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## Question

Crack the Code 9 - Revenge of the Mastermind

Game Description

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. Anyone can join in at any time as a Hacker.

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 Evil Mastermind wins the game if he is able to post all the 50 commands.

The Hackers will see the commands and passwords in the thread 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.

Game Restrictions

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

1) What it is

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) Simplicity

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) No memory feats

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 may 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.

Game Play

The Evil Mastermind posts 3 commands at a time, with their passwords. The interval for doing this is undefined, no point in imposing restrictions. The Evil Mastermind chooses the commands. Hackers can also request specific states as the Evil Mastermind next targets, if they hope to get more information about the algorithm through these states' passwords.

Each Hacker may make one guess at the password for "ABORT" 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. More than one Hacker can make guesses in between Evil Masterminds attacks and the Evil Mastermind is forced to acknowledge and respond to all the input (limited to 1 per Hacker).

There is no need for spoilers when guessing the password, although please use spoilers if you reveal the algorithm. Hackers can cooperate in the thread and share what they figured out so far with the rest of the community, but only if they use spoilers!.

The first Hacker to get the password for "ABORT" wins. The Hacker that stops the Evil Mastermind can choose to share his credit with other Hackers if he acknowledges being helped by others' findings.

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!) instead of posting the "ABORT" command. A successful input of a batch of 3 states (which were not played before) grants you the title of Evil Mastermind Apprentice. The game continues until either the states are finished or a Hacker inputs the "ABORT" command.

Game Commands

There are 51 commands, these being the names of US states (used by the Evil Mastermind to nuke each state), plus the word "ABORT" (used by Hackers to stop the Evil Mastermind). All commands and passwords are UPPERCASE.

```
ABORT

ALABAMA

ARIZONA

ARKANSAS

CALIFORNIA

CONNECTICUT

DELAWARE

FLORIDA

GEORGIA

HAWAII

IDAHO

ILLINOIS

INDIANA

IOWA

KANSAS

KENTUCKY

LOUISIANA

MAINE

MARYLAND

MASSACHUSETTS

MICHIGAN

MINNESOTA

MISSISSIPPI

MISSOURI

MONTANA

NEWHAMPSHIRE

NEWJERSEY

NEWMEXICO

NEWYORK

NORTHCAROLINA

NORTHDAKOTA

OHIO

OKLAHOMA

OREGON

PENNSYLVANIA

RHODEISLAND

SOUTHCAROLINA

SOUTHDAKOTA

TENNESSEE

TEXAS

UTAH

VERMONT

VIRGINIA

WASHINGTON

WESTVIRGINIA

WISCONSIN

WYOMING

```

Game History

This game thread continues the tradition of the other games, but it is not directly related to any of them.

Each challenge is a new independent algorithm. However, you can read and try for yourself any of the previous challenges:

- Host: octopuppy - Winner: fabpig - No. of states destroyed: 25

- Host: octopuppy - Winner: araver - No. of states destroyed: 39

- Host: araver - Winner: octopuppy - No. of states destroyed: 21

- Host: dawh - Winner: octopuppy - No. of states destroyed: 3

- Host: octopuppy - Winner: Vineetrika / araver - No. of states destroyed: 39

- Host: Vineetrika - Winner: octopuppy - No. of states destroyed: 30

- Host: araver - Winner: octopuppy - No. of states destroyed: 45

- Host: octopuppy - Winner: Vineetrika - No. of states destroyed: 49

## 21 answers to this question

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And the first three states are:

MINNESOTA

MNES8627

VERMONT

VERM9782

DELAWARE

DAWA3934

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Oh, I can already tell this one's going to be fun! No time to attempt it now though

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could we sacrifice - Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska ...

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I think I'm on to the 1st letter...

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nnngh... need... more.... data...

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Sorry about that, caught a very long nap. Here they are:

ALABAMA

ABAM1020

ARKANSAS

AKAN0380

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And more data ... as requested.

IDAHO

IAHO8160

ILLINOIS

IINO0560

INDIANA

IIAN0858

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Three more bite the dust.

OHIO

OIOO7600

OKLAHOMA

OAHO4702

OREGON

OEGO0801

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Louisiana, Kansas, North Dakota

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Not 100% there but this seems worth a try:

ABORT

ABOR1479

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Not 100% there but this seems worth a try:

ABORT

ABOR1479

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As requested:

LOUISIANA

LIAN7312

KANSAS

KANS3808

NORTHDAKOTA

NTHD0331

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3 more may help ... or not.

WESTVIRGINIA

WVIR4564

WISCONSIN

WSCO8944

WYOMING

WYOM0496

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PENNSYLVANIA

PNSY9465

RHODEISLAND

RDEI9167

TEXAS

TEXA4910

21 down, 29 to go.

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I could probably guess it now, but there's still a bit of the algorithm I'm not sure about. Let's have South Dakota, North Carolina, South Carolina. Hopefully that ought to clear it up!

• 0

Here you go:

NORTHCAROLINA

NHCA3412

SOUTHDAKOTA

SHDA5884

SOUTHCAROLINA

SCAR8147

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Damn. One little bit still eludes me (start for the 4 numbers). So easy to guess but I won't. All right, let's have Virgina, Iowa and Utah.

• 0

UTAH

UTAH1030

VIRGINIA

VGIN5383

IOWA

IWAI6480

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Ah. I think it's something quite simple after all. OK, I'm satisfied at that.

ABORT

ABOR4790

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Ah. I think it's something quite simple after all. OK, I'm satisfied at that.

ABORT

ABOR4790

Password accepted. System shutting down. Countdown froze at 23 to go.

Again, I presume you don't want to share the algorithm, so instead I will ask if you felt it was easy or medium difficulty this time.

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Password accepted. System shutting down. Countdown froze at 23 to go.

Again, I presume you don't want to share the algorithm, so instead I will ask if you felt it was easy or medium difficulty this time.

I'd call that medium, the 1st four chars easy, the numeric part medium and the start position of the numeric part the least obvious, mainly because there were so many possibilities that didn't quite fit the bill (number of consonants? number of unique vowels plus 1? etc, etc), but knowing that part would not be necessary to make an educated guess as to what it might be! Good fun though.

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