The Telegraph
Friday , May 9 , 2014
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Summer cool: sums with a smile

The sun blazed as more than 850 children sporting sunny smiles and T-shirts to match trooped into St. Xavier’s College auditorium on a hot April morning to solve sums.

Once inside, the participants of the 7th UCMAS state-level abacus and mental arithmetic competition 2014, in association with TTIS, waited for the whistle to blow. The challenge at hand — 200 sums in eight minutes.

Sounds intimidating? Not for the budding Einsteins, who find it as cool as their favourite computer game. “I practise sums when I have nothing to do. And learning abacus has only helped my speed and accuracy. I want to be a doctor and all this practice helps me with my level of concentration,” said the third-level champion of champions, Sayani Nayek, a Class VI student of The Assembly of God Church School, Haldia. Sayani was able to complete 145 sums.

Aditya Ojha, a Class V student of DAV Public School, Raniganj, who had come down all the way from Asansol, made his trip worth it by winning the champion of champions trophy in the seventh level by solving 180 sums. “My son was really keen on taking the test. Such opportunities develop a sense of competition,” said Aditya’s father, Umendra Ojha.

Taking the test in the open category and emerging champion was Calcutta boy Raghav Gupta, a Class XII student at La Martiniere for Boys. “I started learning abacus when I was only seven or eight and I found it very useful. Even now, despite being bogged down with studies, I have been attempting this competition every year. It helps sharpen my memory and improves concentration,” said Raghav, four-time champion.

For little Prisha Rampuria, however, it’s all about fun. “Kids hardly understand the importance of eight minutes. We are always after them,” said Shweta Rampuria, mother of the Class I student at La Martiniere for Girls.

The winners of the competition will get a chance to appear at the national level and from thereon to the international challenge.

“Learning abacus is like achieving a lifetime skill. Besides helping a person with his numerical skills, it also enhances the mental faculty, concentration power and observation skills,” said Snehal Karia, the vice-chairman and CEO of UCMAS India.