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University Challenge student is new internet sensation

PUBLISHED: 11:27 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:53 07 September 2010

Alexander Guttenplan pictured second from right.

Alexander Guttenplan pictured second from right.

A CAMBRIDGE University student from South End Green has become an internet sensation after a series of stunning performances on a television quiz show. Alexander Guttenplan, 19, has captained his Emmanuel College team to the final of the Unive

Tan Parsons

A CAMBRIDGE University student from South End Green has become an internet sensation after a series of stunning performances on a television quiz show.

Alexander Guttenplan, 19, has captained his Emmanuel College team to the final of the University Challenge competition, standing up to the host Jeremy Paxman along the way.

The student and his family have so far been shy of publicity, and it is said Mr Guttenplan refuses to answer questions unless he is with his UC team, although a buzzer isn't necessary.

In an interview with the Cambridge University student newspaper Varsity, he admitted he found some of the adoration he is attracting "a bit odd".

He said: "I have the memory for remembering interesting but useless facts. That, and a lot of procrastinating on Wikipedia."

His mother, writer Maria Margaronis, told the Ham&High they are very pleased with their boy but have decided not to do the "public proud parent thing".

The student won admirers when responding to Mr Paxman, who can deliver withering put-downs to contestants, on a question about poetry. After thinking for a second, he correctly answered Auden, to which Mr Paxman replied good guess. But unfazed, Mr Guttenplan told the veteran broadcaster "it wasn't a guess".

With his manners and innocent look the natural sciences student has won a legion of Guttenfans on social networking website Facebook. More than 1,000 users have signed up to the group called 'alex guttenplan; very clever, very nice'. One female admirer describes him as "adorable" and "a little wonder kid".

The group page also includes a link to a letter written to a newspaper when he was just 11 to complain about the government's plans to pare down the Science Museum, which he described as having "vast galleries of industrial and technological equipment which are interesting". One page devoted to 'the amazing bloke off University Challenge who answers everything says: "Guys want to be him, girls want to be with him".

In the first round of the competition against Christ's College, Cambridge, he got six starter questions - equivalent to the so-called 'human Google' Gail Trimble's first round performance last year.

In the second round he exceeded this by taking eight starter questions in a 260-185 victory to gain a place in the semi-final against Manchester University.

The amazing Mr Guttenplan will appear again on Monday in the final, against St John's, Oxford.


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