It went down to the last answer in the last round for the final candidate, but the UK pulled off a narrow 82-81 victory over bitter rivals Australia in this dramatic Ashes contest.
With the final UK contestant managing to score a maximum 7 on the last problem, it was all to play for as the last Australian paper was marked. 1 point would tie, 2 or more for the Australians would give them their first victory in 5 years.
But in a dramatic final twist, the final Aussie answer scored a duck and the UK side were victorious.
Controversial windmill-owner and team-leader Geoff Smith said ‘It was a game of three halves. The real winner tonight was mathematics.’ Asked whether he thought Australia should have got a point on their final question, he admitted ‘I’ve seen them given’.
The Australian team were devastated – Ivan Guo said, ‘Our guys gave 110% and are heartbroken; to lose on the last question that way was cruel, but that’s international mathematics. It’s the hardest team sport in the world – literally. The great thing is that we have the IMO tournament next week, we’ve just got to pick ourselves up. I’ve no need to motivate the team; we just want to finish above the UK.’
Despite the narrow result and the pre-match tension, the teams celebrated together in traditional fashion with an all-night party, before some of them decided to go to the Airport and greet other teams arriving (picture above).
Asked about the future of the tournament, Geoff Smith gave his not altogether unsurprising assessment ‘I feel it needs more windmill questions. I’ll be proposing a windmill round in every tournament; it’s the only way to prepare people to step up to the IMO.’
Guo was more pragmatic ‘Strewth. As long as we can just beat the bloody Poms at something I don’t care. First the rugby and the cricket and now this. Do you know where you can get a good stubby here?’