Britain’s top spies at GCHQ have released a puzzle book for children while challenging the public to solve one of its brainteasers.
In its latest puzzle book – the agency has previously published two for adults – children will be tested on languages, engineering, codebreaking, analysis, maths, coding and cybersecurity.
Puzzles for Spies is intended to inspire the UK’s next generation of agents, GCHQ said. It has also released a brainteaser to test the nation’s spy capabilities.
People are challenged to colour in a fruit bowl using only four colours, so that the pear is green, the orange is orange, the apple is red and the banana is yellow.
But no two touching shapes can have the same colour, illustrating a theory from 1852 that suggests that no more than four colours are required to colour in a picture so that no touching shapes have the same colour.
GCHQ’s unofficial chief puzzler, who identified himself only as Colin, said: “You don’t have to be a quiz champion, or even top of the class, to work at GCHQ.
“You just need to have an interest in figuring things out and an infectious curiosity. This is why so many of us are so fond of puzzles.
“We don’t spend all of our time putting together jigsaws and filling out crosswords, but creating and solving puzzles in our spare time requires the same skills which our teams use when tackling new problems in different and inventive ways to help keep the nation safe. It’s also really fun.”
The agency said last month that it wanted to boost the number of female coders in its ranks, and that it needed to improve diversity to tackle threats ranging from foreign states to children’s online safety.