The building opposite St James’s Park tube station was a secret GCHQ base from 1953 to 2019
The building opposite St James’s Park tube station was a secret GCHQ base from 1953 to 2019
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

There’s no problem a good puzzle can’t solve – or, at least, distract you from momentarily.

With that in mind, we’ve brought you the latest offering from the codebreakers at GCHQ.

Those at the UK’s intelligence headquarters are among the best in the puzzle business, with GCHQ stating on its website: “You don't have to be a quiz champion or Mensa member to work at GCHQ, but we're a place where an analytic mindset can be developed and thrive.”

Unsurprisingly, the skills required for word puzzles, such as lateral and creative thinking, are fairly valued among intelligence employees, and GCHQ says its staff use puzzles to hone their analytic skills in a fun way and to ensure they keep up with an ever-changing world.

The organisation has a rich tradition of publishing cryptic word games to test the public – in the form of two puzzle books, an annual Director’s Christmas card, and a weekly brain-teaser on social media.

Here’s what the organisation threw at us this week:

It challenged the public to figure out the connection between the words “sense”, “party”, “guess”, "heaven”, estate”, “lady” and “column”, and put them into the correct order.

**Answers at the bottom**

And if you fancy yourself as a possible government codebreaker, it seems a taste for puzzles might be something of a pre-requisite, with GCHQ stating:

“We need to adapt and innovate constantly. Through the design, creation and solving of puzzles, our teams are able to constantly develop their skills in thinking differently and discover new and inventive ways of approaching problems.

“Whilst this does not mean that staff at GCHQ spend their time putting together jigsaws and filling out crosswords, it does ensure that we attract colleagues who enjoy spending their time creating and solving puzzles.”

In the case of this week’s puzzle, each of the word has a corresponding ordinal number (first, second, third etc), with which forms half of a well-known term or phrase.

As a result, the correct order is:

(First) Lady

(Second) Guess

(Third) Party

(Fourth) Estate

(Fifth) Column

(Sixth) Sense

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