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The Creative Thinking World Championship comprises four written exams of 30 minutes each. Contestants will be set a variety of tasks involving imagination and originality. Points will be scored for: Creative Fecundity – ability to produce a large number of ideas in a limited time; and Pure Originality – the ability to come up with ideas that other people don’t consider. The scoring system will, however, reward quality more highly than quantity.
The fourth round often features diagrams from patent entries with a prompt asking contestants to create a story/explanation as to what device the patent describes (the highest marks are not necessarily given to the person who guesses what the device is really for, but rather for the most imaginative response).
William Hartston writes the questions and scores each round. Hartston draws upon an immense and eclectic range of interests. He won the British Chess Championship in 1973 and 1975. He writes the off-beat Beachcomber column for the Daily Express and has authored books on chess, mathematics, humour and trivia. He has also been a regular guest on the BBC Radio 4 and occasional TV programme, Puzzle Panel. Aside from his chess and media-related activities, Hartston is a Cambridge-educated mathematician and industrial psychologist. During the 1980s, he was recruited by Meredith Belbin, at the Industrial Training Research Unit in Cambridge, to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team researching the dynamics of team roles. While continuing to write the Beachcomber column and other features for the Daily Express, he has also been behind the launching of the wakkipedia.com Internet site of useless information. His latest publication is The Things That Nobody Knows (Atlantic Books), a discussion of 501 unanswered questions ranging from science to history, including a good supply of typically quirky items.
Examples of past questions:
MSO 2010 Round 3:
Over the past few millennia, the alphabet has evolved from ancient Phoenician, Sumerian and Babylonian glyphs via the Greeks and Romans to the mess we have today, with nobody even having a convincing theory to explain the conventional A, B, C, D, etc order we have inherited. The government has therefore decided at last to put some order into the alphabetical order and you have been commissioned to produce as report on considerations, systems and recommendations that will lead to the desired result of a logical and sensible ordering of the letters in the alphabet.
One 2012 question alluded to prince Harry’s photos from Vegas:
You are an unmarried, high-profile 27-year-old visiting the USA and pictures have appeared on the Internet and in various publications around the world of you in a state of nakedness. In one of the pictures, you are being clasped from behind by a naked young lady; in another, you are being clasped similarly but face to face. Your charming 86-year-old granny is reported to be highly disturbed by the pictures. Your task is to explain what is happening in the pictures, what led up to it and what happened next in a way that will put your poor granny’s mind to rest.