It was a early start on Tuesday morning for the intrepid quartet of Ed Elcock (Rb UVI), Daniel Hart (Rt LVI), Arthur Kung (R LVI) and Non Suemanothom (G UVI) eagerly anticipating the competition of the Senior Team Maths Challenge Final in London.
1100 schools entered the competition that started in October. Shrewsbury won their regional heat in November and qualified alongside 61 other schools for the final held in the Camden Centre, opposite St Pancras Station.
The final comprises 4 rounds. The first was a poster competition and does not count toward the main event. The team clearly conserved their energy and did not feature in the prizes for this round. The second round was the group round. The team is faced with 10 mathematical problems of varying difficulty and they have to work out the optimal way to distribute their abilities in the 40 minutes available to them. Time is quite tight for this round and without any multiple choice answers, they had to trust their instincts. Daniel Hart calculated the cube root of 88121.125 (or at least had a hunch of which number to cube to get it) in the last few minutes and Shrewsbury registered 8 correct answers for an opening score of 48/60. They were unable to deduce the number of zeros in the first 99999 positive whole numbers; I hope that this does not haunt them for too long.
After much ear wigging in the canteen, CWO established that a few teams had scored 10/10. In fact seven, including Concord College had. We had no idea how many scored 9 so could not fathom our current standing.
The next round was the Crossnumber: one pair received the across clues and the other the down, and they have to solve it with the only form of communication being through the adjudicating teacher. They were only allowed to ask the other pair to work on a specific clue which may even turn out to be a cyclical red herring. Apart from a few minor slips, the team amassed 58/60 in this round and had a moment to breathe and prepare themselves for the final round.
The final round is probably the most demanding of the three. In eight minutes, 4 answers need to be declared to the adjudicator; from question 2, each answer is dependent on the previous so accuracy and agility of mind is crucial. There are 4 such relays in the round. The sting is you cannot check whether your answers are correct until you have an answer for the 4th which could be wildly off. If incorrect, you would then have to retrace your steps with the clock still ticking down. Luckily, the team had no such qualms and aced all 16 questions, picking up the maximum of 12 time bonuses for a perfect 60/60 to finish the event in style.
We did not make the podium which had to house 4 schools: Eton College, City of London and Magdalen College School, Oxford all tied for second behind a victorious Westminster team.
Although there was no formal announcement, we received confirmation of a highly creditable 10th position on a piece of card. It was initially queried as the ‘0’ looked a little like a ‘6’ but the top ten finish was affirmed.
This was a very impressive result from the team. The good news is that with two of the team still eligible for the competition next year, we could even go 3 x 3 better in 2 x 19 x 53.