Audrey Cooper, managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, recently tweeted this:
The thickness of that stack of papers suggests lengthy and convoluted attempts to justify the claimed solution. It’d be interesting to know what approach the solver took. In the photo, the letter starts by discussing the cycling of variants (also known as homophones) in the 408:
The above cipher variants were, for the most part, made in a cyclic order, deteriorating toward the end of the third part of the message
The letter shows the key, with all the variants (homophones) displayed beneath each plain text letter:
Then there’s a breakdown of the key, showing normal-looking alphabetic cipher symbols first, followed by the symbols that look like backwards letters, and then the symbols that look like shapes and punctuation:
The letter writer points out the interesting fact that “LMN” happens to decode to “THE”.
So far, the letter is off to a reasonable and logical start. I wonder where it leads.
The file of solution claims at the Chronicle must be massive. Reporter Kevin Fagan once told me they still get about two submissions per week. It’d be interesting to look at the file to see all the different approaches people have taken, and to find out how many of them fall into the usual traps, and if any of them supply new and useful ideas.