write the five cipher alphabets so that the letters representing the same plaintext letter are aligned vertically as in the ACA example. Read down the columns until you find a five-letter word. That word is the setting. Again, see the full ACA explanation if that is confusing.

Once you have found the setting, assign numbers to the five letters according to their places in the alphabet, i.e. A=1, B=2..., Z=26. Multiply the first four numbers of the setting together to get a five-digit number. Subtract from that 12571 to get another 5-digit number, and call that nnnnn. The North coordinate is N37 nn.nnn. Multiply the last three numbers together to get a four-digit number. Add to that 1789 to get another four-digit number, and call it wwww. The west coordinate is W122 0w.www.

Here are the five headlines:

1. XLI HS QGGL HBDZQ SE DOCIGBI NK *ANZJ.
2. *M.Z. VJDOKE NJARM UX FAD OXDUKMU XD UY
3. *BCNW'Y INUGBM YANUB OZFEO ... OZFEO ...
4. *ESLGEJ YJMLWFJ OH *HGDZEVM EYWOSLHW
5. YNDTHZDJRHCF NHSCFT TBCND TRCPD, KNHDAFM, CR AQNEU

All three in the series are micros. Bring a pen.

Headlines are particularly difficult for several reasons. They include proper nouns and acronyms, each is very short, and although they use the same K3 alphabet, each is shifted with respect to the others, so each must be solved separately. Headlines often omit short words and ignore grammar rules. To make it easier, certain rules are followed in this series of caches which will aid you in solving.

  • Each is a real headline taken verbatim from a local newspaper.
  • Original punctuation (but NOT capitalization) is kept (e.g. can be USA or U.S.A.)
  • An asterisk (*) is placed before each proper noun.
  • The original headlines appeared within 30 days of each other.
  • The key, setting, and hat are all related by a common theme.

This cache is a micro. Bring a pen.

The other two caches are: Headlines: The Key and Headlines: The Hat.

You can check your answers for this puzzle on Geochecker.com.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

fubhyqreyriry

Decryption Key

A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M
-------------------------
N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z

(letter above equals below, and vice versa)