“The challenge is simple. You have exactly one minute to solve the equations on the sheet. For every one you correctly answer you will receive £100. If, however, you have not laid your pencil down before the last grain of sand falls, you will forfeit anything you have gained,” the referee explained.
Tom was a bit of a maths wizz, and had no doubt that he could solve three problems in the allotted time, but with money riding on it he felt a little more pressured than usual.
“Are you ready?” the referee said.
Tom turned the paper over in unison with the referee’s flipping of the timer. Problem one took 8 seconds, it was fairly simple. Problem two which was more algebra based took twenty. Number three, however seemed straight forward, but required a secondary calculation. He was just checking his answer when the referee called time.
“Sorry, but you have lost,” the judge said.
“But I got all three right,” he objected.
“But not in time,” the referee pointed out. “The pencil is still in your hand.”
Dejected, Tom went out to the waiting room, while his room-mate “Thick William” went into the test room.
A minute and a half later, Will came out with six hundred pounds in his hand.
“How in the . . . ” Tom began.
“It was easy,” Will said, “I answered questions 7 to 12, they were all addition.”