Karen Lee

How I met the cube

Karen Lee (14, Hong Kong)

When I first picked up a Rubik’s cube I was about 2 or 3 years old. The first one I ever owned was probably a Rubik’s keychain cube, and since I didn’t know how to solve it, all I could do with it was arrange its layers into funny shapes. Of course, this was limited, and sooner or later, I’d get bored and dump it to the back of my cupboard. Solving the cube was, to me, an impossible feat, only accomplishable by rumored geniuses. Slowly, years passed, and some way or another, the cube disappeared, both physically (I lost it) and mentally (I never thought of it again). This was until one day, when I was about 11, and I saw a video of the history of 3×3 world records appear in my YouTube suggestions bar.

I clicked on it, and was dumbstruck by the sheer speed and efficiency the cubers’ solves were. I sat there, for about 15 minutes, just clicking on video after video, not believing what I saw. I went back to my cupboard, determined to try to solve the cube again, only to realize that I couldn’t find my keychain cube. After buying another one, I frustratingly tried, and failed and did that for about a week, until I gave up again, this time certain that cubing was only for geniuses. Now, a lot of people say the instruction manuals that come with cubes are useless, but no, not for me. A few weeks later, I decided follow the manual, and before I knew it, I’d solved two layers. Now all that was left was a couple of last layer algorithms, and Voila! I was done! I couldn’t believe the sight of the fully solved cube that lay before me. Before I rushed to show my parents (which of course, I had to do), I was shocked by the revelation that such a seemingly complicated puzzle could be deciphered in a concise series of well-designed moves.

Before long, I had gotten bored of the cube again, since all I could do with it was solve it over and over again, before I got bored and put it away. It was not until the summer holidays that my interest in it reignited, when, at a summer camp, our instructor decided to teach everyone how to solve the cube. Since I’d learned how to solve it already, there wasn’t much for me to do, except tinker around for a bit. And then, (this will sound stupid, but) as I practiced, my times decreased! This was the first time I experienced the exhilaration and satisfaction in breaking PBs, and as this happened more and more often, I started to get back into speed cubing. One of my classmates lent me his ZhanChi, and my, it was a good feeling. Soon, my times dropped to sub-50(not very fast, but impressive for me), and I was pleased with myself.

Since then, I’d gotten on and off speed cubing, but I never failed to have those “Aha!” moments while learning new methods, and finding faster ways I’d never thought of before. When encountering new puzzles (such as the Megaminx), it’s always immensely rewarding to solve it without any tutorials or guidance. Perhaps the most satisfying thing about speed cubing is the immense satisfaction gained from a solve with efficient moves and fast look-ahead. This may not always happen, but when it does, the tireless long hours really do pay off.