Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2011 Ginter Code Card Giveaway!

Update: CRACKED!  Twitter user @JoeySpain appears to have been the first to solve it, with @CalculusDork just seconds behind.  Working on a runner up prize for you now, but good work!  If you haven't solved it yet-keep at it.  A solution is posted below in the comments I think.

thanks for playing!

Alright, CodeBreakers!  Here is your chance to win a genuine 2011 Allen & Ginter CodeBreaker Card.  This one of a kind card autographed card featuring Angelo Dundee that we won by solving the 2011 Ginter Code.

We want to share the wealth with one of you and give you another chance at cracking a code to win a prize! 

Now look-this isn’t a proper contest, no entry necessary blah blah blah.  We aren't a large public corporation beholden to a vareity of contest rules etc.-we are just coming up with a creative way to give away something that is ours.  That said, we do have a few rules we’d like you to follow/know about:

·         One Entry Per Person.  Seriously, we’ll figure out if you guys try and sneak in more entries. Also, you’ll need to follow the directions precisely, or you’ll be DQ’d
·         People who’ve won Codebreaker cards before are barred from entry-whether you were part of a team or not.  Sorry, but we really want this to be for a person who hasn’t won before. So please don’t lie, try to trick us, etc. We won’t be very happy or take it very kindly if you do.
·         In the event of ties, disputes, etc. we reserve the right to make decisions as to winners etc. as we see fit.  We intend to be fair, but let’s hope one of you just wins it outright.

So you want to win this 2011 Allen & Ginter Codebreaker card?  Let’s get to it then!  How do you do it?  Well:


Easy right?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The 2011 Ginter Code Draft

After the thrill of opening the package containing the 2011 Codebreaker set (see previous entry), came the time to split the prize between the three of us. We had already agreed on which ones we would like to move to avoid a fierce battle over their possession: Manny Pacquiao and George W Bush will therefore not stay in any of our collections.

We then decided to distribute the rest of the cards gangnam style draft style, with a Guillaume-Ryan-Frank order. Here's the 2011 Codebreaker set checklist:

Adrian Gonzalez         Dirk Hayhurst          Matt Guy
Albert Pujols              Eric Jackson            Michael Morse
Ana Julaton                Freddy Sanchez       Micky Ward
Andres Torres            Gio Gonzalez           Miguel Cabrera
Angel Pagan               Guy Fieri                 Nancy Lopez
Annika Sorenstam      Heather Mitts           Nelson Cruz
Aroldis Chapman       Hope Solo                Peter Gammons
Brent Morel                Jason Heyward        Picabo Street
Brett Wallace              Jim Nantz                Randy Wells
CC Sabathia               Jo Frost                   Roy Halladay
Chase Utley                Joe Mauer               Rudy Ruettiger
Cheryl Burke              Jose Bautista            Sanya Richards
Chone Figgins             Jose Tabata             Sergio Mitre
Chris Sale                   Josh Hamilton          Shawn Michaels
Chrissie Wellington      Josh Johnson           Stan Lee
Chuck Woolery          Kristi Yamaguchi      Starlin Castro
Daniel Boulud             Kyle Petty                Sue Bird
Daniel Hudson            Larry Holmes           Tim Howard
David DeJesus            Lou Holtz                 Ubaldo Jimenez
Diana Taurasi              Marc Forgione         Wee Man
Dick Vitale                  Mat Hoffman

Also included were the autos yet to be delivered to us:

John McEnroe
Evan Lysacek
Jake LaMotta
Ron Turcotte

The draft took place on 10/14 at 10:00pm, via Skype; here's the round-by-round recap:

Round 1:

Guillaume: Albert Pujols
Ryan: Miguel Cabrera
Frank: Stan Lee

Analysis: very solid choices for all three participants, Frank electing to pick one of the most iconic figures with his first pick over any other baseball items.

Round 2-3:

Guillaume: CC Sabathia
Ryan: Rudy Ruettiger
Frank: Josh Hamilton
Guillaume: Daniel Boulud
Ryan: Peter Gammons
Frank: Michael Morse

Analysis: first few "homer" choices for each of us, even though Ryan got deprived from his Red Sox picks thanks to the blockbuster trade that sent A-Gonto the Dodgers.

Round 4-5-6:

G: Chuck Woolery
R: Jim Nantz
F: Gio Gonzalez
G: Sue Bird
R: Lou Holtz
F: Shawn Michaels
G: Roy Halladay
R: Dick Vitale
F: Kyle Petty

Analysis: Ryan continued on his TV personalities trend, while frank scored his 2nd Nationals player and the coveted Shawn Michaels. After picking the two main players I wanted, I figured I would start picking the cards I wanted to gift to my wife and family, knowing that Ryan and Frank had a few more cards they really wanted.

Round 7-8-9-10:

G: Josh Johnson
R: Hope Solo
F: Jose Bautista
G: John McEnroe
R: Heather Mitts
F: Starlin Castro
G: Annika Sorenstam
R: Picabo Street
F: Tim Howard
G: Jake LaMotta
R: Wee Man
F: Chase Utley

Analysis: Frank scores the 2nd home-run masher of the set, while Ryan picks the fan favorite Hope Solo. I took a flier on two of the outstanding cards with McEnroe and LaMotta.

Round 11-12-13-14-15:

G: Joe Mauer
R: Micky Ward
F: Kristi Yamaguchi
G: Adrian Gonzalez
R: Aroldis Chapman
F: Jason Heyward
G: Marc Forgione
R: Guy Fieri
F: Dirk Hayhurst
G: Larry Holmes
R: Mat Hoffman
F: Chris Sale
G: Nelson Cruz
R: Chrissie Wellington
F: Ubaldo Jimenez

Analysis: Ryan broke the Cooking Sweep away from me with his Fieri pick :-) by round 14, all picks felt roughly the same as we were all very happy to have managed to grab most (if not all) of the items we had listed on our preliminary Top10 Must Have lists. I'll skip over the last few rounds, and just print the final lists at the end of the draft:


Albert Pujols
CC Sabathia
Daniel Boulud
Chuck Woolery
Sue Bird
Roy Halladay
Josh Johnson
John McEnroe
Annika Sorenstam
Jake LaMotta
Joe Mauer
Adrian Gonzalez
Marc Forgione
Larry Holmes
Nelson Cruz
Daniel Hudson
Angel Pagan
Randy Wells
Sanya Richards
Jose Tabata
Evan Lysacek
Brett Wallace


Miguel Cabrera
Rudy Ruettiger
Peter Gammons
Jim Nantz
Lou Holtz
Dick Vitale
Hope Solo
Heather Mitts
Picabo Street
Wee Man
Micky Ward
Aroldis Chapman
Guy Fieri
Mat Hoffman
Chrissie Wellington
Diana Taurasi
Sergio Mitre
Cheryl Burke
Jo Frost
Matt Guy
Ron Turcotte
Nancy Lopez


Stan Lee
Josh Hamilton
Michael Morse
Gio Gonzalez
Shawn Michaels
Kyle Petty
Jose Bautista
Starlin Castro
Tim Howard
Chase Utley
Kristi Yamaguchi
Jason Heyward
Dirk Hayhurst
Chris Sale
Ubaldo Jimenez
Ana Julaton
Freddy Sanchez
David DeJesus
Andres Torres
Brent Morel
Chone Figgins
Eric Jackson

For those of you keeping track at home, yes there's a couple of names missing. We have a plan for those, and one of them involves you, fellow codebreakers...

That's right.

A giveaway!

Well, more like a code-like contest, let's say; but that's enough news for now. We'll release more info very soon, so keep your eyes opened!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Finally here!! The 2011 Allen & Ginter Codebreaker set!!

At long last.

This is the moment Ryan, Frank and I have been waiting for since February 23, 2012. Ever since we cracked the 2011 Ginter Code, we were excited to receive the Codebreaker set, true token of our accomplishment and proof that we did not make it up to friends and families (especially wives).

A few things at to be worked out with Topps, as always when it comes to items of this importance. In the end, everything turned out for the best - even though it feels like it would have moved faster if I could have walked to the NYC offices to pick it up ;-)

With no further ado, here is the "box break" video (featuring Maggie, our dog, who felt compelled to make an appearance):

Note: for those of you who watched it till the end and paid attention, you might have noticed that a couple of names are missing from that package. This is because Topps had to gather a few items at the last minute, and those missed the shipment to the place where the minis get framed. We will receive the rest of the set over the next few weeks.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Case Closed! How to solve the 2012 Allen & Ginter Code

Hi there!

Very happy to be writing up this post as it is our second Celebratory “We cracked the Ginter Code” post we’ve been able to do. After Ryan, Guillaume and I managed to crack it in 2011 Guillaume and I repeated as champions this year.

The story of cracking the Willow Cove Murder is mostly known by now. Unlike last year’s code, this one was far less complex, and built (we think) to be solved fairly quickly. A timely Olympic metaphor might be this was a sprint, while last year was a marathon. Both are tough, just in different ways.  Also, the details of what we did to win are, for the most part, scattered across forums and accessible to everyone. As such, I’ve kept this post fairly brief to explain how it is solved. I am much more interested in later writing about the culture of the code and codebreakers.

Right before the code kicked off, Ryan informed G and I that he would be unable to participate in this year’s code. New job, new baby, and a lot of responsibility equaled not really being able to get involved. After he left, G and I kicked around the idea of what to do-and ultimately decided to work separately but on friendly terms this year. We weren’t sure if it would feel like the old gang was together, so we let it go.

In relationship parlance, you might say we were “on a break.” J

How to solve the code

With a murder in the fictional town of Willow Cove, the ad card this year instructed you to follow the Codemaster (key to solving the puzzle). So that was, and looks like it will be for the next few puzzles at least, step 1.

Despite people saying you“didn’t need any cards” this year, you did, in fact, need some cards this year to solve the code. In fact you need them for four distinct pieces of information that I can think of:

1. The Willow Cove Water Cooler Blog was ONLY found on the back of the Clue Cards at the bottom of the newspaper page. That was the only place it was mentioned in the game.

2. For the web sites (discussed shortly) most of the addresses you could visit were ONLY on the locations clue cards. That is, Vacant Lot, Guttman's Gutters, etc. weren’t really talked about else where. You needed the names of those places and they came from the cards.

3. Gary Linderman, who proved vital to the game, is not talked about on any of the twitter accounts, and not mentioned in the blog. Only place you could find out about him was the card.

4. The first two scraps of the ransom note.

Now, of course, BlowoutCards and FreedomCardBoard forums had already posted all the scans, so you personally didn’t need to have the card-but that wasn’t the case last year either (where we put together much of the puzzle using scans of cards we’d found online). Suffice to say, someone, had to have the cards for that info.

It is also true this year's code doesn’t use cards from the "regular" set - but I’ll talk more about that at a later time. 

The main crux of the game was the web site, which many people had found before it was posted-but couldn’t do anything with it because it hadn’t been "turned on" yet. The game of course, was much like Zork and other text based adventure games where simple commands move your character around and allow you to investigate.

The blog and twitter accounts were basically there to provide you clues of where to go and what to do in town on your investigation. On top of finding scraps of paper that put together a ransom-style note, you also had opportunities to find “evidence” of who committed the crime (10 in all, 11 locations). The scraps of paper were found in the Vacant Lot (1 scrap), at the Guttman Residence (2 scraps), the Trainyard (1), at Burgers Fries Pop (2), at the Gas’n’Go (2), at the Gazebo (2), and in Skip’s Briefcase (1).

Note: Skip’s combo to his briefcase? 12345. The famous password from Spaceballs, a movie you know he likes because he quotes it in a Tweet.

Add that to the two Clue Cards with the Scraps of Paper, and you could put together the whole ransom note.

Aside: By looking at the URL for the pictures of the scraps of paper, you could figure out how the pictures were named (the letters on the paper). As such, you could put in the letters from the two clue cards and get big pictures for those pieces to cut out and tape together (like my wife and I did).

The ten pieces of evidence were scattered as well. You could find them as follows:

  1. A Sticky Substance on girl’s shoes in Jack’s bedroom, which related to A sticky, stinky substance found on the doorway outside Guttman’s Gutters.
  2. Trudy’s unsent love letters to Lennie (explaining her heartbreak).
    1. This was found on her laptop, found in some boxes on her porch, password LennieBennieBear (capitalization counts)-her pet nickname for Lennie (mentionned on the blog).
  3. Cut up Women’s Magazine-found outside WC High School, used for the ransom note.
  4. Lennie’s personal letters, found in his home in his lockbox.
    1. The combo was 3-40-6, his stat line of W-Ks-HRs from the 1995 High School Championship Series (mentionned on the blog).
  5. Bruce’s Background Check on Lennie- Indicating Lennie was a bit of a dog, and not the father of all his kids.
    1. Found in Klugman’s wallsafe. Combo 19-9-6, The year his father died and the year he took over Klugman Development (mentioned on the blog).
  6. Gas’N’Go Services Records, found at the station, indicating who had been in for servicing recently (and fit with the bloody rag found at the scene).
  7. Marcie’s Rejected Story, which is clearly autobiographical, and reveals that Jack, her son, may not have been Lennie’s child after all.
    1. The dreaded netbook password was "WhatCouldHaveBeen…" (WITH the ellipse at the end), a quote she often gives to her kids, as revealed in a tweet. (G finally get this one, and I'm proud he could get it.  One of the toughest clues to figure, for sure).
  8. Guttman’s Gutters Financial Records-that indicated Lennie and Gloria were cooking the books a bit. Found at the Gutters' office in the lockbox behind the fridge
    1. Clearly Gloria was in charge of this piece, because the combination was 7927, or 7-9-1927, her late husband’s birthday. Revealed via Twitter.
  9. Interview with Gary Linderman-The resident hobo of Willow Cove left a note at the trainyard indicating he likes to sleep by the vacant lot at night because the laundry vents kept him warm. You could ONLY see him there between midnight and 8am real time. I was kinda particularly proud of figuring that one out and giving it a try the first night. Glad others found it too-we weren’t sure how many had it after the first day.
  10. Lennie’s letter to Jackie-Informing her that the Cynthia/Jack relationship needs to end.

All of which paints the picture of a girl finding out that her father wasn’t her father and her boyfriend was maybe her brother. She snaps, confronts this man who claims to be her father and is now forbidding her from seeing his son, and, while he's bent over, hits him with a bowling pin. She flees the scene, not knowing she is spotted by Gary nor that she got gunk on her shoes. The ransom letter, more of an angry attack at Guttman, is made from her magazines found near her school.

Obviously, if you’re looking at everything you can find there is a lot left unsaid, and a lot more that could be going on here, but this is all you needed to “solve” the code.

Of course no one did until the Codemaster’s final tweets on the subject (proving very helpful). By this time G and I were working together again and had both marveled at the URL used to house the scraps of paper.

We liked the obvious movie references and how each of them sort of related to the idea of being transported to another world and solving puzzles. We had been wondering if the solution was in those particular words, and while it wasn’t, thinking about the URL proved useful.

By putting the full text of the ransom note at the end of the URL string, you (as Grant Morrison might say) put on a fiction suit and were able to interact with the characters of Willow Cove-informing them of your conclusions.

As you can see the order of the evidence mattered, as did the address and how you phrased certain things. All grounds for disqualification at the last second. Thankfully, G had all the evidence up in front of him anyway (and our 15 pages spreadsheet had the evidence listed in the right order too) so it was a simple cut and paste job for him to get it out. (I wrote the backup email just in case his didn’t go through or something).

And that’s that.

Questions and comments below.  There are, have been, and will be a lot of comments on the puzzle this year; it's brevity and (alleged) ease, etc.  I invite you all to comment as you see fit below, but know that we're not going to tolerate trolling or stuff that just isn't constructive/polite to others etc.  With an upcoming game in September, our prizes getting to us soon (we hope!) and some other posts we'd like to do with this, there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss things further.  Just hoping we can all keep it civil.  Thanks!

Monday, March 5, 2012

So What Was Up With Those Clovers?

In an effort to keep excising the demons of the 2011 Allen and Ginter Code, I thought we could tackle the biggest bugaboo of the set:  The dreaded, expensive, rare, frustrating and ultimately useless clover corner "code" cards.

Hooo boy.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Code Crumbs 2: too obvious to be true?

I think (hope?) I'm not the only one who actually noticed the difference between the back of A&G cards between 2010 and 2011: below are the backs of the Nick Swisher base cards for 2010 (top) and 2011 (bottom), courtesy of

Newsworthy!: Our Cardboard Connection Radio Interview

Listen to internet radio with Cardboard Connection Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Hey there Ginter fans,

This is our promised interview with Cardboard Radio from last night. We had a great time with Doug and Rob and Co., and it turns out we all liked each others voices.  This was our first time speaking to each other too.

In case you feel the need to skip ahead, we come on at the 16:30 mark and go for about 15-20 minutes.  

We didn't speak too much about the code exactly, but had a conversation that talked about teamwork, community and Topps.  It was very fun to be engaged on that level.

Also on the show is Kevin Isaacson, talking about the 2012 Industry Summit.  Good info and a great show, not just cuz we were in it.  Give it a listen!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NewsWorthy!: Cardboard Radio Tonight!

Cardboard Connection Radio

Happy Leap Day everyone!

Maybe you're like me and you were going to try and stay up for the Sabres/Ducks game tonight.  Or maybe you're just a night owl.

Either way, if you're up at 11pm EST tonight, tune-in to Cardboard Connection Radio and listen to us talk about solving The Ginter Code.  In addition to speaking to Doug Cataldo and Voice of the Collector Rob Bertrand, it's very likely to be the firs time that Ryan and Guillaume speak on the phone together!  (Unless we have an emergency practice conference call before hand.)

Can't stay up? No problem.  These shows get podcasted, and we'll post the link later.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Code Crumbs 1: wallet-sized clues

Newsworthy!: Press on Becket!!

Our first official Press Shout Out comes from the blog at

Thanks to Susan Lulgjuraj for the very nice write up. This makes our trials and tribulations understandable to people who didn't obsess of the details for the last 7 months. It'd be kind of like explaining LOST in about two paragraphs, and still getting pretty much everything-so very good work!

Click here for the Article.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Original Ten

The first ten cards we connected to the clocks were somewhat different from the correct ten cards. But, that doesn't mean there isn't a logical explanation about how to do so. I will do my best to show you that there were 7 others cards that could logically be connected to 7 of the times. It doesn't matter anymore, because the last word on those cards didn't lead you to a website. But, it does show you that we were connecting cards to clocks before connecting clocks to cards was cool!

Correct Card: Pablo Sandoval (Card #111 Base Set) led to Giant Panda (recovery)
Incorrect Card: Kaspar Hauser (Volume 111 of Journal of Medicine)

Kaspar Hauser is one of those mysterious figures that, unless you ever had to write a paper on him, you would likely have never heard of. Kaspar was rumored to be royalty and was stabbed at a young age after spending a long time locked up. The interesting connection with Hauser is his mirror writing. It was completely logical in my mind for Kaspar Hauser to be the Keeper of the Code. Mirrors played a role this year in the code and Hauser was a mirror code writer, seems logical to me. Plus, if you look in volume 111 of some journal of medicine you will find reference to a disorder that involves people like Hauser.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How we traveled from the First Point of Aries: the solution to the 2011 Ginter Code

My name's Guillaume, you might know me better by now as @gyom39 on Twitter. And here is how my teammates and I solved that 8 month challenge that was the 2011 Ginter Code.

All it took was a lucky number.

Of course right, now, that’s how I feel. But back in the middle of July 2011, I was more mesmerized than anything. See, the 2011 edition of the Allen & Ginter Code happens to be loaded with red herrings. Literally, all over the place!!

It usually starts the same way for all codebreakers: scanning auction websites for potential scans of cards before the release date, or the more traditional way of getting packs/boxes/cases/truckloads of A&G to bust open, get the master set and work from there.

I personally did like every year, get my one box to open from Never Enough Cards in Port Jefferson, NY, and see what I can get my hands on and then use my (new) best friend Google to look for additional clues. I think I will now speak for many: those parallel cards with clovers in the corners looked veeeeery intriguing. So much so that I started looking for how many there were out there, until I realized that the ENTIRE base set was involved.

But something didn’t feel right: some clovers were dark, some others “golden”. Two puzzles? That looks complicated. Not to mention the money involved in acquiring the entire set. A trick that worked in years past was getting scans from auction sites, but this year everybody was smart about it: the corners were taken off of the scans. Already, the chase was getting difficult.

Navigating by the North Star

My name is Ryan McCabe and this is my story. I could never have imagined when I bought my first pack of A&G cards last summer that I would be here today telling you how I was part of a team of three regular guys that solved one of the biggest challenges in the hobby world today.

I hadn’t bought a pack of cards in years. Being the type who likes to support the local small business folks I decided to make my way into the local card shop on my way home from work, Toys From the Attic in Somersworth, NH. If you are ever in southern NH please pay them a visit, very cool shop. I asked about any vintage stuff he might have and then I noticed the new stuff he had out on display. So I inquired and he introduced me to the Allen & Ginter cards. They looked pretty neat and the cards you could pull from the packs looked awesome. So, I decided to buy a few packs.

When I got home I ripped open the first pack and in it was a Ryan Braun printing plate. What a find! The second pack will always be my greatest pull though, my first A&G Code Ad card. I looked it over, thinking it was just like a 10% off card you might find in other packs. It had the “Crack the Code” thing and I thought; “wow, I am pretty decent at code stuff”. So I followed the Codemaster on twitter, easy enough. But, he hadn’t tweeted yet, what was I supposed to do?

Dr. Reginald V. Thorpwell III (Or How I Learned To Love The Code)

How Many times Did you Look At this!

Hello Ginter fanatics. I’m  Going to go out on a limb and assume most of you don't know me or what I'm about.  My twitter handle is @TheRealFrankL and I was one of three guys who won the 2011 Ginter Code this year.  Ryan and Guillaume are going to be posting their own versions of this story, and my original post was going to be on my other blog.  So click over there if you like-I'll eventually repost this over there.  We're hoping that this will be a good resource for fans of this code and future codes to talk about all sorts of things-not just how to solve it, but what we got wrong, thing we love and hate about it, etc.  Plus, R and G have very good stories to tell too-so stay tuned!

At the outset, I want to say that I'm going to tell this story as a story.  My team-mates Ryan and Guillaume plan on doing the same.  That said, the story of figuring this out is much bigger than I could tell here, so if you are just looking for a solution-well you should be able to skim this pretty quickly.

The only caveat I insist on is that you understand that I didn't solve this puzzle, not on my own.  This was a three way effort, and Ryan and Guillaume deserve as much, if not more, credit than I do.  I'm happy to have done my part, and to know that I helped.  That what I did was part of the solution, but it wasn't the whole thing.

That said.  My eyes are about to come bleeding out of my skull from this code.