How I met the cube

Sam (20, UK)

My earliest memory of the Rubik’s Cube was back when I was 9-11 years old, so 2006-2009. I was given some money to buy toys with, and there was this cube thing, with different colours on each side. I thought it looked cool so I told my mum “I want that”. I remember vividly, her giggle saying, “you’ll never solve that”. But I was so adamant that I wanted it, she bought me it.

On the journey home I ripped it out of the packaging and found that it turned on every way. I scrambled it, thinking it would be easy. I was more interested in how it worked than how to solve it at that point.

I didn’t learn how to solve it for a few more years. The cube went through a couple lots of sticker rearrangement, and when I realised that messed it up, I found programs on the internet that solved it for me.

Then in 2011, for some reason I was on YouTube, and in my recommended videos was “Rubik’s Cube World Record: 5.66 seconds Feliks Zemdegs”. I thought it was a trick, there’s no way someone could actually solve it, never mind in less than 6 seconds.

I watched the video and my jaw must have hit the floor. It amazed me. Over the next few weeks I saw that Rubik’s Cubes were a lot bigger a phenomenon than I thought, and so I learnt. I convinced my parents to let me buy a better cube online, a DaYan ZhanChi. It was the world record cube, so it must be good!

I learnt how to solve it using YouTube videos, and managed to average 1m 20s. But then, I saw that to get faster you have to learn all these long algorithms that looked boring and impossible to learn. I never did learn anything beyond beginners’ method.

That is, until July 2015. Now, I was 18, I had just finished school and was prepping for university to begin that September. Since I learned how to solve the Rubik’s Cube, I had solved the occasional cube for friends and teachers, but never quickly obviously. I was a frequent visitor to, and one day a video was posted on /r/videos of a Magician by the name of Steven Brundage. He was on a show, doing magic while trying to fool two of the best magicians in the world (Penn and Teller). He was solving that cube in a lot less than 5.66 seconds; “Blink, and you’ll miss it” he said.

I was mesmerised by how he handled the cube. In the comments, people pointed /r/Cubers, the cubing subreddit on Reddit. I instantly subscribed, read some posts, dug out my old ZhanChi and tried to see how fast I could solve it. 1min 30s, not too bad for a guy who hadn’t practiced for years.

And then, it started. I solved, and I solved and I solved. Eventually I learned F2L, and 4LLL, and so on. I recorded every single timed solve since then too, so I have a record of how I’ve improved.

I went to uni and I amazed loads of people there with my ability to solve the cube. I went to my first competition that November and got a 42 second average, then the following April I was already averaging 25 in my second comp. Overall, I’ve been to 7 comps now, 6 in the UK and 1 in Portugal, and I’ve loved them all, the people, the solving, everything.

If I hadn’t gone on to Reddit that day a couple of years ago, who knows what I’ll be doing in my free time? I think it’d be a lot more boring than it is now.