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Monday, 11 August 2014
Congratulations to Sharon Daniel, who has won this year’s Child Genius competition!
Sharon is currently a pupil in the Girls’ Division Senior School, and previously attended Hesketh House, Bolton School's Junior Girls’ School. It was there she first began playing chess, which she claims has helped her to achieve success in the memory challenges of previous rounds.
On Sunday’s programme, she was the last finalist to be tested on her specialist subject: the Battle of Stamford Bridge, an eleventh-century clash between the English army and Viking invaders. She deliberately chose this subject as it was something her parents knew nothing about, so she could learn about it independently. Talking about her choice, Sharon said, “I chose the Battle of Stamford Bridge as my specialist subject because it was one of the iconic battles where the English army defeated the Norwegians. Medieval history can be related to playing chess, which is my passion, as there were new strategies and tactics being used in every battle, like how I use them in my chess games.”
As Sharon went up to the podium to answer a series of questions set by a medieval expert, she knew that she had to beat Rubaiyat’s score of 16 and at least match Tudor’s 17 points to obtain one of just two spots in the final round! The pressure was on and Sharon answered confidently on her chosen specialist subject.
Sharon reached a score of 16 without any problems, and was asked one final question: What was Orre’s storm?
Sharon’s answer – “The last phase of the Battle of Stamford Bridge” – was deemed incorrect. This put her in joint second place with Rubaiyat, requiring a tie-breaker round to see who would be in the final.
However, Sharon was not satisfied with the judges’ decision. “I was replaying my performance in my mind again before I was preparing to go for the tie breaker, and that's when I realised that one of my questions had been marked incorrect when it was correct,” she said. “I felt determined, more so bold and courageous, as I was very certain that it was the right answer when I was challenging the expert in the specialist subject.”
Sharon took her complaint to the competition adjudicators. She argued that the reference book she used to learn about her specialist subject states that ‘Orre’s Storm’ is indeed known as the final phase in the Battle of Stamford Bridge. They then had to make the difficult decision of whether to allow her answer. After some tense deliberation, they agreed that, although her answer was not what they expected, Sharon was actually correct. She was therefore awarded the additional point – catapulting her straight through to face Tudor in the final!
This final round was a series of questions on advanced maths, spelling and general knowledge. The winner would be the first child to reach ten points. During the first few questions, Sharon and Tudor seemed to be on equal footing. However, as she got into the swing of the round, Sharon started to pull into a strong lead.
After reaching 9 points, there was a tense moment when Sharon got a question wrong – but she regained her composure and answered her next question correctly, winning her the title of Child Genius of the Year 2014!
She was awarded the Child Genius 2014 cup by Chief Executive of British Mensa, John Stevenage. “We need a new cabinet, yes, just for this trophy,” Sharon said on the programme. “I didn’t think it was going to be this big!”
Sharon’s Headmistress Sue Hincks said, “Everyone in the Girls’ Division is delighted at Sharon’s success in the Child Genius final, which is a tribute to her intelligence, hard work and determination. It was clear from the programme what a thoroughly delightful child she is. She has studied independently to reach an excellent knowledge of her chosen topic area and her memory skills showed themselves to be outstanding. In School, she is strong in all of her subjects and is well liked by her peers.”
Looking back at her experiences throughout the competition, Sharon said, “The rounds I enjoyed the most in the competition were both of the memory recall rounds, where you had to memorise the London tube map and two decks of cards. This was a chance to try out something that you wouldn't do on a daily basis and it was very exciting and challenging to memorise them in an hour. Swotting up the tube map was the hardest task because the average adult can only memorise seven stations in order and I had to memorise 170 stations in order therefore it was a mammoth task but in spite of this I was joint first in that round.
“From my experience, the Child Genius competition was very provocative and spirited and I would do it again, if I would be given brand new challenges to face.
“However my parents say they would never ever like to be as an audience in a competition like this where I perform with the twenty brainiest kids in the country. My parents say they felt very nervous and panicky when I was at the podium. My mum describes the feeling like sitting in the world's scariest roller coaster. But hey – we have finished on a high. She was gleeful and thrilled to see me win.
“It was awesome to reach the final. I am overjoyed and elated to be crowned Child Genius 2014.”
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