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Six-year-old Montreal boy triumphs in Canadian math competition

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Bruce Arthur Chang, a six-year-old boy from Westmount, Que., was named Grand Champion of Canada at the Universal Concept of Arithmetic System (UCMAS) Canadian national competition, which was held earlier this month in Laval.

The competition allows participants to use their heads and an abacus to solve additions and substractions.

In eight minutes, students were asked to solve 150 equations.

"I've been [practicing] for four months," said Bruce, who worked every day with his father to prepare for the challenge -- twice daily, in fact, as the competition neared.

Chang's father, Arthur Chang, says the catalyst for his son's love for solving equations started out simply by playing board games that involved cash transactions.

"I owed him $450 and I gave him $500 and he couldn't give me back my change," said Chang.

It prompted Chang to practice solving equations with his son and connect with UCMAS.

The organization aims to instil a love of learning math in students. Chang admits things were hard in the beginning.

"It was interesting because it made me have to re-dial up my own brain," he said. "When we started, I was struggling to reach 150 questions in eight minutes and he was only at 20 or 30 questions after eight minutes."

However, as the weeks went on, Bruce kept improving his score, speed and accuracy.

Two weeks before the competition, he finally managed to answer all 150 questions.

"Never did we think he would've won because the compeitition is fierce," said Chang.

Bruce came out on top against more than 5,000 kids aged five to 13 in a category for students who are new to UCMAS.

The young mathlete says his favourite part of the challenge was "solving the equations really fast."

Chang says his son grasped the speed quickly but his biggest challenge was accuracy, so he sometimes had to slow down.

"But you overcame it, I'm proud of you," Chang said to his son.

Now, the six-year-old will move on to the international competition in India held in December.

This time, he will have to answer 300 questions in the same amount of time.

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