IMO 2011: Moving in to co-ordination

Thursday, July 21, 2011 10:50
Posted in category News

Greetings from the Netherlands! With the second day of competition having taken place yesterday we are now all together again in Amsterdam, and I’m free to write about the events so far. The IMO is moving into its next phase: Ilya and I will be busy with co-ordination, while the team and Stephen go on excursions. Today they will go cycling, while we will co-ordinate problem 3 in the morning, and problems 4 and 5 in the afternoon.

After a long but uneventful journey we arrvied in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam just over a week ago. We were met by Dutch leader Johan Konter, who helped Stephen buy the team tickets to Texel (pronounced “tessle”), where they would spend four days in joint training with the Dutch team. Johan and I then saw the team+Stephen+Ilya off on the first leg of their journey – getting to Texel involved several trains, buses, and a ferry – before catching a bus ourselves to the secret jury location, near Eindhoven. Despite the many connections the team’s trip to Texel apparently went smoothly, with the only incident as they boarded the train at Schiphol: once they were all safely on board we looked back at the door at the far end of the carriage, to see a lone suitcase sitting on the platform. Luckily we were able to get it on board too, before the train departed.

The opening ceremony took place on Sunday, with a troupe of acrobats keeping things lively during the parade of teams. This year’s parade was done by continent, and the Australian leader and I were tickled to find that collectively we made up “Oceania”. A link to video of the opening ceremony can currently be found on the IMO 2011 site; Australia comes on at 92:30 and NZ at 93:00.

The contest took place over the next two days. This year’s IMO will surely be remembered for two things: the “windmill problem”, a beautiful combinatorics problem by Geoff Smith (UK), which made it onto the paper as question 2; and for being the first time in many years that there were two combinatorics problems instead of two geometry, with the only geometry being question 6 (the hardest). It seems the windmill problem may have been harder than the jury thought, as many countries are only claiming a few full solutions; and the “missing” easy geometry may well have upset the fortunes of many contestants – perhaps including those of some of our own.

Now it all comes down to co-ordination. Of course we have our hopes, but I’d prefer to report facts than speculation, so watch this space! Some photos will also follow.

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