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2010 New Year Invitational

by Alex Zivkovic, University High School, Class of 2013

 Today, Orange County Math Circle hosted their 1st annual New Years Invitational math competition. Students from all over Orange County came to compete in this fun event.

            Functioning as a way to prepare for the Mathcounts competition in early March, this competition consisted of a sprint, target and team round, much like the national competition. Just like Mathcounts, the sprint round consisted of 30 questions that were answered in a 40 minute time span. The second round, known as a target round, had 8 slightly more difficult questions, however, competitors were alloted 3 minutes per question. Questions on the target round carried double the weight of the sprint round questions in the final scoring. The points from these rounds contributed to the individual awards.

            Despite its similarities, this competition did set itself apart from the traditional Mathcounts format. The team round consisted of a 10 minute, 20 question exam, as well as an “estimation round”, in which student teams estimate how many candies are in a jar. This round, although lighthearted, was incredibly difficult. Students had to estimate how many lollipops were in one jar, how many starburst were in another, as well as how many candies were inside a small star-shaped tray with starburst and lollipops.

2010 New Year Invitational Countdown Final

            Estimation, although seemingly simple, turned out to be one of the hardest parts of the competition. Some students estimated that there were only 100 starburst in the jar, when in reality, 347 starburst were packed in it. Even some professors were stumped by the seemingly small jar.

         After this round, the countdown round began. This was a round for the top 16 students; top 6 from grade 6 and top 10 from grade 7 and 8. These students competed head to head in a tournament style competition. Students were shown one problem at a time, and they competed in a “best-of-three”. They would then ring a bell, and say their answer. If their answer was wrong, the other students had a chance to give their answer. If it was right, they earned one point.

            In the semifinals, students played in a “best-of-five” format, while the finalists played for the “best-of-seven”. The two finalists today were Hang Yang and Benjamin Chen. After Benjamin Chen had a 3-0 lead, Hang Yang caught up making it 3-3. In a close finish, Benjamin Chen won the competition answering correctly what the product of 104 and 108 is.

2010 New Year Invitational Awards

            The joy of today came not from winning prizes, but from the atmosphere of being surrounded by others who enjoy math. In between rounds, students competed in fun mental math problems to give them practice for the next round. This joyous event was one that students and parents alike enjoyed and left many asking when the next competition will be.

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