After having been at the Post Office and mailed a letter announcing our success to Simon Singh, we decided to send a fax to the publisher of The Code Book, 4th Estate, as well, in order to give advance warning of the letter. We also called Royal Mail to find out where the magic P.O. Box was located, and to see if we knew anyone who could go there to post a letter that would get there faster. We also called the airlines to see how much it would cost to send one of us to London to send the letter off. In the end, we decided to settle for the combination of the letter, that was supposed to be delivered on Saturday, and the fax.
As the rest of us were all excited, no one noticed that Torbjörn snuck into the bathroom and called his friend Björn. Twenty minutes later, the phone rang and it was rather interesting to watch Staffan's facial expression change as he started jumping and pointing to the phone. Something was happening. It was Singh on the phone! Staffan's expression changed for the worse as he was informed that we were the second ones to submit the correct solution. At this point Torbjörn started screaming ``Stop it now Björn! It's enough!'' It was his friend Björn performing the practical joke...
Later that evening, the recent messages on the Cipher Challenge mailing list were scrutinized, and some very worrying messages were discovered: One person on the list claimed to have submitted a solution to all stages earlier the same week! Provided this was true, it would mean terrible news for us. What if we lost by a couple days after having worked on the challenge for a year? We tried to calm each other down by saying that it could be a hoax, but doubt still lingered.
On the morning of Friday October 6th, Lars was becoming even more nervous and sent the following mail.
From: Lars Ivansson To: Fredrik, Gunnar, Staffan, Torbjorn Sent: Friday, October 06, 2000 07:50 Subject: Nervous Hello! I would like to say that I am very interested in knowing when/if Singh contacts any of you. Please send a mail as soon as possible. I feel like a child the day before Christmas after a rumor about the death of Santa Claus and am basically climbing the walls here. / Lars
Fredrik, who comes to work several hours after Lars, saw the mail and went for coffee and some work-related discussions. When he got back, a colleague complained that his phone had been ringing a couple of times when he was away.
After a couple of more minutes, the phone rang again and then Fredrik sent a mail with the following wording (translated from Swedish):
From: Fredrik Almgren Subject: RE: Nervous Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 11:07:44 +0200 I have just talked on the phone with an English-speaking gentleman who said he was Simon Singh. He started off the call with a short discussion on how he was going to make me believe that he was indeed Simon Singh. After some rambling from my side, he said that the first part of the plaintext for Stage 10 consisted of fourteen words and that words 5 and 14 rhyme. At that point, I felt about ready to accept that he was really who he claimed. We then went through all ten stages. Staffan was here yesterday and helped me put my X-terminal in boxes. So I couldn't connect to multivac to verify the answers. I got very nervous that he would say that something I said was wrong. I tried to explain that I needed to try to remember this from head. He said that my answers were correct. IF he is an impostor, he obviously has seen the plaintext for Stage 10. In that case, the only thing he could gain was to get one of the earlier code words that he was missing. It doesn't feel very likely. Besides, he stayed on track all through the conversation and talked about the stages in a way only an EXTREMELY good impostor could be expected to manage. He was however a bit off regarding my claim that there is an error in the 3-des encoding of the message and said that he would check it. I did NOT tell what the error was.... He said that he had received a couple of letters from people claiming to have solved all ten stages before us. He also said that we were the first ones to have solved all ten stages!! He asked us not to announce this yet since he wanted to contact his British, Swedish and Amercian publishers and get back to us on Monday for a discussion on how this is going to be presented. I then told him that we had already sent press releases yesterday but that we would not give the go-ahead until we had spoken to him again. He also gave me two phone numbers: <snip> He explicitly asked me not to give his number to anyone else. Well guys, it seems like we have won!!!!! Santa Claus will come this year too! /Fredrik Ps. I will disconnect my computer from the network in 55 minutes. So any further discussion must take place without me.
To this Lars replied:
From: Lars Ivansson Sent: Friday, October 06, 2000 11:15 Subject: Re: Ping Thanks Fredrik. You are better than Santa Claus! / Lars