What are bitcoin puzzles? What are bitcoin puzzles?


  • Bitcoin puzzles are 75 wallets that contain 969 BTC (~$29.4 million at the time of publication).
  • Anyone can take these bitcoins if they pick up private keys.
  • Creating similar games is not so difficult.

Who and when created bitcoin puzzles?

On January 15, 2015, an anonymous person distributed 32.9 BTC among 256 addresses: the first received 0.001 BTC, the second received 0.002 BTC, the third received 0.003 BTC, and so on, up to 0.256 BTC.

Bitcointalk users noticed these transactions and identified a pattern – private keys to addresses in binary format started with zeros, the number of which gradually decreased:

  • the key to the first address is 0…00000000001, one random bit;
  • the key to the fourth address is 0…00000001000, four random bits;
  • the key to the ninth address is 0…000111010011, nine random bits.

It is still unknown who is behind the project, but the creator of the puzzles periodically reminds of himself. In 2017, he moved bitcoins from addresses #161 to #256 to “junior” addresses. Most likely due to the fact that in the foreseeable future it is impossible to pick up a key longer than 160 bits.

Why are addresses called puzzles?

The community suggests that the creator of the puzzle wanted to demonstrate the resilience of bitcoin addresses to brute force. Users treat jigsaw puzzles as a rewarding task, not an attempted theft.

Anonymous tries to keep the community interested in the game. In April 2022, he increased the rewards by 10 times and took bitcoins from every fifth address.

At the time of publication, 75 puzzles (from #66 to #160) with balances from 6.6 BTC (~$200,500) to 16 BTC (~$486,100) have not been cracked. The total amount of coins in the puzzles is 969 BTC (~$29.4 million).

How to get bitcoins from puzzles?

To solve the bitcoin puzzle, you need to pick up a private key to the corresponding address.

In the first day since the creation of the puzzle, users have cracked 29 puzzles. Finding the keys to address #40 took two weeks, to address #47 seven months, and to address #64 five years.

The simplest of the remaining puzzles contains 66 random bits. The number of possible combinations is 7.37 * 10^19. If you check at a billion variations per second on a GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, then it will take two thousand years to check the range.

Community members have created dozens of tools for solving puzzles. Here are a few of them:

  • Private Key Finder is a web application for finding keys to Bitcoin and Ethereum wallets. Uses computer processor, does not require installation;
  • KeyHunt is an open source program for brute force bitcoin keys in a given range. Uses a processor, runs on Linux;
  • BitCrack is another private key brute force tool. Uses video card, runs on Windows.

To increase your chances of being matched, you can join the 66 Bit Collective pool. Its participants divided the range of possible solutions to the puzzle number 66 into 33 million pieces and check them separately. If successful, they will share the reward in proportion to the number of verified keys.

How to create bitcoin puzzles?

You can create a similar puzzle on any network. To do this, you need to repeat the actions of the anonymous person from 2015:

  1. Generate 256-bit strings where 1 to 256 bits are random.
  2. Turn each line into a private key according to the cryptographic formula of the selected blockchain.
  3. Generate public addresses.
  4. Send them tokens. The size of the rewards must match the number of random bits in the key.

The history of bitcoin puzzles has shown that picking keys with 60 or more random bits can take several years.

To keep the game interesting, it’s worth using multiple addresses with few random bits and less reward than adding coins for every extra bit.

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