Winchester Chemists Earn a Top 3 Finish at Cambridge Chemistry Race

20th February 2024
BY Dr Jamie McManus, Head of Chemistry

If the two questions below are the type of challenge that you enjoy, then the University of Cambridge’s Chemistry Department would have been a good place to be on Saturday 10 Feb 2024 as you could have taken part in the 5th running of the annual Cambridge Chemistry Race.

For its own part, the College entered a team of five enthusiastic Chemists, who gave up the first day of the February Leave-out to test their chemical knowledge and understanding in this hotly contested event jointly hosted by the Chemistry departments of Oxford and Cambridge universities. This year, there were 100 schools from across the UK taking part (60 teams competing in Cambridge and 40 teams concurrently puzzle solving in Oxford).

The Race itself asks teams to solve as many problems as possible in 2 hours. Each team starts with 6 Olympiad calibre questions, and each correctly solved question is replaced by a new, more challenging question. Teams are allowed to make multiple attempts at answering a question but with each incorrect attempt the total number of points available for that question decreases. So the Race really does test accuracy, speed, and teamwork all at once, creating wonderful but challenging event.

To add to the tension, a leaderboard tracks the scores of each team until a 1-minute warning is sounded. In this year’s competition, as the Cambridge leaderboard was switched off, Winchester’s team of enthusiastic and able Chemists were sitting in 2nd place, with 152 points, just a point behind Brighton College.

90 minutes after the conclusion of the race, the results were finally announced, and it was fantastic to discover that they Wykehamists had successfully accrued a further 11 points whilst Brighton had only scored another 6, meaning that Winchester had gone one better than last year’s 2nd place and won the 2024 Cambridge trophy. In the end, the team finished a marvellous in 3rd place out of the 100 schools participating across both venues.

Many congratulations go to all the team on this most impressive achievement: Zach (E), Taanvir (X), Caden (D), Peiyan (X), and Sam (X).

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