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GCHQ has sent out a Christmas card – how nice!

Except this card comes with an infuriating challenge – can the “wise men and women in your household” solve its annual festive puzzle?

Rather than a picture of a snowman or jolly Santa, the intelligence service has hidden its festive greeting in cryptic code.

Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, sent the card to “colleagues and partners across the world” before it was made public.

Are you up for cracking the code?

This year, the card features a festive bauble which contains a circuit board pattern with room for nine answers.

Those attempting it will need to complete a series of letter sequences and arrange it in the correct order to reveal the hidden message.

The card instructs recipients to: “Plot your single-letter answers in the corresponding golden nodes on the bauble.

“Follow the flow of arrows from somewhere frosty to unblock the message.”

Unveiling the cards, GCHQ said: “The challenge was put together by our staff, where problem solving is at the heart of our work to help protect the UK as it faces increasingly complex issues and threats to national security.

“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.”

A spokesman added: “Problem solving is at the heart of what we do.

“Taking on this Christmas cracker gives puzzlers an insight into the skills you need to be a GCHQ analyst.

“Bring together a mix of minds by sharing it with the wise men and women in your household to find the solution.”

The coded card has already infuriated people on social media this morning.

One person moaned: “This year’s GCHQ Christmas card looks to be a right nightmare to solve and find the hidden message!”

Another joked: “Thank you for wrecking my Friday. I had intended on going shopping but now can’t leave the house as I am hooked on this – Cheers.”