Here are the puzzles, hints, and answers for the 2023 April Fools Puzzle Contest on #ircpuzzles on libera IRC. Hints were gradually revealed throughout the contest. Expect to need them to finish.

The 2023 theme was "Countries of the World"

Level 00: #ircpuzzles entry point





  • join #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-01 with key "puzzle"

The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-01 was "puzzle"

Level 01: Tutorial by wolf

This year's theme is Countries of the World!

Join the next channel with the solution to the puzzle as the key

The next channel is -02, and so on in later levels


Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-02 was "seychelles"


  • image #1: Flag of Seychelles
  • image #2: Diagram of where Seychelles is on a map

This level was intended as a gentle introduction to the idea of googling unrelated clues and passwords.

Level 02, Poetic by wolf

Solutions are not always country names


  • text
  • [¹ ][ ][² ][ ][³ ][ ][⁴ ][ ]
  • ISO 3166-1 α-2


  • solution format is in the clues
  • crossword
  • each paragraph relates to a country; concatenate their ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-03 was "ALIDECUS"


The answers are four countries, one per poem. Concatenating the 2-letter country codes defined in ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 gives the solution.

  1. Albania (AL), on the adriatic and ionian sea. The rest of the poem refers to its flag.
  2. Indonesia (ID), which has 17,508 islands.
  3. Ecuador (EC). Not Equatorial Guinea. It's named after the equator, which split ~10 countries in half, along with the world.
  4. United States of America (US). The three landmarks named are in the USA.

Level 03, Huh? by wolf



  • What is missing?
  • country flags
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-04 was "dragon"


These are the flags of

  1. Bhutan and
  2. Wales

The solution is what they are missing, their dragon.

Level 04, The Fork by wolf

Welcome to Level 04. You're standing in the middle of the forest. There is a fork in the road. You can /join four other levels. "east" leads along a river to Level A1. "north" leads through a clearing to Level B1. You can hear birds singing in the "west". That way leads to Level C1. There is a weathered stone plinth tucked behind some shrubbery. On it, someone carved: "05: A+B+C"

Track Answers The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-A1 was "east"
The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-B1 was "north"
The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-C1 was "west"

This wasn't actually intended to be a puzzle. Oops.

Winners' Circle Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-05 was "crowbaroutfitanaconda"--the prizes from A7, B7, and C7 concatenated together.

Level A1, From Above by wolf

From here you can continue along to A2, and so on



  • images are north-up
  • One per continent
  • Well-known
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-A2 was "nzusgbcneg"


The satellite photos are of five capital cities, one per continent:

  1. Wellington, New Zealand (NZ)
  2. Washington DC, United States (US)
  3. London, United Kingdom (GB)
  4. Beijing, China (CN)
  5. Cairo, Egypt (EG)

The solution was the country codes of those countries, catenated together: nzusgbcneg

Photos came from open-source satellite data. Thanks Sentinel Hub!

Level A2, Brick by Brick by pavonia



  • H. C. Andersen and Lars Ulrich are sad to not be part of the image
  • landscape painter
  • Can be solved without being completed
  • There is one more step once you have it
  • image v2 (red letters added)
  • youtube
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-A2 was "kronborg"


Eight Lego dioramas of scenes containing famous Danes. Players are expected to find their names and fill out the yellow and blue tiles. The names are (from left to right, top to down):

  • TYCHO BRAHE (astronomer)
  • OLSEN BANDEN (criminal gang of TV series)
  • CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (tennis player)
  • VITUS BERING (explorer and cartographer)
  • MARTINUS RØRBYE (painter)
  • OLE KIRK CHRISTIANSEN (Lego inventor)
  • BJARNE STROUSTRUP (programmer/inventor of C++)

The blue tiles give “HELSINGØRSLOT”, or Helsingør castle. The solution is its famous castle immortalized in Hamlet, Kronborg

Level A3, TLDs by za3k


  • TLDs
  • text
  • Two letters per answer


  • In alphabetical order, the answers are: 5,1,6,3,11,2,10,7,12,9,4,8
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-A2 was "eastgermany"


The player is given 12 crossword clues. Each one hints at a different country. The correct crossword answer is the TLD (also the two-letter country code, in general) of the country.


  1. australia (.au). Australia is the only country that is also a continent.
  2. finland (.fi). Finland's national animals are the brown bear and the whooper swan.
  3. eritrea (.er). "Eritrea" translates as "Red Sea".
  4. san tome and principe (.st). San Tome's national anthem is "Total Independence".
  5. netherlands antilles (.an). Formed 1954-12-15, dissolved 2010-10-10.
  6. germany (.de). The german flag is black, red, and gold. Its coat of arms is a black eagle.
  7. namibia (.na). The two languages are Rukwangali and Oshikwanyama. These are spoken in Namibia and Angola, but they are national languages is Namibia.
  8. USA (.us). Both organizations are headquartered in the USA.
  9. russia (.ru). Chamomile is the national flower of Russia. The crops listed are the ones were Russia is the #1 exporter in the world.
  10. india (.in). The tiger and river dolphin are national animals of India. +91 is its international telephone code.
  11. spain (.es). Spain has borders with the five countries listed.
  12. new zealand (.nz). Both clues are in Maori, the language of the Maori natives of New Zealand. "Kapua ma roa" is a poor re-translation of Aotearoa, a name for New Zealand.

The top line of the crossword reads "Auferstanden aus Ruinen", the national anthem of East Germany (which has the unused TLD .dd).

The solution is eastgermany.

Level A4, Know Your Ingredients by za3k


  • Dwayne Johnson
  • Macho Man
  • New Fort Roughs
  • Monty Python Horses


  • ★★★★★ Flag
  • Ate the Sun
  • Dark Sky Country
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-A2 was "niue"


The clues refer to various names for Niue.

  • Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Niue is called "The Rock" or "Rock of Polynesia"
  • "Macho Man" Randy Savage: Niue was called "Savage Island" after a visit by Captain James Cook.
  • New Fort Roughs: Fort Roughs is the original name of the famous micronation Sealand. "New Sealand", "New Zealand", get it? Niue has been part of New Zealand and remains associated.
  • Monty Python Horses: These are coconuts (see Monty Python and the Holy Grail). "Niue" translated as "behold the coconut"

The hints:

  • ★★★★★ Flag: Niue's flag has 5 five-pointed stars
  • "Ate the Sun": "The Shark that Ate the Sun " is a novel by John Puhiatau Pule from Niue.
  • Dark Sky Country: Niue is the first (and only) full-country member of the International Dark Sky Association.

The title is a very obscure joke about Captain Cook misidentifying hulahula as blood.

Level A5, Star Child by za3k



Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-A2 was "groupofseven"


Each of the clues A-G is a national anthem run through a thesaurus to obscure it.

The anthems are:

  • A. "Kimi Ga Yo" of Japan.
  • B. "Il Canto degli Italiana" of Italy. It starts from the second verse, which was an error. The hints are the sheet music and a music clip of "Tarantella Napoletana".
  • C. "O Canada" of Canada
  • D. "The Star-Spangled Banner" of the United States
  • E. "God Save the King (Queen)" of the United Kingdom
  • F. "Deutschlandlied" (3rd verse only), of Germany. Since 1952, the national anthem has been only the third stanza. The hint is "99 red balloons".
  • G. "La Marseillaise" of France.

These seven nations make up the Group of Seven, commonly called the G7.

Level A6, Persevering by pavonia


  • 捯敀摂樵匳甦倣報 杌核慍帰娮圠祩渲 ☯️ ䷚䷊䷛䷈䷒䷊䷔䷞ ䷐䷛䷌䷊䷛䷍䷟䷇


  • UTF-16 => UTF-8
  • index
  • "yin2"=ok
  • Wen will you finally solve this?
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-A2 was "huamulan"


Encoding "捯敀摂樵匳甦倣報 杌核慍帰娮圠祩渲" as UTF16-BE gives, as raw bytes: S="coe@dBj5S3u&P#X1\x00 gLh8aM^0Z.W yin2".

These happen to all be valid ASCII/UTF8, confirming the correct path. yin/yin2/yín is a reference to the yin-yang symbol. It also confirms you're on the right track.

"䷚䷊䷛䷈䷒䷊䷔䷞ ䷐䷛䷌䷊䷛䷍䷟䷇" are I Ching hexagrams. Following the King Wen numbering of hexagrams, they read: N=[27,11,28,9,19,11,21,31,17,28,13,11,28,14,32,8]

Using N as a lookup table into S, results in the string "Wu Shuang Pu #25", which hints at the final solution: huamulan

Level A7 (end of track)

Congratulations! You're done with Track A. Take this with you: "crowbar"

At the end of the track you spot nikuhodai's campfire, down to glowing embers. The smell of smoke still lingers faintly in the stale air of the tunnel.

Level B1, Country Equations by nortti

From here you can continue along to B2, and so on


  • NR + 1 = PA, PA + 1 = SZ, SZ + 1 = ZA
  • What is being counted?


  • NR = 0
  • PA = CN = TD = BA
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-B2 was "capitals"

Level B2, North-by-Northwest by za3k


  • From \0🏝️, 0.016661 💡🥈s NNEEENENNE, 3,129 στάδιοα NWWNWNWWNW, 55,398,000 𓂭 EESESSSESE, 122.64 παρασάγγης NNWNWWNNNW, 3,144,000 𒁺𒌑 EESEESEESE, 976,000 smoots WNWNWWNWNW, 1,815,000 𓂝 SSSSSSESSE.
  • html


  • The real treasure is the friends you made along the way
  • SSSSSSESSE = 157.32421875°
  • image
  • html #2
  • There is inherent uncertainty in qubits. Just accept it.
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-B3 was "sevenwonders"


A "treasure map". Directions are given with a 2048-point compass rose, and esoteric units.

The starting location is the fictional null island at 0°N 0°E.

Translated from esoteric languages, the units are: lightseconds; stadia (olympian); fingers (egyptian); parasang; cubits (babylonian); smoots; cubits (egyptian).

Translated to standard units and degrees, the directions read: From 0° lat 0° long, travel 4995km at 32.63°E, 601km at 75.33°W, 1041km at 130.92°E, 687km at 18.60°W, 1631km at 102.86°E, 1661km at 63.97°W, 953km at 157.50°E.

As hinted in "The real treasure is the friends you made along the way", the seven points are important, not the final destination.

The points are, in order:

  • Null island
  • Colossus of Rhodes
  • Statue of Zeus in Olympia
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria
  • Mausoleum at Helicarnassus
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • Temple of Artemis in Lydia
  • Great Pyramid of Giza

The solution is sevenwonders

Level B3, The Riddle by wolf


  • London and Paris on Christmas


  • London, Paris, and Poland on Christmas
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-B4 was "kiritimati"


London, Paris, and Poland are all cities on Christmas Island, also known as: kiritimati

Level B4, Break Room, Watercooler by wolf


Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-B5 was "italy"


The solution to the nonogram is a visual picture of: italy

Level B5, Beep Beep Beep by za3k/pavonia


  • clue.wav
  • usa
  • K-N; B-M-A; F-P; N-U-M-T
  • test.wav is not a clue, for testing only


Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-B6 was "vaticancity"


The beeps in the audio are DTMF phone dialing tones. They decode as:

  • (test.wav) 123456789*0# - this was for testing decoders only.
  • (hint-dontcall.wav) 13052647772 - a phone number for IATA, an airport authority
  • (clue.wav) 01168642###### / 01155663565#### / 01135821####### / 1231223####. None of these are valid phone numbers, although they would be if you put numbers in place of the "#" symbols.

Each of the clues represents an area code, as dialed from the USA.

  • International call (011) Kiribati (+686) Nonouti (42)
  • International call (011) Brazil (+55) Mato Grosso (21) Aripuanã (3565)
  • International call (011) Finland (+358) Pori (21)
  • North America, USA (implicit +1) Michigan (231) Traverse City (+223)

The clue "K-N; B-M-A; F-P; N-U-M-T" is the first letters of each location above, to confirm progress.

Each city has only one airport:

  • Nonouti Airport (NON)
  • Aripuanã Airport (AIR)
  • Pori Airport (POR)
  • Cherry Capital Airport (TVC)

Putting together the airport codes gives "NONAIRPORTVC". Or combining with the sed hint, "NO AIRPORT V.C."

The answer is one of the handful of countries with no airport: vaticancity

Level B6, From Abovest by wolf


Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-B7 was "fiauuysgza"


Each photograph was of a capital from above. See A1 for the format and details. The capitals were:

  1. Helsinki, Finland (FI)
  2. Canberra, Australia (AU)
  3. Montevideo, Uruguay (UY)
  4. Singapore, Singapore (SG)
  5. Cape Town, South Africa (ZA)

Level B7 (end of track)

Congratulations! You're done with Track B. Take this with you: "outfit"

As you reach the end of the track you see something scribbled on the wall. Looking closer, you scry "AimHere woz 'ere" hastily written across it.

Level C1, That's Bruce Lee by za3k

From here you can continue along to C2, and so on



  • image #2
  • image #3
  • Combine the 1st&2nd clue
  • uninhabited
  • micronation
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-C2 was "taongi"

This is a wiki-hunt style puzzle. The player is given an image with four marshalls, hinting the player toward the Marshall Islands.

Genesis 14:18 reads

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)

This leads the player to the Domain of Melchizedek, a micronation involved in bank fraud.

The Dominion of Melchizedek claims the Bokak Atoll in the Marshall islands, also known as: taongi


  • A stick chart from the Marshall Islands
  • A croissant, hinting at the shape of taongi
  • hints at "Domain of Melchizedek" (I misremembered "Dominion" as "Domain")
  • "uninhabited" hints at taongi
  • "micronation" hints at Dominion of Melchizedek

Level C2, Flag Equation by wolf



  • ISO 3166-1 alpha-2
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-C3 was "eswatini"

"+" represents simple concatenation of 2-letter country codes. However, some flags are backwards.

The flags in order are: - Spain (ES) - Aruba, Reversed (AW <> WA) - Italy, Reversed (IT <> TI) - Nicuragua (NI)

The solution is "eswatini"

Level C3, Foods of the World by za3k


Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-C4 was "miripoix"

21 pictures are given of regional food dishes, 19 of which have letters superimposed on them.

The correctly identified dishes are:

  • Baguette:O
  • Mochi:_
  • Injera:L
  • Lokum (Turkish Delight):Y
  • Natto:C
  • Turkish Coffee:O
  • Tajine:R
  • Espresso:C
  • Lavash:R
  • Fish and Chips:E
  • Champagne:_
  • Chambo (with Nsima):S
  • Jalebi:E
  • Vodka:T
  • Baklava:N
  • Black Pudding / Blood Sausage:I
  • Bunny Chow:N
  • Borscht:O
  • Poori:A
  • Wonton (Soup): S
  • Salted Licorice / Salmiak: R

Arranging the foods in alphabetical order, the letters on them spell "ONIONS CELERY CARROTS".

The answer is mirepoix.

Level C4, From Abover by wolf


Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-C5 was "srpgmtugin"

Each photograph was of a capital from above. See A1 for the format and details. The capitals were:

  1. Paramaribo, Suriname (SR)
  2. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PG)
  3. Valletta, Malta (MT)
  4. Kampala, Uganda (UG)
  5. Delhi, India (IN)

Level C5, PuzzleGPT Session by pavonia


  • image
  • Text version available at<name of the script>.txt


  • odd, even
  • 1. 👍...nun, 1.5. append, 2. keep only even occurrences
  • two different null ciphers
  • ignore '\n's
  • answer has spelling variant
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-C6 was "chakrulo"

A chat "transcript" with GPT is given. There is a section in a mysterious script.

The first step is to identify the script as one of the three Georgian scripts, Mkedruli.

This gives access to, which gives no new information but saves time transcribing.


თგჰაუზმჯბჰზჯუჰფ ჰგმზქზგგმოფუთოა უჯლგუჰმლლსდფდჶთ ეთმევჯნექნთუონდ

to latin characters and ignoring newlines gives


Taking odd positions ("odd" is hinted in the instructions, in "odd, even", and in "two different null ciphers") gives:


A subtle thumbs up in the image and the hint "1. 👍...nun" confirm correctness.

Appending the section of latin text to the result is given as explicit instructions in the text as well as step 1.5 in the hints.


Taking letters which occur only an even number of times (hinted in the instructions, hinted by "odd, even", given in "2. keep only even occurences", and hinted by null cipher) gives:


Or removing double letters:


The name of the Georgian song on the Voyager Golden Record is the solution, chakrulo (there is a variant spelling mentioned in the hints)

Level C6, Nyan Cat by pavonia




  • All cats are light red at night
  • Use the Source, Luke!
  • ircpuzzles is Purrple is somehow blue
  • the puns are irrelephant to the puzzle
  • Flag
Answer The password to #ircpuzzles-2023-afpc-C7 was "wiphala"

The player was presented with an HTML page filled with rainbow text and nyancat references.

There were 7 marquee hints (some blinking), each some kind of bad joke or pun related to countries or cats.

The largest element was a 5x10 grid of colored words, many related to cats, the puns, or countries.

Almost everything was a red herring--the foreground colors and text generally didn't matter. Instead, the only interesting thing was two adjacent cells, with the colors "Purrple" (hinted at by two puns and one of the topic hints) and "LightRed" (hinted at by a topic hint). Neither was a real HTML color, but they render as blue.

Digging into why, the player would learn that in fact ANY word renders as a color in a complicated way (somewhat hinted by "best viewed in Internet Explorer 6" at the bottom of the page).

Rendering the color for each word (many players chose to do this as a color/bgcolor) gave a series of 50 colored squares. Arranging them into a 7x7 grid ("square" was in several puns) and a leftover black square gave the final picture.

The grid colors matched the Wiphala flag, the solution.

Level C7 (end of track)

Congratulations! You're done with Track C. Take this with you: "anaconda"

You see hammered to the door of the church, 95 apologies, signed by shikhin and zgrep.

Level 05, Winner's Circle

Rejoice! This is the winner's circle, which means that you won!