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June 30, 2022

Hans Woyda Competition 2021-22

The Hans Woyda Mathematics Competition is run every year between 64 schools across London, organised into 16 Leagues of 4 teams. Each team consists of one Year 9, one Year 11, one Year 12 and one Year 13 student from each school. The challenge is to complete difficult maths problems under timed conditions.

St Paul’s were the joint winners in 2020-21. There was no final in that year due to lockdown.

Here are the results for the 2021-22 competition, which had a thrilling conclusion.

The Group Stage

St Paul’s 47   Godolphin and Latymer 23

(SPS team: Anango, Henry, Kiminao and Jim)

St Paul’s 50   Southbank International School 18

(SPS team: Apollo, Benjamin, Gabriel and Soufiane)

St Paul’s 52  Latymer Upper 36

(SPS team: Aman, Haolin, Jash and Johnny)

First knockout round

St Paul’s 39  Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School 24

(SPS team: Anango, Haolin, Jash and Jim)

Second knockout round

St Paul’s 53   Harrow 40

(SPS team: Anango, Haolin, Jash and Johnny)


St Paul’s 44   Harrow 27

(SPS team: Anango, Haolin, Jash and Johnny)


I’ve watched a lot of Hans Woyda matches since I started coaching the team two and a half years ago. Some results are evident by the end of the starter questions – a significant lead before the geometry section is unlikely to be thrown away. Others meander back and forth for a while, but a few dropped questions normally leave the winner with a comfortable margin by the last twenty minutes. A rare few, however, are too close to call throughout, leading to a nail-biting race where the victor is decided in the last set of questions. A final which falls into one of the first two categories would be an anticlimactic end to the competition after so many months of build-up. Yesterday’s final was no such disappointment.

After a brief introduction on the history of the competition the match started in earnest, and while Anango, Haolin, Jash and Johnny were on their usual fine form their counterparts from St Olave’s were formidable opponents. For the first three sections they matched each other point for point, and as they worked away on the team question it was impossible to predict who would come out on top. Both teams found 12 examples of the Erdős-Strauss conjecture, but a mistake in one of the St Paul’s answers gave St Olave’s a narrow 1 point lead. They kept that lead through the calculator section, and after a challenging set of algebra and calculus questions they had managed to extend that lead to a full 5 points.

It was a precarious position to be in at the beginning of the race, but if there’s one area that the boys excel it is undoubtedly speed. Sure enough, a blistering start from Anango reduced the St Olave’s lead to 3, a confident line through the clock face from Haolin brought us back within striking distance, and two more well-placed chords from Jash wiped away their buffer entirely and put St Paul’s back on top. A challenging clock question for the Year 13 baffled both competitors, meaning that we kept our slim lead going into the final four questions.

The St Olave’s Year 9 pupil pulled off the impossible and answered a question quicker than Anango, putting them in pole position again, but some rapid geometry from Haolin stole it right back for St Paul’s. Both Year 12 found themselves pushed to the limit by a question on cubes, but St Olave’s answered it incorrectly within the time limit and Jash got the correct answer milliseconds too late. That meant our lead was still 1 point going into the final question of the competition. My heart was pounding through my chest and Johnny’s mother was wondering whether she should leave the room as a geometric series flashed up on the screen. Both Year 13 scribbled furiously on their sheets of the paper, but it was St Olave’s who put their hands up first. If they got this right, the cup would be theirs – a single mistake and our victory would be guaranteed. Seconds seemed to stretch into hours, but finally, we had our answer. One plus the square root of 2 – St Olave’s had won.

It was a truly extraordinary match, and all four boys should feel immensely proud of their performance, not only yesterday afternoon but throughout the past through months.

–  Mr Hewitt

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