Ashes Drama – Breaking news – The Result


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?’


Ashes Row – to cross or not to cross?

Relationships between the Australian and UK teams further deteriorated last night when a furious ‘crossing’ row erupted when one of the UK team – who cannot be named for legal reasons – admitted submitting a paper in a previous tournament with a proof he knew to be incorrect, and then accepting marks erroneously given.

‘It’s why we have jurors. It’s their job to make decisions. You take the rough with the smooth. So what I know it’s wrong; they have to prove it. They have all the technology they need. We never cross.’ (A mathematics term for crossing out a proof you know is wrong.)

Peter Taylor, the guru behind Team Australia blasted ‘It’s just not Mathematics. You make a mistake, you put your hand up. You move on. It’s the Australian way. If you know it’s wrong, you cross.’

Taylor’s blast was met with cynicism from the young Brits. ‘Look, we’ve all had marks knocked off on some mindless technicality. It’s not as if the jurors never make mistakes themselves. Jury management is a part of modern Mathematics. If your proof is wrong you just don’t cross; let them find the error if they are so clever.’

Taylor found an unlikely ally in his arch rival Geoff Smith, the murky figure behind the UK selection panel. Smith, better known for his obsession with windmills since an infamous and bizarre childhood accident, said ‘In my day, you crossed. Crossing is a part of mathematics. Euclid crossed. Riemann crossed. Even Euler crossed. Kids today…I tell you, they’re like windmills…’

With the Ashes due to start later today, the UK team was emerging as heavy favourities with the bookmakers, despite the unorthodox training methods of the team leader, Dominic Yeo, who has been force-feeding the team tuna, peach and olive sandwiches as ‘brain food’. He himself is now engaged in a law suit with the Colombian authorities after blaming the inevitable consequences of his dietary regime on the alleged deficiencies of Colombian plumbing.


Shakira in Ashes row


Santa Marta: Colombia

A major diplomatic row was erupting late last night when the organisers of the prestigious 99 nation International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) claimed they were being upstaged by what they termed as an ‘El Ratón Mickey’ event; the Mathematics Ashes between the UK and Australia.

‘It’s always the same with these Brits’ said an anonymous IMO spokesman. ‘Our universities would like to take part in the Boat Race, but they simply always put Oxford and Cambridge in the final. What sort of contest is that? Now they won’t let anyone else take part in the Ashes.’

The jurors of the IMO event are believed to be holed-up in Barranquilla, birthplace of Colombian songstress Shakira.

Shakira herself was unavailable for comment last night.

Info on the background to the Mathematics Ashes can be found here.


‘I intend to make them grovel’ – Pom Ashes selector

In a sensational interview late last night, Geoff Smith, the shadowy power broker behind the UK selection panel, let slip his mask of debonair sophistication and revealed how he really felt about Saturday’s contest. ‘I intend to make them grovel. We have selected a world class team of experienced international competitors; they’ve gone with a group of debutants. Whenever has a debutant delivered in an Ashes series?’

Peter Taylor, the Australian who conceived the series rebutted angrily ‘I’ve got one word for Geoff. Ashton Agar. Sure, the Poms might have a good team on paper, but mathematics isn’t done on paper. Well, it is I guess, but you know what I mean’.

With less than 48 hours to the first problem, tension between the two teams continues to mount. Read more of Geoff’s sensational interview later when he opens the lid on how and why the UK team practice sledging the opposition.

Info on the background to the Mathematics Ashes can be found here.


The Other Ashes; where the worlds of competitive sport and being smart collide

According to, the 328th Ashes match started at Lords on Thursday.

Most of you when you hear that sentence think back through more than a hundred years of cricket history. A smaller group of you would instantly reflect that 328 is the sum of the first 15 prime numbers. That group have their attention divided this week, because for the first time ever on Saturday, Ashes Cricket coincides with Ashes Mathematics.

We are heading for only our sixth Ashes Mathematics contest on Saturday – an annual contest between the elite young mathematicians of Australia and the UK. (The England cricket team is so called because as well as having Welsh, Irish and Scottish participants over the years, the core recently has been South African, as their players are better. The Maths team takes a more geographically-honest title.)

You can read all the official background at this website which also includes past problems you might want to look at between collapses. The results of the first five matches were an inverse of the first five cricket matches between the countries; Australia won the early cricket 3 -1 with one draw. The Poms hold the early edge in the Maths contest.

When the Australians won the first mathematics contest between the countries, the scripts of the defeated UK team were burnt and are forever held in an urn, presented to the winner of the annual contest.

And where are the Maths Ashes being fought this year? Lords? Sydney? No, the talented teams of 6 youngsters from each country are in Santa Marta, Colombia. Something to do with perfect playing conditions apparently.

The results of the Other Ashes will be known before play commences at Lords on Sunday.