The Guide to WCA Solves

The World Cube Association organises hundreds of Rubik’s Cube competitions every year across the globe. Its formation and upkeep has contributed immensely to the popularity and speedcubing, as its hobbyists can now meet up with one another and both make new friends and race one another in a regulated, competitive environment. Your solves are recorded and uploaded to the WCA database where you can see the rankings of countries, continents, and the world. To ensure that these statistics are kept valid and accurate, the WCA imposes several regulations that dictate the format and requirements for a competition’s results to be accepted into the WCA database. In this article, we will go through the regulations that define an official WCA solve.

Feliks Zemdegs Rubiks Cube World ecord 2016 4.73 seconds

Before we start

There are some fairly obvious things you must be aware of before you can even start to solve. First of all, check to make sure that you are correctly registered to compete in the competition that you are intending to compete in. If you are not registered and turn up on the day, there is no guarantee that you will be able to compete or even enter the venue. Also, check that your puzzles meet the standards by visiting this link.

Before your solves

You are not required to remain in the venue for the entirety of the day(s), however you must be present when an event you are competing in has begun and your group is called up to compete. There is normally a designated break for lunch, so if you intend to find something to eat or somewhere to relax, do so during this time. If you are not present when called to compete, you may be disqualified from the event.

When you hear your group, you only need to take your puzzle with you to the competitor area (you can take other things such as a spare cube to practice with between solves and a camera to record, but they aren’t a requirement). Place your puzzle on your scorecard (unless asked to do otherwise) and move to the waiting area. You are not permitted to stand near the scrambling station during the round, and if a delegate believes that you intended to cheat by doing so, you will be disqualified.

Once your name is called, take a seat at the table where your puzzle is placed under a non-transparent cover by the judge. You may set up your camera (this can be anything from a phone on a tripod to a GoPro in a head harness, as long as there is no visible screen from your seated position) once you have arrived at the table.

The Solving Process

The judge will ask you if you are ready to solve once he/she has reset the timer and prepared the stopwatch. Once you are comfortable and ready, inform the judge. The judge will then remove the cover from your scrambled cube, triggering the beginning of your inspection phase. You are allowed to pick up and inspect the puzzle for a maximum of 15 seconds. During this inspection phase, you must not turn the puzzle or you will be disqualified. You should use this inspection time to plan the first stage of your solve (i.e if you use CFOP, try and plan the cross during inspection). The judge will inform you once 8 seconds have passed, and then again after 12 seconds. Once you are satisfied with your inspection of the puzzle, you must place it down on the mat (placing the puzzle on the timer will result in a penalty) and place your fingertips on the sensors of the timer. Once the light on the timer turns green, you may remove your hands from it and begin your solve.

The timers used in WCA competitions are officially licensed Speedstacks timers (originally intended for cup stacking, but now equally as viable in Rubik’s Cube competitions), and these timers have a 10-minute maximum time. After 10 minutes has passed, the timer will turn off, therefore it is not advised that you compete in an event if you cannot complete the puzzle in less than 10 minutes. Event organisers may implement cut-offs in the interest of saving time, called soft cut-offs and hard cut-offs. If you do not obtain a time under the soft cut-off, you will only be allowed to complete two solves of a 5 solve average or one solve of a 3 solve mean. If you do not obtain a time under the hard cut-off, the judge will stop your attempt and your solve will be recorded as a DNF (did not finish).

Once you have solved the puzzle, you must stop the timer by releasing the puzzle and placing your fingertips back onto the timer’s sensors. In the interest of obtaining the fastest possible times, most solvers simply drop their cubes to the table and stop the timer in one swift motion. To avoid any damage to your puzzle, the table or the timer, try not to slam your puzzle down or slam your hands on the timer.

Upon completion of your solve, your puzzle may be misaligned. This misalignment may result in a penalty that will either add 2 seconds to your final time or have it invalidated (DNF). Please follow this link to read about the misalignment penalties.

Your time will be recorded to two decimal places (Stackmat timers give 3 decimal place times, the last digit is simply dropped upon recording on your scorecard rather than your time being rounded). The judge will sign in the judge’s signature box, and you will sign in the competitor box. If you still have more solves to complete in that average, you must leave your puzzle with the judge who will return it with your scorecard. If your average has been completed, you may take your puzzle and leave the competitor area. If you still have to complete more solves, you must return to the waiting area and wait to be called up again.