Second out of 750,000, the Scots maths wizard

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The Independent Online

A Scottish schoolboy has beaten three-quarters of a million pupils from around the world in a marathon, 48-hour arithmetic competition, shunning sleep and answering 40 questions per minute to eventually emerge second overall and top in Europe.

Rock Tsui, 17, gave himself only half an hour's shut-eye during the The World Maths Day online exam, which tested students on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division as part of the annual World Maths Day.

Rock, described as "stubborn and excellent" by his headmaster, managed to tackle some 62,273 questions, of which he got 97.5 per cent correct.

The competition, hosted by the Australian company 3P Learning together with Voyager Expanded Learning, attracted 750,000 entrants from 150 countries and was won by an Australian girl who was named on the competition's website as Tatiana D.

Rock, a pupil at the George Heriot's School in Edinburgh, said: "I managed to keep myself awake by drinking lots of Red Bull, so I didn't feel too sleepy. The excitement of the competition also kept me alert."

The schoolboy, who was able to monitor online who was leading the competition, which began at 11am on Tuesday last week. "My teachers kept on emailing me to tell me to sleep but I was so determined to do my best I didn't listen to them. I could see my name at the top of the leader board which was great motivation but unfortunately it wasn't enough and I couldn't hold on," he said.

His headmaster, Gregor Dickson, was unsurprised by the news. "Rock has superb ability so it's no surprise he did so well," he said. "He is so talented that in class he even predicts what I am going to write on the board.

"He is very stubborn and has an excellent work ethic, so he possessed all the right tools to do well in such a taxing exercise. We had a total of 200 pupils taking part in the competition but Rock almost got more correct answers than them combined.

"He is one of the most talented pupils we have ever had at the school."

The competition was divided into one-minute games in which pupils, given only 20 seconds in between each one, went up against players of similar ability. The test questions were limited to two numbers of one or two digits.

Last year, in the first year of the competition, 290,000 students entered and Rock came 17th.

Jayne Warburton, from 3P Learning, said of the Edinburgh pupil: "Rock did really well last year but was determined to do better this year so like a true competitor practiced to make himself better. He plans to go to Imperial College London to study pure mathematics and statistics this year.