I wouldn’t worry about it.. I didn’t do well (by the standards of this site) in math contests in high school. I never dreamed I could even compete at the national level, and was not even sure I’d be going into math. Today I’m a mathematician, and I never made any conscious effort to become better at contest math. If I look at the Putnam exam nowadays, I can do a few of the “easier” questions and also a couple related to my current research area if they’re on it. Actually sometimes I’ll see a B-6,A-6 etc which is totally obvious to me because I think about similar things.. then I look at a supposedly easy one involving combinatorics or matrices or other things I don’t know anything about, and I am not any more able to do them today than 20 years ago when I took the exam.
I really don’t think any of this has impacted my research at all. If there are some contest-type skills you’ll need later on, you can pick them up by doing lots of problems (not always of a contest type) and thinking in such areas. I think even if you go into a problem-oriented area like combinatorics it would make more sense to work through Stanley’s Enumerative Combinatorics book for example than contest problems, because the former is more organized and sytematically goes through a subject in a way conducive to becoming a researcher in the area.
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