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One player plays the Evil Mastermind (that's me) who nukes the states of the USA 3 at a time, the other players play Hackers who seek to stop the Evil Mastermind. The Evil Mastermind plays by posting commands which activate missile strikes. Each command has a unique password, which is derived from the command by a hashing algorithm. The Evil Mastermind devises a different algorithm at the start of each game, and posts the passwords along with the commands. The Hackers will see the commands and passwords and from this they should try to deduce the hashing algorithm. The Hacker who does this first, and correctly figures out the password to the command "ABORT", stops the Evil Mastermind and wins the game. Anyone can join in at any time as a Hacker.

Now hashing algorithms can be exceedingly difficult to crack, but there are restrictions placed on the kind of algorithm that the Evil Mastermind can use:

1) The Evil Mastermind must be able to derive an alphanumeric password of fixed length from any word (password length 8 characters or less, you choose). It doesn't have to be a cipher in the sense that it can be decrypted to the original word, indeed the fixed length makes that impossible.

2) You must be able to do it in your head, with no external aids, in 40 seconds or less. You may look at the word you are hashing but you should not have to look at the previous letters of the password, since real-life passwords are generally shown as ***** as you type (although you may use previous letters as far as your memory can handle it). It's up to you to ensure that you can do all this. A really classy algorithm is one which fulfils this condition better (quick and easy to perform, in other words).

3) Although it is quite possible to hold an alphabetic substitution table in your head, and apply it quickly, I'll rule this out because in conjunction with other techniques it's too difficult to crack. Any technique that requires a large amount of information to be memorised in advance is not allowed. Caesar ciphers with a large shift pretty much fall into that category.

4) Consistency. This is a matter of good sportsmanship. For example, since "ABORT" is the target word, you can't have a rule that comes into play only when the sequence "BOR" occurs. All rules should be general enough that they come into play in either one third of the clues posted at any given time, or 10 clues posted. The algorithm should not be geared toward the specific commands used in this game, but should work on any word.

Commands

There are 51 commands, these being the names of US states (used by the Evil Mastermind to nuke another state), plus the word "ABORT" (used by hackers to stop the Evil Mastermind).

Commands and passwords are all uppercase.

ABORT

ALABAMA

ALASKA

ARIZONA

ARKANSAS

CALIFORNIA

COLORADO

CONNECTICUT

DELAWARE

FLORIDA

GEORGIA

HAWAII

IDAHO

ILLINOIS

INDIANA

IOWA

KANSAS

KENTUCKY

LOUISIANA

MAINE

MARYLAND

MASSACHUSETTS

MICHIGAN

MINNESOTA

MISSISSIPPI

MISSOURI

MONTANA

NEBRASKA

NEVADA

NEWHAMPSHIRE

NEWJERSEY

NEWMEXICO

NEWYORK

NORTHCAROLINA

NORTHDAKOTA

OHIO

OKLAHOMA

OREGON

PENNSYLVANIA

RHODEISLAND

SOUTHCAROLINA

SOUTHDAKOTA

TENNESSEE

TEXAS

UTAH

VERMONT

VIRGINIA

WASHINGTON

WESTVIRGINIA

WISCONSIN

WYOMING

Game Play

The Evil Mastermind posts 3 commands at a time, with their passwords. The Evil Mastermind chooses the commands, but should generally do requests as soon as possible.

Each Hacker may make one guess at the password for "ABORT" for each time the Evil Mastermind posts commands. If someone makes multiple guesses in between clues, only the first one counts, but if they make a mistake and correct it, the Evil Mastermind can accept the correction.

There is no need for spoilers when guessing the password, although please use spoilers if you reveal the algorithm.

The first one to get the password for "ABORT" wins.

P.S. Alternatively if you've cracked the algorithm you can just use it to blow up more states if you're that way inclined (**per original Evil Mastermind's rules!)

I'm hoping this will be a slight increment in difficulty from previous ones.

UPDATE: Here's all the clues so far

CALIFORNIA

MPWOHZGB

NEBRASKA

IWBXRBQD

VIRGINIA

JJPHBGHW

ARKANSAS

RBQVAWZY

CONNECTICUT

ODHWHHVU

MINNESOTA

OFXPUZRJ

NEWHAMPSHIRE

IBRAVIJW

NEWMEXICO

PFEHHPOF

OREGON

DLPPPWDL

ARIZONA

CNOZBYJC

KENTUCKY

FQWTFTCR

WISCONSIN

VFPQVHQD

HAWAII

ZJHIBEZJ

MISSOURI

VPVWHQJX

NORTHCAROLINA

IFBYNQJO

IOWA

DZJPDZJP

OHIO

JPNIJPNI

UTAH

UZKVUZKV

IDAHO

BKPHEBKP

MAINE

JODPZJOD

TEXAS

FCZXUFCZ

COLORADO

PWZGNGPR

KANSAS

BQVAXRBQ

MONTANA

QUZPZRPQ

ALABAMA

HBQZBRZH

FLORIDA

PWHEBMSP

RHODEISLAND

EFJXQBQG

INDIANA

HBPZJOEH

MARYLAND

BYBQBQEP

NEVADA

EZFBQFEZ

MISSISSIPPI

VIXVHAYH

NEWYORK

FFBNWROF

SOUTHDAKOTA

IEBTPUZX

DELAWARE

BEZYDFFQ

MICHIGAN

FKHJBQPH

WASHINGTON

XIJOLWNQ

NORTHDAKOTA

UIEBTPUZ

SOUTHCAROLINA

FBYNQJOB

TENNESSEE

OFXVDFVD

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Posted · Report post

Abort

QILOGWRK

Password rejected, access denied.

And here you are araver:

NORTHDAKOTA

UIEBTPUZ

SOUTHCAROLINA

FBYNQJOB

TENNESSEE

OFXVDFVD

The hounds are on my trail. I can sense it. Just 11 states left!

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Posted · Report post

- find out how many vowels are in the state and start with the letter in that place

- if you find a vowel, pick next/prev/same based on some unknown

- if you find a consonant, pick letter in the alphabet series after this letter. the unknown is how many to count to pick the letter.

For e.g.:

SOUTHCAROLINA = FBYNQJOB

# of stateChars : 13

# of vowels: 6 => starting letter is C from the 6th position

# of consts: 7

C = F => C DE F

A = B => next letter

R = Y => R STUVWX Y

O = N => prev letter

L = Q => L MNOP Q

I = J => next letter

N = O => N O

A = B => next letter

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Posted (edited) · Report post

IPYUZIPY

Edited by araver
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Posted (edited) · Report post

- find out how many vowels are in the state and start with the letter in that place

- if you find a vowel, pick next/prev/same based on some unknown

- if you find a consonant, pick letter in the alphabet series after this letter. the unknown is how many to count to pick the letter.

For e.g.:

SOUTHCAROLINA = FBYNQJOB

# of stateChars : 13

# of vowels: 6 => starting letter is C from the 6th position

# of consts: 7

C = F => C DE F

A = B => next letter

R = Y => R STUVWX Y

O = N => prev letter

L = Q => L MNOP Q

I = J => next letter

N = O => N O

A = B => next letter

I did not have time to look on where to start ... but deciphered the rest of the rules.

So I just did a blind shot hoping you were right on the start position. ABORT = 2 vowels - start with second letter.

Still it does not seem so likely with my rules.

Edited by araver
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Posted · Report post

Letter translation depends on how neighbours are between themselves - i.e. context sensitive rule.

	

	>	=	<

A	Z	A	B

B	g	H	i

C			

D	E	F	G

E	D	E	F

F			

G	j	k	L

H	I	J	K

I	H	I	J

J			

K	R	S	T

L			

M	P	Q	R

N	O	P	Q

O	N	O	P

P			

Q			

R	W	X	Y

S	V	W	X

T	U	v	w

U	t	u	V

V	E	f	G

W	D	E	F

X			

Y			

Z			

E.g. aAb in the command

If a>b then A->Z (e.g. CAB)

If a=b then A->A (e.g. SAS)

If a<b then A->B (e.g. BAC)

ARKANSAS and KANSAS made me understand this rule (=)

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Letter translation depends on how neighbours are between themselves - i.e. context sensitive rule.

	

	>	=	<

A	Z	A	B

B	g	H	i

C			

D	E	F	G

E	D	E	F

F			

G	j	k	L

H	I	J	K

I	H	I	J

J			

K	R	S	T

L			

M	P	Q	R

N	O	P	Q

O	N	O	P

P			

Q			

R	W	X	Y

S	V	W	X

T	U	v	w

U	t	u	V

V	E	f	G

W	D	E	F

X			

Y			

Z			

E.g. aAb in the command If a>b then A->Z (e.g. CAB) If a=b then A->A (e.g. SAS) If a<b then A->B (e.g. BAC) ARKANSAS and KANSAS made me understand this rule (=)

        >       =       <

A       Z       A       B

B       G       H       I

C       F	G	H                

D       E       F       G

E       D       E       F

F       K	L	M                

G       J       K       L

H       I       J       K

I       H       I       J

J       S	T	U                

K       R       S       T

L       Q	R	S                

M       P       Q       R

N       O       P       Q

O       N       O       P

P       Y	Z	A                

Q       X	Y	Z                

R       W       X       Y

S       V       W       X

T       U       V       W

U       T       U       V

V       E       F       G

W       D       E       F

X       C	D	E                

Y	B	C	D	                       

Z       A	B	C 

Edited by Vineetrika
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Posted (edited) · Report post

	>	=	<

A	Z	A	B

B	G	H	I

C	F	G	H

D	E	F	G

E	D	E	F

F	K	L	M

G	J	K	L

H	I	J	K

I	H	I	J

J			

K	R	S	T

L	Q	R	S

M	P	Q	R

N	O	P	Q

O	N	O	P

P	Y	Z	A

Q			

R	W	X	Y

S	V	W	X

T	U	V	W

U	T	U	V

V	E	F	G

W	D	E	F

X	C	D	E

Y	B	C	D

Z	A	B	C

Rules for Q and J cannot be certain since there is no natural occurrence in the commands, but logic would dictate (a.k.a I'm biased towards :D )

J	S	T	U

Q	X	Y	Z

Edit: You beat me to it :D

Kudos for the start rule. I was way off on that one.

Edited by araver
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Posted (edited) · Report post

araver and vineetrika -

it looks like you've created a table bassed on your observations of the known commands. But the password needs to be able to be found without referencing this table. So what rule determines which three letters are associated with each starting letter? this is where I'm lost. in different terms: you should be able to definitively determine the three letters associated with J and Q even though they haven't already been used, right?

edit: oh, and nice job!

Edited by Cherry Lane
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Posted · Report post

araver and vineetrika -

it looks like you've created a table bassed on your observations of the known commands. But the password needs to be able to be found without referencing this table. So what rule determines which three letters are associated with each starting letter? this is where I'm lost. in different terms: you should be able to definitively determine the three letters associated with J and Q even though they haven't already been used, right?

Correct, I was too bent to confirm that the table is indeed that one.

Rule for vowels is simple:

Go down 1 space in alphabet if left>right neighbor

Go up 1 space in alphabet if left < right neighbor.

Stay where you are if neighbors are equal.

For consonants :

Count the spaces up to the next vowel in the alphabet (e.g. for K next vowel is O)

Count the spaces again from that vowel to arrive at the opposite letter.(e.g. for K - O - S).

This is the letter for equal case.

Same rule as vowels for cases < and >.

Actually its the same rule, just that it's easier to see for vowels first and then extrapolate for consonants.

P.S. The table only makes breaking easier. It should stay under 40 seconds after a little practice.

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IPYUZIPY
Password accepted. System shutting down.

Seems I picked the wrong time to go out, it's all gone down!

Well done indeed araver, I knew you wouldn't let me down.

Credit also to Vineetrika for starting and completing the algorithm.

I was going to note that Cherry Lane is right about not using the table, and challenge you to work out my technique, but as I was typing this araver did just that.

...is very fast in practice, <30 seconds typically (since vowels are trivial). I count up to the next vowel using my fingers (never more than 5 for a consonant) then count the fingers back off to move on the same amount (that's not using an external aid since they are a part of me

:D)

I hope that was a satisfying puzzle, it looked like the final stretch was fun!

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I count up to the next vowel using my fingers (never more than 5 for a consonant) then count the fingers back off to move on the same amount (that's not using an external aid since they are a part of me :D)

Quick someone chop off his hands so that he does not attempt to destroy the rest of the world.

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Posted · Report post

Quick someone chop off his hands so that he does not attempt to destroy the rest of the world.
I'll have to start counting in binary
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...is very fast in practice, <30 seconds typically (since vowels are trivial). I count up to the next vowel using my fingers (never more than 5 for a consonant) then count the fingers back off to move on the same amount (that's not using an external aid since they are a part of me

:D)

I hope that was a satisfying puzzle, it looked like the final stretch was fun!

Nice technique and indeed the most natural in practice we've seen so far in the games :thumbsup::

Thank you for this challenge, octopuppy. I had so much fun running around in circles over the patterns, until finally seeing it.

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So, any takers for the Evil Mastermind's role? CherryLane, you said something about a try? Dawh, Vineetrika?

Anyone willing?

I killed my half-baked idea and am currently playing a game so I haven't been able to come up with something so far.

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