News UKMT Team Mathematics Challenge at Tiffin School 16.05.2024

Last Thursday, a team of two Year 8 and two Year 9 students travelled to Tiffin School for the return of the UKMT Team Maths Challenge after a five-year break caused by Covid. It was great to have this prestigious event back in the calendar and, with fewer Regional Finals competition was fierce with the strongest London teams (one had won three of the past five Team Maths Challenge competitions, and two others had won recent editions of the Hans Woyda competition).

The first Group Round involved our girls having 45 minutes to solve ten problems and, despite some initial disagreement and four different proposed answers to one question, teamwork prevailed and the girls got off to the best possible start with full marks. The following round was the Crossnumber where pairs work on either Across or Down clues feeding into a central gird that may help the other pair. Examples of questions could be ‘A palindromic cube [3]’ or ‘The largest three-digit number that is the sum of a Fibonacci number and a square [3]’. Again, the girls did brilliantly with only a couple of minor errors.

At the halfway stage, we had not made the announced top 5 schools but were told the top 13 teams were all within 4 marks of each other so it was a very close competition.

Next was the Shuttle Round which can be when things go awry. Pairs alternate through four problems each building upon the previous answers in mini-rounds of 8 minutes with bonus marks for getting all correct in less than 6 minutes. The girls were tough on themselves but excelled in these and gained full marks (including bonus) in three of the four shuttles, outfoxed only by a tricky final similar triangle problem in the other.

The day finishes with the Relay round, an enjoyably chaotic affair as pupils from each school fly around a large hall working alternately on problems with the aim of retrieving, calculating and correctly returning as many of 30 problems as possible. Very few schools got close to finishing and our girls again impressed with their problem solving and how they worked together.

Catching up as we waited for the results, the girls vastly underestimated their performance (one conjectured they’d come about 24th but fortunately her mathematics was much better than her ability to estimate the number of schools, 23, in the room). The girls were absolutely thrilled to realise they finished 6th overall which was a quite remarkable performance for a team that had only met each other last week. All four girls were a credit to the school, hugely enjoyed their day of mathematics and were already discussing possible future opportunities, be it next year for those in Year 8 or in the Senior Team Mathematics Challenge for those currently in Year 9.

Thanks to the UKMT for re-establishing this great event and to Tiffin for hosting us all.