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Associated Press
Anthony Cheng, a student at Midvale Middle School, competes in the National Geographic Bee in Washington, May 2011.
I'm not nervous. I'm just going to go out there and do my best. —Anthony Cheng

WASHINGTON — Do you know which historical city, known for its weaving and textiles, is also a capital in the West Flanders region?

That question would stump most geography students, and probably their parents, but Midvale Middle School eighth-grader Anthony Cheng aced the answer — Bruges, Belgium — breaking a tie and securing his place in the National Geographic Bee Top 10 for the third year in a row.

"It's not that easy, but I knew it," he said. "When you know, it's easy. When you don't, it's hard."

Cheng, a 13-year-old from Sandy, is the first student to make the Top 10 three times. He will compete Thursday in the final round of the competition for a shot at a $25,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos Islands and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.

He finished in sixth place in 2010 and fifth place in 2011. This year's competition is Cheng's last shot at the top prize and he said he's feeling confident despite some close calls at his preliminary competitions.

"I've been through a lot of tie-breakers," he said. "A couple of guys started calling me 'Tie-Breaker Man.'"

Cheng said success in the geography bee is a combination of study, hard work and a lot of luck. He said he frequently has to use deductive logic to make educated guesses on questions he's unsure about.

"I'm not nervous," he said. "I'm just going to go out there and do my best."

The final round of the 2012 National Geographic Bee will be held Thursday in Washington, D.C., and moderated by "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek. It will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com