Through the Usenet news group sci.crypt, we became aware that there was a mailing list about the challenge. We quickly joined in order to keep track of the progress of the others, and to take part in the discussions.
In November, Jim Gillogly mailed and said that there was an update on the official website, which announced his success with Stage 9. Fredrik then replied to him and said that we too had solved Stage 9. However, within the group we had agreed on that we would not announce this fact publicly to the mailing list.
Jim Gillogly kept silent about this, and we managed to stay in what Jim later referred to as ``stealth mode'' throughout the contest. Some people on the list might have called this ``lurking'', but we prefer Jim's term. We actually had decided not to openly discuss our progress.
The main reason for not disclosing anything about our progress to the list was that we at a certain point had decided that we were in the contest in order to win it. Once we had decided that, we actually felt that it was a better strategy not to advise the world of how far we had proceeded: Knowledge about how many people have cracked a certain stage can give an indication of how hard it is.
The number of subscribers to the mailing list was steadily growing and the discussion was starting to focus around the stage that was really holding us back, Stage 5. A lot of texts were proposed on the mailing list, but at this point we had tried a large number of texts, and it felt as if we had tried almost all texts proposed, and many others.
At this point, Staffan and Fredrik created Stenils20000 and made him send a joke mail to the list suggesting siteswaps as possible filtering for the Stage 5 codetext. Siteswap is a juggling pattern notation and since three of us juggle, several of the numbers brought up associations of juggling to mind. The only one who commented on the mail was in fact Gunnar, the third juggler in the group. The probable conclusion is that our group might have been the only one with active jugglers taking part, somewhat strange since juggling is popular among programmers and the like.
It is interesting that juggling connects closely to mathematics at times, showing connections to graph theory etc. For the reader interested in more about siteswaps, these two URLs can be a good place to start.
When some groups for attacking Stage 10 started to form in the world, Jim was very much the gentleman and offered to forward the programs that the Dutch mathematician Arjen Lenstra had sent. Since it would have been an outright lie to say that we were no longer in the competition, and it would have been contrary to our agreed strategy to say that we did not need these programs, Fredrik asked Jim to forward them.