Many students may see higher maths as little more than an intense migraine inflicted through logarithms, fractions and a handful of Greek letters. But for Baptist University associate professor Tong Chong-sze, it is the science of winning. 'They say knowledge is power, but maths allows you to analyse how to use that knowledge to your best advantage,' Dr Tong said. That was the message he had for senior secondary students at a lecture as part of the university's open day on the relationship between science and sport. Introducing the concept of game theory - made famous in the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind - Dr Tong said it was possible to represent all possible outcomes of a contest in a grid-like matrix, from which maths could show the way to win. 'If you can write down the matrix for the possible outcomes and know how to solve it, then you will be able to see what the optimum strategy is,' he told the students. Strategy, he said, could be more important than raw ability. 'When it is a simple contest between two players, then you would expect the more skilful player to win,' he said. 'But the more players there are, the more complex the game becomes, and strategy becomes increasingly important. 'It all depends what strategies you adopt, not what ability you have.' While knowing the precise odds could not guarantee a win every time, it would give the edge over time. 'If you keep playing for long enough, you will win in the end.' But he also had a warning for them to keep their cards close to their chests. 'In this world you need to hide your abilities. If you show off your skills, then you will make yourself a target.' Dr Tong used the example of a game involving three assassins of varying ability - one with an 80 per cent chance of hitting his target, one with 60 per cent and a third who was accurate just 40 per cent of the time - taking turns to pick each other off. The assumption might be that the best shot would win, but the most obvious strategy dictated that the killers would try to eliminate their biggest threat first. So the best killer actually had the least chance of survival, and the weakest was most likely to win. 'But once people realise that, then they will start to adjust their strategy,' he said. As his lecture drew to a close, Dr Tong had one final question: 'Who wants a game of cards?'