Just like every end of year, I am awarding the Golden Alice for outstanding achievements in the field of crypto history and codebreaking. Here are the winners 2018.
Like in the years before, my last blog entry of the year is dedicated to the Golden Alice Awards. The Golden Alice is awarded for outstanding achievements in the field of codebreaking and crypto history. There are eight categories.
Golden Alice 2018 for Best Codebreaking
Like in the years before, many of my readers have solved cryptograms I introduced on this blog. There are two persons that were especially successful:
- Thomas Bosbach has been the most active reader on this blog in 2018. He solved at least a dozen crypto mysteries, including a set of cryptograms from the Thirty Years War and several encrypted postcards. I congratulate Thomas on the Golden Alice 2018 in the “Best Codebreaking” category.
- Norbert Biermann solved a mystery from my (German) top 25 list, namely Giouan Battista Bellaso’s last two encryption challenges. He wrote an article for Cryptologia about his solution. On February 12, 2018, this article was made available on the Cryptologia Website. For this great codebreaking success I award him another Golden Alice in the “Best Codebreaking” category.
Armin Krauss, Narga, Jim Gillogly, George Lasry, Nils Kopal and others broke unsolved cryptograms, too. It goes without saying that my blog would be almost worthless without the contributions of all these great codebreakers.
Golden Alice 2017 for Best Book
Contrary to 2017, 2018 has not been an especially good year with regards to crypto history books. To be honest, I am aware of only one crypto history book that has been published this year: Dermot Turing’s XY&Z – The Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken.
I had the pleasure to listen to a talk given by Dermot …
… about his new book on September 12 in the Polish Embassy in London (here’s a video about this lecture on FaceBook). The lecture and the social event afterwards were very interesting, and so is Dermot’s book. So, the Golden Alice Award 2018 in the “Best Book” category goes to Dermot Turing and his work XY&Z – The Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken.
Golden Alice 2018 for Best TV Documentary
I am not aware of a new TV documentary about codebreaking or crypto history that aired in 2018 (if you know one, please let me know). So, no Golden Alice is awarded in the “Best TV Documentary” category this year.
Golden Alice 2018 for Best Event
The most outstanding crypto history event in 2018 was the HistoCrypt 2018 in Uppsala, Sweden.
This great event, which gathered crypto history experts from all over the world, has absolutely deserved the Golden Alice in the “Best Event” category. It goes without saying that I am looking forward to the next HistoCrypt issue, which will take place in Mons, Belgium, in June 2019. The Call for Papers will be published soon.
There was another great crypto history conference in 2018: the Charlotte International Cryptologic Symposium. It’s the runner-up in this category.
Golden Alice 2018 for Encrypted Book
Encrypted books are one of my favorite topics. In 2018 my Encrypted Book List has grown from 89 to 94 entries. Now the question is, which newbie is the most interesting one. In my view it’s the diary of Austrian servant and soldier Siegfried Schwabl (born 1917). The plaintext is known, but was not published. Blog Reader Armin Krauß deciphered an excerpt I introduced on my blog.
Golden Alice 2018 for Encrypted Postcard
Over the last five years I have blogged about over 150 encrypted postcards. Almost all of them were solved by my readers. Among the highlights were a series of twelve encrypted postcards provided by Tobias Schrödel and the 44 postcards sent by Josef Fröwis from 1898 to 1900. In 2018, a few more encrypted postcards came to my attention and I blogged about them. The most beautiful one, and the winner of the Golden Alice in the “Encrypted Postcard” category, was sent in 1901 from Iserlohn, Germany, to nearby Arnsberg (this card was, again, provided by Tobias Schrödel):
Thomas Bosbach, the winner of the “Best Codebreaking” Golden Alice solved this card – like so many others.
Golden Alice 2018 for Newly Discovered Cryptogram
Over the last 12 months, I have learned about many unsolved cryptograms I hadn’t known before. While some of these (for instance, a number of encrypted postcards) were quickly deciphered by my readers, a number of other cryptograms remained unsolved. In my view the most important still unsolved crypto mystery I learned about in 2018 is the one created by Arno Schmidt.
Source: Ernst Krawehl: Porträt einer Klasse. Arno Schmidt zum Gedenken
Arno Schmidt (1914-1979) was one of the most important German-language writers of the 20th century. He was a strict individualist, almost a solipsist, with an extremely pessimistic world view. Schmidt is little known outside of German-speaking areas, in part because his works present a formidable challenge to translators.
It was blog reader Rainer Boldhaus, who made me aware of a series cryptograms Arno Schmidt left behind. The solution is not known. I introduced these ciphertexts on my blog and I received many interesting comments, but the mystery remained unsolved. To learn about an unsolved crypto mystery created by such a prominent person is something very special for me. So, the Golden Alice in the “Newly Discovered Cryptogram” category goes to the Arno Schmidt cryptograms.
Golden Alice 2018 for Outstanding Work
Readers of this blog certainly know CrypTool 2, a crypto Software that implements numerous cryptographic methods. Originally, CrypTool 2 was mainly known for the many ciphers it supports. Meanwhile, it also features an impressing number of codebreaking tools, including Hill Climbing, Index of Coincidence, and frequency analysis – just to name a few.
By the end of 2018, a new Version of CrypTool 2 was released (CrypTool 2 2018.3). In my view, this new software is the most outstanding piece of work in the field of crypto history and codebreaking in 2018. So, the Golden Alice in the “Outstanding Work” category goes to CrypTool 2 and the team developping it, including Prof. Bernhard Esslinger (Overall Project Coordinator), Nils Kopal, Armin Krauss, and Prof. Dr. Arno Wacker. I will write more about the new version of this great software in January.
Congratulations to all the winners! I am looking forward to writing many more blog posts in 2019.
Further reading: My visit at the Cheltenham Listening Stones