Last-minute victory

Anytime Chico State beats Stanford it’s cause for celebration

Picture this: A Chico State team is tied for first place with a Stanford team with 30 seconds to go in an intense regional tournament. Other teams are cheering on the Chico team, eager to see it defeat the elite Stanford crew.

The regional Division II soccer championships at Chico State last weekend? No, although those were certainly exciting, with Chico coming from behind to score two goals in the final four minutes to win the gold. Woo-hoo!

I’m talking instead about the so-called “Battle of the Brains” computer-programming regional competition held Saturday (Nov. 13) at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. It was one of 50 such contests worldwide, with the top two finishers in each going on to the International Collegiate Programming Contest—an Olympics for brainiacs—in the resort city of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

In many countries this competition is a very big deal. Two years ago, when St. Petersburg State University won the ICPC, the team received a private lunch invitation from Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.

In Stockton Saturday, the 75 competing teams were given five hours—from noon to 5 p.m.—to solve 11 complex computer problems. The team that solved the most would win.

At 4 p.m., the Chico State competitors knew that they and Stanford both had solved seven problems, tying them for first place.

At 4:59:30, with only 30 seconds left on the clock, David Stolp, a first-year grad student who was lead programmer on the Wildcat team, submitted a solution to one of the remaining problems.

They had to wait to learn the outcome. An hour went by. Finally, the results were announced, starting from No. 20. When the announcer said that second place had gone to Stanford, meaning Chico had won, the room exploded in cheers, with all the CSU and UC teams whooping it up for Chico.

“It was an incredible moment that the team and I will never forget,” said Dr. Moaty Fayek, the team’s adviser.

Soccer victories are great, but as a society we need to start appreciating more enthusiastically the accomplishments of students like David Stolp and his teammates. The future prosperity of America will depend on people like them. Congratulations to all!

Good Causes Dept.: Hats off also to Up ’til Dawn, the annual fundraising marathon—held this year on Nov. 8—in which Chico State students stay up all night writing letters to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., which cares for children with cancer. Over the years, they’ve raised more than $1 million, a huge sum.

This is a terrific cause, and I don’t want this to sound like whining, but there’s at least one local organization that is similarly worthy and could use this kind of backing. That’s Camp Okizu, a summer camp for children with cancer and their families located right here in Butte County. If any student organization on campus is looking for a good fundraising project, go to, and watch the video. You’ll be impressed.