How to Solve the Brain Chase: Charade


What was Mae Merriweather talking about in her mysterious phone message? What was the “11th code,” and what did it have to do with the other 10? Where are the missing stamps buried? 



With a film like Charade, you might have anticipated a few twists and turns. Besides, since this was the “grown-up” challenge, we had to make it a little bit tricky, right? There were four types of clues behind the 2018 New Year’s Resolution Challenge: the enemy codebook, the ten corresponding codes, the confirming pictures, and the A1Z26 clues. Here’s how they all fit together:



The Enemy Codebookcodebook

In the very first video, Mae sent a QR code linking to what she understood to be the enemy’s list of secret codes. While out of order, these ten codes corresponded to hidden clues in each Charade video. Your challenge: figure out which code goes with each clip, and use the code to find the cooresponding message – in this case, a riddle.








hidden codesThe 10 Codes

Each video contained hidden letters, numbers, or images that could be decoded using one of the codes listed in the “enemy codebook” link. Some were fairly straightforward (i.e., the Braille clue), and others were a little more complicated (i.e., the Morse Code clue).








Confirming Images

Most of the videos also contained an image that would either confirm the type of code (i.e., a hidden pig where a pigpen cipher was required), add important information about the code (i.e., a hidden key containing the number 3 in the railway cipher episode), or confirm the decoded clue (i.e., an image of a cave).






When strung together, the decoded clues formed a strange riddle:


Riddle #1

If you were confused about caves in the east, or advancing before noon, you weren’t alone. It was all a trap – a false set of clues leading to a deadend, all orchestrated by the rouge antiquities syndicate from the very beginning. As her texts indicated in Week 5, Mae Merriweather had started catching on to the deception. She realized that the bad guys had leaked their codebook, hoping we would follow their trail. But fortunately for us, Mae also found two critical clues to help blow the cover off of the enemy’s codes once and for all.

If you dialed the phone number listed on Mae’s cell phone in the final episode, you heard a hushed voicemail from Mae Merriweather herself, explaining two things: 1) that there is an 11th code, the A1Z26 code, and 2) that we need to “subtract eight seconds” from each clue. Here’s what she meant:






maze lettersThe A1Z26 Clues

It turns out that eight seconds into each video – right after the flash of light in the bottom right corner of the maze – a series of letters briefly appeared in the logo. Yes, they were in each video, and yes, they were there the entire time. They were admittedly tricky to find – you wouldn’t have seen them without Mae’s help. They were also tricky to read – in many cases it helped to advance the video frame-by-frame, or even close the video and re-open it. But they were there.

How do you subtract these clues? The A1Z26 code is a simple substitution cipher wherein the letter A=1, B=2, C=3, and so on, down to Z=26. This code will turn any letters into numbers, allowing you to set up a simple subtraction equation. Here’s how:

  1. Apply the A1Z26 code to the series of clues you’ve been deciphering all along in order to get a series of numbers
  2. Apply the A1Z26 code to these “eight second” clues to get anoter series of numbers
  3. Subtract (2) from (1) to get a new series of numbers
  4. Apply the A1Z26 code to this new series of numbers to get a new set of letters – and in this case, an entirely new riddle:





Riddle #2





Putting it All Together

Solving the final riddle had absolutely nothing to do with the caves, the east, the degrees, or anything else from the first riddle – except, ironically, the words “Oops” and “Deadend.” After being transposed with the A1Z26 code, the final two words became “mail” and “anagram.” Putting it all together was as simple as using one of the anagrams of “mail” – in this case, Lima – and identifying its most prominent cathedral – in this case, the Catedral de Lima. The stamps lie safely hidden in a grassy field exactly 12 miles due north of the Catedral de Lima in Peru.




Congratulations to our winners! 

Did you solve the puzzle? There’s plenty more adventure where this came from. Register today for the next Brain Chase program, and you could be the next treasure hunter traveling around the world to claim your prize. 


Good luck!

The Brain Chase Team