Zyptograms are short simple substitution ciphers aimed at the more
They are similar to standard cryptoquotes and cryptoquips
in that one letter is substituted for another, the substitutions are unique and no
letter stands for itself. Word divisions and punctuation are given but
capitalization is not. Unlike quotes and quips, the subject matter is of secondary
importance. There is usually no "message" or "joke." They are straightforward
sentences designed to be difficult and usually requiring much trial and error.
Zyps are also composed according to a strict set of rules. These rules reflect
the four main characteristics of Zyptograms:
Zyps are purposefully constructed to be challenging. Difficult
words or common words with unusual letter combinations are often used. Letter
frequencies are usually distorted and high frequency or pattern words are
avoided. Small common words such as "the", "that", "a" , and "an" are ignored
but not to the extent that the coherency of the sentence is destroyed. Obvious
clues such as one- or two-letter words and telltale punctuation are minimized. In
addition, unusual syntax is occasionally employed.
Zyps are normally much shorter than the standard cryptogram.
They range from 15-60 letters with an average length of 35 letters. Generally
speaking, Zyps consist of 3-8 words although the number of words is not a prime
consideration. Brevity is one way to ensure that zyps are challenging since there
is less availability of clues and an insufficient amount of letters to allow
normalization of frequencies. Short cryps are also more convenient to copy and
work with. In addition, economy is intriguing to the solver, perhaps because the
short cryp is deceptive, appearing to be easy when in fact the opposite is true.
Zyps are composed so that each letter in the puzzle is repeated at
least once. The original reason for repetition was to avoid that type of
cryptogram that contained many unrepeated letters where one must then resort
to listing unused letters and "filling in" words. By repeating all letters, solvers
have at least one other letter with which to test an educated guess It also
became quickly apparent that repetition also puts an onus on the composer as
well as the solver much like the crossword constructer who must work within a
symmetrical diagram and ensure each letter is keyed. To make certain a Zyp is
kept challenging , brief and that all letters are repeated is often a difficult task.
Finally, to a large degree, repetition promotes a unique solution. While not 100%
effective, it does cut down on alternate possibilities.
Many Zyps, although not all, contain some form of wordplay
such as anagrams, homophones, charades, repeated letter groups, alliteration,
etc. Wordplay is clever, attractive and tends to create interest for the solver. It is
incorporated into Zyps whenever practicable.
In addition to the above, it is important to note that that Zyptograms are
sensible and grammatically correct sentences. Archaic, esoteric and obsolete
words are generally avoided. Zyps are also thematic in the sense that "hanging,"
or inappropriate words which do not logically fit the the meaning of the sentence
are avoided. Finally, Zyps give the solver a challenging word puzzle resulting in
a profound sense of satisfaction upon solution without resorting to advanced
Example: KCDZXM CQXMD CZOOVM CQOKXXV CKOKKX.
Solution: ABSURD BIRDS BUZZED BIZARRE BAZAAR.