Wow, These Guys Are FAST!

November 10th, 2005

This is the 25th anniversary of the intruduction of the Rubik’s Cube to the world. To mark the event, the World Cube Association held a speed-cubing championship at Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The champion’s average time in the final round was 15.10 seconds! That’s amazingly fast.

When I first tried to solve the cube for speed in about 1981, I used a layer-by-layer method which got me an average time of about 2 minutes. I later read about a man who used an "open corner" in his first layer to solve the middle layer of the cube, the open corner being used to shuffle edge pieces in and out of the second layer. I figured out a similar method and it improved my time dramatically. By the time I went to my one and only competition in Atlanta in the summer of 1982, my average time had improved to about 45 seconds. The fastest I have ever solved a scrambled cube is about 20 seconds. To put that into perspective, my single best time ever is slower than all twelve average times from the final round of the recent competition.

Of course, many techniques have evolved over the years since 1982. I’ve been thinking about dusting off my old cube to learn some of the new algorithms, and see how much I can improve my average time. Not for competition, but just for personal gratification. On the other hand, no; I already have too many unfinished projects and unread books. But it’s fun to think about for just a few minutes, to wonder whether I could improve my average time to something like 30 or even 20 seconds. Maybe some day I’ll find the time to try.

At least I don’t plan to spend my time building Rubik’s Cube Halloween costumes:


3 Responses to “Wow, These Guys Are FAST!”

  1. Sue Says:

    Wow, 25 years. I well remember you coming back home from that competition, saying that your time in the practice round was better than the winning time in the actual contest. I also seem to remember you drop-kicking your cube across the lawn when you got home!!!!

  2. Jim Says:

    Yeah, I drop kicked my cube. It was my practice times with my “racing” cube that were faster. The cubes we used in the competition were supplied to us, and they were new and stiff. That dropped my time. But everyone else had the same problem, so no point in complaining about it.

    Now that I think about it, Atlanta was not my only cube competition. At the Mu Alpha Theta math competition in St. Louis, there was an informal side competition in speed cubing, which I won pretty easily – with my cube.

  3. Jim Says:

    Once a geek……