Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rubik's Cube Fun For Kids + Serious Competitors Alike at US National Championships This Weekend


by Jacob Elspas, Staff Blogger

Rubik's Cube, the original 3D mind game, was invented by Erno Rubik of Hungary back in 1974 long before handheld computer games arrived on the scene. This 3D puzzle, which was first known simply as the Magic Cube, still endures today for good reason. There are now hundreds of Rubik's Cube competitions at the local, regional, state and global level each year for both hobbyists and serious cubers alike.
You may have heard about the Rubik’s Cube World Championships which took place recently in Sao Paul, Brazil. At that contest thousands competed in solving a multitude of different types of Rubik’s Cubes and other similar puzzles in the fastest way possible. With all the renewed excitement today, it's no wonder that the small puzzle that perplexed you as a kid is making a huge comeback. 

How a Typical Competition Works
As an avid cuber myself, I recently participated in one of the regional Rubik’s cube competitions in Southern California. You can actually watch me doing a 3x3 solve with the standard Rubik's cube in 22.42 seconds during that contest in the video below. When another one occurs in my area I will definitely go and compete. Meanwhile, I'd like to encourage and inspire kids who love cubing to come out as spectators to competitions that are generally open to the public and always weem to be going on around the country. To be in a room of cubers is an experience you will not forget. 

The competition process is simple, regulated and overseen by the World Cube Association. Within each cubing competing event there are five rounds and each person gets the same scramble per round. So for example, in round two your cube's mixed up configuration looks just like everyone else's who is competing in that round. You are timed on how long it takes you to completely solve the puzzle each time and then your middle three times are averaged. The resulting time is your 'score.' All of the scores of players are then ranked in numerical order from fastest to slowest.  
Image from

Rubik's Cube National Championships 
The next big event is this weekend: the Rubik’s Cube United States National Championships in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina from July 31 through August 2. At the U.S. Nationals there will be almost 500 competitors competing in 18 different events (puzzles). The competition takes place over three days, and thousands of spectators will be passing through the venue throughout the competition. 

Participants will be competing in a variety of events, ranging from the standard Rubik’s Cube (9 squares per side with 3 layers) to ones with up to seven layers and even solving a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded or with your feet! And to think that you just peeled off the colored stickers to pretend you solved the whole puzzle.

Yes, this is really a Rubik's Cube competition category
Some favorites for the upcoming U.S. Nationals include 15 year old Collin Burns of the USA who won the U.S. Nationals last year with an average of a just 8.32 seconds and also has the world record for the fastest single solve in any competition, a mere 5.25 seconds. 

However, another potential winner for this year is 19 year old Australian Feliks Zemdegs, who is referred to by many in the speedcubing world as the best cuber on the globe. He just won the aforementioned world championships with an average of 7.56 seconds.

A few of the many Rubik's Cubes I own
There are also several others who have the ability and chance to be this year’s U.S. National champion, but when everything depends on a few milliseconds, people can get pretty nervous. There is only one solution to overcome this: Practice.  For sure, be on the lookout for some World Records that will inevitably be broken at this competition!

How to Take Cubing From Hobby to Competition
By reading this blogpost, as well as from what you already know about it, you'll notice a lot of these cubers are pretty young and mostly male. While it is true that the majority of speedcubers are teenagers and young adult males such as myself, if you don’t fall into this specific group, don’t think that this isn’t for you. 

Cubing is open to all people of all ages and genders. Anyone can become a cuber, it just takes determination and lots and lots of practice to get really good at it. So if you were ever deterred by the Rubik’s Cube as a kid because it just seemed impossible to solve, give it another go! There are quite a few amazing tutorials on YouTube like Dan Brown's that can teach you to consistently solve the cube in a matter of days. 

Get one for your daughter or son and learn how to solve it together! It improves your memory, fine motor skills and dexterity -- Not to mention it a great way to impress people. Most of all it is super fun! I got into speedcubing less than a year ago, and now I can reliably solve the standard Rubik's Cube in just around 20 seconds. You and your kids should not be discouraged, just keep working at it and practice to keep improving your solving times.

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  1. I have to admit, I am one of those people who thought of peeling off the stickers and putting them where I wanted! I would have never thought that there were competitions for this, but I think it is super cool. Congrats to you for your quick time in Souther California. I hope one day you get to go to the U.S. National Championship.

  2. Wow, very impressive! Back in the day (like in the 70's) I was thrilled when I finally completed one side. :) I'll have to look for a competition in my area because my son would be fascinated.

  3. Wow - this is amazing. I remember trying this as a teen and how hard it was. Thanks for the nostalgic memories...

  4. Wow - that is so cool! I saw some cuber recently on Good Morning America and it is true how young cubers tend to be! I gave up years ago! I could spend weeks on a cube and never get it completely done. I could get close, but that was it. 22.42 seconds = amazing! Good luck with your next competition!