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Old April 28th 06, 10:37 PM posted to,
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Default Keene helped crack the code

London Times Online April 28, 2006

How I cracked the Smithy code (with a little help from the judge)

By Ben Hoyle of The Times

'If you can't solve it now, you should be sacked,' the judge told our

An admiration for this man led the judge to embed his code in the

At no point in my job interview for The Times four years ago did the
Editor mention that I would need advanced codebreaking skills.

But yesterday, like thousands of others around the world, I was
frantically puzzling over the apparently random sequence of 42 letters
mysteriously rendered in bold italics in the Da Vinci Code plagiarism
case judgment.

This morning The Times was able to exclusively reveal the solution,
secured with considerable prompting from Mr Justice Peter Smith.

Contrary to the many wild hypotheses appearing in internet chatrooms
the answer had nothing to do with the cultish conspiracy theories at
the centre of last month's High Court case.

Rather, the solution to The Judge's Code should read: "Smithy Code
Jackie Fisher Who Are You Dreadnought".

Other newspapers were less successful: the Daily Mail is this morning
offering its readers 1,000 for the first correct solution. I will be
applying as soon as I have finished this.

This week The Times carried the story of how Mr Justice Smith, the
judge presiding over the case brought against Dan Brown, the Da Vinci
Code's author, by the authors of a previous volume, The Holy Blood
and The Holy Grail, had included a coded message of his own in the 71
page judgment.

It lay undetected until Dan Tench, a partner at the solicitor's firm
Olswang, spotted the irregular typography.

But when the letters were compiled in order they made no immediate

Yesterday I dropped in on the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand
and submitted a note to the judge, asking for a clue.

He e-mailed back during the lunchtime break suggesting: "Try letter
substitution letter by letter applying the Fibonacci Sequence (in
correct form)."

In The Da Vinci Code, the Fibonacci sequence, an ancient number
progression in which each number is the sum of the two numbers
preceding it, helps Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu, the books heroes
to solve a vital clue. The first eight numbers in it are

Mr Justice Smith added that, in his code, the sequence then repeats

After the court had risen for the day he offered a further clue: "Look
at my entry in Who's Who."

This lists Mr Justice Smith's recreational interests as: "Titanic
Historical Society, British Titanic Society, Jackie Fisher fan, reading
military history, football."

The judge then pronounced his verdict on my cryptology skills. "If you
can't solve this now you should be sacked," he said.

After a few hours excruciating scribbling and a brief consultation
with Ray Keene, The Times Chess Correspondent, I finally decoded the

The trick is to start a new alphabetical sequence at the point in the
conventional sequence indicated by the relevant number in the Fibonacci

"Smithy Code" is left untouched - it is there to alert the reader to
the existence of a hidden text.

As the first two letters then, "J" and "A" remain unchanged because
they are tied to the Fibonacci numbers 1 and 1. From then on in the
judge's code, the alphabet shifts down one place - so the E becomes
D - (representing the Fibonacci 2), and then two places (representing
the 3) and then four places (representing the 5)and so on for each of
the following letters.

Because of four errors - which the judge claims are deliberate - the
solution actually reads:

"Smithy Code: Jadkie Fisthr- who are bou? Dreadqought".

With his luxuriant moustache and dry manner Mr Justice Smith had
already become something of a media star during the case, even before
the discovery of his hidden code.

In Admiral Jackie Fisher he has bequeathed another extraordinary
character to the swirl of rumour, myth and conspiracy surrounding the
Da Vinci Code.

Fisher joined the Navy in 1854 as a 13-year-old midshipman but his
charm, charisma and ferocious intelligence helped him to rise quickly
through the ranks.

He was a radical and a visionary who befriended Churchill, Lloyd
George and Edward VII.

Today he is often described as the second most significant figure in
the Royal Navy's history, after Nelson, but his story ended sadly. In
1914 as the First World War loomed, Churchill recalled the 73 year old
Fisher to the post of First Sea Lord.

He resigned from his post the following year, having failed to prevent
the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. George V said he should have been
hanged and he died five years later.

Last night Mr Justice Smith told me that he had been a Fisher fan
since 1994. He wished to rehabilitate him and commemorate his
achievement in launching the revolutionary battleship HMS Dreadnought
almost 100 years to the day from the start of the trial.

He had inserted the code into the judgment for his own amusement.

"I never expected anybody to notice it. It was for my own pleasure."

He added that it had taken him "about 40 minutes" to devise. Any
longer and he would presumably have given up. This morning he added: "I
hate crosswords and do not do Su Doku as I do not have the patience."
Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to claim the Daily Mail's prize.

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