The story of a girl who was faster than a calculator in a complex addition and subtraction challenge

Ask Riya Mahesh what fives times 54,786 is, and the answer comes before you bat an eyelid. She can solve complex addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems and give you square and cube roots of five digit numbers in a jiffy. The Class V student says she loves playing with numbers and always scores centum in mathematics at school.

Not surprisingly, Riya, a student of Venkat International Public School, Rajajinagar, was selected to participate in an international abacus competition in the Grand Module B category (a level generally above her age) and was third runner-up.


The event held at Singapore recently had 200 children representing 17 countries. She was also selected to demonstrate her mental arithmetic abilities at the event.

As part of the demonstration, she was given a random five-digit number and asked to recite the table, which she did without any hesitation to the delight of the audience.

She also beat the speed of a calculator in a complex addition and subtraction challenge. Indian flags waved and she received a huge applause, recalls her mother Sunanda Dixit.

Her father, Mahesh Belur, says that mathematical abilities have come naturally to her and further honed because of abacus.

Planning helps

Planning and preparation give a greater chance of achieving success, says Riya. “I spent at least 30 minutes each day working on practice worksheets. I also attended a week’s preparatory sessions. This gave me an opportunity to clarify my doubts with my mentor. Most importantly, I also did some exercises to keep myself composed and help my concentration,” says Riya, who has also won gold and silver medals at cyber and mathematics Olympiads.

Her mentor, Dinesh Kumar Boswan, says: “Winning a trophy was just the icing on the cake. It’s a different level of exposure and competition as the best from each of their countries participate.”

Riya says that she felt proud to represent India. “The international exposure was awesome as I got to know children from various countries and their culture,” she says.

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