WASHINGTON -- Thirteen-year-old Albert Kurz of Holland, Pa., beat five opponents Friday to win a national mathematics contest.
Undaunted by a computer breakdown and a brief dispute over the answer to a probability question, Kurz won a gold medal.
Within seconds, he figured that $100 was the original price of stock that increased 10 percent and then decreased 10 percent before it was sold for $99.
Lenny Ng, 12, of Chapel Hill, N.C., was first runner up of the MATHCOUNTS contest, described as the only national math coaching and competition program for junior high school students.
Robert Kleinberg, 13, of Wales Center, N.Y., was second runner up. Kleinberg came in second place last year.
Kurz said me performed most of his calculations mentally because 'my hands were too shaky to write.' He said, 'I already knew the answer' to the last question. 'I just did it but I don't know how.'
As for preparing for the contest, Kurz said, 'Earlier in the year, over the summer, I spent like nights -- from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. - studying. And it really paid off.'
Kurz received a $10,000 scholarship, a personal computer and a week at the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. The two runners-up took home silver and bronze medals, $6,000 and $4,000 scholarships, and reservations at the space camp.
North Carolina was the winning team, followed by Illinois, Maryland, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, Virginia and Ohio.
The 224 seventh and eighth grade contestants crowded into a hotel to 'burn lead' with their lightning-quick pencils and computer-like minds. No calculators were allowed.
Teams of four students represented all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the departments of Defense and State.