A puzzling success!

Having made his mark as a Mathematics teacher by leading his pupils to national competition successes, Daniel Griller has now written a book of puzzles that is rapidly gaining rave reviews.

Daniel (OE 2001–2008) says Mathematics is not only his job, it is his biggest hobby, too. “I spend a significant portion of my free time either searching for, tackling or attempting to invent interesting maths problems.”

He devised the puzzles in the book, Elastic Numbers: 108 Puzzles for the Serious Problem Solver, for a competition for his own pupils at Hampton School, the independent boys’ day school. Consequently, the book, which was published in March 2017, is accessible to young secondary school pupils. As the cover puts it, it features puzzles that range in difficulty from the ‘fairly straightforward’ through to those designed to ‘push you to the very edge of your abilities’. At time of writing, the book had attracted 16 customer reviews on Amazon, with all of them giving it the maximum five stars.

""Daniel’s love of Mathematics is longstanding. His fondest memories of QE revolve around “Mr Dalton's inspiring Sixth Form maths lessons in our class of just six further mathematicians. I had other good teachers at QE, but he stands out as the best of them all. I was motivated to study mathematics at university in part down to his influence.”

Although he recalls a slight blip early in his School career (receiving a detention just two weeks into Year 7 for not writing the date in his homework diary), other memories of QE are uniformly positive, including:

  • Winning subject prizes every year, including English, Mathematics and Science in Year 7;
  • Scoring a try for the rugby F team in Year 8 or 9 at Oundle or Stowe (“I can’t remember which school – It was a long time ago!”);
  • Participating in several matches in the well-regarded Hans Woyda Mathematics competition, which involves 64 leading schools in the London area. “This included being part of a great comeback against Tiffin Girls’ to win the Plate in 2004 as a Year 9 pupil”;
  • Taking part in various House Instrumental Competitions for Underne House and winning the Intermediate Competition as a Lower Sixth pupil on the piano.

“Many of my best friends today are friends I made at QE, for which I am very grateful,” he adds.

After QE, he went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read Mathematics and was awarded the title of Senior Scholar.
Since then, he has been teaching Mathematics at Hampton, with a particular focus on preparing boys for competitions and for Oxbridge entrance. “I have had a wonderful time at Hampton. I have the privilege of working with some of the brightest young minds in the country, and it is difficult to imagine another job I would enjoy so much, day in day out.”

In his five years there, he has coached teams to two successive national titles at the UK Mathematics Trust’s Senior Team Maths Challenge, in 2014 and 2015. The following year, for the first time in Hampton School’s history, his team won the Hans Woyda competition and has recently taken the runners-up trophy in 2017.

“In 2015, I created the Hampton Mathematics Competition, with the third edition completed just a few months ago. It is a three-stage event; all 1st-3rd year pupils (Years 7-9) take part at the beginning, but then the numbers are gradually whittled down as the rounds progress. I compose all the problems for this competition myself, and it is these problems that appear in my new book.”

He also writes problems for various external competitions: “My inventions have appeared in the British Maths Olympiad, the Intermediate Maths Olympiad and the Senior Maths Challenge,” he said. Besides achieving success with the book, his biggest ambition is to write a problem that appears in an international Mathematics competition.

Outside of Mathematics, Daniel continues to play the piano and also enjoys table tennis, badminton, golf and poker (he played in the World Series of Poker in 2014), as well as reading and cooking. “In addition, I like playing board games, with Codenames a particular favourite at the moment (highly recommended!)”

“I am fortunate to have a great family with interests similar to mine. My mother studied Maths and Computer Science, my father Computer Science, and my younger sister Mathematics. She is now working in the City as an actuary.”

  • Daniel has a blog at puzzlecritic.wordpress.com, on which he discusses some of his favourite problems from around the world, and he is @puzzlecritic on twitter. His book, Elastic Numbers: 108 Puzzles for the Serious Problem Solver, is available in paperback from Amazon.