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2 – “I’ll run the numbers.” Nick Pelling.

That’s what Nick Pelling said he was going to do after learning of the only constant in the code – the letter A appearing in the seventh position on every line.

NickP has always downplayed the possible espionage aspect of this case, and why not, years of investigation have come up with nothing to support that scenario, Gordon Cramer’s sterling efforts excepted.

Spies are a very cagey lot when it comes to disguising their messages, they have to be as there are only 26 letters available to them so there are many disposable rules that govern their game of hide and seek.

Both the message sender and message receiver must know how to interpret what appears to us as a jumble of letters into something meaningful: the Tamam Shud code for example.

Not only that, the receiver has to know for certain that the jumbled message has the right credentials so to speak, something he can quickly recognise in its body, something pre-ordained between the writer and the reader. A key.

Like the letter A.

M R G  O A B  A B D

M T B  I M P  A N E T P

M L I  A B O  A I A Q C

I T T  M T S  A M S T G A B

In every line the letter A fills the seventh position, so number 7 looks a likely key in this instance.

What happens next is that NickP, noted computer wizard, writes up a simple, inexpensive program that turns each letter of the code into its alpha number equivalent. A=1, B=2, that routine.

So for line one we now have this row of numbers –

13 18 7 15 1 2 1 2 4

Then we add 7 to each number, giving us the next row –

13=20 18=25 7=14 15=22 1=8 2=9 1=8 2=9 4=11

Not losing anyone yet? Because it gets worse.

The next step could be to add the two rows together and in the case where the total exceeds 26 we just roll back to A and start again. For instance, using the letter M which is number 20 in the alphabet we can calculate the following:

13+20=33 which overruns the alphabet by 7 – so the M becomes number 7 in the alphabet, which is letter G.

I’m not going to run the entire code through this routine because other factors may have been used – like the number of letters in the line. Like I said, spies were a cagey bunch and they may have added the line number to the 7, making it 18 which is letter R.

Or maybe taken the 11 away from the 7, making it minus 4, which is plus 4 in the alphabet using the same rules but in reverse, making it letter D. Or rolling back 4 from Z, making it W.

This is where a bloke begins to feel a nasty headache coming on so he rings up his good mate NickP and asks how much would you like me to pay you to run the numbers this way?

Just send your bank details and I’ll see you right, ok?

I’ll get out of your way now.

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Pretty much every unsolved cipher ever has been extensively mined for patterns: but to assess how important any given pattern is, you have to calculate its (im)probability – you have to run the numbers.

    For example, the probability that all four lines have odd lengths is 1 in 2^4 = 1 in 16. Except that you’d have got just as excited if they were all even lengths, so the odds there are actually 1 in 8. Which is interesting, but not that improbable.

    For the 4xA pattern, it’ll take me a couple of hours at the weekend to run the numbers. So please be patient.

    For your third pattern, the odds are 100%, which isn’t interesting at all. 😦

    February 6, 2021
    • Agree on 3, since discarded. Put that one down to blind enthusiasm.

      February 6, 2021
  2. Numbers have been run: 1 in 131.

    I found some other stuff while I was at it:

    February 6, 2021
    • As much as I want to believe the code can be deciphered into an espionage related routine, it looks far too sloppy for the disciplines used back in the day .. So, is this what square one looks like, despite the AX4?
      And by the way, nice work, Dome, better luck next time, ok?

      February 6, 2021
      • пожалуйста #

        Probably not square one, I’d say. If Nick is right and it points even harder toward an acrostic AND his hunch is right on the “ands”, then it strengthens the impression that whoever wrote this had a certain temperament or predisposition and may have been in a predicament that would give rise to poetic expression.

        It’s an old-fashioned notion, perhaps, but here in Yekaterinburg we still believe that one must suffer for one’s art.

        February 7, 2021
        • Why this predisposition that the book belonged to the man?

          February 7, 2021
          • пожалуйста #

            It belonged to (or had been in the possession of) a party that apparently needed to write down someone else’s phone number.

            With that someone else being the next likeliest owner of the book, I might suggest – evidence of further parties being rather thin on the ground – that it was MOST likely his.

            February 7, 2021
            • Well, if you are to believe (1) the body in the morning wasn’t the same as the body in the evening, and (2) the witness who saw a man carrying a man late in the evening of the 30th, when or how did the book get into Freeman’s car?

              February 7, 2021
              • пожалуйста #

                I don’t believe either of those.

                February 7, 2021
                • I’m not surprised … believing them is almost heretical for some. I can just imagine you, Boris, saying that to Gerry Feltus, face to face, that you don’t believe a witness he thought credible. No doubt you have had as many years as he in dealing with such matters.
                  And that being the case, we don’t have much more to add. Thanks for all your contributions. A response is not necessary.

                  February 7, 2021
  3. пожалуйста #

    I wouldn’t SAY anything to Gerry’s face. I’d ASK his professional opinion whether a single witness, coming forward decades after the fact, counts as reliable evidence – regardless of the credibility of the individual.

    I’d be genuinely interested in his answer. And I’d probably take his word for it.

    February 7, 2021
    • You’ve got his answer already yet you don’t take his word for it.
      Remember some months ago I was asked the same question and I responded by posting ‘A Final Twist’ on the top of this page?
      And while we are at it, why don’t you believe Strapp’s deposition with regard to the striped trousers he saw being worn by the man he was watching, remembering his companion was able to distinguish the colour of the suit being worn by the man looking down by the steps.
      Following that, do you believe PC Moss when he said in his interview with a newspaper journalist that there were no matches found on the body? And if by chance you do take his word for it, how then would you explain the half smoked cigarette found wedged under the corpse’s chin without some creative hypothesising?

      February 8, 2021
  4. Alan H #

    It would have been nice to also have the alternate bus switcho ROK to see if its contents added to the comparisons.

    April 20, 2021
    • Not with you there Al

      April 21, 2021
      • Alan H #

        Sorry for the cryptic entry Peter, I meant that – It would have been good if the report about an Omar being found abandoned on a bus seat at the time was proven and that the book was lodged in Lost Property to be available for evaluation later. If the switch of books took place on the bus it may be a little more evidence of the book, or books, travels. I probably watched too much “Get Smart” with Max and 99.

        May 6, 2021

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