Congratulations to Cheryl Helm! Cheryl, a member of our Secrets of the Lost Symbol codebreaking team, won one of the 33 signed copies of The Lost Symbol, by finding the telephone number encoded on The Lost Symbol dust jacket. She describes her method as “a hunch, some luck and a little help from her Twitter mates.” But we think there’s a little more to it than that. Here’s how she did it:
The day the front cover was first released I noticed the faint, red alpha-numeral pairs. Once I (and several others) saw the two new sets on the spine when it was released were in the same simple format, I was fairly sure that these would yield the phone # (especially after bgates87 had solved the “POPES PANTHEON” code eliminating that as the source).
After wandering along some wrong paths, like the one ending with the nice couple I called [Ed’s note: Cheryl, like many other Symbol Quest contestants, used trial and error to track down the correct answer. One popular false trail led to the private number of a couple in New York who received numerous calls.] I finally thought of a simpler solution. On a hunch, I looked up Doubleday in Manhattan and found their main number was 212-782-9000.
On Sept.12 after a visit to the Cryptex site, I sent the following message outlining my speculation on the possible number:
Just speculating here. We already know about:
B1 C2 J5 E8 H5
and one of your speculators says we will get:
D7 F2 A2
If I am right, we need an I? and a G?
I think we need to rearrange according to alphas. If so, we have:
A2 B1 C2 D7 E8 F2 __ H5 __ J5
212-782-9000 is Doubleday’s main number. I suspect I am on the right track.
So, I assumed I had 9 of the 10 numerals needed: 212-782-95?5. I went the trial and error route, calling the 10 possibles, but with no success. After this, I considered that I was on the wrong track. But one of my twitter-mates (who was also using the same tactics–so it is a good thing all the 95?5 numbers belong to RH/DD publishers) suggested that the number might not have been “live” yet, which turned out to be the case. So I went back to my results and eliminated 8 of the 10:
-9515- no ans
-9525- working office ext
-9535- working office ext
-9545- working office ext
-9555- working office ext
-9565- personal phone?
-9585- working office ext
-9595- asks for an ID
-9505- no ans
Now I was left with 2 likely candidates:
15- no ans
05- no ans
After that, I had thought I would probably miss out since there would be many who would have a chance to call before I got home Monday night. But I gave it a shot again after I got a tip from a twitter-mate that the number was live, and that I had the right number.
That’s it. No spark of genius, no ethereal insight, no sexy skills. Just my love of puzzles, a hunch, a little luck, and friends.
Are you also a Symbol Quest winner? Did you arrive at the same answer via a different route? If so, we would love to hear from you.
UPDATE 10/5: Congratulations to Bgates87, who received his signed copy today!