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NEWS: Whitgift Maths students crack the code to successWhitgift students perform well in the Cipher Challenge and Hans Woyda competition


Date published: Tue 27 Mar 2018   Author: S. Lawson   Category: Co-Curricular


This has been a great year for Whitgift Maths, with some superb achievements to congratulate the boys on.

The School made a triumphant return to the University of Southampton’s National Cipher Challenge, having last participated over 10 years ago. The national codebreaking competition has been running since 2002, including both solo and team entries from over 700 UK schools and colleges, competitors being tasked with unravelling encrypted messages.

Throughout the early rounds, Whitgift students performed very well, dominating the top of the leaderboards, with both team and individual entries. Mr Robert Dinnage, who teaches Computing and Mathematics at Whitgift and encouraged our students throughout the competition, enthused, “It was particularly impressive to see 20 pupils huddled around computers, stretching their ingenuity to the limit, and delightful to listen to their discussions.”

As expected, the final challenge was particularly tough and required persistence, as well as mathematical intellect and complex decryption techniques in order to crack the code speedily enough to score maximum points. Kai Lam (U3) performed exceptionally well, and managed to solve the last section quickly, an achievement all the more impressive when considering his younger age, compared to many of the 3,500 teams who took part.

The accolades don’t stop there however, Kai was also part of a four-student Whitgift team who took part in the Hans Woyda Competition; a London-based Maths league comprised of 64 schools. The team of Anant Gupta (L5), Kai Lam (U3), Shintaro Nishijo (U6) and Nichika Waragai (L6), successfully came through all the knock-out rounds and held their nerve during a tense final to win the final on the very last question 43-41 (Shintaro giving the final successful answer, in his last ever Hans Woyda match). The last time Whitgift triumphed in the Hans Woyda was back in 1983, when we drew in the final. This year, Whitgift were confident challengers throughout, winning against St Dunstan’s College (61-34), St Paul’s School (57-41), Hampton School (50-37), and City of London School (43-41). We are very proud of the boys - it's been great to watch them come so far, and excellent to see their hard work and natural talents pay off.

Maths teacher, Ms Sarah Brook, who has supported the team throughout (along with the rest of the Department), commended the boys, “the team were phenomenal throughout, being the highest scoring team in every round of the competition. It’s been a fun journey - in one round, Kai accidentally answered the Year 13 question instead of the Year 9 one!”

  • Hans Woyda maths competition team
  • Hans Woyda maths competition
  • Hans Woyda maths competition
  • Cipher Challenge