An Introduction to Speedcubing Competitions

Yes, you read that right. There are competitions held for Rubik’s Cubes. More specifically, who can solve them the fastest. Official competitions are a fairly new concept but they are rapidly growing in popularity around the world.

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How do Rubik’s Cube competitions work? Well, it’s pretty straight forward. Usually held in event halls or auditoriums, a large number of tables are set up for solvers and judges to sit at. Each competitor gets of 3-5 solves depending on the event/competition. The solver’s puzzle is scrambled beforehand using computer-generated random scramble sequences.

The solver has a maximum of 15 seconds to inspect the puzzle. Timing starts once the solver takes his hands off the timer and the timing stops when the solver drops the cube and places both their hands back on the timer. The time is then recorded by the judge sitting at the table and the process repeats. Whoever has the fastest time(s), wins.

Some official events include 2x2-7x7, 3x3 blindfolded, 3x3 fewest moves, skewb, square-1, clock, and more. More on these and other events later.

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Now, back to some history.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, speed solvers and Rubik’s Cube enthusiasts started a few unofficial sites and online groups where they could post their personal best solving times and to discuss the hobby in general.

Many cubers wanted to have official competitions to show off their skill but there was a big problem: who would organize such an endeavour to bring all the cubers together from all around the world?

Well, in 2003, a group of speed cubers came together and organized the Rubik's Cube World Championship in Toronto. The main contributors were Dan Gosbee (Canada), Ron van Bruchem (Dutch), Chris Hardwick (U.S.), and Ton Dennenbroek (Dutch).

This organized Rubik’s Cube World Championship was a huge success. However, there were many issues during the competition due to lack of regulations. Van Bruchem and Tyson Mao (U.S.) then organized multiple competitions around the world, including Netherlands, Germany, and The U.S.

Not long after, in 2004, they started the World Cube Association (WCA). Since then, the WCA has held competitions in over 80 countries and the popularity of speed solving has grown tremendously over the past few years.

Some of the recent large competitions include the 2017 World Championship held in Paris, France and China's 10th Anniversary Championship 2017 held in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.

The current top competitors for fastest Rubik’s Cube solver are Patrick Ponce, Feliks Zemdegs, Mats Valk, Drew Brads, Blake Thompson, Antonie Paterakis, Lucas Etter, and more. (More on these record-setting solvers later).

  Pictured: Feliks Zemdegs

Pictured: Feliks Zemdegs

With the popularity of speed cubing on the rise, the 3x3 world record has dropped to times faster than we ever thought possible. Case in point: in 1982, the 3x3 solve record was 22.95 seconds. As of September 2017, Patrick Ponce has the world record with an astonishing 4.96 second solve!

And with the recent trends, that record likely won’t last long.


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