Questions quiz genius Alex Guttenplan didn't want

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2010
Alex Guttenplan, storming to victory

Alex Guttenplan, storming to victory

The Daily Mail dubbed him a "pin-up Einstein", the Guardian reviewer hailed him the "Lionel Messi of factual information".

Alex Guttenplan, a 19-year-old natural sciences student at Emmanuel College, Cambridge is the latest star to emerge from University Challenge.

In the final, screened earlier this week, he captained his college to a 315-110 point victory over St John's Oxford - a margin of victory for which "overwhelming" would be an understatement. Alex emerged victorious in an astonishing show of general knowledge, both arts and sciences.

The two-legged encyclopaedia, who set off on a trip with the university sailing club after his family Seder, is not giving interviews at present.

But his father, the journalist DD Guttenplan - who is the author of a book on David Irving's ill-fated attempt to sue for libel for being called a Holocaust denier - said he was "delighted" for the eldest of his three children.

"Until the press seemed to go crazy, he really enjoyed the process," he said.

"I think the fame is probably over now. He had his 15 minutes - but it wasn't always pleasant. We were doorstepped and some of the coverage seemed to me to be not really appropriate for a 19-year old boy, but we're hoping that's over."

Alex, who was barmitzvah at a London progressive synagogue, told the university newspaper Varsity that he had "a memory for remembering interesting but useless facts".

Meanwhile, his father said: "He's looking for a research job in the summer as an organic or inorganic chemist. If any of your readers has laboratory room, please let us know."

Last updated: 5:04pm, April 8 2010