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GCHQ spy bosses create their toughest puzzle to celebrate Alan Turing on £50 note

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The Bank of England yesterday revealed its design featuring the pioneering mathematician, as the Government intelligence HQ said its 12 riddles “might even have left him scratching his head”. Turing was the key figure in breaking the Nazis’ naval Enigma cipher in 1942, at Bletchley Park – GCHQ’s wartime home.

He died aged 41 in an apparent suicide in 1954 after being prosecuted over his homosexuality. Jeremy Fleming, GCHQ director, said: “Alan Turing’s appearance on the £50 note is a landmark.

“Not only is it a celebration of his scientific genius, which helped to shorten the war and influence the technology we still use today, it also confirms his status as one of the most iconic LGBT+ figures.

“Turing was embraced for his brilliance and persecuted for being gay. His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity.”

The 12 puzzles are based on design elements of the note, such as the technical drawings for the Bombe machine Turing built to break enemy codes. His great-nephew, James Turing, called GCHQ’s Turing Challenge puzzles a “wonderful tribute” and said his family would attempt them.

GCHQ said the full challenge might take even an experienced puzzler seven hours.

Colin, its chief puzzler, said: “Alan Turing has inspired many recruits over the years to join GCHQ, eager to use their own problem-solving skills to help to keep the country safe.

“It seemed only fitting to gather a mix of minds from across our missions to devise a seriously tough puzzle to honour his commemoration.

“It might even have left him scratching his head – although we very much doubt it.”

Turing joined GCHQ in 1938 and led its code-breaking during the Second World War, working alongside Gordon Welchman.

Actor Stephen Fry said in a video posted by the Bank that putting Turing on the £50 note was a step in the long overdue recognition of “this very great man”.



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