Detective Tom and the mystery of the blood nose(s)

Another guest post by Charles!!!

The flight from Munich to Cluj-Napoca was rather uneventful, with the exception of Hadyn’s blood nose (incidentally, he’s also got one now, as I write this post…). Luckily, there was no shortage of serviettes on board, and it turns out that they make great impromptu tissues!

The team passed through a rather chatty immigration control at the airport, and at the baggage carousel Andrew remarked that his luggage was rather unstable as a result of a certain heavy object — the ashes urn — being awkwardly placed near the top of his suitcase. We decide that this will be a brilliant conversation starter next time we bump into Dominic with our luggage.

We were then greeted by some IMO volunteers, who led us out of the baggage claim area into the main hall of the airport. It was obvious that the IMO organisers had gone to some effort to plaster IMO signage and banners around the airport, and there was even a cardboard bear that you could take a photo with. Naturally, Hadyn immediately volunteered to become part of the IMO 2018 propaganda campaign photo gallery:contest.1

We were shuttled to Hotel Victoria, which is also where the Austrian, New Zealand, Kosovo, Canadian, Irish, Syrian, Singaporean, Dutch and Finnish teams will be staying (this is by no means an exhaustive list). We also met our guide Emi – a local who is currently in the equivalent of Year 11 in Australia. Emi has school holidays at the moment, just like us.

The opening ceremony took place on Sunday morning, and we were shuttled to the venue two hours before the ceremony started. After having our water bottles confiscated, we took a group photo in front of yet another IMO banner with Emi:


Arriving at the Polyvalent hall ridiculously early would be a recurring theme over the next few days. The Australians made good use of this time by socialising sticking mini koalas onto the other teams, a tradition that Andrew tells me dates back to at least 2006.contest-3.jpg

We decided to get the UK team first. Wen attacked Dominic with a koala with “Ashes” written on it, but was ambushed. Luckily for us, the rest of the UK team was more naive about the dangers of drop bears, and were easy first targets for the Aussies. All of the UNKs discovered the little critters attached to their team blazers fairly quickly, except for Tom who was very sad that he’d missed out on a souvenir koala (at that stage he had two attached to his blazer).

We wondered around a bit more, clipping koalas onto the Bangladesh team and just about anyone else we could. A later visit to the UK team revealed that Tom now had three koalas attached to him, and also that they’d clipped one onto Andrew’s hair!


The ceremony itself consisted of many speeches, including ones made by the Romanian president, and Geoff Smith, the UK team leader and president of the IMO board. There was also a dance performance, and then the parade, where each team went onto the stage and did a lap around the arena.


After the conclusion of the ceremony, we continued to clip koalas on other teams, including the South African and Dutch teams. We also bumped into the UK team again, and I noticed that Tom was now proudly wearing his four koalas on his lanyard.

Monday and Tuesday were the first and second days of the IMO contest itself; the problems on day 1 were Geometry, Algebra and Combinatorics, and day 2 consisted of Combinatorics, Number Theory and Geometry.

On the morning of the second exam, we were again bussed to the exam hall 2 hours before the exam itself started. Feeling restless, the students lay down on the floor, forming a human chain 3 or 4 students wide that stretched the length of the exam hall (and then yet some more). After this, some people thought it’d be a good idea to start doing laps of the exam hall, walking at first and eventually running. Determined to prove that the UK continues to be a hub of innovation and bright ideas, UNKs Tom and Harvey took the IMO flag and started parading it around the perimeter of the exam room. A spontaneous procession followed, with each team taking their own flag and holding it high while marching around the room. Some of the invigilators stood around and looked confused; others took out their phones and recorded the parade, and others still joined in the fun. Eventually, the flags were returned to their holders and the contestants were seated ready for the second exam.

Unfortunately Hadyn had another blood nose during the second exam. On the bright side, he was escorted out of the room by the invigilators within the last 30 minutes of the exam, and in doing so joins the (possible one-person long) list of contestants who have broken an IMO rule without being disqualified!

Over the next two days, we’ll be exploring Cluj and its surrounds, while Andrew and Angelo fight for our marks in the great IMO duel-off coordination. Hopefully everyone gets a 7 for each question they claim to have solved!



Heading to IMO

Up at 3.00am this morning for the flight to Cluj and the IMO proper after a week training with the British team.  Yesterday, we had the Ashes competition and, after a ten-year drought, Australia finally regained the covered trophy, in a very tight competition, 99 points to 98. ashesAs you can see, the team is pretty happy!   Currently, we are sitting in transit in Munich awaiting the next leg of the flight.  All in good spirits and looking forward to the opening ceremony tomorrow.

The great IMO mountain race

Guest blog post by Charles and Wen!

“In the great Budapest mountains, before the dawn of the twenty second century, there were at least six great adventurers who climbed a medium-sized hill in Budapest…” — Wen

The British team arrived late on Sunday evening, and Wen arrived even later (actually he arrived on Monday afternoon with our deputy leader Andrew). We’re training with them during our stay in Budapest.

With the British team arriving in such a tired state, we had a natural advantage in the first training exam F1. Happily, we had a higher overall score on question 1 (thanks to a small slip by UNK 1). Wen completed F1 separate from the rest of us while transiting at Perth airport attaining the highest mark to time ratio.

In the afternoon, both the Australian and UK teams travelled to some “mountains”. Wen and Ethan paved the way for the rest of the crew, helping them find idyllic rest spots, definitely safe shortcuts and impromptu photo opportunities.


At the top of the mountain, our team leader Angelo practised walking with confidence and purpose (essential for persuading the coordinators at the IMO):


After the mountain trip, the team visited Buda castle. After a near death experience racing up a flight of stairs, we had a chance to catch our breath continue our trip to the top of the castle in an elevator.


We were treated to more views of surrounding Budapest, and visited the castle’s water installation.


We got to know the UK team a bit over dinner in the city, and then caught the metro back to our hotel for an early sleep. Tomorrow, we’ll again be doing another trial exam, only this time Wen will be with us.

Long Haul Flights & Riverside Sights

Saturday night saw the team members congregating in Perth, ready for a long journey to Budapest!

Qantas, reliable as always, delivered the Melbournians to Perth on time, and Virgin, our singular Sydney-sider. Unfortunately, Wen’s flight from Brisbane was delayed by 3 hours, with an expected arrival time in Perth… 15 minutes after our international flight’s departure. We’ll be catching up with him and Deputy Leader Andrew tomorrow, but in the meantime we’re trying to replace Wen’s iconic sarcastic jokes with (rather disappointing) dad jokes, such as ‘without my glasses I’d walk into so many poles. Actually, I’d walk into more in Warsaw.’ *laughter track*

The flight to Doha came with a first for many – none of us had ever had to climb stairs on a plane to reach our seats before! Top deck seating had it’s own quirks, such as an absence of toilet queues, and a speedy disembarking at Doha through an upper floor airbridge. Doha itself was an interesting stop – the heat and humidity had most of us convinced we were swimming through the air. After another five hours of flying, we were greeted with some pleasant weather in Budapest – finally!


Absolutely exhausted after almost 20 hours of travelling, (and for some of us, 20 hours without sleep!) we of course decided that that the best thing to do was go for an hour-long walk to the river Danu.


As you can see, our sleep deprived photography leaves a lot to be desired, with two team members out of the frame (and one outside of the country), but rest assured – we don’t lose team members *that* fast!

The walk let us truly appreciate Hungary’s famous architecture, with several interesting sights both classical and modern.




However, after the walk we were knackered, so we decided to return to the hotel by means of metro.


With tomorrow morning bringing the first of several training exams (and the last of the team members) we were well and truly ready to set down our bags and wind down for the day – we’re all looking forward to the first decent sleep in a while. Hopefully we can wake up in time for our exam!