Igor Krainović

How I Met The Cube

Igor Krainović (29, Croatia)

I’ve met the cube way back in high school, it was one of those mesmerizing, character defining events. I remember it was the end of school year, me and my friends were going to P.E. class, and one of them pulled the cube out of the backpack. We all tried it a bit, managed to make one side right and generally thought it was easy – repeat the process five more times and that’s it! Right? Were we wrong.

As time went by, some of my friends abandoned the quest for six sided color unification, until only me and the owner of the cube were left. That P.E. class was spent playing with the cube, we didn’t even notice when the rest of the kids left at the end. At the end of the school year, the happy cube solving wannabe duo disbanded, but the addiction was there.

Back in those days, internet shopping wasn’t a thing and getting my own cube proved to be difficult. After some scouring of local shops, some cheap replicas and knock offs were found, and the fun truly begun. I’ve enthusiastically mixed up my first cube, and then spent days trying to solve it. All my efforts fell four sides short, but it was an improvement, right? The only thing that improved was my capability for tolerating failure.

Then came my first dismantle. For me, that was the moment that love for this puzzle truly settled in. Seeing the inferior knock off mechanism from the inside made me appreciate the mechanical complexity and genius of such a device. It was so simple, yet so complex. It was brilliant!

The cube stayed in my life after that, always somewhere, sometimes disregarded, sometimes in focus, but mostly as an ornament, or something to play with, to pass the time. The solution to the cube, beside dismantling and reassembling it, was still not found.

Until one twisty, magical Christmas. I’ve got the original Rubik’s cube from my friend as a gift, and finally decided that it’s time to solve it and improve myself a step further. One quick internet search later led me to a whole new world of cubing terminology, algorithms, methods, math behind it all – it was like peering through a keyhole, and then someone not only handing you the key, but shoving the door wide open and ushering you inside. Ruwix.com, the mentor.

That very same Christmas that I’ve got my first original cube was the first time I solved it completely and without any help. After that, it all went in a blitz – trying to solve it faster and faster, optimizing moves, trying to get the white cross always in six or less moves, learning the advanced Friederich, going under a minute for the first time, bam bam bam! Just like that, the mystery of the cube became untangled, solved, done. Did it loose any of it’s magic? NO! That was just the tip of the iceberg, the gateway drug! Then came my first mirror cube, first megaminx, first this, first that, first modding of the cube, first blind solving – a world of first, a world of familiarities, a world of possibilites, and all having the same six sided, uniformly colored, well oiled face.

It’s been years since then, and I can with all honesty say that there wasn’t a day that I haven’t played with my cube at least for a minute. It became a traveling companion, it became a passtime, it became a conversation starter, it became a party piece, it became a defining part of who I am.

While I’m writing this, that old, original Rubik’s cube is right in fornt of me, scrambled, waiting to be solved or put in some or other pattern. It is well worn now, it squeaks as it moves, it has a lot more give in it’s joints then it did fresh out of the box. It survived a lot of use, some falls, many miles, airport checks, and different people manhandling it. It serves as a reminder every day, at that one friend that shaped me with a simple, plastic, colored cube.

So if you see me at an airport somewhere around the world, playing with the cube or any of it’s iterations, come say hi, meet a new friend, spend some time talking on a subject we all love, about a thing we all understand that still has the power to surprise us all, with a single twist.