The Rubik’s Cube vs a Pandemic

I love the Rubik’s cube. Something about its twisty, tied up mystery and the shiny colors always seemed to appeal to me. In the fourth grade, I found the puzzle lying around in my basement, scrambled and waiting to be turned, waiting to be solved. I became obsessed. I would take it to school, to camp, anywhere I went, hoping to be able to decipher it’s seemingly impossible code. At my 10th birthday party, my parents even handed out cubes as return gifts to the kids who attended. It was at that party where I saw someone solve the cube faster than I had ever imagined. Under 1 minute.

My ambition and drive to learn and get faster was stronger than ever. Over the course of that very summer, I spend hours per day trying to get closer to being able to solve it. I tried different angles, different turns, and different combinations in hope of achieving the satisfying color filled pattern. After what seemed like months, I had finally cracked the code. I had solved the Rubik’s Cube.

This one goal of mine had led me to discover an entire new world, one that seemed to be hidden to the normal eye. The World of Speedcubing. A world where thousands of people obsess over the smallest differences in timings, the multitude of events, slickness of specially made “speed cubes” and the distinct brands that manufacture them. A world where thousands of World Cubing Association official competitions take place around the globe every year including national and regionals, and where champions are respected and worshiped by cubers of all skill levels. I knew as soon as I had discovered this community, that I fit right in.

I soon started setting goals for myself. First under 2 minutes, then 1, then 45 seconds, 30, 20. After 2 years of attending competitions, I was able to solve the 3×3 Rubik’s cube in under 20 seconds. I make this distinction because along with the immensely popular and famous 3×3 Rubik’s cube, competition events include the 4×4 all the way up to the 8×8, the 2×2, pyraminx (triangle shaped), megaminx(dodecahedron) and multiple others including one handed and blind variations.

A few of the different events include the pyraminx, 3×3, 4×4, skewb, megaminx and more.

Competitions felt like a sport. You need agility in hands, quick thinking and a community based mindset. What defines a sport more? Other than waiting for you solve in the event you choose, at competitions cubers sit in large tables with other cubers, everyone practicing for their event and solve. At most of these events, we cube all day long, even outside our solving times

Now what defines cubing competitions? The touching, trading and sharing of cubes, timers and mats, packed gatherings, people clustered together and a lack of masks altogether. You guessed it. The pandemic has made sure that the speecubing world is at a stand still. Unofficial online competitions have been held, but they are hardly the same. I hope that in the next few months we will get through this pandemic, and the speedcubing world and competitions will go back to normal. Plus masks of course.

My dog attempting to solve the cube.

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